florida politics Archives - SaintPetersBlog

Sunburn for 4.28.17 – Rick Scott angry; Budget deals shaking out; Kevin Rader for the win; Zika returning?

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

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

YOU WON’T LIKE RICK SCOTT WHEN HE’S ANGRY

Gov. Scott did not look like he was negotiating.

The governor fired a shot over the bow of the Legislature, all but demanding full funding in the state budget for his 2017-18 priorirites: $200 million to begin fixing the dike at Lake Okeechobee, $100 million for VISIT FLORIDA, and salvaging Enterprise Florida from House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s wrecking ball.

“All three of those project impact jobs,” he said. “And whatever happens after this session—I’ll have 610 days to go—I’ll spend every day trying to get more jobs in this state.”

Scott met briefly with reporters Thursday after a series of meetings with state senators, including Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala.

But when asked specifically what he’ll do if he vetoes the budget and lawmakers override the veto, Scott basically said he’ll try again next year.

“I’ll do exactly what I said I’ll do,” he said. “I’ve been completely open on what I ran on. And people agree with me. They care about jobs, they care about education, they care about being safe. And that’s what I work on every day.”

The Governor spoke after legislative leadership announced agreement on budget allocations, the large pots of money that go toward funding major areas, such as education and health.

While the Senate largely has sided with Scott, Corcoran for months has lobbed linguistic grenades at the governor, including calling his favored business incentives programs, including the Quick Action Closing fund, “corporate welfare.”

Scott has endorsed a key element of Senate President Joe Negron’s Lake Okeechobee rehabilitation plan: Storing and treating water south of the lake. He has called upon the House and Senate to invest $200 million in repairs to the Herbert Hoover dike.

Richard Corcoran (seated, at left) and Joe Negron (at lectern) on Thursday address the first meeting of this year’s budget conference.

The state can afford the repairs because the $1.5 billion the Trump administration has provided to reimburse hospitals for charity care has freed up money for elsewhere.

“This is a golden opportunity to get this done,” Scott said Thursday. “It’s an environmental issue and a jobs issue.”

He continued to advocate for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency, saying he “could not believe legislators don’t understand the value of continuing to market this state.” Fewer tourists mean fewer jobs in the tourist industry, he explained. “I am shocked at anyone who thinks we should cut one dollar from VISIT FLORIDA.”

But Corcoran nearly sued the agency after it refused to disclose a promotional contract it inked with South Florida rapper Pitbull. The artist himself made the case moot by publishing a copy of the contract via Twitter, revealing he was promised a maximum of $1 million.

The speaker also has lambasted a promotional deal with superstar chef/restaurateur Emeril Lagasse for nearly $12 million.

Scott also said the state was losing deals for companies to move to Florida because he didn’t have money in the Quick Action Closing fund, a pot of cash Scott can use with the least input from lawmakers.

“We are still competing with 49 other states,” he said. “They want the jobs there, I want the jobs here. This legislature is turning its back on its constituents.”

SCOTT CALLS PROPOSED CUTS TO VISIT FLORIDA ‘IRRESPONSIBLE’ IN NEW WEB AD via Florida Politics — In the 60-second spot, released by Scott’s political committee Let’s Get to Work, the Naples Republican is shown saying “Florida’s been winning, now a group of politicians in Tallahassee want us to lose.” “That’s irresponsible,” he continues. “It’s real simple, if the politicians in Tallahassee say they don’t want to market our state and we lose tourists, then we’re going to lose jobs. The politicians in Tallahassee don’t get it. Ever job is important, every family is important to our state. There is not a job that’s expendable.”

VISIT FLORIDA RELEASES VIDEO WARNING OF IMPACT OF CUTS — Facing big cuts in the 2017-18 budget, VISIT Florida released a 2-minute video Wednesday called “The Story of Colorado Tourism – A Cautionary Tale.” The video, which the state agency noted was produced at “no cost” to Visit Florida, features Cathy Ritter, the director of the Colorado Tourism Office talking about the impact of the cuts to her office. In 1993, the Colorado Legislature eliminated the tourism budget. The next year, according to the video, the state went from the No. 1 summer resort destination to the No. 17 summer resort destination. More than 21 years later, the state has regained its market share but hasn’t returned to the top spot, according to the ad.

SCOTT’S DEMAND FOR BUDGET PRIORITIES LEAVES CARLOS TRUJILLO UNFAZED via Florida Politics – House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo did not appear especially intimidated by Gov. Scott’s tough talk on the state budget Thursday evening. That $200 million Scott seeks to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike, for example?  Not likely. “That showed up about a week ago, and we’d already gone a far way down the road as far as crafting our budget,” Trujillo told reporters. …  “I think there’s merit in doing it. I don’t there’s merit in ever lending the federal government $200 million that they should be responsible for.” Trujillo sees no need to build a veto-proof majority. “We just have to pass a budget. If he vetoes it or he doesn’t veto it, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

TOUGH EDITORIAL – SCOTT POWERLESS IN HIS OWN PARTY via the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron are wheeling and dealing behind closed doors — and yes, that’s somehow legal in Florida — while crushing Scott’s top priorities. Scott can veto the entire budget, but the House and Senate would still have to come up with a new one before the July 1 deadline, or risk losing some state services. State parks could be shut down over the July 4 weekend. It would be a disaster for Scott. Scott’s veto could be overridden if Republicans convinced a few Democrats to jump on board, but then they’d have to give in to some Democratic priorities. Nobody in the GOP wants that. The entire Florida Legislature is dysfunctional. Corcoran promised all sorts of transparency yet is hammering out major policy in the dark. He’s turning out to be just another politician. But it’s amazing how Scott, a two-term governor with his eyes set on the Senate, is virtually ignored by his own party.

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HOW THEY GOT TO YES – BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, FLORIDA LEGISLATORS REACH BUDGET DEAL via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – … a sweeping deal on a new state budget and other high-priority items ranging from public employee benefits to building a reservoir to deal with toxic algae discharges. The move appears to ensure that the Florida Legislature will end its session on time next week. But by reaching the deal, top lawmakers jettisoned many of the highest priorities of Gov. Scott, raising the possibility that he may veto the entire budget and force legislators to return to the capital later this year. Scott sharply criticized legislators for ignoring some of his top requests, including using $200 million in state money to speed up repairs to the dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee. He also said the decision to slash money that now goes to the state’s tourism marketing agency would lead to fewer jobs. The budget will cut funding available to the tourism marketing agency Visit Florida from nearly $80 million to $25 million. Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, will remain intact for another year but it will not receive any money for incentives to lure businesses. Scott wanted $100 million for Visit Florida and $85 million for incentives.

BUDGET CONFERENCE MEMBERS, TENTATIVE SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED — House and Senate leaders named their budget conference committee members and announced a tentative schedule for budget conference meetings. Under agreed upon rules, conference committee meetings can meet until noon Saturday, after which time all issues will be bumped to the budget chairs. At noon Sunday, any unresolved issues will be bumped to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron. A list of the House conferees can be found here. List of Senate conferees can be found here.

— BUDGET & CONFERENCING HIGHLIGHTS —

MEDICAID CUTS WILL HIT $650 MILLION, SENATE CHAIR SAYS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Sen. Anitere Flores … the Senate’s health care budget chairwoman, confirmed that the state would cut its share of Medicaid payments by $250 million in the upcoming budget, which reduces federal matching dollars by more than $400 million. That’s more than was proposed by either the House or Senate in their original budgets. How each hospital could be affected is not yet clear. But hospitals — particularly safety net hospitals that care for a disproportionate amount of the state’s Medicaid and charity care patients — might be repaid for some of those cuts, Flores and House health budget chairman Rep. Jason Brodeur said.

— “Senate offers an additional $1 billion in health care cuts as budget talks begin” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

‘BIG WIN’: FLORIDA BEACHES SCORE $50 MILLION IN STATE BUDGET via Alexandra Glorioso and Eric Staats of the Naples Daily News – … but a bill to overhaul the way the state manages its coasts faces an uncertain future. “It’s a big win to get $50 million in the budget for beaches, big win,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, who made beach funding a top priority this legislative session. Lawmakers often have provided less than the $30 million required in state law each year. Latvala’s bill to reform the state’s beach management system overwhelmingly passed the Senate but has stalled in the House.

— “Senator warns “we are in cut mode” on environment spending” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

— “Senate makes 1st budget offer for justice departments” via Legislative IQ for LobbyTools: The Department of Corrections would get $2.4 billion under the Senate’s offer, about the same as the House proposal. Funds for repair and maintenance were not proposed, but Tim Sadberry who presented the budget said that Sen. Aaron Bean has indicated this area as a high priority and is hopeful additional funding can be provided.

— House’s 1st offer on Pre-K-12 education: It totals a little more than $15 billion for PreK-12 Education, about $340 million more than the Senate is offering.

HOUSE MAKES FIRST OFFER ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools –  The House offer is $1.95 billion, less than a $100 million difference between what the Senate passed … The sticking point is over HB 5301 to restructure the state’s IT services. The House kept its position to cut the Agency for State Technology.

SENATE OFFERS TO CULL $21 MILLION IN PROJECTS AS HIGHER ED CONFERENCE OPENS via Florida Politics – Sen. Bill Galvano delivered the bad news first as the House and Senate opened conference negotiations on higher education spending Thursday evening. The Senate would have to cut at least $21 million in projects from its version of the budget to reach the level agreed upon with the House, he said. …  “I just want to manage expectations in that regard. Because when you are starting with a significant reduction, its highly unlikely that a placeholder is going to move in the upward direction, as opposed to either staying where it is or in a downward direction.”

STATE WORKER RAISES IN HOUSE, SENATE BUDGETS via the Tallahassee Democrat – State workers would get across-the-board raises for the first time in roughly a decade … Sen. Jack Latvala … confirmed that the raises are included in both House and Senate budgets …

A HIDDEN TAX ON HARD-WORKING MOTORISTS? TAX COLLECTORS THINK SO via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Every session, private agencies that renew car registrations and licenses seek a greater foothold in the nation’s third-largest state, a lucrative market. They succeeded in getting language in a must-pass tax cut package that allows them to charge drivers a new “convenience fee.” (Republicans in Tallahassee don’t like to use the word “tax.”) The measure sailed through the House on a 117-0 vote … The bill now awaits a final vote in the Senate … “It’s laughable,” said Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, a former Republican legislator who opposed the amendment, as did Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, a former Democratic lawmaker. Because the amendment doesn’t specify how much the fee can be, Fasano speculated, the sky’s the limit. A dollar? $2.50? $10? “You have no idea what they’re going to charge,” Fasano said.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Budget Conference Committee on Transportation, Tourism, & Economic Development/Transportation & Tourism will meet at 9 a.m. in 110, Senate Office Building. The HHS conference is also scheduled to meet.

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WHAT BARBARA PETERSEN IS READING – HOUSE CONSIDERS LETTING ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE SECRET MEETINGS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – (A) bill going to the state House floor on Friday would effectively thwart significant aspects of that constitutional guarantee and potentially render it meaningless by allowing local elected officials — from city and county commissioners to school board members — to meet behind closed doors and discuss public matters in secret. The proposed law (HB 843) from Naples Republican Rep. Byron Donalds would exempt from open meetings requirements any gatherings between two members of a local, county or state agency board or commission. Those officials wouldn’t have to give any notice about their meeting and they wouldn’t have to keep any records of what they discuss. (The exemption would apply to boards or commissions with at least five members.)

‘SCHOOLS OF HOPE’ COMPROMISE REACHED via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Specifics of the proposed deal were not released, as some of it was still being finalized, House and Senate pre-K-12 education budget chairmen said late Thursday. But the general description of the agreement was enough to earn initial support from some House Democrats, who had — until very recently — staunchly opposed the concept. “We’re happy they listened to us and a lot of the ideas we had in committee,” said Broward County Rep. Shevrin Jones, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee, who helped negotiate the compromise on the Democrats’ behalf. “We’re happy with the direction they’re going in.”

SENATE AND HOUSE MOVE CLOSER TO DEAL ON GAMBLING BILL via Florida PoliticsThe Senate capitulated to the House on several issues Thursday as part of ongoing negotiations to strike a compromise on gambling legislation, while holding firm on others. But the latest offer includes a key provision desired by Speaker Corcoran, OK’ing up to 1,500 slots machines in “facilities in referendum counties” with a requirement “to surrender to the state one active pari-mutuel permit.” Still, it looks like a final deal will be far from the ‘no expansion’ position the House took earlier this year.

PLAY ON? LEGISLATORS MAY APPROVE FANTASY SPORTS via The Associated Press – House and Senate Republicans negotiating a comprehensive gambling bill that focuses primarily on casino gambling are including in the legislation proposals regarding fantasy sports. Senate negotiators offered their support for a House bill that says betting on fantasy contests would be allowed as long as the sponsor of the contest is not a participant. Some Republican legislators tried unsuccessfully last year to legalize fantasy contests.

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SENATE SENDS GROVELAND FOUR RESOLUTION TO THE GOVERNOR AND CABINET via Florida Politics – The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to apologize to survivors of the Groveland Four — African-American men who were brutalized in 1949 following a false accusation of rape. The senators first voted, 36-0, to sign on as cosponsors, then voted the resolution out on a voice vote. “This is a great miscarriage of justice,” sponsor Gary Farmer said. “This is Florida’s version of the Scotsboro Boys. This is our To Kill a Mockingbird. We cannot change the hands of time. We cannot go back to this terrible event and undo it. But we can acknowledge our wrongs. And we can bring peace, and healing, and closure to the families who have suffered so long.” … The resolution, CS/HCR 631 declares that injustice was done toward Charles GreenleeWalter IrvinSamuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, offers an official apology on behalf of the state of Florida, and urges Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet to pardon Irvin and Greenlee, who lived long enough to be convicted and imprisoned.

FATE TAKES A HAND IN WHISKEY & WHEATIES BILL AS AMY MERCADO CARES FOR HER PARENTS via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Sometimes fate plays that unexpected card that makes all the difference, such when the Florida House of Representatives narrowly approved the controversial “whiskey & Wheaties bill, allowing whiskey to be sold in grocery stores. Earlier that day a 30-year-old Monticello man driving in Tallahassee … slammed his SUV into the back of a car stopped at the light. Victor and Carmen Torres … parents of Rep. Amy Mercado. Mercado rushed to the hospital to be with her parents … In her absence, the House approved Senate Bill 106 by one vote: 58-57, sending it to the desk of Gov. Scott. “I have been against the bill from the beginning, so if I was in the chamber today [and not in the hospital with my parents] my vote would have been a no and made it a tie,” Mercado wrote on Facebook. “Therefore, my one vote could have killed the bill.”

INTERESTS FOR AND AGAINST ‘LIQUOR WALL’ LEGISLATION REACT TO PASSAGE via Florida PoliticsThe reaction to the Florida Legislature’s repeal of the state’s “booze wall” law continued long after Wednesday’s vote … Floridians for Fair Business Practices, a business coalition that included Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods Markets and others who favored the measure, issued a statement saying “the legislation finally removes an archaic regulation which has no basis in today’s modern society” … But ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, which has long opposed the legislation, said the Prohibition-era law still “prevent(ed) minors from unlawful access to liquor.” “The protection of minors and small businesses lost by a single vote in the House today because of members who bowed to enormous political pressure and financial influence from Wal-Mart and Target,” said Charles Bailes III, chairman and CEO of the Orlando-based chain. Gov. Scott on Thursday would only say he will “review the bill.”

BEER ADVERTISING BILL READY FOR VOTE ON HOUSE FLOOR via Florida PoliticsA bill to allow beer companies to sponsor “events, activities, or cooperative advertising” at the state’s theme parks is ready for a final vote in the Florida House. The House on Friday will take up the Senate bill (SB 388), sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson of Elkton. It eases the state’s “tied house evil” law by allowing on-site ads, including a beer company sponsoring a concert or festival within a park. Universal Orlando has supported the bill.

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RESOLUTION TO REPLACE CONFEDERATE GENERAL WITH EDUCATOR PASSES THE SENATE via Florida Politics – A resolution to depose Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, CSA, from his place in the National Statuary Hall collection and install Mary McLeon Bethune cleared the Senate Thursday on a voice vote. SCR 1360 went to the House, where it’s future was uncertain. Smith is one of two historical figures whose likeness stands in the Statuary Hall collection, which is distributed throughout the U.S. Capitol grounds. The other is John Gorrie, an Apalachicola doctor who invented the ice machine. The Legislature voted last year to bid Smith adieu and create a citizens committee to propose a replacement. Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College, finished first in a poll.

SENATE PASSES HEALTH INSURER REGULATIONS, UNLIKELY IN HOUSE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate unanimously passed a bill (SB 102) to prohibit health insurers and health maintenance organizations from retroactively denying a claim after they have verified the eligibility of a patient. Members also unanimously passed SB 182 that prevents insurers from removing prescription medications from coverage after the contract is signed. But the House versions are still in the committee process with time running out.

HOUSE POISED TO BAN ‘SANCTUARY CITY’ POLICIES ACROSS FLORIDA via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – The bill (HB 697) debated on the full floor intends to force local officials into complying with federal authorities and threatens those who refuse to do so with hefty penalties and a potential oust from office. Florida would be able to withhold state funding from local governments who act as “sanctuary cities” under the bill. However, local jurisdictions that comply with federal law and hold detainees past their sentences would absorb detention costs without the promise of being reimbursed.

WHAT DAVE ARONBERG IS READING – HOUSE PASSES BILL CRACKING DOWN ON SOBER HOMES via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – … strengthening the state’s role in prosecuting criminal and regulatory violations. Rep. Bill Hager, who is sponsoring the measure (HB 807), hopes this is the next step toward stopping problems at substance abuse treatment centers in Florida. Under the bill, sober home operators who allow fraudulent marketing for their operation or run a facility without a license would face criminal penalties punishable by up to five years in prison … Attorney General Pam Bondi has prioritized this piece of legislation saying it will “help curb unscrupulous clinics and protect vulnerable Floridians.” The proposed legislation would be creating a certification program for sober homes based on the recommendations of a state-funded task force that investigated issues at sober homes last year.

LARRY AHERN BRINGS BACK CONTROVERSIAL BILL TO FIX PINELLAS CONSTRUCTION LICENSING BOARD via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – Legislation aimed at reforming the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board that died last month has suddenly been resurrected. State Rep. Ahern has brought the bill back to life as the Florida legislative session winds down. That came as a surprise to the Pinellas County Commission, which wants far stronger reforms, and the agency’s interim director, Gay Lancaster, who was appointed to clean up the agency’s operations. Lancaster said she has not heard from Ahern –– a pool contractor –– or any other member of the Pinellas legislative delegation about the bill. One of the reforms in Ahern’s bill would be to appoint a county commissioner to the agency’s governing board. But that’s not good enough for the commission. They believe the best way to reform the agency is to place it under county control.

WAR EAGLE’ TAG ONE STEP CLOSER TO REALITY — The Florida House began discussions about a bill (HB 1375) that includes provisions to create an Auburn University specialty-license plate in Florida. Sponsored by Rep. Jamie Grant, an Auburn graduate, the tag would include “War Eagle” — the traditional chant of Auburn fans. Not to be outdone, Rep. Travis Cummings, offered an amendment Thursday to create a specialty tag for the University of Georgia. The underlying bill makes several changes to the specialty-tag system. The House could vote on the bill in the coming days.

#CATESINEDIE PREDICTION: SESSION ENDS AT 7:24 P.M. FRIDAY — The state’s political elite has spoken, and the general belief is the Legislature will adjourn sine die relatively early Friday. The median #CateSineDie prediction, minus outliers, is 7:24 p.m. on Friday, May 5. Those outliers likely include the earliest prediction, which is at 1:15 p.m. today (wishful thinking?) and the latest prediction: 2:37 a.m. on July 17 (boo, hiss!). Need a refresher on the rules? Head to CateSineDie.com.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Kionne McGhee will hold a press conference to discuss his bill to establish a permanent slavery memorial in the Florida Capitol at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor in front of House Chamber.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Republican Party of Florida will kick off its two-day quarterly meeting at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 4500 W. Cypress Street in Tampa.

DWIGHT BULLARD WON’T RUN FOR FRANK ARTILES’ SEAT in Miami-Dade via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – “After much thought and personal reflection, I have decided at this time not to run for this office,” said Bullard, a Democrat who said he will focus on his role as political director for the New Florida Majority.

HOUSE DEMOCRAT PLANS TO RUN FOR ARTILES’ SEAT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – State Rep. Daisey Baez plans to become the first high-profile Democrat to run for (SD 40). Baez earlier this week was still uncertain about running for the seat, but she changed her mind after looking at the data for Florida’s 40th Senate District in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 36–32 percent. … Baez’s fellow Democratic state Rep. Robert Asencio might also seek the seat along with a handful of other possible candidates. Republicans might also have a large field, but legislative leadership is hoping state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who lives in the district, runs for the seat. State Rep. Jeannette Núñez also might run but, like Baez, doesn’t live in the district. Attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck, a Spanish-language Trump surrogate, has announced he’ll run as a Republican.

CHRISTIAN ULVERT SAYS HE IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING SD 40 RUN via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I’ve had a greater calling to serve in public office just because of the issues and the work that I do,” Ulvert told FloridaPolitics Thursday morning, just before he was scheduled to get on a plane to attend a family wedding out of state. … Ulvert said that if he is to run, he would center his campaign on three main issues – public education, health care and affordable housing. “Those are three things that I’ve faced personally and I can present a strong narrative to and talk to voters and really empathize and bring authenticity to the message because I’m living it,” he says. “I have lived it.”

INFIGHTING THREATENS SALE OF FLORIDA MARIJUANA DISPENSARY via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – According to the details of a lawsuit brought by politically connected Panhandle developer Jay Odom against his partners, the shareholders of the Chestnut Hill Tree Farm cannabis nursery in Alachua have splintered over the pending sale of the company’s assets to a new operator. A partnership between South Florida’s Delavaco Group and publicly traded Canadian cannabis conglomerate Aphria announced the planned acquisition this month, but infighting has jeopardized the chances of completing a sale by a June 1 deadline. Odom’s attorney, Barry Richard, downplayed the significance of the lawsuit in an interview as a “garden-variety business dispute.” But the overall value of Aphria’s deal to effectively buy a Florida cannabis cultivation and distribution license — one of only seven in the state, for now — has been valued at $177 million, and thousands of future patients could be affected. “Both sides are a little nervous,” Richard acknowledged.

KEVIN RADER CARRIES CAMPAIGN AGAINST LOBBYIST INTO CAPITOL LIFTS via Mike Moline of Florida Politics 

If you entered an elevator in the Capitol Thursday, you might have spotted a piece of paper resembling a wanted poster bearing the pixelated photo of a smiling woman.

“Senator Kevin Rader would like to know… Where is ‘Concerned Citizen’ Mary Beth Wilson,” the letter-sized document announced.

Surrounding the photo were six red question marks — three per side. In the top left corner, the Senate seal.

The woman pictured looked an awful lot like Lisa Miller, a lobbyist with clients including Demotech Inc., a company that rates Florida insurance companies.

Rader, a Democrat from Boca Raton, asked Gov. Rick Scott in February to look into whether Miller had posed as “concerned citizen” Wilson during a conference call between Demotech and industry figures.

A number of Tallahassee lobbyists were certain they recognized Miller’s voice, as Jeff Grady, president and CEO of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, reported on his blog (password protected).

Miller and Demotech president Joe Petrelli have strongly denied it.

Asked about the elevator sheet following the Senate’s session, Rader issued a non-denial denial.

“That wasn’t Lisa Miller. It was about Mary Beth Wilson,” he said.

But he acknowledged his hand in posting the fliers.

“It’s just a reminder that I would still like the governor to take a look into it,” Rader said.

LIQUOR LOBBYIST ARRESTED ON DUI CHARGE via Tallahassee DemocratA lobbyist and elected official who represents the liquor industry has been arrested for driving under the influence after losing his balance and nearly falling over during a field sobriety test. Eli Nortelus, 41, was arrested after 2 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Capital Circle NE and Park Avenue … At the beginning of the 2017 Legislative session, Florida Politics reported that Nortelus was let go from the Akerman Law Group because he represented a client that conflicted with one of the law firm’s clients on the ‘liquor wall’ bill.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Erin Daly Ballas, Public Affairs Consultants: CR833 LLC

Douglas Bell, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida Rural Economic Development Association

Douglas Bruce, Nicole Graganella, Trevor Mask, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass: Southeast Overtown Park West, CRA

Nathan Adams, Joshua Aubuchon, Kimberly Case, Mark Delegal, Holland & Knight: Efficiency Energy

Jorge Chamizo, Charles Dudley, Cory Guzzo, Floridian Partners: Kathleen Winters

Michael Harrell, Paul Hawkes, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Timothy Stanfield, Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Marsy’s Law for All

Brecht Heuchan, The Labrador Company: Tarpon Towers II

Doug Holder, The Legis Group: Benderson Development

Lila Jaber, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA: Q Link Wireless LLC

Mia McKown, Holland & Knight: Nicole Yontz; Tammy Johnson

— WEEKEND TV —

Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: It’s been a long debated controversial question. what constitutes art? What is considered creative expression? What happens when some deem art to be hateful and racist? Answer Suncoast’s Ruth Beltran & Gregory Cruz join the discussion about a piece depicting Sarasota’s Black community.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: This week’s panel includes former state representative and current Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, journalists Mike Deeson and Amy Hollyfield and attorney Brian Willis.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: This week’s Political Connections present look at the first 100 Days of the Trump administration. Featured interviews include Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Linda McMahon, Administrator of the Small Business Administration; Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy; Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation; Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education; Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President; and Omarosa Manigault, Director of Communications for the office of Public Liaison.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Host Kent Justice will be joined by Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney, as well as former Alvin Brown Chief of Staff Chris Hand and former state Rep. Mia Jones.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Steve Vancore and Gary Yordon will be joined Dr. Ed Moore, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the great Jenn Ungru. Best wishes this weekend to the St. Pete Chamber’s Travis Norton and photog extraordinaire Mark Wallheiser.

WILL ZIKA RETURN TO FLORIDA THIS SUMMER? YES, AND IT COULD BE WORSE via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times – “We are preparing for local transmission, and we are preparing for the worst-case scenario,” said Dr. Beata Casanas, an infectious disease expert and associate professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Scientists agree on one point: They need more money to research and fight the virus. Federal funding for Zika has mostly run out, with its future unclear. And new cases are already popping up in Florida. One reason this year’s threat might be greater than last year’s: There is evidence the Zika virus can survive in mosquito eggs. And mosquito eggs can lie dormant for months, if not years. “If they are already primed with the virus, they are ready for the next season,” said Derric Nimmo of the British biotechnology firm Oxitec, which has created genetically modified mosquitoes to help stop the spread of viruses like Zika. “The virus doesn’t have to be brought into the country.”

Sunburn for 4.27.17 – Gambling bill negotiations; Gov. is back; Vic Torres OK after crash; John Legg’s new role

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

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

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Congratulations to Erin and James Ballas on the birth of their daughter, Dayton Jane, who was, of course, born on Erin’s favorite day of Session – Lilly Pulitzer Day in the Capitol.

WHILE BUDGET NEGOTIATION MOVE AT A SNAIL’S PACE, GAMBLING TALKS ARE MOVING ALONG

Negotiations for a 2017-18 state budget may be mired, but talks to finalize a gambling bill for the year keep zipping along.

The Conference Committee on Gaming sent out a notice Wednesday for a meeting 9 a.m. Thursday, at which the Senate is expected to respond to the House offer.

As of Wednesday night, the best guesses are that the next Senate offer will include:

— Confining licenses for two new slot machine facilities to Miami-Dade County,

— Sticking to their guns on allowing the expansion of slots to those counties that approved them in local referendums, and

— Tweaking the language on designated-player games to make it more favorable to the cardrooms.

Designated-player games are a hybrid between blackjack and poker, where the bank is supposed to revolve among the players.

But regulators have said card rooms were flouting state law by allowing third-party companies to buy their way into the games, using a worker to act as a virtual bank—or “button”—that rarely or never rotated. That amounted to a sham, one judge determined.

“What we want to avoid is a scenario where there really isn’t an open game where everybody can participate,” said state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the vice-chair of the conference committee. “We would like to see that ‘button’ move.”

Otherwise, the card game plays too much like blackjack, which violates the promise of exclusivity to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

That’s what caused a federal judge to rule that the state’s OK of non-tribal card rooms at dog and horse tracks offering designated-player games broke the exclusive rights to blackjack promised to the Seminoles in 2010.

Despite the blackjack provision expiring in 2015, the judge allowed the Tribe to keep its blackjack tables because of the broken promise.

Other gambling concerns puzzle over the first Senate offer’s position on bingo, which would “authorize park and recreational districts created as independent special districts to conduct bingo and instant bingo.”

“I’m surprised no one has keyed in on the bingo language and what that could mean for the state and the compact,” one consultant said.

And still not addressed is the issue of “summer jai alai permits,” which can allow hotels to open cardrooms and possibly slots.

“That will be addressed at some point,” said state Sen. Bill Galvano, the conference committee’s chair. “I may have that in my next offer.”

YESTERDAY’S MOVEMENT – HOUSE TAKES GIANT STEPS IN GAMBLING NEGOTIATION via Florida PoliticsThe House made several major offers Wednesday to get a gambling deal done this session, including authorizing decoupling for dog and horse tracks if county voters OK it in a local referendum. House and Senate negotiators met in the morning in their ongoing effort to agree on an omnibus gambling bill for 2017, including an agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to continue blackjack exclusivity in exchange for $3 billion over seven years. State law requires dog and horse tracks to run live races if they wish to offer other gambling such as cardrooms. Getting rid of that requirement is known as decoupling.

WHAT JOHN SOWINSKI IS READING: “Opposition mounts in Miami to new plan for casino via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

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FROM ARGENTINA, RICK SCOTT KEEPS UP THE CHATTER FOR ECONOMIC INCENTIVES via Florida Politics –  Gov. Rick Scott, while on a trade mission to Argentina, urged the Florida Legislature Wednesday to include his economic incentives programs when finalizing the next state budget. “Lawmakers cannot be shortsighted at the expense of Florida families by cutting funds for tourism marketing and economic development,” Scott said in a written statement distributed by his office. “I would be absolutely shocked if politicians in the Florida Legislature put their self-interests before the interests of our families and small businesses,” he wrote. … It was the second time in as many days that Scott has spoken up for his economic development programs. Tuesday, his office distributed a letter from Division of Bond Finance director Ben Watkins to the House and Senate budget chairmen, warning that cutting Visit Florida could damage the state’s credit rating.

SCOTT WARNS OF HIT TO STATE REVENUES via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott has issued another missive urging full financial support for Visit Florida. This one is a memo written to Scott by Christian Weiss, in-house economist to the governor, who warns that cutting the tourism-development program by $50 million — as House and Senate budget negotiators are considering doing — would result in a $210 million decline in state revenues. Two thirds of that would comprise sales tax receipts to the state, Weiss wrote; the rest, in sales tax distributions to local governments and gas, rental car, and other taxes. …  Nearly 113 million tourists visited the state in 2016, Weiss notes — a nearly 6 percent increase over 2015, and the sixth straight record-setting year. They spent $109 billion here.

HAPPENING TODAY – SCOTT MEETS WITH LAWMAKERS — Gov. Scott returns from his trade mission to Argentina today, and has several meetings scheduled with lawmakers scheduled for the afternoon. The Naples Republican will kick off his whirlwind afternoon of meetings at noon with a meeting with Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, before meeting Sen. Rene Garcia at 12:15 p.m. At 12:30 p.m., Scott is scheduled to meet with Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, followed by a meeting with Sen. Jack Latvala at 12:45 p.m. and Sen. Rob Bradley at 1 p.m. He’ll then chat with Sen. Anitere Flores at 1:15 p.m., Sen. Bill Galvano at 1:30 p.m., Majority Leader Wilton Simpson at 1:45 p.m., and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto at 2 p.m. He’ll meet with Sen. David Simmons at 2:15 p.m., before meeting with Rep. Scott Plakon, the lone member of the House on his schedule, at 3:30 p.m.

HOUSE SPEAKER SAID HORSE-TRADING YIELDS ‘BAD POLICY.’ NOW, IT’S OK – SOMETIMES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – When Senate President Negron and House Speaker Corcoran were asked two months ago if their legislative priorities in higher education and K-12 public schools, respectively, would end up becoming bargaining chips this session, Negron wouldn’t rule it out. But Corcoran offered a definitive response: “No.” And he’s now backing away from that — and making a key distinction — as the two chamber leaders have, indeed, agreed to horse-trade significant education policy in budget talks to ensure they get their priorities into law before the scheduled end of session May 5. “The process always works best when both of them — to the extent that they agree that those are good policies — move forward,” he said.

INTERESTING MOMENT IN THE HOUSE:

VICTOR TORRES, WIFE CARMEN TORRES, RECOVERING AFTER CAR CRASH via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Orlando Democratic State Sen. Torres and his wife were injured in a car crash in Tallahassee but have been released from the hospital. The three-car crash – with the Torres’ in the middle – occurred early Wednesday right in front of the Capitol Building, at the corner of Apalachee Parkway and Calhoun Street, said their daughter, state Rep. Amy Mercado … “They are OK,” Mercado said. “Obviously, they are going to have a little pain, but they are good.”

LAWMAKERS AGREE TO PAY SURVIVING BARAHONA VICTIM $3.75 MILLION via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – … and sent the bill to the governor for his signature. Victor Barahona, the surviving twin brother of Nubia Barahona, would receive the money as part of a legal settlement with the Department of Children and Families, which admitted negligence after Victor was found near death and covered with pesticides alongside his sister’s decomposing body along I-95 in Palm Beach County in 2011. They were 10 years old and in the custody of their adoptive parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona, who have been charged with murder. “They would tie them up, beat them, smear feces on their face,” said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz sponsor of the House bill, HB 6523, which was approved 114-2. The Senate had already passed SB 18 in a 37-0 vote. He described the abuse as “the most horrible, atrocious thing you can imagine.” The Florida Department of Children and Families “had many red flags they did not pay attention to,” he said.

LEGISLATURE VOTES TO TEAR DOWN THE ‘LIQUOR WALL’ via Florida PoliticsThe House, on a by-a-nose vote of 58-57, Wednesday passed the Senate’s bill (SB 106) to allow retailers, at least those who choose to do so, to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. The legislation now heads to Gov. Scott. If signed into law, the state will end 82 years of mandating that retailers sell distilled spirits in a separate store from other items. Beer and wine now can be sold in grocery aisles in Florida. But opponents said their veto campaign has already begun, starting with an argument that the bill will be a “job killer”—a term sure to catch in the jobs governor’s ear.

TIA MITCHELL CATALOGUES THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THIS VOTE here

— Rep. Cyndi Stevenson said she would have voted against the bill but missed the vote after leaving the room to work on an amendment to a separate measure she sponsored that relates to craft distilleries.

— Rep. Barrington Russell voted “yes” at first but later said he meant to vote “no.” Legislative rules allow members to submit or change votes after the fact, but it has no impact on the official tally.

— Reps. Mike Bileca and Cary Pigman also missed Wednesday’s vote and logged “no” votes afterward. Rep. Emily Slosberg also did not cast a vote despite being present on the floor at other times.

HAPPENING LATE WEDNESDAY – MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT NARROWS GAP BETWEEN HOUSE, SENATE BILLS – An amendment filed by House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues allows for edibles and vaping, and cuts the 90-day requirement of the relationship between patients and doctors before recommending medical marijuana. However, differences remain, including regulations on the number of companies that can obtain licenses and limits on retail outlets. The Senate version allows five more “medical marijuana treatment centers” in the first year, with four more for every 75,000 registered patients. The House does not allow any immediate expansion, increasing the number of treatment centers by five, limiting those to companies that had unsuccessfully bid on a license, and only after the registry reaches 150,000 patients. Five more centers can be opened after 200,000 patients, with three for every 100,000 patients thereafter.

CRAFT DISTILLERY BILL PUT ON HOLD, THEN PASSED via Florida PoliticsA bill to allow craft distillers to sell more product directly to customers was set for a final vote Wednesday, was instead “temporarily postponed,” then finally voted out later in the day. The House eventually passed the measure (HB 141) by a 114-2 vote. … (The) measure would let distillers sell up to six bottles of spirits per customer in a given year. Now, they may sell two bottles.

— “Florida loves its booze, but not its medical marijuana” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times

HOUSE PASSES INCREASED HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION MEASURE via Florida PoliticsVoters next year could decide whether to approve a measure that would amount to a reduction in their property tax. The House on Wednesday passed a measure (HJR 7105) on a 81-35 vote to increase the current $25,000 homestead exemption. The language “increas(es) the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed valuation of homestead property greater than $75,000 and up to $100,000,” it says. Democrats, however, warned that cutting taxes meant less money to fund critical local services like police and fire. It wouldn’t affect taxes to fund local public schools.

HOUSE VOTES TO SHIELD COLLEGE OFFICIAL SEARCHES FROM SUNSHINE via Florida PoliticsJob searches for the top officials of the state’s public universities would be shrouded in secrecy under a bill passed Wednesday by the Florida House. House members OK’d the measure (HB 351) 103-11. But its reception in the Senate is unclear: With less than two weeks left in session, a companion bill (SB 478) has not had a hearing. The legislation would maintain the privacy of candidates who apply for positions of “president, vice president, provost, or dean of a state university or Florida College System institution.”

SENATE VOTES APOLOGY FOR ABUSE AT DOZIER SCHOOL FOR BOYS via Florida Politics – The Senate voted, 35-0, Wednesday to apologize for decades of abuse at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and Florida Schools for Boys at Okeechobee. Addressing 14 middle-aged and elderly survivors viewing from the Senate gallery, Sen. Daryl Rouson said: “We say to you, we apologize. We are sorry.” The House voted to apologize on April 18. CS/SR 1440 details the history of physical, mental, and sexual abuse by school staff from the 1940s through the 1960s. A forensic examination conducted between 2013 and 2016 uncovered at least 55 burial sites at Dozier, 24 more than records indicated.

MORE NICE MOMENTS IN THE SENATE:

HOUSE APPROVES ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS REFORM LEGISLATION via Florida Politics – Assignment of benefits reforms ardently sought by the insurance industry and business passed the Florida House Wednesday on a vote of 91-26. A spokeswoman for the Consumer Protection Coalition, a business-oriented lobby aligned with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, immediately praised the action. “The House’s action is a big step toward ending costly AOB abuse and protecting Florida’s homeowners and businesses,” chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley said in a written statement. In debate, Democrat Joe Geller argued against the attorney fee provision. “It’s going to result in more, not less, litigation,” Geller said. “It’s going to be tied up for the next two years.” Co-sponsor James Grant replied that the problem has festered too long and that it was time to act. “Vote up on this good bill, and make sure we do not go home yet again having done nothing with the assignment of benefits problem,” Grant said.

HOUSE VOTES TO IMPOSE WORK REQUIREMENTS ON MEDICAID RECIPIENTS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Medicaid recipients who are able to work would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program. It wouldn’t apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida’s Medicaid enrollment. Failure to meet the requirement will result in a loss of coverage for a year. The provision, which was tucked into a broader Medicaid bill (HB 7117), passed 81-34. Opponents say kicking people off Medicaid will end up costing the state and federal government money. They say that instead of seeking preventive care, sick people will go to hospital emergency rooms, where taxpayers and those with private insurance foot the bills of the uninsured.

VOTERS MAY VOTE ON NEW PROPERTY TAX BREAK via The Associated Press – Homeowners may get an additional $25,000 homestead exemption if voters go along with the proposal. The House voted 81-35 to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would allow homeowners to shield an additional $25,000 of the value of their home from most property taxes. The additional exemption would not apply to taxes charged by school districts. If 60 percent of voters say yes, the amendment would take effect in 2019.

EPILOGUE: EX-MIAMI REP DIDN’T FILE TAX RETURNS FOR 9 YEARS via Patricia Mazzei and Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald – For eight years, Erik Fresen served in the Florida House … leaving office November due to term limits. During all eight of those years, Fresen never filed a federal income tax return. Fresen … pleaded guilty in federal court to failing to file a tax return for 2011, a year in which he received $270,136 in income he didn’t report to Uncle Sam. But in all, Fresen admitted he actually failed to report his income to the Internal Revenue Service from 2007-16, according to a statement filed with his plea agreement. His tax troubles with the IRS arose before his political career, including the year before he was elected as a legislator. In total, Fresen still owes at least $100,000 in back taxes, excluding fines and penalties, federal prosecutor Harold Schimkat said.

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#CATESINEDIE IS HERE — The end of the 2017 Session is quickly approaching, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time to get your bets in. Yep, it’s time for #CateSineDie. You should know the rules by now, but if not, here’s a refresher: Tweet #CateSineDie along with your prediction for the exact date and time the hanky will drop, ending the 2017 Regular Legislative Session — closest without going over wins. Like last year, the winner will get $500 to their favorite charity. And this year, media guru Kevin Cate upped the ante — adding “something even more silly — a trophy.”All entries must be tweeted by 4 p.m. today

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Conference Committee on Gaming will meet at 9 a.m. in 37 Senate Office Building.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The newly formed Legislative Progressive Caucus will hold a press conference to announce its launch and announce key legislative priorities for the final two weeks of session at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor outside the House chambers.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Department of Economic Opportunity will hold a press conference as part of its annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day event at 10:30 a.m. on the 22nd floor of the Capitol. Cissy Proctor, the DEO’s executive director; Clay Tomlison, an education assistant at Challenger Learning Center; and several students are expected to attend. The DEO will host an event on the 22nd floor from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Constitution Revision Commission will hold a public hearing beginning at 11 a.m. in the Kent Campus Auditorium at Florida State College Jacksonville, 3939 Roosevelt Boulevard.

SUPREME COURT DENIES ARAMIS AYALA’S FIRST WRIT TO WIN BACK CASES RICK SCOTT REASSIGNED via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – In denying Ayala’s emergency, non-routine petition to overturn Scott’s executive orders reassigning the cases to Ocala’s State Attorney Brad King, the Supreme Court concluded that the matter “is more properly addressed” through her other legal challenge, a writ of quo warranto, which she later filed. That leaves the matter where most expected it to be left, in her second challenge of Scott’s action, a case that has drawn broad support for both Ayala and Scott from a variety of outside groups who expect the ruling to be pivotal in determining the extent of powers in Florida of both the state attorney and the governor.

TODAY IN #STARCHAMBER: HEARING IN MACHETE-MURDER CASE CAN BE SECRET, MIAMI APPEALS COURT RULES via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald – The decision upends decades of press access to Miami criminal court and bans reporters from covering a bail hearing for two defendants accused in the machete-death of a Homestead student in 2015. The panel of three judges from the Third District Court of Appeal agreed with a trial court that the flood of information available in the modern digital age could potentially sway jurors at a future trial. “The speed of dissemination and the high percentage of likely jurors with access to social media and the internet also support the trial judge’s concern,” Judge Vance Salter wrote in the opinion.

ANDREW GILLUM’S FUNDRAISING PAC TOOK SHAPE IN CITY EMAIL via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee DemocratGillum and his chief of staff used city resources to hash out the framework for a political action committee that would become the cash machine for Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign. In a message from Dustin Daniels via his city account to Gillum at his People for the American Way account March 2, 2016, — a year before Gillum announced his candidacy — Daniels discussed revisions to the mission statement of Forward Florida, Gillum’s leadership PAC. “Adjusted language is below and attached. I can’t seem to edit the document from Word, so the logo may not appear at the top. If that’s true, I will fix it tomorrow,” Daniels wrote in the email. The email once again shines a light on the use of the city’s email accounts to convey political and campaign business unrelated to city activities.

AS A TEEN, GAINESVILLE PIVOTAL TO SHAPING GILLUM’S POLITICAL RISE, AMBITION via Susan Washington of Florida Politics – For the charismatic, 37-year-old mayor of Tallahassee, a day in Gainesville was an opportunity to campaign for Florida governor … but also a chance to reconnect with a place and some people who he describes as “pivotal.” His family’s move to Gainesville from Miami — to be closer to his paternal grandfather, JT Gillum, who was ill at that time — “felt like moving to a foreign place,” Andrew Gillum said. But the slower pace, compared to Miami — as well as family members and other community connections in Gainesville — were transformative for Gillum. “People took time to ask you, “how you doin’?’” he remembered, adding, “It was pivotal to slowing down my life to a pace where I could start to pay real attention to my education, to my community, to setting goals because I got exposed to a different type of environment,” he said … it was Gillum’s friendship — beginning in high school — with Christopher Moore Chestnut, the son of Charles Chestnut III and Cynthia Moore Chestnut, that drew Gillum into the politically active Chestnut family.

LENNY CURRY’S PENSION SUCCESS FUELS BUZZ ABOUT STATEWIDE OFFICE via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union – How will Curry use that legislative victory? Speculation is rife that Gov. Scott is considering Curry for appointment as the state’s next chief financial officer, which would vault Curry into a high-ranking position in the state Cabinet. Or Curry could continue as mayor of Jacksonville and use the budget relief from pension reform to focus on the unfinished business of turning the tide on the city’s violent crime problem and getting long-delayed construction projects underway. Either way, Curry’s successful push to end pensions as a retirement benefit for new employees will lift his statewide profile, said University of North Florida political science professor Matt Corrigan.

JOHN LEGG JOINS STEP UP FOR STUDENTS BOARD via Travis Pillow with RedefineED — A former state lawmaker who helped shape Florida education in policy for more than a decade will join the board of Step Up For Students, the nonprofit that helps administer two major private school choice programs. State Sen. John Legg served in the Florida House from 2004 to 2012. He was elected to the state Senate in 2012, and served as chairman of the Education Committee for four years before leaving the Legislature in 2016. … Step Up’s board unanimously elected Legg to the unpaid position this week. He will join another former state lawmaker, Democratic Congressman Al Lawson. “John Legg is an innovative and successful educator, as well as a gifted legislator and a great person,” said Step Up President Doug Tuthill. “John is committed to serving disadvantaged youth, and will be a wonderful addition to our organization.”

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FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY:

GOVERNORS CLUB THURSDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – Viva Italia! It’s Thursday at the Governors Club with tomato basil soup, roasted eggplant salad, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, Caesar salad – hearts of romaine, Parmesan cheese, Kalamata olives, Caesar dressing – shrimp Bucatini Pomodoro, roasted garlic chicken, Parmesan garlic risotto, cauliflower, plum tomatoes, eggplant Parmesan.

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PULSE NIGHTCLUB TO BECOME A SANCTUARY OF HOPE via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The memorial will someday house a museum showcasing the artifacts and stories of the victims and survivors of the Pulse tragedy. Barbara Poma … will reveal plans May 4 on how donations collected since the June 12 tragedy will be used to honor the 49 murdered, the 68 injured victims and the first responders and health care professionals who treated them. The onePulse fund will support the construction and maintenance of the memorial, community grants to care for survivors and victims’ families and endowed scholarships for each of the 49 angels.

Pulse owner Barbara Poma intends to create a permanent memorial on the site of the former nightclub as a “a sanctuary of hope” for Orlando’s LGBTQ community. The memorial will eventually house a museum of artifacts and stories of the victims and survivors of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil by a single shooter.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our beloved Papa Ben.

Sunburn for 4.26.17 – Sleepless nights for job creators; Budget contours; Pepi promises big step; ‘Frozen 2’ is coming when?

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 LAWMAKERS DEBATE NEW BILLS AND THE BUDGET, HERE’S WHAT’S KEEPING JOB CREATORS UP AT NIGHT

The latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index Survey is out, and one thing is clear: Small businesses are increasingly concerned about the quality of workforce.

According to the survey, 22 percent of respondents said “workforce quality” was their top issue. Government regulations went from being tied for first place in the last survey — and in first place to a year ago — to second place in the most recent survey, with 16 percent of respondents saying it was their top issue. Healthcare costs grabbed the No. 3 spot, something the Florida Chamber noted is an indication “of the increasing concern for Florida’s small businesses” since healthcare costs weren’t in the Top 5 list during the same period in either 2016 or 2015.

Economic uncertainty and access to capital were tied for fourth in the most recent survey, while lawsuit abuse rounded out the list with 6 percent of respondents indicating that was the top issue facing small businesses.

“Florida’s small businesses continue to face a number of challenges, including increased concerns about workforce quality and healthcare costs,” said Tami Fitzpatrick, chairwoman of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council, and founder and CEO of Entropy Technology Design. “Florida’s economy is dependent on the small business community, and the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council remains committed to advocating on their behalf.”

The survey was conducted electronically from March 29 through April 14. According to the Chamber, 37 percent of respondents employ less than five employees, while 42 percent employ between five and 49 employees.

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LEGISLATURE ENDS BUDGET BATTLE, SETS STAGE FOR END

It’s April 26. Do you know where your state budget is?

With the clock ticking toward the Legislature’s scheduled May 5 adjournment, House and Senate leaders appeared tantalizingly close Tuesday to agreeing on how much money to let their Appropriations subcommittee spend.

Then came the word — no conference tonight.

It was that kind of day.

Tuesday got off to an ominous start, when the House Appropriations Committee approved a “standard operating budget,” pegged to existing spending levels, that the Senate had already announced it wasn’t buying.

Budget chief Carlos Trujillo denied it was a bargaining tactic, saying he was intent on bringing the budget to the floor.

By 4 p.m., House Speaker Richard Corcoran could announce that the two chambers were “very, very, very close” to agreeing on allotments — pots of money for budget subcommittees to spend.

“And I mean close in the hand grenades sense, not the horseshoe sense,” he said.

Trujillo suggested the first formal House-Senate conference committee meeting of 2017 could begin as soon as 6 p.m.

FOR THE RECORD: It was FloridaPolitics.com, not the cute guy from Wisconsin, which broke the news about the breakthrough on the budget.

– “Contours of a $83 billion budget deal emerge” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

RICK SCOTT ENLISTS STATE BONDS CHIEF IN FIGHT FOR VISIT FLORIDA FUNDING via Florida Politics – Gov. Rick Scott has distributed a letter by Ben Watkins, director of the Division of Bond Finance, to the House and Senate budget chairmen, warning that cutting Visit Florida could damage the state’s credit rating. The letter, dated Tuesday, addressed to Jack Latvala in the Senate and Rep. Trujillo in the House, warns that cutting back on tourism promotion has harmed the economies of states that have attempted it, including Colorado and Pennsylvania. “Even a 2 percent reduction in visitors would result in a loss of $2.2 billion in travel spending and $225 million in tax revenue,” Watkins wrote. … “I believe it is important for policymakers to be informed about the important spending decisions and their financial and economic consequences.”

WHAT CHRIS NOCCO IS READING – ‘COLD CASE’ MURDER VICTIMS GET DRAGGED INTO BUDGET CONTROVERSY via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – When Speaker Corcoran excoriated “liberal” senators for loading the budget with hundreds of millions of dollars in hometown projects, the Senate responded in kind. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala noted that Corcoran wants to take home $4.3 million for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, where the speaker does legal work. It’s a first-of-its-kind Florida forensics laboratory in Land O’Lakes, near the Pasco County jail, that would teach law enforcement professionals and students while focusing on 16,000 estimated “cold case” unsolved murders and missing person cases in Florida. “I haven’t criticized the project,” Latvala said. “I’m just saying that it’s ironic: He’s against projects, but the largest single project in the budget is for him … It’s do as I say, not as I do.” “It had nothing to do with me,” Corcoran said. “It’s a project, but it’s not parochial. It’s for the entire state.”

– “Pasco Sheriff  ‘very disappointed’ Latvala is putting political ambitions first” via Florida Politics

– “Jack Latvala, Larry Ahern trade budget jabs on Twitter” via Florida Politics

HOUSE SETS UP $300 MILLION TAX HOLIDAY PACKAGE FOR FINAL VOTE via Florida Politics – Legislation extending $300 million in tax holidays and breaks for veterans, college students, farmers, young families, and more moved closer to a final House vote Tuesday, picking up an amendment expanding use of private contractors to collect auto tag fees. The amendment, by Republican Jason Brodeur, would let tax collectors in 64 counties where tax collectors don’t answer to county commissions contract third parties to sell auto tags after hours and on weekends, in exchange for a “convenience” fee on top of the state fees. ”Any county that doesn’t want to do this, they don’t have to. Just do it the way they do it now,” Brodeur said. HB 7109 provides for a range of sales tax breaks and holidays. … Florida’s “tampon tax” on feminine hygiene products would be eliminated, as it was between 1977 and 1986, Democrat Katie Edwards said.

SENATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA PLAN READY FOR A FLOOR VOTE via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Senate’s medical marijuana plan easily, with only one senator voting no. The Senate version allows edibles and vaping, while the House does not. And it would result in more treatment center licenses in the state as the number of medical marijuana patients grows. The House and Senate now will have to finish negotiations to come up with a final bill that both sides can agree on, vote out, and get to the governor for signing.

BUSINESS TAX BREAK FOR VETERANS, LOW-INCOME READY FOR HOUSE FLOOR via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The House Government Accountability Committee approved a measure that creates a local business tax exemption for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses, unremarried surviving spouses of veterans, and low-income individuals. A change to HB 487 adopted by the committee cuts out language that said local governments could only levy business taxes adopted before 2017. The bill now says any municipality can continue to levy business taxes but “may change, by ordinance, the definition of a merchant, but not the rate of the tax.”

SENATE BUDGET PANEL PASSES DIRECT PRIMARY CARE AGREEMENTS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its plan to allow patients to contract with doctors through direct primary care agreements … It now heads to the floor. An amendment to SB 240 also “directs [Medicaid managed care] plans to provide enrollees the opportunity to enter into direct primary care agreements with identified network primary care providers as well as encourages the plans to enter into alternative payment agreements with these direct primary care providers,” sponsor Tom Lee said. That language is not in HB 161 which already passed the House.

HOUSE ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS REFORM MOVES CLOSER TO FINAL VOTE via Florida Politics – The House cleared its version of assignment of benefits reform for a final vote Tuesday, defeating an amendment that would have frozen property insurance rates and required a premiums rollback next summer. PCS/HB 1421 would tighten requirements for contractors to report claims to insurance companies and establish a graduated scale for determining whether contractors holding AOBs qualify to recover litigation expenses from carriers. …  An amendment by Democrat Evan Jenne would have held property insurance rates at existing levels through July 1, 2018, then rolled rates back by 6.5 percent. And property insurers could no longer file “use and file” rate increases, but rather would have to go through formal, public hearings. “Rep. Jenne, I think you know, is one of my favorite members in this chamber to work with,” Grant said. “But this would actually be, I believe, a counterproductive way to roll back rates.”

HOUSE REVISES MEDICAID BILL TO DROP PROPOSED PREMIUMS – The House scaled back a proposed bill requiring Medicaid beneficiaries to pay monthly premiums. HB 7117 would have directed the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to ask the federal government for permission to charge monthly premiums of either $10 or $15, based on income. However, lawmakers approved an amendment put forth by Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran that drops the plan. The amended bill, sponsored by Orange Park Republican Travis Cummings, chair of the House Health & Human Services Committee, is set for a vote by the full House. The bill also allows the state to seek federal approval to enact a work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries.

GUN BILL AFFECTING FLORIDA COURTHOUSES PASSES FINAL COMMITTEE, GOES TO SENATE FLOOR via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – A proposed law that would let 1.7 million conceal-carry permit-holders temporarily store their guns with security while visiting Florida’s courthouses is on its way to the Senate floor. SB 616 from Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube passed its final committee … Members of the Rules Committee endorsed the relatively noncontroversial measure — with at least a couple Democrats opposed — after offering no discussion or debate.

LIQUOR ‘WALL OF SEPARATION’ COULD FALL IN FLORIDA via Florida Politics A bill to allow retailers to sell hard liquor in the same store as other goods is one step closer to passing the Legislature. The House decided to take up the Senate’s version of the “whiskey & Wheaties” legislation (SB 106) out of a “spirit of compromise,” said bill sponsor Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican. After two and a half hours of questions and a string of amendments that were defeated or withdrawn, the House could take a final vote on the bill as early as Wednesday. Its version has been struggling out of committees on one- and two-vote margins. The Senate bill would repeal a Prohibition-era state law requiring businesses, such as grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in Florida.

Speaker Corcoran confronts state Rep. Scott Plakon during questions on the floor as members considered the “whiskey and wheaties” bill.

LOTTERY WARNINGS COULD GO ON ADS, TICKETS via Florida Politics – The House is expected to pass a bill mandating warnings on Florida Lottery tickets and advertisements. The measure (HB 937) would require printing or broadcasting any one of six advisories on a rotating basis, including “WARNING: YOUR ODDS OF WINNING THE TOP PRIZE ARE EXTREMELY LOW,” and “WARNING: LOTTERY GAMES ARE A FORM OF GAMBLING.” It would also require retailers that sell lottery tickets to “prominently” display a sign, “WARNING: GAMBLING CAN BE ADDICTIVE.” It’s sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican.

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JOSE FELIX DIAZ: HOUSE WILL ‘TAKE GIANT STEP’ IN GAMBLING CONFERENCE via Florida PoliticsThe House will make its offer in the Legislature’s negotiation on a gambling bill this year, Diaz told reporters. “I expect to make significant progress in the conversation,” he said, without offering many details and saying the House’s offer was still in flux. “The earlier we get it out, the better.” The House and Senate are far apart on their respective gambling bills this session, with the House holding the line on gambling expansion, and the Senate pushing for new games. But, Diaz added, “considering that the House took a very conservative approach in its bill, most people who look at our offer will think that we took a giant step forward toward the Senate’s position on certain issues.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The House is expected to make its offer on the 2017 gambling bill when the Conference Committee on Gaming meets at 9:45 a.m. in 37 Senate Office Building.

“DON’T FEAR THE DEBATE?” – Anders Croy, the Communications Director for the House Democrats, emails: “In the spirit of transparency, the House Democratic Caucus would like to provide the breakdown of bills that have been placed on the calendar for a hearing up to this point. We’ll be keeping a running count each week as we proceed through Session. As of Tuesday, April 24th, 1,172 bills have been placed on the calendar in the Florida House. Of those, 884 are sponsored by Republicans, 144 are sponsored by Democrats, and 144 bills have bi-partisan co-sponsors. To put that in a percentage, 75.4% of the bills that have been heard are Republican bills, 12.3% are Democratic, and 12.3% are bipartisan.”

WHERE IS CARY PIGMAN’S DISCIPLINARY ACTION? via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – In a House of Representatives that makes a priority of members behaving ethically, how is it Rep. Pigman gets to come back from a DUI arrest where his dishonor and dishonesty were on full dashcam display — and carry on as if nothing happened? You’d better believe Frank Artiles is wondering the same thing. Pigman in the House? The Avon Park Republican returned to Tallahassee after a boozey drive home, interrupted by a stay March 24 in the St. Lucie County slammer. And what was the worst that befell him? He resigned his chairmanship of the House’s Health Quality Subcommittee. That’ll show him … This is a busy session. I don’t expect anymore to happen now. But if Pigman runs for re-election, I plan to be right here, writing reminders for voters in HD 55 of this low moment in the life of an otherwise honorable House of Representatives.

– “Correction on Nancy Smith’s Cary Pigman column” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News

*** The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. Learn more here.***

HAPPENING TODAY — PUERTO RICO DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Hosted by the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the event is meant to recognize the contributions of the Puerto Rican community across the state and celebrate the culture. This year, the event will feature panel discussions on the fiscal crisis, migration patterns, and the impact on education, housing, healthcare and criminal justice. The event is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the 22nd floor.

IT’S ALSO LILLY PULITZER DAY AT THE CAPITOL h/t to Erin Daly Ballas.

BIG WIN FOR FLORIDA – JEFF VINIK, WILL WEATHERFORD, PAM IORIO NAMED TO TECO BOARD OF DIRECTORS via Florida Politics – Tampa Electric Co. is adding five prominent Florida business and community leaders to its board of directors … TECO parent company Emera Inc., the Nova Scotia-based energy conglomerate, said the new members are as part of a commitment to keeping the company under Florida oversight. “Emera believes local directors who are community leaders are best-positioned to oversee that our utilities provide the service our customers desire,” the company statement said. In addition to Vinik, Weatherford and Iorio, joining the board, effective May 2, will be Pat Geraghty, chief executive officer of Jacksonville-based Florida Blue, and Rhea Law, chair of the Florida offices of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney PA law firm and immediate past chair of the Florida Council of 100.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Constitution Revision Commission will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Florida, 3201 Hull Road in Gainesville.

UF LAW STUDENTS DISCUSS, DEBATE AHEAD OF CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION COMMISSION MEETING via Susan Washington of Florida Politics – With the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission set to hold a public hearing [in Gainesville] — the fifth of nine hearings scheduled throughout the state … several dozen law students at the University of Florida assembled in an auditorium named in honor of the chairman of the state’s first CRC, Chesterfield Smith, to discuss the constitutional revision process with a member of the 1997-98 Commission, Jon Mills, and a historian of the state constitution, Mary Adkins. One thing the students learned in the hourlong talk is that the CRC that convened this year is the first in Florida history that has not been chaired by a graduate of the UF law school. “Here’s a fun fact,” said Adkins. “From the 1956 group that was created by statute to originally draft this constitution, through to the 1997-98 group, all of them were chaired by a UF law grad.” Referring to the chair of the 2017-2018 CRC, Carlos Beruff — a real estate developer appointed last month by Gov. Scott — Adkins added, “This particular chair is not a college graduate.”

BOB BUCKHORN SAYS PRIMARY FOR GOVERNOR WOULD HAVE BEEN TOUGH via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Bob Buckhorn has already made clear he is not running for governor. But during a brief appearance in Tallahassee, he sounded like he is still struggling with having passed up a chance to run. “I’m built for a good fight,” Buckhorn said. He made clear there were a lot of good reasons to pass on the race, but he said he thinks he would have been a strong candidate. The trouble he said was always going to be how to manage a primary because of his willingness in the mayor’s office to work with Republicans like Gov. Scott on issues. “That’s what governing should be,” Buckhorn said, acknowledging in a primary it would have been used against him. “I would have had more trouble with the primary than a general.”

SEAN BUCHAN OF WINTER HAVEN ENTERS CD 9 REPUBLICAN FIELD via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Buchan, 31, a banker with Wells Fargo Bank in Winter Haven, filed to run late last week, joining last year’s GOP nominee Wayne Liebnitzky in hoping to take down Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in 2018. “The time is right,” Buchan stated … Married with two children, Buchan spent eight years in the U.S. Marines and two in the Army, and served two tours in Iraq. His top concern is the economy which he described as “doing better, but not well enough,” particularly in Polk and Osceola counties, which he said are in need of across-the-board jobs from technical trades to high-tech. He also stressed national security as a critical concern, and expressed a strong desire for tax reform that simplifies the system for tax payers.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Wayne Bertsch, Civility Management: Florida Swimming Pool Association; Swearingen and Associates

Joanna Lee Clary Bonafanti, Beth Keating, Larry Williams, Cameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Q Link Wireless LLC

Dean Cannon, David Griffin, Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Disasters, Strategies & Ideas Group, LLC

Al Cardenas, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: IAP Worldwide Services

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies, LLC: Florida Municipal Electric Association; Monroe County Board of County Commissioners

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: The Able Trust

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Big Brothers Big Sisters Association Of Florida

Eli Nortelus, Nortelus Roberts Group: AMOAF

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Absolute Software, Inc.; salesforce.com, inc

Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: salesforce.com, inc

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – The Governors Club greets lawmakers Wednesday with Caribbean fare that includes conch chowder soup, salads, yucca salad, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, tomato salad, carne asada-beef, chicken à la plancha, BBQ grilled salmon, arroz con gandules and black beans.

BLUE ANGELS, THUNDERBIRDS MEET FOR RARE JOINT TRAINING via The Associated Press – The Thunderbirds landed at “The Cradle of Naval Aviation.” The eight Air Force F-16 pilots and more than 50 other officers and support staff from the Nevada-based Thunderbirds will join the six F/A-18 Blue Angels pilots and support staff at Naval Air Station Pensacola … The U.S. military’s two elite fighter-jet demonstration teams are seldom in the same place. Department of Defense guidelines say the teams must perform at the different air shows to cover as much recruiting territory as possible. The two teams haven’t been in Pensacola together for more than 15 years.

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds join the Navy’s Blue Angels for a rare joint training session through Wednesday at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

‘STAR WARS,’ ‘FROZEN 2’ AND ‘THE LION KING’: DISNEY UNLEASHES A BARRAGE OF RELEASE DATES via Anita Busch of Deadline Hollywood – Disney just unveiled a bevy of release dates for its upcoming slate, not the least of which is Star Wars: Episode IX (in 3D) which will bow May 24, in 2019. In addition, it removed the mystery around the untitled animation title previously announced Nov. 27 in 2019. It will be the highly-anticipated sequel to Frozen. Also, they have pegged the live-action The Lion King (also in 3D) based on the animated worldwide smash hit to July 19, 2019, … the new Indiana Jones movie has been pushed back by a year … Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 for the Wreck-It Ralph Sequel; it is also moving the film from March 9 of 2018 to the Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 21, 2018. Toy Story 4 is still on schedule for June 21, 2019, as is Marvel’s Captain Marvel for March 8 of the same year.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Larry Ahern, Tampa International Airport’s Gina Evans, and the voice of AFP-Florida, Andres Malave.

Sunburn for 4.25.17 – Budget stalemate; an Uber signing; 50 Day rule in effect; Jeff Miller back to D.C.; Florida Channel gets angry

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

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

LEGISLATURE AT STALEMATE OVER NEW BUDGET via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

For more than a week, the House and the Senate privately traded broad offers that outlined how much money would be spent in key areas such as education, health care, the environment and economic development.

Part of this broad framework also included how much money the state should set aside in reserves.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran said one stumbling block was that the House wanted to place more money in reserves because of projections that show a possible budget deficit in the next two to three years if spending continues to increase.

“We refuse to let the state go bankrupt,” said Corcoran, who also said such a strategy could force Florida to raise taxes.

Unable to reach a deal, the House over the weekend offered a “continuation” budget that would have kept intact state funding at current levels in many places. That would have allowed legislators to end the session on time and avoid the need for a costly special session. But it would have meant that there would be no money for any new projects.

The Senate, however, rejected this idea. Senate President Joe Negron, in a memo sent out to senators Monday morning, called it a “Washington creation where Congress is habitually unable to pass a budget.”

“I have no interest in adopting this ineffectual practice,” he added.

Despite Senate opposition, however, Corcoran announced late Monday the House would pass a second budget that would keep most spending at its current levels while allowing for some growth in Medicaid and public school spending. He said this budget would prevent a possible government shutdown later this summer.

“We remain hopeful that we will be able to reach an acceptable compromise,” Corcoran said in a memo to members. “It is our responsibility to pass a budget that continues the functions of state government.”

BUDGET TICK-TOCK

7:20 a.m.Joe Negron tells the Tampa Bay Times that budget talks have stalled. On the House’s continuation budget, Negron says: That’s not an offer. That’s the equivalent of packing your suitcase and moving out. It’s a reflexive and lazy response to our responsibility for budgeting.”

8:15 a.m.Jack Latvala doubles-down on Senate criticism of the House’s gamesmanship. Latvala says he thinks “we are witnessing Johnnie Byrd 2.0.

9:42 a.m.In a memo to other Senators, Negron says he “had never encountered” the term “continuation budget” in state government until it began to appear in these negotiations. Says he has “no interest in adopting this ineffectual practice.”

10:04 a.m. – @SteveBousquet: @richardcorcoran’s idea of a ‘continuation budget’ isn’t new. @FLGovScott floated the same idea two years ago

11:12 a.m. – @MaryEllenKlas: Clarifying @MyFLHouse use of ‘continuation budget,’ @RepCTrujillo says it’s ‘continuing government at this year’s levels responsibly’

12:49 p.m. – Florida House asks that “continuation budget” now be referred to as “standard operating budget.”

2:14 p.m. – @MichaelAuslen: Dem Leader @RepJanetCruz jumps into the budget fray, calling leadership’s impasse “pathetic and it’s below the level of competence.” More from Cruz: “Republican leadership in the House and Senate is failing the people of Florida. While House Democrats have been focused on and have filed legislation dealing with the real priorities of Floridians, Republican leadership in both chambers have spent their time this session on useless posturing and messaging towards higher office instead of addressing the pressing issues facing our state.

3:55 p.m. – Manny Diaz, House pre-K-12 education budget chairman, tells the Times/Herald: “Our responsibility, constitutionally, is to pass a budget, so if it means that’s what we have to do and walk away, then that’s what we have to do.”

4:15 p.m. – Matt Dixon breaks the news on the House’s plan, via Twitter: “cmte will be voting on new budget tomorrow. It’s basically going to be current year budget – non-recurring member projects + LIP … This plan would fund nonrecurring member projects in House’s proposed budget. That plus LIP would make it not exact current year budget.”

4:55 p.m. – In a memo to House members, Speaker Corcoran writes that “we remain optimistic that we will reach budget consensus with the Senate. However, by considering this standard operating budget as a contingency, we would prevent an unnecessary government shutdown, protect the state’s future, and still enable us to fund new priorities in the future.”

5:25 p.m. – The House releases the text of PCB APC 17-06 – General Appropriations Act.

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RICK SCOTT SAYS HE WILL SIGN ‘UBER BILL’ via Florida PoliticsGov. Scott tweeted on Monday that he will sign into law a bill creating statewide regulations for ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft. “I look forward to signing the @Uber/ @lyft bill,” Scott tweeted from his official account, @FLGovScott. The governor is in Argentina on a trade mission. Colin Tooze, Uber’s director of public affairs, tweeted back, “Many thanks for your leadership, @FLGovScott ! All of us at @Uber are excited to have a permanent home in the Sunshine State.”

CONFIRMATION OF 4 AGENCY HEADS GOING TO SENATE FLOOR via The Associated Press –The Ethics and Elections Committee voted in support of the confirmations of Jeffrey Bragg as Secretary of Elderly Affairs, Dr. Celeste Philip as Surgeon General, Justin Senior as Secretary of Health Care Administration and Glenn Sutphin as Director of Department of Veterans Affairs. All four are expected to be approved by the full Senate.

GAMBLING DEAL MAY COME DOWN TO SLOTS QUESTION via Florida PoliticsSeeing it as the “lesser of various evils” to pass a gambling bill this year, the House may give in to the Senate’s position to legislatively approve new slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them, according to those familiar with the negotiations … What’s becoming clearer as the 2017 Legislative Session’s May 5th end looms is House leadership’s distress at recent court decisions, the practical effect of which is opening up more gambling opportunities without legislative say … “I think the House is fed up with it,” said (an) industry consultant, referring to gambling-related court decisions. “The only way they can get a handle on (gambling expansion) is to get a bill done, and if that means throwing in the towel on slots in referendum counties, that’s the lesser of the various evils.”

SENATE BUDGES LITTLE IN INITIAL GAMBLING NEGOTIATION via Florida PoliticsSaying he wanted to “start taking small steps,” state Sen. Bill Galvano on Monday tendered the first offer in the Legislature’s negotiation on a gambling bill this year. The initial tender, though it largely maintains what’s in the Senate’s bill, also would classify contentious “pre-reveal” games as slot machines, and would limit two new slots facilities to either Broward or Miami-Dade counties … The Senate offer also would give the state more time, up to two years, to address any future violation of blackjack exclusivity brought by the Seminole Tribe of Florida with a legislative fix. That also was addressed to court rulings that create such “violations.”

‘RESTRICTIVE’ MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROPOSAL HEADED TO HOUSE FLOOR via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The House Committee on Health and Human Services passed the proposal, HB 1397, sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues by a vote of 14-4. Pro-medical marijuana activists see the measure as a big step in the wrong direction for regulating medical cannabis in the Sunshine State and have routinely criticized the House proposal to regulate the state’s booming medical marijuana industry. The bill would create many limitations on medical pot in Florida and has been criticized by patients and advocates for being far too rigid to provide relief to so many suffering Floridians. Not only would smokable cannabis be banned, but patients would also be barred from buying more than a 90-day supply of marijuana, edibles would be off-limits and “vaping” would only be allowed for terminal patients.

AFP-FL URGES SENATE TO KEEP INCENTIVES OUT OF TRIMUPH GULF COAST BILL via SaintPetersBlog — A Northwest Florida Republican plans to amend the Senate’s version of a bill to send millions of dollars to the Panhandle communities impacted by the 2010 BP oil spill to allow money to be spent on economic incentives. The Panama City News Herald reported this weekend that Sen. George Gainer said he plans to file an amendment to the bill (SB 364) so that it allows funds to be spent on economic incentives for companies in the region that provide high paying jobs. In a statement Monday, Americans for Prosperity-Florida state director Chris Hudson said the Senate would be wrong to “direct disaster relief money towards incentives.”“That money should be used to help ensure the Panhandle’s affected natural resources, beautiful beaches, and critical infrastructure needs are addressed. Handing that money over to a few select private companies is another form of corporate welfare and is wrong,” said Hudson. “We call on Senator Gainer to not file his amendment and vote on the house bill as it stands. He should put the Gulf Coast ahead of politics and not kill this bill over corporate welfare.”

HOUSE BILL ON TESTING BECOMES LATEST EDUCATION TRAIN via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Like its counterpart in the Senate, the Florida House bill on state testing — once 8 pages long — has become its chamber’s vehicle to push forward a patchwork of education policy initiatives found in a variety of other measures working their way through the legislative process. HB 773 … would balloon to 76 pages with a strike-all amendment filed over the weekend by sponsor Rep. Manny Diaz. If adopted, the proposal would include much of the original language, plus provisions added into HB 549 last week. Those included the elimination of the Algebra II end-of-course exam, a return to paper-based testing for third through sixth grades, a move of the state testing window, and the publication of certain state tests, among other items. The items in the House bill do not match the Senate bill, which includes such ideas as mandatory daily elementary school recess, the elimination of more end-of-course exams and deletion of the VAM requirement on teacher evaluations.

HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE OK’S BILL TO HELP 5G COME TO FLORIDA — The committee voted 25-2 for the bill (HB 687), sponsored by Rep. Mike LaRosa, which establishes statewide rates, terms and conditions under which wireless providers can install wireless infrastructure to bring 5G capability to Florida. “By deploying uniform small cell technology across the Sunshine State, our local communities will be able to be a part of the smart cities revolution, advancing not only our wireless network speeds but the ability to attract innovative, technologically advanced companies to Florida,” said Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, in a statement. “HB 687, which is now ready to be taken up by the full House, is the answer to autonomous vehicles, instantaneous wireless speeds and smart cities becoming a reality for Floridians.” The bill now heads to the floor. A similar Senate bill (SB 596) by Sen. Travis Hutson could be taken up by the full Senate in the coming days.

BEER ADVERTISING BILL CLEARED FOR HOUSE FLOOR via Florida Politics A House bill that would have allowed “advertising” by beer companies in the state’s theme parks morphed into a measure that allows “brand naming agreements.” What “brand naming agreements” are, however, isn’t defined in the bill (HB 423). “I’ll bet you your definition and my definition are two different things,” sponsor Rep. La Rosa told the Commerce Committee, which cleared the bill for the full House on a 17-9 vote after no debate.

FLORIDA FOREVER BILL COULD AFFECT EVERGLADES RESERVOIR PLAN via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – A bill that looks to “un-muddy” the mission of Florida’s main environmental land acquisition program could potentially affect the plan for an Everglades reservoir. A House bill brought by Rep. Matt Caldwell … was passed unanimously by a House panel. Caldwell wants to alter what projects are eligible for money under the Florida Forever Program and put more money into land conservation. But the measure would also remove funding allocations for acquisitions on water management districts’ priority lists. This could hinder Senate President Joe Negron‘s plan to build a $1.2 billion reservoir system south of Lake Okeechobee … Senate Bill 10 would direct the South Florida Management District to find land for the reservoir system. Caldwell’s bill could prevent the South Florida Management District from using bonding for the reservoir project. House Speaker Richard Corcoran supports the Florida Forever bill.

HOUSE FORMS FIRST-EVER LEGISLATIVE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – More than a dozen Democratic Florida House members have formed the Progressive Legislative Caucus, with firebrand state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith elected as its first chair … state Rep. Amy Mercado vice chair, and state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo as clerk. Other charter members included state Reps. Robert Asencio, Lori Berman, Daisy Baez, John Cortes, Nicholas Duran, Joseph Gellar, Evan Jenne, Barrington Russell, Sean Shaw, Emily Slosberg, Richard Stark and Clovis Watson.

TAMPA BAY AREA BUSINESS LEADERS LOBBY ON CONTENTIOUS TRANSIT BILL via Richard Danielson and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – More than a dozen top business local executives went to Tallahassee with an appeal in the days following last week’s political showdown between three GOP senators from Tampa Bay over a regional transit bill. But the delegation arrived just a day after Sen. Jack Latvala watched in frustration as fellow Republican senators Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee amended his bill to overhaul the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) during a tense meeting of the Senate Community Affairs Committee. As approved April 17 by the committee, which Lee chairs, the amendment would require legislative approval for any local spending on a light rail system and would prohibit the authority from spending money to push for light rail in a voter referendum. The changes are seen as a serious blow to the independence of the authority. “The timing could not have been better for this trip because the bill was at a critical point,” [nonprofit Tampa Bay] partnership president Rick Homans said. The group’s original agenda was to support a four-part policy agenda, which included Latvala’s transit bill as well as ride-sharing legislation, the creation of a regional Metropolitan Planning Organization and money for the Tampa Bay Express interstate expansion project. The group still covered all four topics, but put special emphasis on the TBARTA bill … several members of the business delegation said they hoped the session would end with some form of the transit bill.

MIAMI-DADE AIRPORT DEVELOPMENT FIGHT TUCKED IN SENATE’S $85B BUDGET via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The money was requested by former state Sen. Frank Artiles … to help build a pump station as part of a much larger development being spearheaded by AA Acquisitions at the Miami-Opa-Locka Executive Airport, which is owned by the county. The company is developing a business aviation park on county-owned property. The $1 million is a small slice of a larger privately-financed development, but has been at the center of an argument between the Florida Department of Transportation and Miami-Dade County, which has not responded to recent requests for updates from FDOT as lawmakers work to finalize the budget. The project is part of a boom in construction at the airport spurred by increased traffic from wealthy jet owners, according to the Miami Herald. “In part, the airport’s growing popularity is due to the increasing number of celebrities, hedge-fund investors and wealthy international visitors,” the newspaper reported in 2014.

*** The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. Learn more here.***

DAY 50 RULE CHANGES —Under Senate rules, after the 50th day, which is Tuesday, notices shall be provided four hours in advance of a meeting. However, Senate rules also states that unless approved by the President, no committee shall meet after the 50th day of the regular session, except the Rules Committee. The House doesn’t have a similar rule, but traditionally holding committee meetings then as well. After the 45th day, which was April 20, the House meeting notices shall be provided no later than 4:30 p.m. on the day before the committee or subcommittee meeting. That includes Saturdays, Sundays, and official state holidays.

HAPPENING TODAY — DIVE-IN-DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Take a break and enjoy the sea. No, really: It’s Dive-in-Day at the Florida Capitol. The event, hosted by the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association in partnership with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, is meant to promote scuba diving. This year the event will feature an interactive mobile aquarium featuring lionfish, vendors and dive shops, educational opportunities, and free giveaways. Hungry? They will be serving fresh samples of Florida-caught lionfish at noon.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up a massive agenda when it meets at 9 a.m. in 412 Knott. On the agenda: A bill (SB 512) to prohibit the injection of anabolic steroids in racing greyhounds; a bill (SB 808) to tweak the voter-approved maximum class-size amendment; and several claims bills (SB 38 and SB 50).The committee will also discuss a bill (SB 406) dealing with the implementation of the state’s 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, the last stop before the bill heads to the Senate floor. The Senate Rules Committee will take up dozens of bills — including one dealing with the apology to victims of the Dozier School for Boys — when it meets at 2 p.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The House Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss its so-called “standard operating budget” at 8 a.m. in 212 Knott.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: House Democrats will hold a caucus meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the House Democratic Office, Room 316 in the Capitol.

GIVE CAPUTO MY REGARDS: POLITICO Florida will host a meet-and-greet with bureau chief Matt Dixon, Florida Playbook author Marc Caputo, and reporters Jessica Bakeman, Christine Sexton, Bruce Ritchie, and Daniel Ducassi at 5 p.m. at Township Tallahassee, 619 Woodward Avenue in Tallahassee.

***Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are hired by Florida employers, unions, and public programs to negotiate rebates and discounts from drug companies. This is one way PBMs help keep the growth in actual prescription drug spending in the low single digits despite massive price hikes by some drug manufacturers. In Florida, PBMs will save $43.4 billion over the next ten years. Learn more at DrugBenefitSolutions.com.***

CLIMATE CHANGE POSES ‘NIGHTMARE SCENARIO’ FOR FLORIDA COAST, BLOOMBERG WARNS via Joe Romm of ThinkProgress.org – “Pessimists selling to optimists.” That’s how one former Florida coastal property owner describes the current state of the market in a must-read Bloomberg story. Right now, science and politics don’t favor the optimists. The disintegration of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is speeding up, providing increasing evidence we are headed for the worst-case scenario of sea level rise — three to 6 feet (or more) by 2100. The impacts are already visible in South Florida. “Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock,” explains Bloomberg. “Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply.” Faster sea level rise and less adaptation means the day of reckoning is nigh. Dan Kipnis, chair of Miami Beach’s Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority — who has failed to find a buyer for his Miami Beach home for nearly a year — told Bloomberg, “Nobody thinks it’s coming as fast as it is.”

SFWMD TO FACEBOOK LIVE WEIGH-IN OF 50th PYTHON ELIMINATED via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – SFWMD will broadcast the weigh-in … through the District’s new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sfwmd at 11 a.m. … The weigh-in “event” is actually taking place at the SFWMD Homestead Field Station located at 2195 NE 8th St. in Homestead … Python Hunter Dustin Crum of Myakka City captured a 14-foot python for the 50th snake eliminated. Hunter Patrick Campbell of St. Johns County holds the record for the largest snake caught through the Python Elimination Program at 15 feet 10 inches. Hunter Michael Valcare of Miami has captured the most snakes so far, eight, netting $1,375 in bounties. Jamison Meyerof Cutler Bay has captured seven snakes and pocketed $1,200 in bounties. The pilot program began March 25 and will run until June 1.

PERSONNEL NOTE: FORMER REP. JEFF MILLER JOINS LOBBYING FIRM IN WASHINGTON via Ledyard King of the Pensacola News-Journal – The former Republican chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who represented Northwest Florida for nearly 16 years, is joining McDermott Will & Emery as a “senior legislative adviser” in the firm’s Government Strategies group. Aside from health care issues focused on veterans, Miller said he’ll also be working in other areas he was involved in during his time on Capitol Hill including defense and agriculture. “And there are numerous people that the company already represents that I will aid in policy work as well,” he said in an interview. The firm, a large law practice with offices across the country and abroad, earned more than $3.4 million in lobbying income last year … Its list of clients in 2016 included Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Diabetes Access to Care Coalition, Mayo Clinic and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.

PERSONNEL NOTE: SARAH REVELL JOINS FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE via Florida PoliticsRevell’s first day as the department’s new communications director was Monday. She was formerly the Media and Marketing Manager for the Florida Department of Health. Before that, Revell was an account manager at Tallahassee’s CoreMessage PR firm and was Chief of Staff to First Lady Ann Scott. She got her undergraduate degree in public relations from Florida State University.

SPOTTED: Team Jax – Lenny and Molly Curry, Brian Hughes and Rachel Perrin RogersTim and Jessica Baker – as well as Andrew Wiggins and Laura Lenhart at the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, celebrating the passage of Curry’s historic pension reform plan for Jacksonville.

SPOTTED: At the wedding of Tom Alte and Meagan Salisbury Saturday – attorney Johnny Bardine; State Rep. Ben & Christina Diamond (who now works for Sen. Bill Nelson); pollster Tom Eldon; Cesar Fernandez of Uber; John Fox of the Florida Justice Association; Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; St. Pete Council Chair Darden Rice; media consultant John Rowley and State Rep. Sean Shaw.

STOP STEALING OUR VIDEO, FLORIDA CHANNEL SAYS via Florida PoliticsThe Florida Channel wants you … to stop stealing its videos. A new disclaimer began popping up Friday under the channel’s online video feeds: “Programming produced by The Florida Channel CANNOT be used for political, campaign, advocacy or commercial purposes!” It adds: “ANY editing, embedding or distribution without permission is strictly PROHIBITED. Direct linking to complete video files is permissible, except in the case of political campaigns.” Florida Channel executive director Beth Switzer on Monday explained the “terms of use” reminder was sparked by the “increasing number of people stealing (videos) for advocacy purposes.”

FOR SERIES ON RISING GUN ACCIDENTS AMONG FLORIDA KIDS, FAMILIES’ STORIES BRING DATA TO LIFE via USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism – On average, a child in Florida was shot every 17 hours. We combed the data for trends. … The data alone told an important story. We were the only ones who had it. The state Department of Law Enforcement doesn’t know how many gun incidents involve children. And the Florida Department of Health doesn’t publish detailed statistics on the issue. But in order to truly explain the toll, we needed people who had experienced it firsthand. Finding sources wasn’t easy. We started by combing through news clips from across the state. We identified children who had been shot in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, and reached out to their parents. In some cases, the parents were willing to talk me. But for every one parent that invited me over, another four rejected me or didn’t return my calls. The takeaway: While it was important to quantify how many kids in Florida were hurt and killed by firearms annually — and to help readers understand why it was happening — it was just as important to show what the trend has meant for real people.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, a recap of Miami GOP Sen. Frank Artiles use of racial slurs and other controversies leading to his resignation. Jacksonville Times-Union reporter Tia Mitchell was first to probe and shine a spotlight on the private conversation at the members-only Governors Club. Gomes and Mitchell chronicle the bipartisan outrage following Artiles’ use of the N-word and other derogatory terms. Plus, Philip Singleton, also known as the Hip Hop Lobbyist explains why the harshest racial slur in American English is a mainstay in pop culture.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. David Richardson, consultant Tom Alte, Kristin Lamb, and progressive activist Susan Smith.

Sunburn for 4.24.17 – Florida is burning; Frank Artiles epilogue; Budget negotiations stall; Trial of generation in Jacksonville; Ballard, Inc.

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

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

DRINKING FROM A FIREHOUSE 

From wildfires burning throughout the state to the smoldering embers of Frank Artiles‘ political career and from the soon to ignite race to be Florida’s governor to the white hot last two weeks (maybe) of the 2017 Legislative Session, attempting to keep up with all that is going on in Florida politics is like, well, drinking from a firehose.

As dangerous as wildfires are — just ask our reporter, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster who lives in one of the areas recommended for evacuation — it’s probably L’affaire Artiles which will have the most immediate effect on state affairs. Not because Artiles’ resignation has any real-world or real-time impact on the government, but because the distraction it caused/is causing knocked the Legislature way off schedule.

Right now, with the Session ending on May 5, the House and Senate do not seem at all on track to pass a budget on time and Sine Die. The conferencing needed to reconcile the budget and other legislation has yet to take place (the prospect of passing a gambling bill, while some key lobbyists says is still possible, seems to be one of the primary victims of the lost time). The conventional wisdom setting into place in Tallahassee is that Session will conclude next week, but with writing a budget tabled for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, almost all of the major policy issues and food fights remain up in the air. From whether to fund Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida to how to implement Amendment 2, it’s unclear which way these issues will move.

This begs the questions, if a budget is not passed before May 5 and the Legislature comes back in mid-May to early June to write one, but it’s then vetoed by Governor Rick Scott because it zeroes out EFI and/or VF, can you imagine the pressure cooker it will be by mid-June as the House and Senate scramble to override the governor’s veto or write a second budget?

Speaking of the governor…

GOV. SCOTT DELAYS TRIP TO ARGENTINA DUE TO WILDFIRES via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Scott was scheduled to leave late Saturday for a five-day trip to Buenos Aires. A final decision has not yet been made on whether to cancel the trip completely. The governor has been monitoring the wildfires and visited one site in southwest Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott tours wildfire damage in Lehigh Acres.

— “Local investment in public safety communications infrastructure pay off during Florida disasters” via Florida Politics

BREAKING LAST SUNDAY NIGHT: Scott left for Argentina, per Fineout.

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— EPILOGUE TO L’AFFAIRE ARTILES — 

HOOTERS ‘CALENDAR GIRL’ AND PLAYBOY ‘MISS SOCIAL’ WERE ARTILES’ PAID CONSULTANTS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The long list of expenditures filed with the Florida Division of Elections by Artiles’ political committee, Veterans for Conservative Principles, also raised some questions. Why did the committee hire a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience as “consultants?” Were the payments related to a trip to the Kentucky Derby or a fishing tournament in Key West? What was the more than $51,000 in reimbursements to Artiles for? Heather Thomas, a former Hooters calendar girl and waitress at 101, a restaurant and bar in Tallahassee, was paid $2,000 between March and June of last year. The expense report lists the purpose as “consultant.” Her friend, Brittney Singletary, is a waitress at Stetsons on the Moon in Tallahassee. She was paid $1,500 with three checks covering three of the same dates and listing the same purpose.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE, contra the narrative some in the media, like Michael Van Sickler suggest, that Artiles could have survived sans the Klas story. That’s not true. Senate leadership had and has more on Artiles than what Klas reported and some of what they had was shared with Artiles, which is part of the reason why he really resigned — not because Klas was working on this story.

AS ARTILES LOST SUPPORT IN STATE SENATE, BILL GALVANO HELPED BROKER RESIGNATION via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – (I)t was Galvano who was tasked with dealing with the backlash that ultimately led to Artiles to issue a statement announcing his resignation Friday morning. “I did meet with him last night [Thursday],” Galvano (said). “What was said between the two of us was personal.”

THIS IS ALL ADAM SMITH COULD COME UP WITH WHEN WRITING ABOUT ARTILES? (Plus Franco Ripple wrote the exact same thing earlier) Here’s Smith’s Loser of the Week note.

DWIGHT BULLARD CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR ARTILES’ SEAT via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – … “I’d be lying if I said interest wasn’t there, but I still need time to process it all and make a final decision,” said Bullard, a Miami public school teacher who lost in the Democratic-leaning district last fall. He said it’s ironic that the Republican has now stepped down under pressure from his black Senate colleagues, who were upset about his use of a slang version of the “N-word” to refer to white members of the GOP conference in the presence of two black senators. “That same community that he chose to ignore are the ones who led to his demise,” Bullard said. “That should resonate with anyone thinking about running for the seat, whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican.”

— “Replacing Artiles: Who’s in and who’s out” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

SUNBURN FACT OF LIFE: There could be no bigger mistake in the SD 40 special election than for the Florida Democrats to go back to Dwight Bullard. What does it say about Bullard that he lost to someone like Artiles in the first place?

TWEET, TWEET: @SLRoss528: The concerns regarding his (Bullard’s) association with terrorists have not gone away

MORE TROUBLES FOR THE SOUTH FLORIDA CREW – ERIK FRESEN TO PLEAD GUILTY FOR FAILING TO FILE TAX RETURN ON $270K via Jay Weaver of the Miami HeraldFresen, a former Republican state representative from Miami-Dade, plans to plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge of failing to file a tax return on income of $270,136 in 2011 while he was serving in the Legislature and working as a land-use consultant. Fresen, 40, who was term-limited in 2016 after serving eight years as a legislator in a district stretching from West Miami to Cutler Bay, was charged in Miami federal court this week. That paved the way for his planned guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola. Fresen could face from probation up to one year in prison.

DAYS UNTIL: NFL Draft – 3; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 11; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 11; MLB All-Star Game – 77 FSU vs. Alabama football game – 130; Election Day 2017 – 196; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 234; First Day of 2018 Legislative Session – 258.

***Learn the facts! FHCA knows Florida’s seniors deserve the best! The Senate’s proposed nursing home reimbursement plan creates incentives for quality and will dramatically improve care for our seniors.***

— THE LATEST ON LEGISLATIVE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS —

THE HOUSE’S SIDE OF THE STORY via @SaintPetersBlog on Twitter: Negotiators for @MyFLHouse say they were willing to meet @FLSenate halfway; up from appx. $81.2 bil to $83.179 bil. … Obviously, that’s almost $2 billion more than @MyFLHouse originally wanted to spend. …. Another concern of House is Senate’s willingness to play fast with out-year budgets. … House insiders point out that when he was Aprops Chair, @JoeNegronFL was very worried about out-year deficits, now not so much.

THE SENATE’S SIDE OF THE STORY via Fineout on Twitter: After a week of negotiations @JackLatvala says there is still no deal. Lack of deal led House to propose continuation budget … says Senate isn’t quite sure how a “continuation” budget would work. Calls it a DC term … says the House & Senate did trade a couple of offers, inc a comprehensive 1 from House last week … says there is still opportunity to reach a budget deal this session. Need to reach deal on allocations by Tuesday … Irony of @MyFLHouse @ @richardcorcoran proposing continuation budget is that it would keep some funding for @EnterpriseFL & @VISITFLORIDA

PROBABLY BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY but it’s behind a paywall: “House, Senate make no progress over weekend on bridging $4 billion gap via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

KEY BUDGET QUOTES:

Richard Corcoran: “There’s no end to the Senate’s liberalism.” Jack Latvala: “We put things on sheets of paper, side-by-side, and it was I’d say for the most part roughly 2-to-1 in their favor.”

COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Education Committee will discuss a bill (HB 773) that would tweak the state’s standardized-testing requirements when it meets at 2 p.m. in Reed Hall. The House Health & Human Services Committee will discuss its version of the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment implementing bill (HB 1397) when it meets at 2 p.m. in Morris Hall. The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets at 3 p.m. to discuss a bill (HB 7007) to revamp the health insurance plan for state employees. The Senate Ethics & Elections Committee will hold several confirmation hearings, including Surgeon General Celeste Philip, when it meets at 5 p.m. in 412 Knott.

— “Proposed House committee bill would reset land-buying funding formula as chairman makes push” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

GAMBLING CONFERENCE COULD MEET THIS WEEK via Florida Politics – A notice last Thursday said: “The Conference Committee on Gaming … will not meet before Monday, April 24.” A Supreme Court decision approving the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment for the 2018 ballot threw a wrench into the works, vice-chair and state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz said last week. He said conference chair and state Sen. Bill Galvano wanted to make sure the amendment, which would give voters power to OK or veto new casino gambling, “wouldn’t affect the Senate’s offer,” Diaz said. The House and Senate are a gulf apart on their respective gambling bills this session, with the House holding the line on gambling expansion, and the Senate pushing for new games, including approving slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them.

TWEET, TWEET: @Aglorios: Florida Legislature’s gambling conference meets on Monday at 1:30 pm.

EDITORIAL: LAWMAKERS IN HOUSE SHOULDN’T SQUANDER BEST CHANCE YET TO HELP THE EVERGLADES via the Miami Herald – The Florida Senate gets it. As a result, Senate lawmakers have passed one of the most carefully crafted bills yet to ensure the health of the Everglades. As environmentalists, water-dependent businesses, economists and tourists know, so much depends upon the health of the River of Grass, including South Floridians’ access to clean water, the state’s economic vitality, indeed, the well-being of the state itself … Florida desperately needs a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. For too long, the state has blithely allowed water released from the lake to flow to the coasts, and out to sea, an unconscionable waste of this precious resource … pollutants in that water have created massive algae blooms that, literally, have raised a stink in estuaries and along beaches, threatening to ruin the entire ecosystem around Lake O and the Everglades. The reservoir will serve two vital purposes. First, it will store the billions of gallons of water currently being sent to the coasts. Second, it will feed needed water to the Everglades to keep them hydrated.

BUSINESS RENT TAX CUTS STILL IN PLAY IN HOUSE, SENATE FOR 2017 via Florida Politics – Florida’s business rent tax is one of the outstanding issues at play as lawmakers crawl toward sine die of the 2017 Legislative Session. Included in the House’s tax package is HB 7109, a reduction of the business rent tax – lowering it from 6 percent to 4.5 percent for two years. If approved, the tax cut would begin January 1, 2018, and then supporting a permanent tax rate reduction from 6 percent to 5.5 percent beginning January 1, 2020. HB 7109 is on the House’s Special Order Calendar. While the Senate has not yet put together a package, there are two bills in the upper chamber that seeks to give businesses a break … SB 704 seeks to provide tenants with relief from the Florida’s “double taxation” – a “tax on tax” that occurs when tenants pay property taxes for property owners. SB 484 … would reduce the state sales tax rate that is charged on commercial leases from 6 percent to 5 percent.

HOME RULE OR LOCK DOWN? That is the question hanging over the rapidly moving, not moving, moving again vacation rental bills (HB 425/SB 188) that are up in their final committees this week: House Commerce and Senate Rules. So what will it be? Behind Door A, we have a watered down vacation rental bill that pretty much does nothing, allowing local governments to keep some local control if they had rules in place pre-2011 – aka home rule prevails. And behind Door B, we have a very aggressive preemption bill, similar to the old Greg Steube bill, that has picked up speed and is moving through the process that would put a lock on local governments’ control of vacation rentals. It will be interesting to see which vacation rental bill will be the last one standing, if any at all…are lawmakers so far apart on this with the recent amendment actions by Sen. Jeff Brandes that this issue will end up seeing the light of another session?

— “When Airbnb goes wrong: A Miami story” via David Smiley of the Associated Press

IS THIS ‘WHISKEY & WHEATIES’ LAST HURRAH FOR 2017? via Florida Politics – A measure to undo the requirement that retailers sell distilled spirits separately from other goods is back on the House calendar for this week. The House will consider the “whiskey & Wheaties” bill (SB 106/HB 81) on Tuesday, records show, after postponing it twice in recent weeks … The latest holdup came after lawyers for Publix, the Florida supermarket chain that opposes the measure, said it would mean teenage employees wouldn’t be allowed to work in stores where hard booze is sold.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING – SITE SELECTORS ISSUE WARNING TO STATE ECONOMY IF ENTERPRISE FLORIDA IS CUT via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times – A pair of site selection experts hired by Pinellas County this year to give an unvarnished look at the high-density county’s challenging prospects for economic development and better wages offered up the good, the bad — and a warning. If Florida or the Tampa Bay region’s economic development organizations fail to provide traditional marketing or support to corporate projects recruited to this market, there will be a painful price in lost jobs and investment paid by the area economy. That includes Pinellas County, warned Josh Bays, a principal with the Dallas economic development consulting firm Site Selection Group. “It scares me to death,” Bays said of the potential loss of backing by Enterprise Florida at the state level and the Tampa Bay Partnership at the regional level.

FCTA CAPITAL DATELINE TALKS FINAL WEEKS OF 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION — FCTA President Brad Swason talks with EEM President Peter Schorsch, The Capitolist Publisher Brian Burgess, POLITICO Florida Bureau Chief Matt Dixon, and Rotunda host Trimmel Gomes about their inside perspectives on the state of affairs in the Florida Capitol as the 2017 legislative session nears its finish. What are the must-wins for the Speaker, Senate President and Governor? What bills are on life support? Who are the biggest winners and losers this year? These insiders tackle all the latest in this episode of The Pundits: Digital Media Edition on Capital Dateline.

YOU HAVE TO LOVE THIS QUOTE ABOUT JOE GRUTERS FROM JOE GRUTERS: “People may say Joe’s doing what’s in the best interest of Joe. Of course I am because I’m trying to get the best deal for our community.” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

*** The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. Learn more here.***

ETHICS COMMISSION BUCKS LEGISLATIVE LEADERS’ ASSERTION OF AUTHORITY via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The panel agreed to back Chairman Matthew Carlucci in rejecting a “delegation of authority” issued March 21 by Speaker Corcoran and PresidentNegron. Carlucci was sure the leaders’ intentions were “noble,” and that “these are good people,” he said. Still, “as long as the Legislature stays involved with any kind of delegation or perception of a delegation that they can deliver to us, there will always, in my opinion, be a conflict of interest inherently. And particularly on our investigators and their support teams,” Carlucci said. “Because when we have to occasionally investigate members of the House or the Senate, and there’s a perception that they have some control, that is a conflict of interest.”

WEXFORD RESPONDS TO DOC’S CANCELLATION OF HEALTH CARE CONTRACT via Florida Politics – In a lengthy press release, the Pittsburgh-based private health care provider took issue with the department’s criticism of its performance: “Wexford Health Sources disagrees with the assessment of the Correctional Medical Authority regarding the treatment provided to a small number of inmates at the South Florida Reception Center. More significantly, we take strong exception to the idea that this limited number of cases—involving patients who were already experiencing significant psychiatric challenges before they ever entered our care—should serve as the basis for termination of our contract with the State of Florida … there was nothing in the treatment of these inmates that should, or could, justify contract termination.” Wexford Health President CEO Dan Conn summed up the situation: “Wexford Health’s culture is one of transparency. We have always been open and direct with the Department about our performance. In fact, the Department has consistently complemented us on our performance and partnership.”

***From negotiating rebates and discounts from drug companies and drugstores to reducing waste and offering services like home delivery of medicines, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) use a number of tools to reduce drug costs and improve quality. In Florida, PBMs will save $43.4 billion over 10 years.***

TWO DEMOCRATS STAND OUT IN GOVERNOR RACE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Four of the five top contenders for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination spoke to voters in Tampa Bay … Two stood out: Andrew Gillum … and John Morgan … Democrats need a nominee who will take a progressive agenda to every corner of the Sunshine State, [Gillum] said, including the conservative Panhandle, where Floridian families struggle to make ends meet and vent over high-stakes testing in schools just like elsewhere in Florida. Morgan … “Write down one thing that Tallahassee has ever done to make your life better.” Priorities: Raise the minimum wage, reform Florida drug laws, rein in public education money flowing to privately operated charter schools. Delivery: A. He is funny and smart, a non-politician with a clear, simple, gutsy agenda. The big question: Will Morgan run? He sounded like it Friday.

DEJA VU: “Gwen Graham close to announcing she’s running for Governor” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

JOHN MORGAN: I WAS NOT DRUNK THAT NIGHT AT BOOTS N BUCKLES via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – … “First of all, I was not drunk when I was on that video,” said Morgan, laughing off the question and explaining that he had had two drinks at Outback before that video was filed. “I guess if I use the f-word, f-bombs, people think I’m drunk. If that’s the case, I’m drunk every damn day of my life. … When I got on my bus to go back to my beach house, I got drunk. And when I got to my beach house, I got drunker. But I was not drunk at Boots N Buckles. But I do love Boots N Buckles it will be in my heart forever.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Run. I told him, I said if you run I think you’ll win.” — Charlie Crist, recounting a conversation he had with Morgan to Jim DeFede on “Facing South Florida.”

ANDREW GILLUM’S ‘GRAY AREA’: EMAILS REVEAL A MAYOR’S OFFICE ENTANGLED IN PROFESSIONAL AND POLITICAL WORK via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat– Weeks before Tallahassee Mayor Gillum announced he was running for Governor, he sent Neera Tanden an email thanking her for her work on the Hillary Clinton campaign. But something else was on his mind … that he wanted to discuss with Tanden, former policy director for President Barack Obama and the president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy research center. From his campaign account <andrew@andrewgillum.com> Gillum wrote: “I was hoping that you and I could find the time to connect by phone or in person soon. I saw that you may have waded into the Florida Gubernatorial Primary in support of Gwen Graham, and I wanted the opportunity to discuss that race with you before too much time passes.” Using another email address, andrewgillum2012@gmail.com, Gillum cc’d subsequent emails from Tanden to his assistant at City Hall, Angie Whitaker (angela.whitaker@talgov.com). Whitaker asked what “the preferred number that Mayor Gillum should call to connect with Ms. Tanden Tuesday, February 14 @ 12:30pm?  Thank you.”

PAT NEAL: EASY TO SEE WHY HE COULD BE FLORIDA’S NEXT CFO via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – It took me less than five minutes with Neal over a cup of coffee at the Doubletree in Tallahassee to see why he and Gov. Scott are such good friends. And it isn’t because Neal, 68, has been a champion fundraiser for the governor, though he’s certainly been all that. Scott and the Bradenton homebuilder are cut from the same cloth. They speak the same language. No wonder political insiders — not all of them but some of them — float Neal’s name as the leading candidate for chief financial officer when Jeff Atwater leaves the post. “Providing jobs for Floridians … what higher a calling could there be for a leader in Florida?” Neal asked. Does that sound like anybody else we know?

CORRINE BROWN’S TRIAL FEATURES BIG-NAME WITNESSES TO TEST CHARGES via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-UnionBrown will stand alone and defiant this week when she faces fraud and tax charges that could put her in prison, effectively for the rest of her life. The aide who watched her back for a quarter-century will be a witness for the prosecution that accuses the flamboyant Democratic power broker of cashing in on donations she steered to a bogus charity, One Door for Education … witness lists that both sides go a long way to … give people an idea of whom to watch as the case unfolds. Still, it’s easy to lose track. Between them, the lists include three members of Congress, about a dozen business executives, plus college presidents, local politicians, assorted Jacksonville movers and shakers, and the son of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. The prosecution’s witness list includes Tandy Bondi, the granddaughter of former Gov. Lawton Chiles and sister-in-law of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

— “In Corrine Brown’s trial, a chapter of Jacksonville history will be written” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

A.G. GANCARSKI WILL BE LIVE-BLOGGING BROWN’S TRIAL; once it starts, you can follow along by clicking here.

TWINE NOOSE LOWLIGHTS HATE BEING SENT ARAMIS AYALA’S WAY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – A twine noose taped to a postcard and nasty comments sent in the mail and via social media are showing racist hatred Orlando’s State Attorney Ayala is receiving as she battles in court with Gov. Scott over whether she has the power to refuse to pursue death penalty prosecutions. The twine noose was discovered attached to a card inside an envelope mailed to her office, one of two racist-material and potentially threatening mailings that her office has reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office recently.

BALLARD, INC. via Fredreka Schouten and Maureen Groppe of USA TODAY – Former campaign aides, fundraisers and others with ties to Trump and Pence have attracted dozens of new lobbying clients in Washington, raking in more than $2.2 million in lobbying fees in the first months of the administration … Brian Ballard … appears to lead the pack, signing up 20 federal clients since opening his Washington lobbying operation this year. His company, Ballard Partners, has earned more than $1.1 million in a three-month period, new lobbying reports show. Ballard is one of more than a dozen White House allies launching new firms, taking new jobs in lobbying firms or signing up new clients this year as companies and other interests look for ways to shape policy in the Trump administration …

— “Ballard Partners’ latest federal signing: The ruling party of Albania” via Florida Politics

TWEET, TWEET:

SPOTTED at the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists FAPL-tini reception – Alex Alvarado; Rep. Daisy Baez; Rivers H. Buford, Director of Government Relations, American Heart Association; Candice Ericks, President, TSE Consulting; Dawn Faherty (from Rep. Don Hahnfeldt‘s office); Edgar Fernandez, Partner, Anfield Consulting; Susan Goldstein, President, Susan Goldstein Consulting; Suzanne Goss, Jacksonville Electric Authority; Mike Hightower, Chief Public Affairs Officer, Jacksonville Electric Authority; Lauren Jackson, Principal, Ericks Consultants; Mark Landreth; Dave Mica, Executive Director, Florida Petroleum Council; Samantha Saxton; Brad Swanson; Doug Wheeler, President & CEO, Florida Ports Council; Larry Williams; Victoria Zepp, President Clarity1st Consulting.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: IAP Worldwide Services

Melanie Brown, Johnson & Blanton: Seaworld Parks and Entertainment

Joseph Sazverg, GrayRobinson: Petainer Manufacturing USA Inc

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Informatica Corporation

Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yeager, One Eighty Consulting: Centrify

FOR #MONDAYMOTIVATION, SEE VOLUNTEER FLORIDA’S #30UNDER30 – Make sure to check out Volunteer Florida’s  #30Under30 initiative, which recognizes an under-30 volunteer every day throughout the month of April.  #30Under30 features emerging student leaders and accomplished volunteers like PIFF’s Samantha Sexton and the Florida Justice Association’s G.C. Murray. Click here to see all of the #30Under30 volunteers to date!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Sen. Randolph BracyBrian Hughes‘ better half, the wonderful Rachel Perrin Rogers, as well as our friend in Alabama, Apryl Marie Fogel, the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Janelle Irwin, Moffitt Cancer Center’s Laura Lenhart, Mary Ellen Upton, Mr. Florida Ports Doug Wheeler and our own Andrew Wilson. Celebrating today is HD 66 candidate Berny Jacques, our friend St. Pete City Councilman Ed Montanari, and Amanda Stewart.

Sunburn for 4.21.17 – Artiles, Artiles, Artiles, bills are dying, Artiles

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 NON-FRANK ARTILES NEWS …

Yes, scientists feel they’re under attack by politics too, and like minority groups, women, gun advocates, gun opponents, social activists, and others, they’re taking it to the streets.

Twenty-one “Marches for Science” are set to take place in Florida Saturday, Earth Day, all declared as satellite marches to the main one that will take place in Washington D.C. Organizers say they’ll have more than 400 such marches worldwide this weekend.

March for Science organizers are declaring their mission as to champion “robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.”

Organized through scientists and supporters discussing the prospect through social media, on their website they declare that, yes, their effort “is explicitly a political movement, aimed at holding leaders in politics and science accountable. When institutions of any affiliation skew, ignore, misuse or interfere with science, we have to speak out.”

In Florida marches are planned Saturday for Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Fort Walton Beach, Gainesville, Hudson, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Miami, Naples, New Smyrna Beach, Orlando, Palm Beach County, Panama City, Pensacola, Sarasota, Titusville, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, and West Palm Beach.

The dozens of partners sponsoring the event range from environmental groups such as the Earth Day Coalition and The Nature Conservancy, to science specialty groups as the American Society for Cell Biology and the Planetary Society, to broad groups such as the National Center for Science Education and the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as several universities.

They’re maintaining the marches are non-partisan.

“Science is nonpartisan,” said Blake Williams, spokesman for For Our Future spokesman, which is co-organizing the Florida marches. “Advocating for evidence-based policies and solutions serves everyone’s best interests, and Saturday’s march is about speaking out in support of science together.”

OTHER NON-ARTILES NEWSSUPREME COURT OKS GAMBLING CONTROL, FELON VOTING RIGHTS AMENDMENTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The state’s highest court gave its approval for proposed state constitutional amendments on voter approval of new gambling and restoring voting rights to ex-cons. But there’s a big ‘if’ before either can be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot—both amendments still need hundreds of thousands of signatures. Moreover, Justices Ricky Polston and R. Fred Lewis dissented on the gambling amendment, saying “the ballot title and summary do not clearly inform the public that the proposed amendment may substantially affect slot machines approved by countywide (referendums).” The Florida Supreme Court does not pass judgment on subject matter, but reviews proposed amendments only to make sure they cover only one subject and that their ballot title and summary aren’t misleading.

DAYS UNTIL: NFL Draft – 6; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 14; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 14; MLB All-Star Game – 80; FSU vs. Alabama football game – 133; Election Day 2017 – 199; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 237; First Day of 2018 Legislative Session – 261.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce March job numbers at 10 a.m. at Pelican Wire, 3650 Shaw Blvd. in Naples.

***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***

#FRANKGATE

LAWYER: FRANK ARTILES RACIAL SLURS OFFENSIVE, BUT THEY’RE ALSO FREE SPEECH via The Associated Press – A lawyer representing [Artiles] who could be punished for using a racial slur and other vulgarities says he’ll present evidence that other senators have used similar language. Lawyer Steven Andrews wrote to the Senate lawyer reviewing the case and said the complaint shouldn’t be pursued because Artiles’ statements — as offensive as they were — are protected under his constitutional rights to free speech. He also said the Senate lawyer, Dawn Roberts, shouldn’t handle the case because she’s also represented Artiles and witnesses who would be called to testify.

A FOUR-NAME BYLINE STORY HERE: “Artiles controversy engulfs Florida Senate with two weeks left of Session” by the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald

PAM BONDI: ARTILES SHOULD CONSIDER RESIGNING OVER RACIAL SLUR via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Bondi became the first state Republican leader to suggest Artiles should leave office for using a slang version of the N-word and other derogatory language during a heated discussion with colleagues. “There is simply no room for racial, hurtful language spoken to your colleagues or anyone else,” Bondi [said]. “I have always liked Frank and hope he gives serious consideration to resigning so the focus can return to important legislative issues.” Bondi stopped short of definitively calling for Artiles’ expulsion from the Florida Senate.

LEGISLATIVE JEWISH CAUCUS URGES SENATE TO EXPEL ARTILES via Florida PoliticsThe Florida Legislative Jewish Caucus “denounced” Artiles Thursday, urging his Senate colleagues to toss him out of the Legislature. “(We) denounce Senator Frank Artiles for his racist, sexist, and otherwise inflammatory comments directed at some of his Senate colleagues,” they said in a statement. The statement was signed by Rep. Richard Stark, chair, and Reps. Lori Berman, Ben Diamond, Joe Geller and Emily Slosberg, and Sen. Kevin Rader. All are Democrats.

FLORIDA’S NAACP JOINS THOSE CALLING FOR ARTILES’ RESIGNATION via Florida PoliticsThe head of the NAACP Florida State Conference is calling for state Sen. Artiles to step down. The organization “stands fully behind the Florida Legislative Black Caucus … and several groups who have called for the resignation of Miami Senator Frank Artiles,” said Adora Obi Nweze, president of Florida’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People … “A public apology is not good enough … Do us a favor, take your racist language and racist actions and resign,” said Nweze, also a member of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors.

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

OSCAR BRAYNON, FOUR OTHER DEMOCRATS, SET TO FILE IN SUPPORT OF ARAMIS AYALA via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Five Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Minority Leader Braynon are preparing to file a brief with the Florida Supreme Court in support of Orlando’s State Attorney Ayala in her effort to challenge Gov. Scott‘s power to take cases away from her. Braynon, state Sens. Jeff Clemens, Perry Thurston and Gary Farmer and state Rep. Sean Shaw all filed a request with the Supreme Court to enter an amicus brief supporting Ayala and opposing Scott. The court quickly approved it. They explicitly stated in their friend-of-the-court brief would “provide an alternative perspective to that of amici Florida House of Representatives.”

BUDGET CHIEFS SOUND HOPEFUL AS CLOCK TICKS ON STATE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS via Florida Politics – With two weeks and change remaining in the 2017 Legislative Session, House and Senate budget leaders are professing optimism that they can resolve their differences and adjourn on time May 5. House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo — and Jack Latvala, his Senate counterpart — both said Thursday they hope to begin formal budget conference negotiations soon. “We have to. If not, we’re running out of time,” Trujillo told reporters.  The process is driven by “just the natural timetable for sine die May 5,” he said. …  “I think we need to start in conference by the first of the week in order to get done on time,” Latvala said. “But I have every confidence that we will do that at this point — which is different from my opinion the first part of this week. We’ve made a lot of progress.”

— “How the Legislature could $1.5 billion in extra Medicaid money for something other than hospitals” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

HOUSE SPEAKER: THERE’S TIME TO ADDRESS SCHOOL RECESS, BUT NO PROMISES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – When asked if the House would take up a parent-supported bill (SB 78), which passed the Senate unanimously two weeks ago, Corcoran said: “What I’d say on that is: We have two weeks left. There’s a lot of activity on the recess bill that’s still happening, and anything is possible.” The House version of the recess bill — which was significantly watered down and is no longer supported by parents, health and physical education experts or the lawmaker sponsoring it — is stalled in a committee that’s not scheduled to meet again. There is no visible action by House members that indicates that status would change. Senators, meanwhile, are trying another route to force the House to consider the proposal they passed, which would require elementary schools to offer 20 minutes of recess each day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, separate from physical education classes.

GAMBLING CONFERENCE WON’T MEET TILL NEXT WEEK via Florida Politics – Conference members had planned to meet Thursday, then a notice went out: “The Conference Committee on Gaming will NOT meet today and will not meet before Monday, April 24.” Blame it on the Supreme Court’s decision that same day to approve the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment for the 2018 ballot, vice-chair and state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz said. Chair and state Sen. Bill Galvano wanted to make sure over the weekend that the amendment “wouldn’t affect the Senate’s offer,” Diaz said in a phone interview. Galvano didn’t respond to a phone message. Also, committee members Jared Moskowitz and Joe Geller had personal matters requiring their attention in South Florida and had to leave Tallahassee, Diaz added.

TWEET, TWEET: @MearKat00: If you put a legislative calendar up to your ear and listen very closely you can hear the sound of bills dying.

BILLS ARE DYING, BUT CHILDREN ARE DYING: “Foster care agency leaders quit amid teen suicides, other turmoil” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald

***Smart employers know an inclusive workforce makes good business sense and helps secure Florida’s future. Only 30% of Floridians with disabilities are working. Explore the talent in the untapped 70%. Find out how at AbleTrust.org.***

‘EYEBALL WARS’ BILL, SLATED FOR HOUSE COMMITTEE, GOES UNHEARD via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – A bill seeking to expand what optometrists could do — namely, performing surgery and prescribing opiates — was an agenda item in the Florida House Health and Human Services Committee … However, the bill at the center of Florida’s Eyeball Wars went unheard. HB 1037, sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz, barely cleared Health and Human Services Health Quality Subcommittee last month, on an 8-7 vote … A similar controversy was expected in the full committee, but it didn’t manifest.

HOUSE MOVES CLOSER TO SENATE ON CHANGES TO STATE TESTING SYSTEM via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Rep. Manny Diaz, sponsor of the “Fewer Better Tests Act,” tied several of the ideas from that bill into a separate effort to allow parents and others to see certain state tests after students take them. The Diaz amendment would, among other things … Eliminate the state Algebra II end-of-course exam … Require paper-based state language arts and math tests for third- through sixth-grade … Move the state testing window to later in the spring, and shrink it to a shorter time frame … Change the value-added model of evaluating teachers.

FLORIDA MAY MAKE IT EASIER TO GET RID OF SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS via The Associated Press – The House voted 94-25 for a bill that would allow parents and residents to review instructional materials and then challenge them as inappropriate before a hearing officer. A similar bill is also moving in the Florida Senate. Critics of the bill contend that it could lead to schools removing books that discuss topics such as climate change or evolution. But Rep. Byron Donalds, sponsoring the bill, maintains that the legislation is about giving people an opportunity to raise questions about textbooks. He noted that local school districts would still have the final say on whether the materials should still be used.

HOUSE ADVANCES JUVENILE JUSTICE BILL, ADDING ADULT DIVERSION PROGRAM via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The House version (HB 205), sponsored by Seminole Republican Larry Ahern, changed again in the House Judiciary Committee … would expunge the arrests of juveniles for certain first-time misdemeanor crimes. That differs significantly from its Senate companion. Miami Republican Anitere Flores‘ bill (SB 196) would mandate civil citations to juveniles for a number of first-time misdemeanors. Longwood Republican Scott Plakon‘s amendment to HB 205 would allow adults arrested for certain crimes to go into a pre-arrest diversion program. That insertion upset Venice Republican Julio Gonzalez, who for more than a year had been working on the legislation to address juveniles. He said a number of issues regarding the juvenile component of the bill remain unresolved. Those issues were now “tainted” by the discussion over adults, Gonzalez argued.

LAWMAKERS APPROVE ATTORNEY FEE TWEAK TO PUBLIC RECORD LAW via Florida PoliticsLawmakers on Thursday unanimously passed a compromise measure on winners of public records lawsuits collecting attorney fees, sending the bill to Gov. Scott. The House passed the Senate bill (SB 80) on a 115-0 vote. The legislation requires judges to award attorney fees if they find an agency broke the public records law and a “requestor” gave five days’ notice before filing suit. Most importantly, a judge must determine if a request was for an “improper purpose,” such as intentionally forcing an agency to break the records law or for a “frivolous” reason.

— “House financial literacy bill passes final committee” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE VOTE SENDS SOLAR TAX BREAK BILL TO THE SENATE FLOOR via Florida Politics – Senate implementing legislation for last year’s solar energy referendum passed its final committee test … when the Appropriations Committee voted its unanimous approval. The bill by St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes would implement $54.5 million in annual solar breaks on local taxes, approved by Florida voters via Amendment 4 in August. SB 90, supported by environmental groups and solar panel installers, lacks the same safety standards and disclosure requirements found in the House version, HB 1351. Brandes said the House is moving toward the Senate’s position. “We’re going to continue to work with them. The landing site in in sight on this bill,” Brandes said.

WELFARE CHANGES IN FLORIDA INCLUDE TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR RECIPIENTS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Welfare recipients in Florida would face tougher penalties for failing to meet work requirements and some food stamp recipients could become ineligible if lawmakers in the Florida House have their way. The chamber passed a set of changes to Florida’s welfare laws by an 82-38 vote with three Democrats joining Republicans in support. It’s a move supporters say is supposed to help people who receive cash assistance from the state to find good jobs and discourage reliance on government. “We’re trying to help individuals, we’re trying to curb fraud and abuse and get rid of this system of dependency,” said Rep. Dane Eagle the bill sponsor. “We don’t want people to be dependent on the state. We want them to be gainfully employed.” But opponents say Eagle’s legislation (HB 23) — also a priority of House Speaker Corcoran — is an attack on the poor.

BILL BANNING STEROID USE ON GREYHOUNDS PASSES HOUSE via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – HB 743 would prohibit the use of anabolic steroids at any point in the Greyhounds career. Any licensees caught in violation of the law could lose their license and be subject to a fine of up to $10,000. While the bill had broad bipartisan support and Republican Alex Miller as a co-sponsor, there was still some debate opposing the legislation “My concern is that we’re making an emotional argument and not a factual one” said Rick Roth, a Republican from Palm Beach, citing an underlying motive to ban dog racing altogether. “My concern is that we’re jumping off the cliff too fast.” Other opponents argue that steroids are given to female dogs in heat to simply keep male greyhounds away. In closing, Smith thanked the House Speaker for letting the facts drive the discussion on the legislation instead of partisan politics. The bill passed with 84 votes in favor and 32 votes in opposition.

***Learn the facts! FHCA knows Florida’s seniors deserve the best! The Senate’s proposed nursing home reimbursement plan creates incentives for quality and will dramatically improve care for our seniors.***

FIRST ON #FLAPOL – NEWEST DRAFT RULES GOVERNING 2022 SPEAKERS RACE: MEMBERS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR NOMINATION IF THEY VIOLATE GOP CONFERENCE RULES via Florida Politics — An updated draft of rules governing the election of the Republican’s freshman caucus leader — and eventual Speaker of the House — moves up the organizational meeting and stipulates a member found in violation of Republican conference rules would be ineligible for consideration. Reps. Ralph Massullo and Michael Grant have been tasked with writing draft rules to help guide the freshman class’s decision-making process. While new rules approved by members this year banned any active speaker’s races until June 30, the draft election rules are meant to spell out how the freshman class would ultimately pick its leader. But, perhaps the most notable change is the provision that outlines exactly who is eligible to become leader. When it came to nominations, the earlier draft of rules only noted that nominations “shall be from the floor and must receive a first and a second to be a valid nomination. Members may be the first or second for their own nomination.” New draft rules, however, go a step further. According to the latest version of the rules, a caucus member would be ineligible to be nominated if the House Speaker declares the member in violation of House Republican Conference Rules.

HOUSE APPROVES SIX-YEAR LOBBYING BAN FOR FORMER LAWMAKERS, ELECTED OFFICIALS via Florida Politics – The House approved tough new ethics legislation Thursday barring members of the Legislature and statewide elected officials from lobbying their former colleagues for six years after leaving office. The measure also would prevent officials from leveraging their authority to seek jobs from or going into business with lobbyists. CS/SB 7083 passed on a vote of 118-0, even though Speaker Corcoran has conceded the Senate has little interest in boosting ethics laws this year, and with the scheduled end of session a little more than two weeks away. … Existing law restricts lobbying by former lawmakers and elected officials for two years.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Gregory BlackJames DaughtonWarren HusbandAndrew Palmer, Metz Husband & Daughton: American Association of Payers, Administrators and Networks

Scott Dick, SKD Consulting: AMOAF

Mike Haridopolos: I.O. Inc

Marc Reichelderfer, Landmarc Strategies: Bombardier Transportation

TAMELA PERDUE WILL JOIN VOLUNTEER FLORIDA FOUNDATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS via Florida Politics – Perdue was unanimously approved by the Volunteer Florida Foundation Board of Directors and the Volunteer Florida Commission. Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “We are thrilled to have Tammy join the Volunteer Florida Foundation Board. She brings an extraordinary amount of executive leadership and private-sector insight to the Board and we look forward to serving with her.” Perdue serves as Senior Vice President of Legislative and Government Affairs for Sunshine Health, one of Florida’s largest health plans.

WEEKEND TV

Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Cruise Missiles over Syria. Bombs over Afghanistan, Aircraft Carriers off the Korean Peninsula, Russian Nuclear Bombers flying 36 miles off the coast of Alaska – are we headed for war? Dr. James discusses the recent shows of force with political analyst Dr. Lawrence Miller.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: The Sunday morning show will kick off with a segment on what everyone in Tallahassee is talking about: Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles’ slur-filled rant at the Governor’s Club. The PolitiFact Trump-O-Meter rates the current status of the president’s campaign promise to dramatically scale back the EPA. On the Common Grounds segment, guests Kevin Doyle of the Consumer Energy Alliance and former Rep. Dick Batchelor look at the EPA regulations rollback and discuss how it could affect the environmental climate and the business climate moving forward.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Congressmen John Rutherford and Ron DeSantis will make an appearance, while the panel will consist of Carlton Robinson of the Jax Chamber, Ellen Sullivan of BairFind, Jeannie Fredrick of Women Business Owners of NE Florida, and Iris Simmons of The Genesi Group.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Steve VancoreGary Yordon and Sean Pittman will be joined by none other than some guy named Peter Schorsch.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Lloyd Dunkelberger, Andrew Hall, and a true Florida gentleman who doesn’t even read Sunburn, Erik Suskey.

Sunburn for 4.20.17 – Frank Artiles defiant; Steph Smith’s big day; Senate’s first gambling offer; Black bears are safe; NSFW tennis

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Jim Rosica and Florence Snyder, who has the lead..

LET’S HOPE SOMEONE LOVES FRANK ARTILES ENOUGH TO GET HIM SOME HELP

On a busy day of hearings in a busy week of the legislative session, a south Florida woman wanted a picture of herself and a friend and the rain pouring outside the Knott Building. She scanned the immediate vicinity for a friendly face, and held her iPhone out to Jacksonville’s Audrey Gibson.

Plainly the tourist had no idea that Gibson was a member of an elite, exclusive, and powerful club. The tourist was utterly unaware that the elegant lady she approached is one of a tiny handful of Floridians upon whom the sun rises and sets in #TheProcess. Most definitely, the tourist had no clue that hundreds of people are paid hundreds of millions of dollars to catch a moment of the time of this woman, and her 39 colleagues in the Florida Senate.

Gibson smiled, took the iPhone, and spent a stunning amount of time considering camera angles and composing multiple shots.

This is the gracious public servant that Frank Artiles refers to as a “fucking bitch.” To her face. At the members-only venue where people pay through the nose for a quiet place to eat, drink and do business, and pay extra for private lockers for their personalized cigars.

Artiles has a history of verbal violence toward women, African-Americans, and Muslims. His drunken diatribe Monday at the Governor’s Club is not the first time he has embarrassed himself in a bar. We now know that “pussy” is his go-to insult for a white male lawyer who outranks him in #TheProcess pecking order.

It has been suggested on the Sayfie Twitter Ticker, where some Floridians still get some information, that Artiles. a former Marine, may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Let’s put that one to rest. PTSD doesn’t cause bigotry, but alcohol makes bigots more likely to reveal their pre-existing prejudices.

Artiles didn’t much look like a Marine as he stood on the Senate floor to read an insincere, meaningless apology written for him by some hastily-assembled Committee to Save Artiles Career. The Senator from a Diverse Miami Neighborhood shifted on his feet, looking like a rattled schoolboy as he rattled the pages of his prepared text.

When people can’t exercise the control and judgment we expect of a third grader, there is often a medical explanation. Let’s hope someone loves Artiles enough to help him find out.

OSCAR BRAYNON TO ARTILES: APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED via Florida Politics Senate Democratic Leader Braynon says fellow Sen. Artiles’ apology for using racial epithets and obscene insults is “not enough” and “the Senate must be compelled to act.”

“Senator Artiles appears to have an issue with people who don’t look like him, who don’t think like him, and who don’t act like him,” Braynon said. “Worse, this isn’t just one isolated incident; rather, it’s an extremely troubling pattern that continues to escalate.”

SENATE SETS TIGHT TIMELINE FOR INVESTIGATION

Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto has appointed the chamber’s top lawyer to investigate a complaint by next Tuesday seeking to remove Artiles from office. Senate President Joe Negron announced the move Wednesday in a memo to senators. Benacquisto “found that the complaint states facts supporting a finding of probable cause,” meaning it’s more likely than not that Artiles violated a Senate rule governing its members’ conduct.

Negron appointed Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts to be a special master, a quasi-judicial officer who hears cases and makes recommendations. Her “report and recommendation to the Committee on Rules (is due) by the close of business on Tuesday, April 25, 2017,” Negron said. 

— “Disgraceful Artiles incident wasn’t Joe Negron’s finest hour” via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

ARTILES WANTS TO DEPOSE BLACK LAWMAKERS CALLING FOR HIS OUSTER via Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Artiles is taking a defiant stance in the face of black lawmakers calling for him to be tossed from the Senate. Not only will he not resign, Artiles said he will run for re-election in two years and that he’ll fight the Rules complaint filed against him by hiring a lawyer and deposing all the members of the black caucus to show that he didn’t call Gibson a bitch, per se, and that he’s not a racist.

“There were several comments in the black caucus that were inaccurate, incorrect and not corroborated by me,” Artiles said. “Several comments made in the black caucus put me in a bad light because that’s not what was said.” Artiles said his dispute with Gibson stemmed from her vote against his legislation concerning property tax value adjustment boards. He responded by questioning her on her legislation concerning “Baker Acting” minors. “Audrey, stop being a b— on my bills and I’ll stop being a f—— ass—- on yours,” Artiles said he told her.

TWEET, TWEET:

CALLING FOR ARTILES RESIGNATION:

Andrew Gillum (read here)

Chris King (read here)

Equality Florida (read here)

Tampa Bay Times (read 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***

BILL SETTING STATEWIDE RULES FOR UBER, LYFT GOES TO GOVERNOR via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – After a four-year battle in the Florida Legislature, lawmakers passed statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft that would undo a patchwork of local rules across the state. Lawmakers were quick to send the measure (HB 221) to Gov. Scott, who has yet to take a definitive stand on the issue. If it is signed into law, Florida would create a single statewide set of rules on the ride-hailing industry. Uber and Lyft currently have tens of thousands of drivers in Florida, and the proposed legislation would help them expand their app-based services throughout the state. With this bill, local ordinances targeting ridesharing services would be overturned July 1. That includes local rules in the Florida Keys where Uber and Lyft can’t operate.

From left to right, the PR and lobbying team of Kasra Moshkani, Javi Correoso, Stephanie Smith, Colin Tooze, Cesar Fernandez, Brad Nail, Natalia Montalvo and Anna Alexopoulos celebrate Wednesday’s final passage of statewide regulation for rideshare companies, including their client, Uber.

RICHARD CORCORAN ACTUALLY THANKS FSU FOR RETURNING CONTROVERSIAL APPROPRIATION via Florida Politics – Corcoran thanked Florida State President John Thrasher for returning money from a now controversial appropriation. The university got part of an appropriation for Florida Psychological Associates, a firm operated by friends of Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican. “I recognize that the lack of direction … placed FSU in a situation it did not seek,” Corcoran wrote in a letter dated Tuesday, saying Thrasher’s willingness to return the money was “commendable.”

HOUSE OKS LEGISLATION TARGETING SOARING WORKERS COMPENSATION PREMIUMS via Florida Politics – The Florida House approved a workers’ compensation fixTuesday intended to answer the Florida Supreme Court’s objections to the system by adding flexibility on attorney fees in benefits challenges, and by boosting benefits for injured workers. The measure, HB 7085, passed on a vote of 82-37. Danny Burgess, whose Insurance & Banking Subcommittee pulled together the various interests in hours of hearings on the bill, conceded, “This product is not perfect.” Still, it would close a “statutory gap” in disability benefits and extend them from the existing 104 to 260 weeks; require carriers to grant or deny benefits quickly; and ensure appointment of a worker representative to a state panel that sets medical reimbursement rates compensation, he said.

ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES DIGS THE BILL: “Since the Florida Supreme Court ruled Florida’s workers’ compensation system unconstitutional, AIF’s workers’ compensation task force has been saying we need solid measures that address Florida’s floundering system. Floridians deserve a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system, not one that leaves injured employees at the mercy of unscrupulous trial lawyers.  HB 7085 will help give Florida’s business community the tools needed to ensure injured workers are receiving benefits in a timely manner and at affordable prices to employers.”

CHECK OUT THIS “VIDEO OP-ED” FROM THE HOUSE ON THE WORKER COMP BILL:

HOUSE VOTES TO REPEAL FLORIDA’S PIP MANDATE FOR AUTO INSURANCE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The House voted to replace Florida personal-injury protection insurance mandate for motorists with a requirement that they buy bodily injury protection, upending an insurance system in place since 1971. “Today, we have the ability to start thinking about personal responsibility in a different way, and shifting that paradigm in the state of Florida in how we do auto insurance,” sponsor Erin Grall said. “It’s difficult to think about doing something different after 40-plus years, but it shouldn’t keep us from doing what’s best for Floridians,” she said. HB 1063, approved on an 89-29 vote, would require motorists to carry minimum bodily injury coverage worth $25,000 for injuries to another person, and $50,000 for injuries for two or more people.

HOUSE ADVANCES BILL GIVING POWER TO STATE LEGISLATORS FOR CRAS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics– A modified bill to put additional limits on Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA) advanced in the House Government Accountability Committee. Local governments use CRAs to promote affordable housing, economic development, health and safety in under-served neighborhoods. They hold a set percentage of property taxes paid by residents of a community, investing that money — also known as tax incremental funding (TIF) — back into the area. Sponsored by Valrico Republican Jake Raburn (HB 13), the bill originally would have eliminated all CRAs formed after July 1, prohibit CRAs from taking on any new projects or debts after Oct. 1 and end all the state’s CRAs by 2037. However, that proposal received furious pushback from local officials throughout Florida. Raburn’s new bill would allow for the creation of CRA’s to continue, but only by having a local government official get buy-in from a state legislator, who would have to pass it as a local bill. His measure also limits what a CRA can spend their funds on.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS PUSH TO GIVE HOSPITALS GREATER SAY IN EXPANSION via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – For four decades, hospitals wanting to expand or open new facilities have had to get the state to agree there’s a need for more health care in their community. It’s a rule that Republicans in the Florida House say creates unnecessary burdens on the free market. This week, they’ll be passing a bill to repeal it. But opponents of the repeal worry that allowing hospitals to build beds wherever they want will encourage health facilities to build in wealthy areas, leaving poor communities with limited options and safety net hospitals strapped for cash. Legislation (HB 7) to repeal the regulations, called CON (certificate of need), is expected to pass the Florida House, where it is a priority of Speaker Corcoran … It also has the endorsement of Gov. Scott, who called it one of his top health care priorities this year.

CHEERS: HOUSE ‘BEER GLASS’ BILL CLEARS LAST COMMITTEE via Florida PoliticsFlorida bars and restaurants could be gifted with free branded beer glasses under a bill that’s now ready for the House floor. The legislation (HB 853) was OK’d with no debate by the Commerce Committee, its last panel of reference … It would allow distributors to give to bars and restaurants up to three cases per year of glasses from brewers that are imprinted with beer names and logos. Now, glasses have to be sold. The measure has stoked controversy, however. Smaller craft brewers have said they can’t afford to keep up with what will likely be a flood of free glasses from Anheuser-Busch InBev, which makes Budweiser and Bud Light.

SENATE DEALS “LOW HANGING FRUIT” IN HOUSE GAMBLING OFFER via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – (Sen. Bill) Galvano said he won’t offer any major changes to the Senate’s proposal, which embraces the expansion of gambling in Florida and is at complete odds with the House’s proposal that cracks down on gambling. Instead, his focus will be on clearing up definitions of certain games like slot machines and dealing with “low hanging fruit” like a recent lawsuit involving a company that has made a computer game that is very similar to a slot machine. Under current law, casino-style gambling is generally illegal in Florida, and these games are exclusively granted to the Seminole tribe outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

SENATE VOTES TO ALLOW BEER ADS IN THEME PARKS, ‘MERLOT TO GO’ via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The measure (SB 388), sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson … eases the state’s “tied house evil” law by allowing ads, which could include a beer company sponsoring a concert or festival within a park. Universal Orlando has supported the bill. Some beer industry representatives had privately complained. However, they “fear being extorted by the theme parks.” The bill also repeals a state law to permit wine bottles of all sizes to be sold. That includes the “Nebuchadnezzar,” which hold 15 liters, or the volume of 20 standard wine bottles. Further, it would repeal another state law that requires diners to order and consume a full meal — “consisting of a salad or vegetable, entree, a beverage and bread” — before they can take home an opened bottle of wine.

ANOTHER SESSION WILL END WITH THE REVILED WRITE-IN LOOPHOLE INTACT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Another year will pass without lawmakers closing the notorious “write-in loophole” that candidates, consultants and political parties use to manipulate election outcomes by preventing independent voters from having a voice in primary elections in all 67 counties. Rep. Danny Burgess … filed a one-sentence bill intended to close the loophole. It reads: “If a primary election would, if not for the presence of one or more write-in candidates, be open to all qualified electors pursuant to Sec. 5(b), Art. VI of the state constitution, the primary election shall be open to all qualified electors.” (Simple enough, right?) Burgess’ HB 1381 never received a hearing.

EYEBALL WARS RAGE AS DOZENS OF MEDICAL GROUPS OPPOSE OPTOMETRISTS, CLAIMING ‘SERIOUS THREAT’ TO CARE via Florida Politics – A growing number of medical professionals have joined forces in a wave of disapproval of optometrists in Florida’s “Eyeball Wars,” which is now making way through Tallahassee. HB 1037, which seeks to allow optometrists to perform surgery and prescribe opiates, among other things, now sits on the agenda of the House Health & Human Services Committee. This week, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine became the latest medical group to publicly oppose the bill, adding its name to a list that now stands at two dozen. In the letter, Bascom Palmer Ophthalmology Chair Dr. Eduardo Alfonso, joined by Vice Chair Dr. Steven Geddeand medical director Dr. Stephen Schwartz, warn: “There are no shortcuts to learning to safely perform eye surgery. Ophthalmologists complete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical education, one year of internship, and then three years of ophthalmology residency training, such as that provided at Bascom Palmer … In summary, we believe that HB 1037 and [Senate companion] SB 1168 represent a serious threat to patient safety, public welfare and quality of care … The citizens of Florida deserve far better than the superficial and inadequate ‘training’ that is provided for in these bills.”

FANTASY SPORTS INTERESTS MAKING LATE LEGISLATIVE PUSH IN FLORIDA via Florida PoliticsA fantasy sports advocacy group is emailing supporters, asking them to write to Florida lawmakers to “keep fantasy sports in the Sunshine State.” Fantasy Sports for All, backed by FanDuel, provides multiple pre-written calls to action their customers can send to legislators … “There are more than 3 million of us in the state that love to play fantasy sports. Please pass legislation that ensures we can continue playing the games we love” … Members of the House and Senate plan to meet in conference Thursday to begin working out differences between their gambling legislation passed this year. The Senate’s bill would “create the Fantasy Contest Amusement Act to regulate daily fantasy sports; ” a House bill, separate from its gambling package, declares fantasy sports to be non-gambling and thus legal to play.

SHOES ARE STARK REMINDERS OF SEXUAL ABUSE via Florida Politics – An emotional and eye-opening display featuring about 1,000 shoes worn, decorated and submitted by sexual assault survivors of all ages from across the state of Florida – with accompanying stories – are decorating the Capitol rotunda through Friday of this week. They commemorate National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The display, hosted by Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) asks others to “Walk in My Shoes” – the shoes of someone who has been affected by sexual violence. “Our smallest shoe was submitted by the mother of an infant, and the largest shoe was sent in by a 50-year-old man,” said Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book, an abuse survivor.

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

HAPPENING TODAY – FLORIDA SPORTS DAY AT THE CAPITOL — The Florida Sports Foundation will celebrate all thing sports during Florida Sports Day at the Capitol on Thursday. The event runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and is meant to showcase the sports entities that make Florida one of the top sports destinations in the state. The event will feature mascots from Florida’s professional teams, race cars, and an interactive fishing boat from the Coastal Conservation Association Florida. The organization will also recognize the amateur sports Athletes of the Year during a ceremony at 12:30 p.m.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Judiciary Committee will discuss a series a bills, including an estoppel bill, when it meets at 8 a.m. in 404 House Office Building. Financial literacy is on the agenda when the Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. in 102 House Office building. Over in the Health & Human Services Committee, members will be asked to take up a bill to remove requirement to pre-register cosmetic products with DBPR when they meet at 9 a.m. in 17 House Office Building. The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up several bills when it meets at 10 a.m. in 412 Knott. The committee is expected to take up a bill to implement the August 2016 solar power constitutional amendment, a bill to allow residents of a county to object to materials used in the classroom, and a bill to create pilot projects to cultivate, process and test industrial hemp.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will present the Freedom Award to to Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” Cary Roque and Angel de Fana for their efforts to fight for freedom and democracy in Cuba during a ceremony at 9:30 a.m.at The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, 1200 Coral Way in Miami. He’ll then head to Tampa, where he will attend a groundbreaking ceremony for NewSouth Window Solutions’ new manufacturing and distribution facility at 2 p.m.at the Crossroads Commerce Center, 4330 Williams Road.

NO BLACK BEAR HUNT FOR 2017 via The Associated Press – The state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 7-0 on Wednesday to direct their staff to revamp the bear management plan and report back in two years. That came after a motion to hold a bear hunt this year was voted down 4-3. FWC executive director Nick Wiley said before public comments that while the agency believes science and population numbers support another bear hunt, there is still more work to do to convince the public.

***Smart employers know an inclusive workforce makes good business sense and helps secure Florida’s future. Only 30% of Floridians with disabilities are working. Explore the talent in the untapped 70%. Find out how at AbleTrust.org.***

DID ‘PUTNAM FOR GOVERNOR’ TWITTER FLUB BREAK ELECTION LAW via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam appeared to skirt state election law Wednesday when his Twitter account mistakenly posted a message that bore an “Adam Putnam for Governor” logo — even though he’s not an official candidate yet. But Putnam’s top consultant said the Twitter message wasn’t the fault of the Republican or his political committee, Florida Grown. So he says no law was broken.“The image was inadvertently posted by our digital partner. We immediately asked for it to be removed,” consultant Justin Hollis told POLITICO Florida. He declined to name the vendor. Under state election law, people can’t make a campaign expenditure until they become a candidate.

DANIEL SOHN ANNOUNCED AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER BID via Florida Politics — Daniel Sohn announced Wednesday he was throwing his hat in the race to replaced Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in two years. In a 2 minute and 30 second video announcing his intentions, Sohn he plans to meet with Floridians, business and environmental groups about how to improve the state. “Now there is no harm in recognizing that the success of Florida’s economy lies within the agricultural industry, for after all it is Florida’s economic engine,” he said in the video. “But Florida deserves a leader that can continue focusing on the needs of our industries, while beginning to do what Florida should have already been doing best — taking care of our people.” According to the campaign’s Facebook page, Sohn current serves as the district aide to Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor Pat Edmonson. Edmonson, according to a news release Wednesday, is coordinating his campaign. According to the campaign’s Facebook page, Sohn current serves as the district aide to Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor Pat Edmonson. Edmonson, according to a news release Wednesday, is coordinating his campaign.

STEVE HOUGH: FLORIDA’S CHANCE TO FIX ITS ‘RIGGED’ ELECTION SYSTEM via Florida Politics – Florida has a once in a generation opportunity to fix our “rigged” political system via the Constitution Revision Commission. If you’re like me, you don’t need some expert to tell you about the adverse effects of gerrymandering. Acrimonious partisan rhetoric, high-dollar campaign financing, and a terrible closed primary system locking out 3.1 million independent voters in our state, has allowed power to shift from citizens to politicians and party leaders. Despite very little notice of the commission hearings, Floridians are packing rooms to speak their minds. One of the key topics cited by dozens of speakers: getting rid of the horrible closed primary system that locks out over a quarter of our registered voters and forces politicians to cater to a small fraction of the electorate during the primary, where the majority of races are actually decided. These primary voters are often the most ideologically extreme in both major parties. The commission will continue these public hearings for some time. It’s critical we keep up this drumbeat at every meeting, and increase the volume. The time is now. The concern is real. We demand change. We want open primaries. Commissioners, are you listening?

FLORIDA PROSECUTORS’ GROUP TO WEIGH IN ON RICK SCOTT’S SIDE IN ARAMIS AYALA DISPUTE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association – which represents the state’s 20 state attorneys including Ayala – will be filing an amicus brief against her and supporting Gov. Scott‘s power to reassign state attorneys’ cases. The association filed a motion requesting the chance to weigh in as a friend of the court on Scott’s side, and the Florida Supreme Court quickly approved it … Ayala challenged the governor’s authority to do so last week in a write of quo warrento to the Supreme Court, and in a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Her colleagues, apparently, agree that Scott has the power to intercede and reassign state attorneys’ cases.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALEX BURGOS DEPARTING MARCO RUBIO’S OFFICE, JOINING TECHNET AS VP via Florida Politics — TechNet, a network of technology CEOs and executives, announced Wednesday that Burgos would serve as its vice president of federal policy, government relations and communications. “As a seasoned veteran of Capitol Hill and federal campaigns at all levels, Alex brings a wealth of policy experience, deep relationships, and strategic vision to TechNet,” said Linda Moore, the president and CEO of TechNet in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Alex to the TechNet team and believe his wide range of skills, experience, and insights will take our federal advocacy programs to new levels of success.” Burgos joined Rubio’s team when the Miami Republican was first running for office, serving as his campaign’s communications director. He would go on to serve in the same role in Rubio’s U.S. Senate office. “Serving Senator Rubio and my home state of Florida has been the honor of a lifetime, and now I’m thrilled to partner with TechNet’s members to advance the policies that will spur the next chapter of America’s incredible innovation story,” said Burgos in a statement.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Lisa Aaron, Lisa Aaron Consulting: McAfee, Inc

Randy EnwrightClay BarkerJames Rimes, Enwright Consulting Group: Marsy’s Law for All

Gregory Black, James DaughtonAimee Diaz LyonAndy Palmer, Metz Husband & Daughton: Donate Life Florida

Ron BookKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Association for Clear and Compassionate Governance of Substance Abuse Treatment

Candice Ericks, Ericks Advocacy Group: True Frame

Kenneth GrangerDean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: Philips North America; Tellus

James Harris, James E. Harris Jr.: Hartman & Tyner, Inc

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Lutheran Services Florida

Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: Philips North America

Steven Marin, Marin and Sons: Florida Power & Light Company

Jerry Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Marsy’s Law for All

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: City of Orlando

David Singerson, Capital Hills Consultants: Hartman & Tyner, Inc

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Tech Ambience

Stephen Winn, Stephen R. Winn and Associates: Association for Clear and Compassionate Governance of Substance Abuse Treatment

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LOUD SEX SOUNDS INTERRUPT PRO TENNIS MATCH IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press – Frances Tiafoewas about to serve Mitchell Krueger during their match in the Sarasota Open when he paused and flashed a smile of disbelief over the sound of a woman moaning in pleasure. Broadcaster Mike Cation initially described the sounds as coming from someone playing a pornographic video in the stands, but later said they were coming from an apartment nearby. Both players had fun with the situation while the crowd laughed. Kreuger hit a ball sharply in the direction of the sounds, and Tiafoe screamed, “It can’t be that good!” Cation later saluted the responsible couple on Twitter, writing “Sounds like you guys had a good time!” Click on the image to below to watch video from the match.

GONDOLAS WILL RISE AGAIN AT WALT DISNEY WORLD via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Walt Disney World Resort will erect a gondola ride between two of its parks and three hotels, but it’s nothing like the Skyway attraction that once linked Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The 10-passenger gondolas will have six stations and with three lines linking Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, the Caribbean Beach Resort and the lakeside area that straddles Pop Century and the Art of Animation resorts … ski-style gondolas may help alleviate the wait for some guests. The Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, an Austrian/Swiss manufacturer of trams, cable cars, chairlifts and urban people movers will develop the system. The company built the Hogwarts Express elevated train between the two Harry Potter lands at Universal Orlando Resort.

LAST KILLER WHALE IS BORN AT A SEAWARD PARK via Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press – The Orlando-based company said the orca – the last in a generation of whales bred in confinement – was born Wednesday afternoon. SeaWorld did not immediately name the calf because the park’s veterinarians had not yet determined whether it was male or female. The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that it had stopped breeding its orcas. The gestation period for orcas is about 18 months. The calf will be visible to visitors either in the orca stadium pool at the San Antonio park or in two adjacent pools. Observations about the calf and Takara by SeaWorld trainers will be provided from the moment of birth to researchers trying to fill gaps in their data about wild killer whales.

GOVERNORS CLUB THURSDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – If it’s Thursday, it must be Italian Day at the Governors Club with minestrone soup; Italian meat & cheese salad; Mediterranean green salad – iceberg, romaine, red onion, Kalamata olives, crouton, grape tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, pepperoncini – seasonal greens; three dressing sections; rosemary rose pork loin; chicken cacciatore; gnocchi with olive oil & Parmesan cheese; grilled vegetables and Italian style zucchini.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to state Rep. Randy Fine, our friend Bill Rufty, and the handsome Justin Thames.

Sunburn for 4.19.17 – Just another slow day in the Capitol

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

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

PRO-POT FORCES WANT MORE RESTRICTIONS? WAIT, WHAT?

Legislating can be a complex convoluted mess. I get that.

But the complex convolution has hit an apex when the pro-Amendment 2 forces are lobbying – and to be really clear, SUPPORTING – a limitation on how many dispensaries a medical cannabis license holder can open.

Yes, these same forces (and I won’t name names here, but you know who you are) have convinced several Senators to support a highly restrictive limitation on the number of retail outlets a licensee can have. You can’t make this up. Those who support allowing the broadest number of patients the opportunity to have medical marijuana are supporting the most severe restrictions on licensees.

And don’t give me the malarkey about Pennsylvania doing it. No, it doesn’t. You can’t compare Pennsylvania’s non-vertical model with Florida’s. That comparison makes no sense.

Here’s the “logic.” If we restrict the number of outlets, then patients will be denied, people will scream and yell and then Florida lawmakers will be forced to expand the number of licenses. (So, if they are in that situation, wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier if they just expand the number of dispensaries each licensee could open? Sorry, I digress.)

Look, we get it. The pro-Amendment 2 forces want more licensees. The bid losers want more licensees. Other farmers/growers and those with cash-burning pocket holes want more licensees. So they are using this tactic to force someone’s hand.

But this seems a little risky. It feels more than a little disingenuous to try and force the hand of lawmakers with such a plan that could seriously backfire. What if they actually passed this? Then where are we? Licensees won’t be worth 1/10th what they are now. Patients will be denied access for at least another year or two. And the pro-medical marijuana forces will have cut their noses for spite.

We hear a lot about the 71% who voted to support Amendment 2. We hear that from those who want expansion and who demand it now. Yes, the vast majority of Floridians voted to allow sick people to smoke medical weed. And there are some excellent people pushing to make sure a fair law implements the will of the voters.

Good.

But if those same people are pushing for severe restrictions for some political game, well someone is going to be mad.

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CLEARS MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL, DESPITE CONCERNS FROM ADVOCATES via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics –  HB 1397 by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues would implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment. The proposal now heads to the Health & Human Services Committee, the final stop before a vote of the full House. The bill, among other things, calls for a 90-day waiting period before a physician can recommend medical marijuana; prohibits smoking, vaping and edibles; and calls for new licenses to be issued after 150,000 qualified patients register with the state’s compassionate use registry. While generally viewed as more restrictive than the Senate proposal (SB 406), Rodrigues said he has been in negotiations with the Senate about what the final proposal could look like. “This bill is a work in progress,” said the Estero Republican. “Our goal is to produce a bill that honors the spirit of the constitutional amendment.”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS WAKE UP ON WEED via Florida Politics – Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee – led by the always entertaining, snarky and whip-smart Jared Moskowitz – suddenly woke up on medical marijuana. It was a huge turnaround from just a few weeks ago. When HB 1397 – the House’s medical marijuana implementing legislation, filed by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues – had the first hearing a few weeks ago in the Health Quality Subcommittee, it sailed through with nary a word from Democrats on the committee. This was somewhat surprising, given medical marijuana’s political history in Florida. The issue has always enjoyed a significant degree of bipartisan support with voters, while divided along sharply partisan lines in Tallahassee. While 118 of 120 House districts gave Amendment 2 north of 60 percent support in the November elections, Democratic districts were much more likely to offer support – in the mid-to-high 70s. Given the current disparity between the implementation proposals of the House and Senate, as well as Rodrigues’ acknowledgment of negotiations already occurring between the chambers, Democrats might necessarily have a degree of input on this legislation, as they have carved out for themselves on gaming.

TWEET, TWEET:

SPEAKING OF POLLARA… WHY I HOPE JOHN MORGAN RUNS FOR GOVERNOR BUT DOUBT HE WILL via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – So many see Morgan as a potentially game-changing candidate for Florida governor in 2018. Alas, as much fun as he would be to cover, my hunch is Morgan ultimately takes a pass. Why? Because he seems to be enjoying himself enormously these days, feeding his entrepreneurial passion on little-noticed ventures that could revolutionize the legal industry. Because running for governor of America’s biggest swing state would draw endless nasty attacks that could seriously damage the Morgan family brand as he hands off the Morgan & Morgan firm to his sons. Because accomplishing top Morgan priorities, especially raising the minimum wage, would be easier through a ballot initiative much like his medical marijuana initiative, than running and serving as governor. And because Morgan has a driving desire to be liked and sounds like he truly loathes the idea of subjecting himself to a campaign.

SCOOP – SCOTT ARCENEAUX JOINING ANDREW GILLUM CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics — The former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party is joining Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign as a chief strategist. “I’m thrilled to welcome Scott Arceneaux to our growing campaign for Governor. Scott brings a wealth of knowledge and savvy about the Sunshine State to our team, and I’m excited to welcome him as our chief strategist,” said Gillum in a statement. “Over the years he has fearlessly led the Florida Democratic Party on the fights that matter: securing and protecting affordable healthcare; standing up for every Floridian no matter where they come from or who they love; and protecting our natural resources and environment. I can’t wait for him to join us on this journey to win back the Governor’s Mansion in 2018.” Arceneaux, who had served as the executive director since 2009, announced he was resigning in January. The announcement came just weeks after Stephen Bittel was elected chairman of the state party. … Prior to joining the Florida Democratic Party, Arceneaux served as a general consultant for the Democratic Governors’ Association, was the national political director for Chris Dodd’s presidential campaign; and has served as campaign manager for congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns.

— “Phillip Levine courts Orange County Democrats ahead of likely run for Governor” via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer

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FRANK ARTILES CURSES AT BLACK LAWMAKER — AND REFERS TO FELLOW REPUBLICANS AS ‘NIGGAS’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald Frank Artilesdropped the N-word to a pair of African-American colleagues in private conversation — after calling one of them a “f*cking asshole,” a “b*tch” and a “girl,” the two senators said. Over drinks after 10 p.m. at the members-only Governors Club just steps from the state Capitol, Artiles told Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston that Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart had risen to his powerful GOP leadership role because “six niggers” in the Republican caucus had elected him. Artiles later told Gibson and Thurston that he’d used the word “niggas,” suggesting the slang term was not meant to be insulting

… Artiles apologized to Gibson after he’d been reported to Republican leaders and news reporters started asking questions. “In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate, I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me,” Artiles said in a statement. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.” To Gibson and Thurston, it was clear Artiles wasn’t referring to them or to any other Democrats as “niggas” but apparently to six Republicans who favored Negron for the job over Sen. Jack Latvala.

ARTILES’ EXCUSE: “I’m from Hialeah.

SEN. PREZ ISSUES STATEMENT LATE TUESDAY NIGHT: “Senator Braynon reported this incident to me earlier today, and I was appalled to hear that one Senator would speak to another in such an offensive and reprehensible manner. My first priority was to ensure that this matter was promptly addressed between the two Senators involved, which occurred this evening. Racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between Senators and will not be tolerated while I am serving as Senate President. Senator Artiles has requested a point of personal privilege at the beginning of tomorrow’s sitting, during which he intends to formally apologize to Senator Gibson on the Senate Floor.”

THIS IS WHAT ARTILES THINKS OF THE SENATE PRESIDENT: “He called Joe Negron a pussy,” said Sen. Thurston

BILL GALVANO COMES CLOSE TO CALLING FOR A RESIGNATION BUT STOPS SHORT: “Senator Audrey Gibson is an admired colleague and a personal friend, and under no circumstances should ever have been spoken to in such a reprehensible manner. I understand that President Negron is allowing Senator Artiles to formally apologize on the Senate floor tomorrow. Such comments cannot be repaired by a formal apology, but I trust that it is an appropriate step to be taken by the President and the Florida Senate to handle this matter, and to ensure that this behavior is not tolerated and does not happen again.”

FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CALLS ON ARTILES TO RESIGN: “Frank Artiles must resign now. His use of horrific racist and sexist slurs towards his colleagues is disgusting, unacceptable and has no place in our democracy or our society. This is just the latest in a string of violent, hateful incidents in which Artiles blames his ‘temper’. There is never an excuse for racism or misogyny and the people of Florida aren’t buying it. Resign now.”

OH BOY: “Secret 2014 record caught Artiles using ‘hajis’ slur” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

TIA MITCHELL REMINDS US of the story that took down Ralph Arza: “Florida GOP lawmaker resigns after scandal

ARTILES HAS ASKED FOR A POINT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE at the beginning of today’s floor Session so he can formally apologize.

HERE’S WHERE IT COULD GET INTERESTING: The Senate Judiciary Committee hears two of Artiles’ top priority bills Wednesday: SB 12, a claims bill against the Department of Transportation on behalf of the family of Jacksonville man who was killed when his car skidded out of control because of standing water from a clogged drainage basin. He also seeks approval for a more controversial bill, SJR 134, which is a constitutional amendment to require Miami-Dade, Broward and Volusia counties to elect their sheriffs. Sitting on Senate Judiciary are both Sen. Gibson and Sen. Thurston, each of whom was at the receiving end of one of Artiles’ racial slurs at a Tallahassee bar on Monday night. More from Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald here.

BTW, TUESDAY WAS ALREADY A BAD DAY FOR ARTILES: “Panel swats Artiles’ handwritten amendment as Miami toll fight continues” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

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

RICK SCOTT PUSHES AHEAD FOR VISIT FLORIDA FUNDING via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott went once more unto the breach Tuesday, pressing his case for full funding of the state’s VISIT FLORIDA tourism marketing agency. The Republican governor—surrounded by VISIT FLORIDA’s CEO Ken Lawson, board chairman William Talbert, and others—spoke with reporters outside his Capitol office. The GOP-majority House of Representatives, which at first wanted to eliminate the agency, instead reduced its budget to $25 million for next year … Scott mentioned that Florida is getting shellacked by ads—“…and they’re nice,” he said—from Utah, Michigan, California, Texas, and Georgia trying to divert tourists. “If we want even more tourists, we’re going to have to spend more money,” Scott said. “We have plenty of money in the budget … but the House has really limited our ability to market the state.”

SCOTT’S INSPECTOR GENERAL: ‘I WANTED TO LEAVE ON MY TERMS’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald Melinda Miguel, the top investigator for two governors who has been accused of suppressing whistleblowers at the state’s prison agency and most recently was assigned the task of sorting through the financial troubles in Opa-locka … she said she wanted to leave before the arrival of a new governor and before legislation advances that adds new powers to her office. Although her tenure under Scott was challenged by his aggressive former general counsel, Pete Antonacci, who asked her to delay the release of a prison report, and she came under fire by Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor and other commissioners, Miguel said the governor never interfered with her investigations.

SENATE PRESIDENT CAN’T SAY IF LEGISLATURE WILL END ON MAY 5 AS SCHEDULED via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – We asked Senate President Joe Negron if he has any doubt the Legislature will finish on time. “I can’t predict the future, so I don’t know exactly how things will unfold,” the Republican from Stuart said. “I have every expectation that we’ll be able to complete our business on time. As I’ve said before, it would be a sad commentary on the legal profession if two lawyers couldn’t get their work done on time.” Negron, an attorney, was referring to House Speaker Corcoran, who is also an attorney.

HOUSE SPEAKER: PUSH FOR TOUGHER ETHICS LAWS DEAD via Gary Fineout of The Associated PressRichard Corcoran says a push to give Florida some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation is dead for this year’s Session, and he’s blaming Senate Republicans for showing “zero interest.” [Corcoran] pushed to enact several far-reaching proposals, including one that would ban legislators and elected officials from lobbying state government for six years after leaving office. The House overwhelmingly passed them, but the legislation has not moved in the state Senate. “The Senate has shown us they have expressed zero interest in holding elected officials accountable and draining the swamp,” said Corcoran … he’s not giving up and will seek other ways to place his proposals into law, including asking the state Constitution Revision Commission to put them before voters in 2018 or launching a petition drive to get them on the ballot.

$1.5 BILLION HEALTH CARE DEAL WITH FEDS MAY NOT BE A SURE THING IN THE FLORIDA HOUSE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – House Health Care Appropriations chairman Rep. Jason Brodeur, said that it “depends on what kind of assurances we get from the federal government.” The federal government agreed to revive the Low-Income Pool at $1.5 billion last week after it was set to end. Though it is clear that the money will be funded mostly by the federal government with the remainder coming from state or local governments, the full terms of the agreement are not yet clear. “We have a promise and that’s great. We’d love to have it,” Brodeur said. “What I’d like to see is a printed letter that outlines the terms of what we’re talking about.”

HOUSE BUDGET CHIEF’S ABSENCE STOKES RUMORS OF AMBASSADOR APPOINTMENT via Patricia Mazzei and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo was conspicuously absent from a meeting of the Florida House budget committee he leads. The reason? Word in the state Capitol was that Trujillo is away in Washington — interviewing with Trump’s administration for a potential ambassadorship to Latin America. The powerful budget chief was an early Trump supporter, one of only a handful of state elected officials to back his long-shot candidacy early. He’s been under consideration to be ambassador to Argentina or Panama.

HOUSE PR MACHINE TURNS TO ITS VERSION OF STATE BUDGET via Florida Politics – The House has released a new “explainer” video to explain its proposed 2017-18 state budget. And—fun!—it’s a cartoon. “Don’t have time to read hundreds of pages?” it starts. “That’s OK, because we’ve got the Florida House budget in under a few minutes.” Here’s a link to the video on YouTube.

SENATE GIVES FULL SUPPORT TO POLLUTION NOTIFICATION RULES CHANGE via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – The Senate bill (SB 532) cleared the Senate unanimously … Under the Senate bill, those responsible for a spill would need to notify the DEP within 24 hours of the hazard being discovered. The DEP would then be mandated to issue a public emergency notice. If operators do not comply, they could be penalized $10,000 for each day the spill goes unreported. The House version of the bill has yet to go through a committee hearing.

GROVELAND FOUR FAMILY MEMBERS GATHER TO HEAR LEGISLATURE’S APOLOGY via Florida Politics – The House voted unanimously Tuesday to apologize to survivors of four African-American men who were brutalized in 1949 following a false accusation of rape. The House also approved an apology to the survivors of abuse at the Dozier and Okeechobee schools for boys, and approved plans for memorials to children who died on the Dozier campus in Jackson County. … “Today, tears of joy,” said Carol Greenlee, daughter of one of the men, in a whisper, “for releasing my family from prison. For releasing my nieces, my son, my brother, from the dark cloud, the shame, and the stigma that have been put upon them.” Speaker Corcoran called the episode “a dark cloud on our history.” He said he hoped the apology and financial compensation would bring the family “along the road of feeling there is some justice in our society.”

LAWMAKERS HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT GROVELAND FOUR APOLOGY — Democratic Leader Bobby Dubose was joined by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sen. Gary Farmer, and other state lawmakers held a press conference Tuesday to ahead of a vote on a bill apologizing to the families of the Groveland Four. “We the state of Florida were wrong,” said Dubose. “The injustice these men and their families encountered is hard to put into words. The memories can’t be erased, the pain they endured can’t be fixed, but today we have opportunity to provide closure to these families in the form of an apology.” Click on the image below to watch the video.

BOOZE BILL READY FOR VOTE IN SENATE via Florida PoliticsA bill that would allow advertising by beer companies in the state’s theme parks is ready for a final vote in the Senate. The measure (SB 388), carried by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson of Elkton, was heard on the floor Tuesday and placed on the third reading calendar … The bill also repeals a state law to permit wine bottles of all sizes to be sold. That includes the “Nebuchadnezzar,” which hold 15 liters, or the volume of 20 standard wine bottles … Further, it would repeal another state law that requires diners to order and consume a full meal — “consisting of a salad or vegetable, entree, a beverage, and bread” — before they can take home an opened bottle of wine.

CRAFT BEER BILL CLEARS SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government was the latest successful stop for Young‘s craft beer bill, bringing small-batch brewers one step closer to self-distribution. SB 554 allows craft breweries producing under 7,000 kegs a year to distribute kegs (not bottles or cans) to other Florida craft breweries. That applies as long as breweries don’t have distribution deals already, and has raised concerns among the beer industry that it would subvert their distribution model. “This bill is designed to help the smallest of the small brewer,” said Young. “This is the bill for the little guy … simply to help the smallest of the small.” Young noted that once these brewers have distribution deals, they are cut off from this law.

HOUSE LEADERS WON’T SAY IF THEY’LL ACT ON SCHOOL RECESS. PARENTS GROW IMPATIENT via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – All that Florida parents want is guaranteed daily recess for their elementary school children. Just 20 minutes a day to allow for a brain break and some playtime. But for the second consecutive year, that relatively simple request seems increasingly in jeopardy — despite overwhelming public and legislative support — thanks to obstruction by a few influential lawmakers in the Florida House. House Speaker Corcoran won’t have a conversation about school recess, and his top lieutenants offer only deflection when asked what the House will do. Parents want a vote.

HOUSE HEALTH CARE POLICIES STALL IN THE SENATE via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – House Republican leaders have been saying the only way to control health care costs in Florida is to force patients and doctors to understand the true price of their decisions, whether they are considering a knee replacement or surgery as the best option for knee pain. They offered their own health care overhauls at a time when congressional Republicans have struggled to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Now health care has taken a back seat in the Legislature, overshadowed by larger fights over Everglades restoration, gambling, charter schools and tax cuts. The Florida Senate isn’t acting on the House bills, and House leaders said they won’t sacrifice their other agendas to salvage health care legislation this year. House Republicans, however, have hoped that at least two measures could pass the Senate: direct primary care, SB 240, and allowing patients to stay in ambulatory surgical centers for up to 24 hours, SB 222.

HOUSE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BILL SURVIVES DEMOCRATIC FLOOR AMENDMENTS via Florida Politics – The House defeated a series of Democratic amendments to its version of a workers’ compensation fix Tuesday, with sponsor Danny Burgess promising the bill would “enhance the fairness and the balance of the workers’ compensation system in Florida.” Burgess, whose Insurance & Banking Subcommittee drafted the legislation, also predicted a decline in premiums, following the 14.5 percent rate increase that began taking effect in December. “We are told it could be up to a 5 percent reduction,” he said. Still, Democrats complained the bill was written more to please employers and insurance companies than working people. “When are we going to put the workers first?” Tampa Democrat Sean Shaw wondered.

DANNY BURGESS OP-ED: IT’S VITAL FLORIDA WORKERS GET CARE THEY NEED via Florida Politics – No matter what side of the “jobs argument” you are on, one thing is certain. There can be no job without a worker to perform that job. That’s why there’s workers’ compensation insurance – which is coverage purchased by an employer to provide benefits for job-related employee injuries. In Florida, virtually all businesses are required to carry it. Even the most ardent detractors of the 2003 reforms will admit that the elimination of those reforms will increase insurance premium costs to small business. I’ve been fortunate, thanks to Speaker Corcoran and Chairman José Felix Diaz, to lead an effort to prevent that job loss and fix the system. We’ve proposed, and this week will pass, the largest and most comprehensive set of reforms to Florida’s workers’ compensation system in 15 years. It was vital to me that injured workers get the care they need, while protecting the jobs of the very workers who have been injured.

— “Bill calls for more audits of state pension system” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

“DON’T FEAR THE DEBATE?” – Anders Croy, the Communications Director for the House Democrats, emails: “In the spirit of transparency, the House Democratic Caucus would like to provide you with a quick update on the breakdown of bills that have been heard in committee as we kick off Session tomorrow morning. We’ll be keeping a running count each week as we proceed through Session. As of Tuesday, April 18th, 1,041 bills have been placed on the calendar in the Florida House. Of those, 796 are sponsored by Republicans, 135 are sponsored by Democrats, and 110 bills have bi-partisan co-sponsors. To put that in a percentage, 76.5% of the bills that have been heard are Republican bills, 13% are Democratic, and 10.6% are bipartisan.“

HAPPENING TODAY – FHA NURSES DAY IN THE LEGISLATURE — Got a headache? There’s a good chance you’ll find a nurse roaming the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday. The Florida Hospital Association is hosting its first FHA Nurses Day in the Legislature. The event is meant to be a chance for the front-line nurse leaders to advocate on behalf of all patients, and includes networking events, presentations and opportunities to meet with lawmakers.

HAPPENING TODAY – GOLF DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Florida Golf Day at the Capitol is Wednesday, and the annual event is meant to highlight the economic impact that the sport has on the Sunshine State. And oh, what an impact it is. Want to enjoy the festivities Wednesday? There will be a House versus Senate charity putting challenge at noon on the second floor rotunda; a PGA pro will be offering lessons throughout the day in the Capitol Courtyard; and there will be exhibits on the second and third floors throughout the day.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Kristin Jacobs will join Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence to unveil the “Walk in My Shoes” display in the Capitol Rotunda at 12:30 p.m. The display features more than 750 shoes worn and submitted by sexual assault survivors from across the state. The display is meant to commemorate National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Legislators are expected to join Tony Lima, the executive director of SAVE; Jessica Fernandez, the executive director of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans, and economist Dale Brill to discuss conservative support for workplace equality and other LGBT nondiscrimination protections at 6 p.m. at the Southern Public House, 224 East College Avenue in Tallahassee.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Commerce Committee will take up a host of bills, including a proposal (HB 1351) to implement the August 2016 solar power constitutional amendment, when it meets at 8 a.m. in 212 Knott. A bill (HB 13) that would prohibit the creation of new community redevelopment agencies will be up for discussion with the Government Accountability meets at 8 a.m. in 17 House Office Building. The Senate will hold a floor session beginning at 10 a.m., and is scheduled to begin discussion on a bill (SB 392) that would require students to take a half-credit financial literacy course to graduate. A bill (SB 832) that would preempt local governments from regulating the operation of drones is slated to be discussed during the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee at 1:30 p.m. in 301 Senate Office Building. The Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee is expected to take up a bill dealing with the Florida black bear when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in 37 Senate Office Building. Look for the Transportation Committee to discuss a bill (SB 918) that would allow the use of ignition interlock devices for someone convicted for the first time of a second-degree misdemeanor DUI.

***Smart employers know an inclusive workforce makes good business sense and helps secure Florida’s future. Only 30% of Floridians with disabilities are working. Explore the talent in the untapped 70%. Find out how at AbleTrust.org.***

FEDS SAY FLORIDA BEARS ARE NOT ENDANGERED via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – “This is very good news based on sound science for both the black bear and the people of Florida,” Larry Williams, head of the South Florida field office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a news release. “State, local and industry partners are doing some incredible and really visionary conservation work across Florida.” Although the news release says the agency’s finding is based on “a robust investigation” into the status of the bear, the news release cites no information about it other than the computer modeling previously done by the state agency declaring that there were 4,000 adult bears — at least, before the bear hunt there were.

ACTIVISTS TO STATE: DON’T ALLOW BEAR HUNT IN 2017 via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel –“Floridians don’t want another hunt,” said Kate MacFall of the Florida chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, one of the groups planning to speak up at the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting near Tallahassee. Thomas Eason, a wildlife biologist nicknamed “Dr. Bear” by FWC commissioners, said his presentation won’t include anything specific about another hunt, but the topic is always raised during public comment. An agenda item on the commission’s website describes the scheduled discussion as an update that will touch on “bear populations, habitat conservation, conflict-management efforts and public outreach” over the past year. Six months after the 2015 hunt, FWC announced results of a long-awaited bear-population survey. It described the species as “strong, robust and growing.” “We’re hoping FWC does finally listen to what the public wants,” said Bryan Wilson, Central Florida coordinator of Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

EDITORIAL: NO MORE FLORIDA BEAR HUNTS via the Tampa Bay Times – Almost two years after Florida allowed its first bear hunt in a generation, the controversial topic is back on the agenda of wildlife managers. This time, thankfully, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff is not recommending holding another bear hunt, and commissioners should follow that lead when they consider the issue Wednesday. After the 2015 hunt resulted in the senseless killing of more than 300 Florida black bears despite enormous public opposition and questionable science, there is no more reason now than there was then to allow open season on these animals. The Florida black bear’s comeback is a wildlife management victory that should be celebrated, not perverted by another unjustified hunt.

CONSTITUTIONAL REWRITE PANEL WILL MEET AT GULF COAST STATE COLLEGE via Florida Politics – The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will hold its Panhandle public hearing at Gulf Coast State College on Wednesday, May 3. The hearing will begin at 4 p.m. Central Time (CT). The hearing will be in the Amelia Center Auditorium, 5230 West Highway 98, Panama City, 32401. A Google map link is here. The event will also be live-streamed by The Florida Channel on www.TheFloridaChannel.org. The 37-member body is going around the state to get public input as it reviews and considers changes to the state’s governing document.

MARTIN DYCKMAN: CLEMENCY AND FLORIDA’S OVERBEARING ‘POLITICS OF DEATH’ via Florida Politics –Despite his profound opposition to capital punishment, LeRoy Collinssent 29 men to their doom during his six years as Florida’s governor. He was in anguish each time. To some people, that example casts a poor light on Aramis Ayala … whose announced decision to seek no death sentences is the crux of an unprecedented battle in the Supreme Court with Gov. Scott and, now, the Florida House of Representatives. But it is Scott and five of his predecessors who come off worse in comparison with the totality of Collins’s record. The awesome power to commute death sentence has been a dead letter in their hands. Meanwhile, 276 condemned men and women have been spared by executive action in 22 other states — including Alabama, Texas and Louisiana — and the federal government. It is hard to understand or excuse why Florida’s most recent governors have refused to spare anyone. Perhaps they have believed that the judiciary is infallible. But it is not.

FLORENCE SNYDER: RICHARD CORCORAN, PLEASE SHOW SOME LOVE TO OUR REAL LIFE SMOKEYS via Florida Politics – Trained professional foresters and the people at parks ‘n rec are easily among Florida’s best ambassadors. These stewards of “Real Florida” have been instrumental in attracting tourists since before Mickey Mouse was born, and they work for a lot less cheese. This crowd is not prone to whining, or crying wolf. It takes a body blow to the budget to make them ask that we think for a moment about the work they do in the places where the wild things try to survive the wildfires that are engulfing the state … Even Gov. Scott thinks it’s a crisis. Yet the House proposes cutting $10 million — roughly 25 percent — of the current state parks budget. That’s chump change to the swells and potentates at the Capitol, but in the hands of Florida’s land management professionals, it covers a lot of weed-pulling, lawn mowing, landscaping, and protecting the public from the invasive species that generations of Florida lawmakers never had the wit to do anything about. More importantly, they are the real-life Smokey Bear, doing whatever it takes to prevent wildfires that increasingly threaten our economy, our way of life, and in some cases, the actual lives of firefighters, park personnel, residents and tourists.

***Learn the facts! FHCA knows Florida’s seniors deserve the best! The Senate’s proposed nursing home reimbursement plan creates incentives for quality and will dramatically improve care for our seniors.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Trulieve will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. in Miami to announce the opening of its Miami dispensary, located at 4020 Northwest 26th Street. The location is the company’s fifth cannabis dispensary in the state.

TAMPA AIRPORT EXPANSION TRAPPED IN TALLAHASSEE CROSSFIRE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – A $2.3 billion expansion of Tampa International Airport, is at the center of a nasty power struggle among local legislators that could derail their work on a state budget. House Speaker Corcoran wants state auditors to review the first phase of the airport project, citing possible cost overruns and construction setbacks based on TV reports. The Senate has already rejected an audit, but Corcoran said he will demand that it be in a compromise budget that must be finished in two weeks, which means the Senate will have to capitulate or risk a stalemate. “When you’re spending billions of dollars in taxpayer money, nobody should be afraid of an audit, to make sure they’re spending it right,” Corcoran [said]. Airport director Joe Lopano said he keeps his five-member governing board up to date every month on the project’s time lines and budget. “We’re not afraid of an audit,” Lopano said. “We’re very proud of this project. And if the elected officials would like to have an audit, they should. We’re not afraid of that at all.”

JOE HENDERSON: TOM LEE’S RECENT TRAVAILS COULD START THE GUESSING GAME AGAIN via Florida Politics – While the Republican from Thonotosassa is well-known in the Legislature and isn’t afraid to stir things up, he has spoken often about possibly running for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission … I wonder if recent events in the Senate might start Lee wondering again if it wouldn’t be better to work a little closer to home. His well-publicized bill to eliminate public subsidies for the construction of sports stadiums failed to get out of committee. He tried to attach an amendment to the Senate budget that would have triggered the audit, but it was rejected by a voice vote. Those who spoke out against Lee on that gambit included Republicans Dana Young and Jack Latvala, although he did pick up a major ally when House Speaker Corcoran has called for a full airport audit. Bear in mind, Lee doesn’t have to do anything right away. He was elected to a four-year term in the newly created District 20, covering parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.

POLITICAL ACTIVIST SAM RASHID SUES 21-YEAR-OLD FORMER HAIR SALON RECEPTIONIST OVER FACEBOOK POST via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay TimesRashid has twice in recent years walked away from seats on prestigious boards because of fallout over his controversial posts on social media. Now, he is suing a 21-year-old former employee for her Facebook post. In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County … Rashid claimed that he has been libeled on social media by Jacqueline Lilley, a former receptionist at a Brandon hair salon and spa he co-owns. The complaint against Lilley includes a screen grab of a March 6 Facebook post about the salon in which she wrote that “the owners are thieves.” The post also states that workers at Divine Designs Salon and Spa were ordered not to communicate with former workers who left on “bad terms” and she urged staff there to leave. Lilley’s post was hardly viral. It attracted more than 39 comments and was “liked” at least 14 times, the lawsuit states. Rashid, 55, is seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

APPOINTED: Dr. Lesley Thompson, Daniel Coll and James Muir to the Lower Florida Keys Hospital District.

PERSONNEL NOTE: JANELL HENDREN JOINS NASDA via Florida Politics – After more than four years with Florida Farm Bureau, Hendren is leaving to become Associate Director of Public Policy and Food Safety Programs for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). She starts April 25. Hendren was most recently National Affairs Coordinator at FFB. In years past, she was campaign manager for John Quinones’ congressional bid, and served as political director for House Republican Majority Leader Adam Hasner’s 2012 U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns. Hendren is a Sunday school teacher at Westside Baptist Church in Gainesville.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Slater Bayliss, Justin Day, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc

Lauren Bedford, Strategic Access Group: Sunshine Global Health

Carlos Cruz, Cruz & Co.: Sunshine Global Health

Steven Geller, Geller Law Firm: Hartman & Tyner; Las Olas Recovery

John Harris, Robert Stuart, Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Petainer Manufacturing USA

Marc Reichelderfer, Landmarc Strategies Inc: Transdev North America, Inc

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Arbor Properties

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Randstad Technologies; TmaxSoft; Centrify

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU Wednesday’s Governors Club lunch menu takes a Latin flair with chicken tortilla soup; jicama salad – tomato, avocado salad, cilantro dressing – seasonal greens; three dressing sections; perni – roast pork butt; chicken & rice with black-eyed peas; pinto bean; sweet plantains and blue mash potatoes.

***Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) negotiate rebates and discounts from drug companies and drugstores that reduce prescription drug costs for Florida consumers, employers, unions, and government programs. Learn more at DrugBenefitSolutions.com.***

MARCH MADNESS RETURNING TO TAMPA IN 2020 via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times – Amalie Arena will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament March 19 and 21, 2020, the NCAA announced … “We’re thrilled,” said Rob Higgins, the executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “We’ve had such a great history of hosting. Our community has always stepped up and really wrapped their arms around the opportunity to host the first and second rounds. We couldn’t be more excited for March 2020.” USF will serve as the host school. Tampa last hosted the event in 2011.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to class act Frank Walker of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Celebrating today are Reps. Cord Byrd and Colleen Burton and Towson Fraser. Happy birthday to two great residents of the ‘burg: Will Newton and Rob Kapusta.

Sunburn for 4.18.17 – All the King’s men & women; Rick Scott hearts Lake O.: Latvala magic at Tiger Bay; Brad Drake is a hero

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

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

— 2018 WATCH — 

FIRST IN SUNBURN – CHRIS KING ADDS KEY STAFF — The Orlando Democrat will announce today he has filed several key positions, including a COO, finance director and South Florida regional director.

Zach Learner, who served as the voter protection director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Florida and the 2014 Charlie Crist campaign, will serve as COO and general counsel, leading day-to-day operations. Raymond Paultre, who most recently served as an adviser to Stephen Bittel’s successful race for the FDP chair, will serve as King’s director of strategic engagement. Stephanie McClung, who served as the finance director for Crist’s congressional campaign and the Florida state finance director for Ruth’s List Florida, has been tapped to serve as King’s finance director; while Juanica Fernandes, who most recently served as Enroll America’s Central Florida Regional Organizing Director and the director of Central Florida’s enrollment coalition, has signed on as the regional finance associate. Amanda Sands, who most recently served as digital director for New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern, will serve in the same capacity on King’s 2018 team. King announced he brought Raul Martinez Jr., who served as senior staff on the 2016 Clinton campaign in Florida, chief of staff to Rep. Joe Garcia, and leader of Florida Hispanic outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, on as his South Florida regional director.

“I’m encouraged that so many smart, talented campaign veterans are ready to join me in building a new approach to our politics,” said King. “Our campaign will reflect the diversity, energy and possibility of Florida, and with these additions we’ve taken a great first step in meeting that goal.”

HAPPENING WEDNESDAY:

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN – PART 1: Poll shows good news for John Morgan, but will he run” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s not that we don’t respect our blogging colleagues at the Orlando Political Observer or Gravis Marketing, which conducted this poll; it’s that EVERYTHING we’ve heard from sources supposedly close to Morgan indicate he is less and less inclined to run for governor. From talk of him cutting some major deal with Google to his weariness with the prospect of living in Tallahassee, the chatter increasingly points to Morgan getting as close as he can to taking the plunge, only to back off at the last minute. It would be a quintessential Morgan marketing effort. Of course, the same people close to Morgan who say he’s unlikely to run also say that if he’s provoked enough by Democrats and/or Republicans, he’ll jump into the race. Republicans afraid of facing Gwen Graham or Chris King in 2018 are some of the biggest proponents of a Morgan run.

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN – PART 2:Conservative groups pushes Ron DeSantis to run for governor” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – A better headline for this story is “Pollster Tony Fabrizio pushes Ron DeSantis to run for governor,” because that is what’s at play with this story. Fabrizio, fresh off his masterful work for Donald Trump, is shopping for a client to run in Florida’s expensive GOP primary. That the story, about some organization no one in Florida has ever heard of (The Madison Project) releasing a poll favorable to DeSantis, appeared first on The Resurgent — the blog ran by Fabrizio’s go-to blogger Erick Erickson — is all the proof you need of Fabrizio’s involvement. DeSantis looks good on paper, but he underwhelmed on the statewide stage while running for Marco Rubio‘s U.S. Senate seat. He should just pull the trigger on an Attorney General run.

BILL NELSON, ‘SCARED AS A JACKRABBIT,’ ANTICIPATES SHOWDOWN WITH RICK SCOTT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times Nelson, the only Democrat holding statewide office, has led a charmed political life, winning three Senate races against weak Republicans. But that may be coming to an end. He wants a fourth term, and his likely opponent is Republican Scott. “The way I approach an election, I assume nothing,” Nelson says. “I run scared as a jackrabbit.” He should. Scott, who has won two close races for governor, looks more battle-tested than Nelson, has more money in the bank and is a perpetual campaigner. On the road constantly, the governor held several roundtables in recent weeks and urged local leaders to save Enterprise Florida from that “job-killing” House speaker, Richard Corcoran. So it surely was coincidental that, with no notice, Corcoran invited Nelson to address the House while the senator was in Tallahassee. As Nelson left, he and Corcoran warmly shook hands. The message to Scott wasn’t very subtle. If Scott and Nelson face each other in 2018, they will be at the top of their parties’ tickets. It will fall to both of them to generate enthusiasm to drive up turnout and help candidates for governor, all three open Cabinet seats and the Legislature.

— “Richard Corcoran’s invite to Bill Nelson a stick in Rick Scott’s eye, maybe more” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will attend the Speak Out Brevard Town Hall Meetings at 6 p.m. at Viera High School Auditorium, 6103 Stadium Pkwy in Melbourne.

SHOT:Political newcomer to run for Agriculture Commissioner” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

CHASER: This newcomer, Michael Christine, may want to learn how to correctly spell the title of office he is seeking.

PRO-TRUMP GROUP AIRING ADS BACKING BRIAN MAST ADVOCATING REPEAL AND REPLACE OBAMACARE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – America First Policies, an advocacy group formed by six of Trump’s top campaign aides, is starting a $3 million advertising campaign praising 12 select members of Congress who are working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, including Mast from Florida’s 18th Congressional District. “Obamacare is collapsing and bringing our health care system down with it, harming millions of American families,” said Nick Ayers, Chairman of the Board of America First Policies. “The time is now to repeal and replace this terrible law, but we need citizens to engage.” The issue advocacy campaign will be featured on broadcast or cable, on the internet and in phone calls in 12 districts, including CD 18, which stretches from Ft. Pierce to Palm Beach in Southeast Florida.

— 2022 WATCH — 

On Thursday, POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon reported about that Jacksonville Republican Paul Renner‘s hopes to be Speaker of the Florida House in 2022 was on the ropes after he “held an abrupt meeting of House freshman Republicans Thursday, just 15 minutes before the House was set to take the floor to pass its $81 billion proposed budget.” This story expands on that reporting, detailing how a single text message from one House Republican to another almost blew up the race. The post also includes a complete look at the proposed rules the freshman class is considering putting in place to guide how it picks a future leader and analysis of where the Speaker’s race currently stands. Read more here.

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SCOTT BACKS RESERVOIR PLAN FOR TROUBLED LAKE via the Associated Press – Scott said he supports spending $200 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike and also supports parts of Joe Negron‘s plan, including building a reservoir on the A-2 site south of Lake Okeechobee. The Governor also announced Monday that he wants state legislators to set aside $200 million this year to help repair the aging federally-operated dike that surrounds the lake. Click on the image below to watch Scott’s press conference.

EVERGLADES FARMERS SUPPORT SCOTT’S PLAN: “We commend Governor Rick Scott for following science and seeking real solutions to address the State of Florida’s environmental challenges,” said spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez. “Expediting repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike will ensure the health and safety of all those who live in the farming communities south of Lake Okeechobee while also providing relief to the coastal estuaries. We are pleased to see this discussion shift from political propaganda to focus on fact-based solutions and real collaboration with the state’s federal partners.  Like the governor, EAA farmers continue to support the comprehensive, science-based restoration blueprint found in CERP to address environmental preservation north, east, west and south of Lake Okeechobee in a way that protects local agriculture, homegrown food and rural jobs.”

SUGARCANE FARMERS COMMEND SCOTT’S LEADERSHIP: “Governor Scott is exhibiting tremendous leadership and showing he understands that the real science provided by the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection should be the basis for these critical public policy decisions,” said spokesman Ryan Duffy. “We support not taking any additional private farmland out of production and we support saving jobs. We will continue to work with legislative leaders to develop a bill we hope to be able to support.”

TWEETS:

— @Rob_Bradley: Thanks to @FLGovScott for his leadership on fixing Lake O. No toxic discharges = jobs and tourism!

— @DSimmonsFL: Lake O needs our help and I applaud @FLGovScott for his leadership. Let’s all fight for Florida’s environment and add $200M today.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will host a roundtable discussion about Zika preparedness at 9 a.m. at the Duval County Department of Health, 900 University Boulevard in Jacksonville.

GOV’S OPIOID LISTENING TOUR GENERATES SKEPTICISM, CONCERNS via Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post – As other governors declare a state of emergency and increase spending on treatment, Scott has called for four 90-minute sessions, including one May 1 in West Palm Beach. The timing is an issue as well. The workshops in the first week of May take place at the same time as the final week of the annual legislative session, casting doubt on whether some key officials will attend. Still, Scott’s approach left some recovery advocates and family members wondering if it’s even worth attending. Some say they’re skeptical that 90 minutes is enough time to hear their concerns, much less allow state officials to provide them with information and spell out best practices, as a state news release suggests.

DOH SECRETARY CELESTE PHILIP PRESSED ON OPIOID CRISIS AT SENATE HEARING via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – The Senate Health Policy Committee approved Philip to head the state Department of Health, but not before pressing her on the opioid epidemic and why Gov. Scott has not declared a public health emergency. Philip told the committee that the Department of Children and Families is the lead agency on mental health and substance abuse problems — not the Florida Department of Health. Philip said the agencies would travel to Manatee, Palm Beach, Orange and Duval counties and that the goal of the meetings was to “see what’s needed and what each of the different agencies that will be present can offer.” She added that “if there are specific activities that could be tied back to the role the department has in statute I think we would certainly be open to hearing what that would look like.

FLORENCE SNYDER: FLORIDA’S OPIOID CRISIS, PART 5 – HEY FLORIDA, TALK TO THE HAND! via Florida Politics – One hour isn’t much time for a Senate subcommittee “confirmation hearing” on the heads of the agencies as important to “health and human services” as the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration. But that’s what Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairwoman Anitere Flores allotted, and not one second longer. So, you’d think that AHCA’s acting secretary Justin Senior and DOH’s Interim Surgeon General Celeste Philip would each get a half-hour of the committee’s time … but you would be wrong. Senior’s “hearing” was a tongue-bath and tummy rub that consumed most of the hour. To be fair, the feds had just dropped 1.5 billion into the AHCA’s coffers. Maybe Flores & Friends think that cash came Florida’s way due to Senior’s executive brilliance, as opposed to Trump‘s synergistic bromance with Gov. Scott. Or maybe they were running out the clock to get Philip safely to the border of Munchkinland and out of Oz altogether before she stumbled over that pesky poppy field.”

SCOTT CHIEF INSPECTOR GENERAL RESIGNS via Florida Politics — Melinda Miguel, the state’s chief inspector general, is stepping down. Gov. Rick Scott announced Miguel, who has served as the governor’s chief inspector general since 2011, has resigned to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Her last day, according to the Governor’s Office, was Monday. Over the years, she served stints at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of Elder Affairs, Department of Education, and the Attorney General’s Office. In 2006, she was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the Council of State Agency Inspectors General, a role she served in for about a year. “Melinda has done a great job serving our state as Inspector General, and I’m extremely grateful for her commitment to ensuring government remains accountable to Florida taxpayers,” said Scott in a statement. Scott announced Eric Miller, who currently serves as the inspector general at the Agency for Health Care Administration, will serve as the Governor’s Chief Inspector General.

HOUSE TO INTERVENE IN SUPREME COURT CASE BETWEEN SCOTT AND STATE ATTORNEY via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The House is stepping into the legal battle between Scott and Aramis Ayala over the death penalty … the House’s lawyers asked for permission to file a brief with the Florida Supreme Court in support of Scott, who transferred 23 death penalty cases to another state attorney after Ayala said she would not seek the death penalty in Orange and Osceola counties. Ayala has asked the court to tell Scott he is acting outside his constitutional powers to reassign cases and give them back to her office. The court gave the House permission to file its brief.

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FIRST ON #FLAPOL – AMENDMENT COULD LIMIT THE NUMBER OF LOCATIONS ALLOWED TO DISPENSE MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Florida Politics — Sen. Frank Artiles filed an amendment  to the Senate proposal (SB 406) Monday that appears to place a cap on the number of retail facilities from which medical marijuana treatment centers can dispense medical marijuana. According to the amendment, medical marijuana treatment centers “may not dispense marijuana from more than 3 retail facilities.” The amendment does not limit “MMTC facilities that only dispense low-THC cannabis and sell marijuana delivery devices to qualified patients.” … A second amendment by Artiles would require the state to issue of the four remaining licenses to a “veteran business enterprise.” That amendment also calls on the state to “grant preferential and bonus scoring criteria for applicants that, at the time of the initial application, are veteran business enterprises … which meet the requirements to be awarded and registered as an MMTC.” … Senate records show Sen. Bobby Powell has filed an amendment meant to encourage minority participation in the in MMTC operations and subcontracting.

FIRST GAMING CONFERENCE LASTS FIVE MINUTES via Florida Politics – Senate and House members selected a chair (Sen. Bill Galvano), a vice-chair (Rep. Jose Felix Diaz), received a side-by-side printout comparison of the two gambling bills this year, then spoke to reporters for longer than their actual meeting. The next meeting of the conference will be no earlier than Thursday, Galvano said. The aim is to hammer out differences between the two bills: The Senate is largely for some expansion of gambling in the state; the House wants to hold the line. “I don’t want to raise anybody’s expectations,” Galvano said of the negotiation, at the same time adding that “inaction is not an option.”

IN TIGER BAY SPEECH, JACK LATVALA TEES OFF ON HOUSE  via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In a take no prisoners speech that lasted nearly an hour … Latvala lived up to his reputation as one of the Senate’s biggest flamethrowers, hammering the House, some legislative rivals, and a wide range of policy issues. The speech at Tallahassee’s Capital Tiger Bay Club began with a laundry list of things Latvala said he was “hopeful” the Legislature could focus on, including boosting higher education, addressing the state’s pending water shortage, and creating high-wage jobs — before he unloaded on what he described as “an all-out assault on economic development programs.” It was a reference to the House proposal to slash funding for Visit Florida and to abolish Enterprise Florida, both mostly taxpayer-funded economic development and marketing programs. “Someone could tell me I could be elected to the House for life and I still would not do it,” he told the crowd.

NO FURTHER HEARINGS ON GUN BILLS IN SENATE JUDICIARY AFTER ALL via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Earlier this month, Senate Judiciary chairman Greg Steube [said] he wasn’t giving up on holding a hearing for some of his more controversial gun bills this year, which proposed to eliminate some “gun-free” zones in Florida. But it appears the Sarasota Republican is backing off. His committee will meet for the final time Wednesday and, while it’s a packed agenda, there are no gun bills slated to be heard.

BILL TO REMOVE LIMIT ON NUMBER OF TRAUMA CENTERS MOVES IN HOUSE via Florida Politics – A bill that would do away with a cap on how many trauma centers can open in Florida cleared its latest committee Monday … GOP state Rep. Jay Trumbull of Panama City … said the motivation for the bill was to end the flow of litigation against the state’s Department of Health, which now is charged with reviewing the need for new centers and approving them. Almost every time a new application is filed, the department is hit with some kind of legal action, usually from neighboring hospitals that already operate a trauma center. Records show 31 cases have been filed since 2014, most at the administrative hearing level, and the state has spent over $900,000 on outside attorneys in the last year and a half.

BIGGER WINE BOTTLES COULD BE COMING TO FLORIDA via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Current law generally makes it illegal to sell wine “in an individual container holding more than 1 gallon.” A typical bottle is 750 milliliters, roughly a fifth of a gallon. Jeff Brandes … offered an amendment to a booze-advertising bill (SB 388). The amendment, adopted without objection, repeals the bottle-size law. It would allow wine bottles of all sizes, including the “Nebuchadnezzar,” which hold 15 liters, or the volume of 20 standard wine bottles. The bill would even allow the mammoth 50-liter “Sovereign” — the equivalent of a whopping 67 standard wine bottles.

BILL SPONSOR BOWS OUT OF FIGHT OVER SHORT-TERM VACATION RENTALS via Florida Politics – The Senate sponsor of legislation crimping local restrictions on Airbnb and other home vacation rentals abruptly cried uncle Monday — confusing a committee room full of lobbyists, plus a few committee members. Sen. Greg Steube acquiesced in a late amendment by Sen. Jeff Brandes that essentially gutted his bill. CS/SB 188, as amended, passed on a vote of 5-3. … The amendment persuaded some Community Affairs Committee members, but not all. “I’ve told so many cities and other folks that I was a ‘No’ on the bill, and now it’s changed and I’m trying to figure it out,” Republican Aaron Bean said. “I’m going to say ‘No’ kind of quietly.”

RARE TIE VOTE DEFEATS MOVE TO KILL SPORTS SUBSIDIES via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – In an political issue rife with Tampa Bay tensions, the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee killed a bill (SB 236) by Sen. Lee that would have wiped out a 2014 program to give subsidies to qualified sports entities. Lee called it a “giveaway program” that’s bad for taxpayers, and he testified that $390 million has been set aside for stadium improvement projects but no money has been spent. His bill was in trouble from the outset because his nemesis on a number of issues this session, Sen. Jack Latvala … is on the tourism panel and supports keeping the program. Latvala was joined by two allies, Republican Sen. George Gainer and Democrat Bill Montford, to kill Lee’s bill. Siding with Lee, and voting to end the subsidy program were Sens. Dana Young; Travis Hutson and Jose Javier Rodriguez(Lee himself is not on the committee).

AFP … SAYS “SENATE GOES TO THE MOVIES AND SPORTS CLUBS ON TAXPAYER DIME”: “We are disappointed in Florida Senators that passed on an opportunity to eliminate a corporate welfare program dedicated to handing out taxpayer dollars to privately owned sports teams,” said AFP state director Chris Hudson. “This is an absurd use of taxpayer resources that should be dedicated to legitimate functions of government. … “After successfully fending off Hollywood special interests last year, the Senate is unfortunately pushing to risk using tax dollars to get into the movie making business once again. … The Senate should not be picking winners and losers between a transient industry and the critical needs of our citizens.”

… LAUNCHES NEW DIRECT MAIL PIECE FOCUSED ON BUDGET — The new piece is meant to highlight the differences between the House and Senate budget proposals. The mail pieces urge Floridians to call their senators and tell them to “cut wasteful spending and focus on real priorities.” “As both chambers gear for budget conference, we hope that the Florida Senate will abandon attempts to increase Floridians’ property taxes, cut over $700 million in pork, and join the House in eliminating funding for Enterprise Florida,” said Chris Hudson, state director for AFP-FL. “We are going to educate Floridians about the stark differences in spending between the House’s and the Senate’s proposed budgets.”

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SENATE PANEL BACKS EXPANDED GARDINER SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY via Livi Stanford of redefinED.org – SB 902, by Sen. David Simmons … would expand eligibility for the program to include children who are deaf or visually impaired, as well as those with rare diseases or traumatic brain injuries. It defines rare diseases as those affecting populations of fewer than 200,000 in the United States. In what became a theme for the meeting, Simmons said the program does not hurt public schools but assists them. “The Gardiner scholarships have shown that there is no one size that fits all to helping these children and these families with these kinds of challenges,” he said. “These are extreme challenges, challenges which those who have faced them, most have stood up and met those challenges. This is one tool that we as a government can, in fact, help these children and these families.”

RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE OVERHAUL READY FOR SENATE FLOOR via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee passed a bill that makes changes to the organization of the Rural Economic Development Initiative … REDI, tasked with facilitating economic development in rural areas, would see a series of changes to its membership under SB 600, including three membership positions appointed by the Senate president, House speaker and executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. The bill directs the appointments to consider “the state’s ethnic, racial and gender diversity,” according to a staff analysis. The chair would have the ability to create committees as needed to address any issues that come up. A similar House bill (HB 333) has two more committee stops.

SOME VETS NOT HAPPY BILL PENALIZING MEMORIAL VANDALS MAY BE STALLED IN SENATE via Sascha Cordner of WFSU – The bill makes it at least a third degree felony to deface memorials honoring the memory of Veterans, First Responders and astronauts. Today, the minimum penalty is a second-degree misdemeanor charge. Rep. Brad Drake is sponsoring that effort in the House … after unanimously passing three House committees, it’s now headed to the floor. But, it has not been heard in any committees in the Senate. Its first stop would be the Senate Criminal Justice Committee chaired by Sen. Randolph Bracy … Sen. Greg Steube – the bill’s Senate sponsor—says he’s tried to get the bill on Bracy’s agenda to no avail. For Pensacola resident Cal Daniel, a young war re-enactor—stiffer penalties are warranted. He says he’s visited several areas where tombstones and memorials were vandalized. “And, as a historian, I quickly realized that underage or not, these were premeditated,” said Daniel.

POLITICAL CLASH OVER REGIONAL TRANSIT DIVIDES TAMPA BAY SENATORS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Sen. Latvala … offered a bill (SB 1672) in a Senate committee to create a revamped Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, the latest in a decade-long and so far ineffective effort to craft a regional approach to transit, including a light rail system linking Tampa and St. Petersburg. But Sens. Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee overrode Latvala with an amendment that strips the authority of its independence by requiring legislative approval for any local spending on a light rail system and barring the authority from spending money to advocate for light rail in a voter referendum. The amendment passed easily in the Senate Community Affairs Committee, which Lee chairs. “Voters of Hillsborough County and Pinellas County have rejected these in the past,” Brandes said. “My goal is that this doesn’t become an opportunity for Greenlight Pinellas 2.0,” referring to the latest rejection of a transit plan by county voters.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Kionne McGhee and the Alliance for Safety and Justice will hold a press conference and prayer vigil focused on criminal justice reforms that advocate for alternative options to incarceration for first-time and non-violent offenders at 12:15 p.m. on the fourth floor Rotunda near the House side.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — Medical marijuana will be on the table when the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittees meet today. The full appropriations committee is set to discuss Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues’ bill (HB 1397) to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment when it meets at 9 a.m. in 212 Knott. The Senate subcommittee is slated to discuss Sen. Rob Bradley’s proposal (SB 406) when it meets at 4 p.m. The House Ways & Means Committee will hold a workshop on the communication services tax when it meets at 10 a.m. in 17 House. The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss a proposal (SB 766) that would crack down on the use of skimming devices used to obtain credit card information when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in 27 Senate Office Building. The “Best and Brightest” teacher-bonus program (SB 1552) is up for discussion when the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 1:30 p.m. in 412 Knott. A proposal (SB 554) to give craft breweries a boost will be discussed when the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 4 p.m. in 110 Senate Office Building.

HAPPENING TODAY – LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS APPRECIATION DAY — Take a minute to thank a state law enforcement officer, Tuesday. The Florida Benevolent Association will host its annual Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second floor Rotunda.

TWEET, TWEET: @Daniel_Sweeney: Tomorrow is Florida Keys Day! Key Lime Pie, cocktails, seafood. Best county day of the session.

LARGE COUNTIES PUSH BACK ON HOUSE’S PROPOSED $200M CHARTER SCHOOL INCENTIVE via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Miami-Dade County Public Schools is “actively lobbying against” HB 5105, a spokeswoman said, and Duval County schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti sent a lengthy letter to the Florida Senate … urging lawmakers to “please use logic and reject” the House’s bill. The Senate has yet to formally discuss the “schools of hope” legislation that the Republican-led House passed last week along party-lines. The legislation seeks to attract specialized, out-of-state charter schools to come to Florida and compete with struggling traditional schools so that students currently attending such schools have another option … school district administrators — echoing some of the opposition expressed by House Democrats — say they have concerns about the proposal.

TEACHERS UNION CALLS FOR PROPER FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN NEW ADS via Florida Politics – The statewide education association released two advertisements in response to several measures being advanced by the Legislature. The proposals, education officials said, would under fund public schools and harm public school students. “Students are at the center of everything we do. That’s why we are fighting for students and for better public schools,” said Joanne McCall, the FEA president. “We’re fighting against too many tests that do nothing to help our children and working to ensure that schools and students have the resources they need for success.” The House voted 70-44 to approve a $200 million plan to shift students from chronically failing schools to charter schools run by private organizations. The bill, a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, would offer up money to build what are being called “Schools of Hope” in neighborhoods across the state, many in urban and poor areas.

JEB BUSH’S EDUCATION FOUNDATION PRAISES ANITERE FLORES IN WEB AD via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The ad from the Foundation for Florida’s Future proclaims that “Sen. [Anitere] Flores is working to give teachers more time to teach” and directs viewers to a webpage, which offers the foundation’s explanation of the original versions of SB 926 and HB 773 — Flores’ and Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr.’s testing legislation. The foundation had a hand in crafting the legislation, according to Flores, and has a stake in ensuring its passage. The legislation is a way for Republican lawmakers to delicately respond to intensifying complaints from parents and teachers upset about overtesting and the “high stakes” associated with those statewide exams. The education accountability system Florida uses stems from Bush’s legacy of linking student assessment scores to school grades and funding.

BRAD DRAKE: HERO – State Rep. Drake’s quick thinking may have saved a child from drowning on Sunday. Drake, a Eucheeanna Republican, was attending an Easter get-together at the home of Mary Beth and Ryan Tyson, Associated Industries’ Vice President of Political Operations. Their son John David, who has Down syndrome and can’t swim well, fell into the backyard pool. Drake instantly dived in and pulled the 6-year-old to safety. “He has such a big heart and always had such a heart for John David,” Mary Beth Tyson told Florida Politics. “Years after his birth (Drake) is still wearing a ‘Down syndrome awareness’ bracelet in honor of John David.”

EX-PSC REGULATOR, PARKS DIRECTOR LISA EDGAR CHARGED WITH DUI, HIT AND RUN via Carl Effers of the Tallahassee Democrat Lisa Edgar was arrested Saturday on DUI and property damage charges. Edgar, 53, resigned from her parks position in late February after two months on the job, citing an immediate family emergency. Before working as parks director, Edgar served on the PSC for three terms starting in 2005 and as the deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She was booked into the Leon County Jail on two counts each of DUI with property damage and hit and run causing more than $50 in damage. Florida Highway Patrol reports say at about 7 p.m. Saturday, troopers responded to a crash on Centerville Road near the intersection with Pisgah Church Road. The driver of the other vehicle told troopers he was traveling south on Centerville Road when a Mercedes-Benz, later discovered to be driven by Edgar, was unable to stay in its lane and hit his driver’s side mirror as it passed.

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FLORIDA’S LEADING ECONOMIST ON SPORTING EVENTS ISN’T AN ECONOMIST via Noah Pransky of WTSP — The state of Florida spends nearly as much money every year on professional sports stadiums as it does maintaining the state’s top tourist attraction, its beaches. However, 10Investigates found the author of so many economic impact reports that support public sports subsidies may not be the expert economist state leaders believe he is. The resume of Mark Bonn, Ph.D., a professor at Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality, boasts of dozens of reports compiled for municipalities all across Florida, including some statewide organizations. … But 10Investigates uncovered emails suggesting Bonn encouraged the gaming of numbers to help justify a large public stadium renovation project. And several established economists call Bonn’s work deeply-flawed, resembling marketing propaganda more than an economic analysis; which may be appropriate, since Bonn’s background is in marketing, not economics.

HOW A TINY FLORIDA NEWSPAPER BECAME A MUST-READ IN THE TRUMP ERA via Benjamin Freed of the Washingtonian – The [Palm Beach] Daily News or “Shiny Sheet,” as it’s known to locals for the higher-than-usual-quality paper it prints on — typically covers events at Palm Beach’s charity galas, local real-estate transactions and goings-on in town government. It’s only got about 5,000 subscribers, but it’s become required reading for a Washington that is still struggling to make sense of the 45th President. … The Shiny Sheet doesn’t score the big national-security or palace-intrigue scoops that deep-pocketed news organizations like The Washington Post and New York Times do, but its role as a chronicler of South Florida’s swells has allowed it to break its share of presidential news.

ON THIS WEEK’S ROTUNDA — As thousands of people marched in cities around the country to demand that President Trump release his tax returns, business owners call for the reform of the national tax code. Trimmel Gomes talks with Barney Bishop, immediate past president of Associated Industries of Florida. Gomes also interviews the chair of the Constitution Revision Commission, Carlos Beruff. Plus, Florida folk songwriter and performer Tom Shed tells the story of sex, race, and murder in Florida politics with the song “Bolita Sam” about the 1952 case of Ruby McCollum and Sen. Leroy Adams.

BIG SUMMER FOR DISNEY PARKS: PANDORA AND GUARDIANS OF GALAXY via Beth J. Harpaz of The Associated Press – The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! attraction opens at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim … Pandora – The World of Avatar is a 12-acre land opening at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom … But the creative designer behind the attractions says you don’t need to know anything about either movie to enjoy them. The premise of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is that the Guardian superheroes have been captured and riders must participate in an adventure with a character called Rocket Raccoon to free them. The ride incorporates multiple scenarios for resolving the storyline so that riders have a slightly different experience each time they go through it. At Pandora, there are two rides plus retail and dining components. Riders on Avatar Flight of Passage fly through the forest on the backs of creatures called banshees to participate in a tribal coming of age ceremony. Riders on the Na’vi River Journey move through the bioluminescent forest on a boat, guided by a mystical singing figure.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Ray Rodrigues, as well as the boss of the Orange Juice mafia, Shannon Shepp, and political consultant Terry Miller. Celebrating today is the reporter who broke my (work) heart, Christine Sexton, as well as Tony Duda and Ed Hooper‘s better half, Lee.

Sunburn for 4.13.17 – Lake O. plan flowing; $1.5B in manna from heaven; Gov. candidates everywhere; And a horse fights a gator

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Jim Rosica and the AP’s new kid on the block, Ana Ceballos…

WATER WOES: FLORIDA SENATE APPROVES PLAN TO STOP TOXIC ALGAE

A reservoir system would be built south of Lake Okeechobee to stop toxic algae discharges from fouling coastal communities under a bill that Florida senators sent to the House Wednesday following extensive debate.

The Senate voted for the bill (SB 10) 36-3, giving a victory to Senate President Joe Negron who has made it a priority during the Legislative session.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rob Bradley, said the project is designed to avoid a repeat outbreak like the one last summer when “guacamole-water” saturated beach communities in Florida, threatening tourism, and the health of residents and marine life.

“I am not describing a scene from a third world country, but one of the areas most populated in our state,” Bradley said.

The bill provides money for the $1.5 billion project, a cost that the state and federal governments would split. The bill would also accelerate the project’s completion.

“It’s been such a political and financial nut to crack, and now we finally have the political will to get it done,” Bradley said.

As the proposal inched closer to the Senate floor for consideration, it went through a major overhaul including scaling-back the project’s size to take less agricultural land out of production. The plan would create at least 240,000 acre feet of storage, and would store about 78 billion gallons.

The bill was amended after it received pushback from opponents in the agricultural and sugar industries, but both industries remain hesitant to support the proposal.

HOUSE COMMITTEE CHAIR SAYS SENATE EVERGLADES BILL ‘GREAT STARTING POINT’ via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – After an Everglades reservoir bill passed the Senate … state Rep. Matt Caldwell said the measure, a priority of Senate President Negron, “will be taken seriously” in the House. “This give us a great starting point,” said Caldwell, who chairs the House Government Accountability Committee. “We’ve been waiting to see what the final senate proposal would look like. It’s changed several times.” Caldwell … wasn’t sure of the process that awaits SB 10 in the House or whether it will be assigned to committees. “We’re still kind of chewing on that,” he said.

EAA FARMERS: TOLD YOU SO: “Today, the Florida Senate further acknowledged what EAA Farmers have been saying all along: a storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee can be accomplished on state-owned land without the need to acquire additional farmland,” said Danielle Alvarez, spokesperson for EAA Farmers, Inc., following the Senate’s passage of SB 10. “It is critical to Florida’s future to protect local agriculture, homegrown food and rural jobs. We are encouraged that the Senate rejected the fake science paid for by the Everglades Foundation, a special-interest group who is not interested in finding real solutions but, instead, politicizes important matters to try to move their sole agenda forward – taking valuable farmland out of production. EAA Farmers are committed to continuing to work with lawmakers to implement real solutions that will help the coastal estuaries, such as storage north of the lake.”

SUGARCANE FARMERS STILL LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENT: “This bill is not what we had hoped it would be. It does not resolve the issue of excess water discharged from Lake Okeechobee, which has been the stated priority for the farming communities and those living near the coastal estuaries,” said Ryan Duffy, a spokesman for Florida Sugarcane Farmers. The bill has improved in that it does not take thousands of acres of productive, private farmland by using eminent domain and hopefully will not result in massive job losses in the communities around Lake Okeechobee – whether immediate or eventual. We will continue to work with the House and Senate leadership to address these issues and to make the bill as comprehensive a solution as possible.”

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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AGREES TO $1.5 BILLION FOR FLORIDA HOSPITALS’ UNINSURED CARE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The pot of money, called the Low Income Pool, was set to expire this year but has been part of broader negotiations over Florida’s Medicaid program between state and federal officials. “Working with the Trump Administration to secure a commitment of $1.5 billion in LIP funding for our state will truly improve the quality and access to health care for our most vulnerable populations,” Scott said in a statement. Three years ago, LIP was a $2 billion a year program funded by local tax dollars and matching federal funds. However, President Barack Obama‘s administration pushed to end the program after Florida refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Federal officials said they were restoring a portion of the LIP program in an effort to give the state more autonomy in its Medicaid program.

HOSPITALS BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF: “We commend the Scott Administration and Trump Administration for working quickly to come to an agreement on funding health care for Florida’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association. “This timely decision gives the Legislature the critical  information it needs to develop its Health and Human Services budget.”

RICK SCOTT WARNS STATE NOT SEEING ‘BIG DEALS’ BECAUSE OF LEGISLATURE’S ACTIONS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay TimesScott started his day with another Jobs Roundtable, this time in Orlando, expressing frustration at the House for considering big cuts to both programs. Scott has now held 20 roundtable events since the start of the year calling on people in the business community to pressure the Legislature to keep both Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida fully funded … Scott told reporters after the Florida Cabinet meeting that since the Legislature first started cutting the flow of incentive dollars to Enterprise Florida last year, the state is seeing an impact. While private sector jobs are still growing, the state is “not seeing a lot of big deals” Scott said. “We’ve got to compete,” Scott said about wanting to replenish the job incentive programs to attract more companies to come to Florida.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make a jobs announcement at 2 p.m. at the Comcast Operations Center, 15800 SW 25th Street in Miami.

RICHARD CORCORAN: ‘COLLEGIALITY’ IN CAPITOL POINTS TO SMOOTH SESSION FINISH via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – In an interview for the Florida Channel’s “Face to Face, program, Corcoran casually laughed off predictions of a May meltdown. He said [the] scheduled budget debates in both houses shows forward progress and the next step is for the two chambers to agree on spending allocations, the bottom-line numbers that allow will allow House-Senate budget talks to begin. “It’s a great pace. It’s a pace that says we’re going to get done and we’ll be able to work out our differences,” Corcoran said. “If allocations can get done in five to seven days afterward, we’ll absolutely, in my opinion, get done … There’s a lot of collegiality. We recognize our differences but we also, I think, recognize where those differences can be bridged, on both sides … What sells is conflict,” Corcoran told host Beth Switzer.

— “Bill Cotterell: GOP disarray is interesting, but not exactly new” via the Tallahassee Democrat

SENATE PASSES BUDGET WITH LIMITED CUT TO ARAMIS AYALA’S OFFICE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Engineered by state Sen. Randolph Bracy … and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jack Latvala, a compromise was inserted into the budget package that would cut $622,000 from the Office of the State Attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, but restore another $569,000 that the Senate initially proposed cutting. The House of Representatives is still looking at a full $1.3 million cut to Ayala’s office. Under an arrangement put together by Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon, all the money would go to the Judicial Administration Commission, to be redistributed to other state attorneys who get 9th JC cases.

— “After Dems support budget and water bills, GOP leaders dust cobwebs off Dem bills” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

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ANDREW GILLUM, SHEVRIN JONES LAMBASTE CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING PLAN via Florida PoliticsTallahassee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum on Wednesday called proposed House funding for charter schools “a giveaway to (House Republicans’) friends and family.” But Gillum at first wouldn’t answer whether he would veto such funding if he were governor, saying instead he would put a “premium” on fully funding the state’s public school system … Speaker Corcoran has proposed a “Schools of Hope” program, starting with $200 million in financial help for nonprofit companies to open charter schools in the Sunshine State. But it’s been reported that those concerns aren’t interested in coming. Nonetheless, Gillum bemoaned the proposal, which he said would put millions of dollars “in the hands of friends (of Republicans) who are well-heeled and well-connected.”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTE TO STAND AGAINST CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING via Florida Politics – The Florida House’s Democrats agreed to take a caucus position against a proposal in the chamber’s budget that funds charter schools. The budget’s “Schools of Hope” plan sets aside $200 million for nonprofits to open charter schools in the Sunshine State. Democrats say the plan will hurt struggling public school systems. Republicans say they bolster education in low-income areas that suffer from failing schools. Rep. Larry Lee of Port St. Lucie advanced the idea to take a unified stand against Schools of Hope during Wednesday’s caucus meeting. In a floor session later, Democrats bombarded GOP Rep. Chris Latvala, the plan’s sponsor, and others with questions for over two hours about how the money would be spent and the effect on public schools.

HOUSE VOTES DOWN BUDGET AMENDMENT CALLING FOR REPORT ON DEATH PENALTY via Florida Politics — The amendment, put forward by Rep. Sharon Pritchett, called for the state to use money to fund a report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) looking at the death penalty. The report, among other things, would have had to identify the actual fiscal cost associated with maintaining a capital punishment system; the average cost to the state and local government associated with the the execution of a single offender from indictment to execution; and address the “causes driving disparities in capital sentencing outcomes on the basis of demographic factors of the offender and the victim including, but not limited to, race, gender, sex, and geography.” House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo called Pritchett’s amendment an “unfriendly amendment from a very friendly lady.” The amendment failed on a 42-71 vote.

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DO PRIVATE PRISONS SAVE MONEY AS PROMISED? MAYBE NOT, BUT LEGISLATURE KEEPS APPROVING via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – When he was first elected, Gov. Scott was so determined to meet his campaign promise of saving $1 billion on prisons that he pushed through a series of contracts with private operators that on paper claimed to produce millions in annual savings. But the promised savings have never materialized, according to audits done by Rep. David Richardson … who has been a one-man investigation unit into Florida’s troubled prison system. Many of the contracts, which were required to save at least 7 percent a year, actually cost the state more money than taxpayers would have spent if the programs had never been privatized. In some cases, he also found, medical care and access to programming in the private facilities was often worse. “This is not saving the state money because they are more efficient; they are saving money as a contractor because they are denying goods and services to the inmates,” Richardson said.

FLORIDA HOSPITALS CREATED 900K JOBS, NEW ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY FINDS via Florida Politics — The study, completed by the University of Florida and sponsored by the Florida Hospital Association, found Florida hospitals were responsible for creating 901,674 full- and part-time jobs in 2015. The report also found hospitals generated nearly $128.4 billion in total economic contributions during the same period. “Hospitals are the largest employers in many communities across Florida,” said FHA President Rueben in a statement. “Our member hospitals constantly reinvest in their communities and train new generations of health care providers.”

LEGISLATURE STILL HASN’T BEGUN CONFERENCING ON GAMBLING LEGISLATION via Florida Politics – A proposed conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate, originally planned for this week, was postponed till next week. That’s because lawmakers continue to talk with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has six casinos in the state. One lobbyist suggested an end game: Passing only a new agreement on exclusive blackjack rights for the Tribe, promising $3 billion to the state over seven years. Otherwise, the two chambers are at odds, with the House holding the line on gambling expansion and the Senate open to some expansion, including allowing slot machines at pari-mutuels in counties that approved a referendum. House Speaker Richard Corcoran called a compromise “a heavy, heavy lift” and state Sen. Bill Galvano has said he “couldn’t guarantee we’ll ultimately have a final resolution” this year. On Wednesday, the Senate announced its conference members: Galvano, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Oscar Braynon II, Anitere Flores, Travis Hutson and Perry Thurston.

WORTH READING — FLORIDA’S INDIAN GAMING INDUSTRY REBOUNDS AFTER RECESSION BUT NEW COMPETITION LOOMS via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s success in Indian gaming outstripped the industry’s national gaming growth in 2015. Florida gaming revenues soared 9.3 percent. Nationwide, such revenues rose 5.5 percent. This was the sixth straight year of growth following the Great Recession and generated a record $30.5 billion in gaming revenue nationwide. However, the Seminoles’ compact with the state that granted it the right to offer Class III (Vegas style gambling) gaming legally expired in 2015. There are still other legislative possibilities, including whether lawmakers legalize commercial resort casinos. As bullish as the outlook seems, the report on Indian gaming also raises some warning flags. More competition to Indian gaming is possible as more tribes try to gain rights to open their own gaming facilities. Next-generation gamblers share different gaming interests, the report adds, showing little interest in slot machines. And gambling over the internet, the report suggests, may be the greatest threat of all.

DOUG BROXSON: TRIUMPH PROCESS LIKE ‘GILLIGAN’S ISLAND’ via Rick Outzen of Rick’s Blog – When asked for an updated on the legislation regarding the distribution of $300-million of Triumph Gulf Coast funds, State Sen. Broxson said, “It feels like it’s ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ It was just a three-hour tour, and now we’ve been stuck in here for almost six months now.” He explained, “What’s so sad is that we had a very simple process that was set up for the Triumph Gulf Coast. It simply said, ‘As soon as the settlement was completed, the money would be transferred to Triumph.’ Now, through a legal procedure, it ended up in the general fund.” Broxson complained that the Florida House is trying to dictate how the Northwest Florida counties most impacted by the 2010 BP oil spill can spend their share of monies from the state’s settlement with the British oil giant. “It just continued to warp into this concept that really became very complicated.”

JACK LATVALA TO OUT-OF-STATE FRANCHISE GROUP: “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?” via Brian Burgess of the Capitolist – The International Franchise Association is starting to look like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. The group … has engineered a series of ham-handed blunders over the past several weeks, including a false claim wrapped in an insult of Senator Jack Latvala. Jeff Hanscom, the IFA’s state director, insists that Latvala did confer with a lobbyist while [Travis] Hutson spoke with the lawyer, but admits it occurred off-camera, where the IFA’s Washington D.C.-based spokesman couldn’t possibly have seen it take place, and acknowledged he wasn’t privy to the details of the conversation. Latvala blasted IFA for the claim … “People in Washington think they are so smart they can comment on things without even being there to see them in person,” the statement read. “That’s why we are all tired of people from Washington.”

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Judiciary Committee will take up several bills, including one dealing with victims of human trafficking, when it meets at 8 a.m. in 404 House Office Building. The Commerce Committee is scheduled to discuss a bill to repeal a portion of the law requiring vehicle owners and operators to obtain and maintain personal injury protection coverage when it meets at 10 a.m. in 212 Knott. Over in the Senate, the Appropriations Committee will discuss a bill to create civil citation and similar diversion programs for juveniles when it meets at 9:30 a.m. in 412 Knott. The Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss a bill that would provide tax relief to owners of renewable energy source devices when it meets at 1 p.m. in 401 Senate Office Building. The Environment and Natural Resource Appropriations will talk about funding for beach renourishment when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in 301 Senate Office Building.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Bill Nelson is heading to Tallahassee for a day of meetings with state lawmakers. He’ll meet with House Democratic Leader Cruz and the House Democratic Caucus at 1030 a.m. in Room 316 of the Capitol, before an 11:40 a.m. media availability. He has a meeting with state Sen. Jeff Clemens at noon, before attending a meeting with Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon and the Senate Democratic Caucus at 12:15 p.m. Negron is scheduled to meet with Senate President Joe Negron at 1 p.m., before heading to a meeting with House Speaker Richard Corcoran at 1:20 p.m.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: State lawmakers will join advocates to discuss the the state’s fight against human trafficking during a press conference at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Historic Capitol. Reps. Jennifer Sullivan, Ross Spano, and Katie Edwards will be joined by DJJ Secretary Christina Daly; Jerry Haag, the president of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, The Porch Light, and Orphans Heart; Christina Hicks, the founder of Into the Jordan Ministries, and Heather Case, founder of One Purse.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Mayor Gillum will join Osceola County Commissioner Vivian Janer and the Osceola Board of Commissioners for the ribbon cutting for the Center for Neovation at 10 a.m. at 200 NeoCity Way in Kissimmee.

DEMOCRATS FILE COMPLAINT AGAINST ADAM PUTNAM ALLEGING CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The Democratic Governors Association, the partisan political organization determined to defeat Putnam when he announces a campaign for governor later this year, filed the complaint accusing him of violating state law. Citing a March 24 story in the Miami Herald, the complaint alleges that Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, gave $1.3 million in lump sum payments to the consulting firm run by his top political consultant, Justin Hollis, without detailing where the money goes in an alleged violation of a law that requires disclosure of individual expenditures when 80 percent of the costs are paid by the political committee. “By only reporting the purpose of these expenditures as ‘consulting’ or ‘political consulting,’ Florida Grown PC is withholding relevant information that the Florida Election Code intends for political committees to disclose under Section 106.07(4)(a)(13),” wrote Elisabeth Pearson, executive director of Washington-based DGA.

PROFESSING LOVE FOR FLORIDA BUSINESS, CHRIS KING VIDEO USES STOCK FOOTAGE FROM LA, WASHINGTON via Florida Politics – In a YouTube video posted last week, the Winter Park affordable housing executive offers his vision of the state of Florida politics. “We need a whole new generation of people to stand up and demand more from our politics,” King says in “Rise and Lead.” Despite presenting a well-produced video, complete with heartfelt testimonials and inspiring words of dedication to the success of Florida business … At the 3:08 mark, King’s video uses a few moments of slick B-roll stock footage, each coming from places far from the Sunshine State … “Construction Workers Talking,” produced in Silverdale and “Business People Writing Notes on Wall” coming from Los Angeles. Would it be out of line to ask a candidate who launched his campaign for governor with a love of Florida business to actually film his first commercial in Florida?

PAM BONDI LOSES FIRST ROUND IN UNREGISTERED CHARITIES LAWSUIT via Florida Politics – The Attorney General has lost a preliminary round in a lawsuit claiming she forces businesses to pony up millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee ordered Bondi to show why he shouldn’t find for the plaintiff, Orlando entrepreneur John D. Smith … A list of the unregistered charities alleged in Smith’s suit was disclosed late Tuesday to FloridaPolitics.com, showing that those included Bondi’s own “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” award and “scholarship funds designated by the Attorney General.” Bondi released a lengthy statement, saying Smith had harassed her staff and that his suit is “completely unfounded” and “meritless.”

HAPPENING TODAY – 2017 LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN KICKS OFF —  Lace up your sneakers, it’s time for the 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run. AG Bondi will help kick off the annual run benefiting Special Olympics Florida at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Courtyard. She’ll be joined by Dave Sklarek, the state director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run; Education Commissioner Pam Stewart; Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil; and Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo. The Tallahassee leg of the run begins at 10:15 a.m. in the parking lot of Lake Ella Plaza.

WHAT PEOPLE WANT—AND DON’T WANT—FROM CONSTITUTIONAL REWRITE PANEL via Florida Politics – For as many people who asked the Constitution Revision Commission to do something, there were others who wanted the panel to do nothing at all. And that’s not counting the fringe speakers Wednesday night who told the commission they were “imposters” and “impersonating delegates of the people.” The 37-member panel, which convenes every 20 years to consider changes to the state’s governing document, held its latest public hearing on Florida A&M University’s campus in Tallahassee. Kirk Bailey, political director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, asked the panel to refrain from proposing amendments that would restrict the state’s judges … “We’ve all heard a lot lately about ‘activist judges’ and we’re anticipating that’s going to be part of a larger narrative about how they ‘overturn the will of the people,’ ” he said later. “Our message is not to succumb to that belief by proposing amendments that will limit the (independence of the) judiciary.”

FIRST ON #FLAPOL – CRC CHAIRMAN OUTLINES RULE-MAKING PLANS via Jim Rosica of Florida PoliticsCarlos Beruff, who leads the panel charged with reviewing and suggesting rewrites to the state’s governing document, said in a memo that several members will form a committee and “hold noticed and open meetings to deliberate the proposed rules.” Beruff said that the rules working group will include Tim Cerio and Brecht Heuchan, selected by Gov. ScottDon Gaetz and Carolyn Timmann, selected by Senate President Joe Negron; state Sen. Tom Lee and Rich Newsome, selected by House Speaker Richard Corcoran; and Arthenia Joyner and Roberto Martinez, selected by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga. “We will vote on the proposed rules, and on all amendments, at a full commission meeting to be held in early June,” Beruff wrote.

JASON EMILIOS DIMITRIS APPOINTED NEWEST JUDGE ON 11TH CIRCUIT BENCH via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott announced the appointment Wednesday. Dimitris, 46, of Coral Gables, has served as a Dade County judge since 2013. Before that, he was general counsel for the Florida Department of Management Services and chief of staff for the Florida Department of Children and Families. Dimitris also has experience as an assistant U.S. Attorney, an assistant statewide prosecutor, and assistant state attorney. He received an undergraduate degree from Rollins College and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law. Dimitris fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Victoria R. Brennan.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Jose Bermudez, Becker & Poliakoff: American Clinical Solutions

Jorge Chamizo, Teye Reeves, Floridian Partners: Solarus Medical

Jon Costello, Rutledge Ecenia: Florida Veterinary Medical Association

Candice Ericks, Ericks Advocacy Group: Life Insurance Settlement Association, Inc.

Javier Fernandez, Holland & Knight: P & G Investors

Allyce Heflin, Paul Mitchell, Southern Strategy Group: HighPoint Technology Solutions

Lisa Hurley, Andrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: San Felasco Nurseries, Inc.

Milton Schmidt, Steel in the Air: Florida Association of Counties; Florida League of Cities

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Wheeler EMC, LLC

Cameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

LARRY AHERN FILES TO RUN FOR PINELLAS COUNTY COMMISSION via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – … District 6 being vacated next year by commissioner John Morroni. Ahern won re-election for the third time in November to the Florida House in a rematch against Democratic opponent Lorena Grizzle. This will be his fourth and final term in the House. Ahern made recent headlines when he allowed the then-executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board to craft new legislation that would make the nomination process more transparent.

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BASEBALL HAS BEEN VERY, VERY GOOD TO AIRBNB via Florida Politics — Airbnb, the leader in marketing vacation rental home, announced Wednesday that all 12 Florida cities that host spring training camps and stadiums for Major League Baseball teams saw remarkable spikes in bookings during the baseball spring training that ended last week. All the cities saw significant increases in Airbnb vacation home rental bookings during the five-week spring training, Feb. 23-March 31, compared with the previous five weeks. … “Spring Training represents a foundational component of the local economies for these 12 Florida cities,” Tom Martinelli, public policy director for Airbnb Florida, stated in the release. “By expanding lodging capacity for regions with limited hotel inventory, Airbnb hosts helped welcome more families and baseball fans to their cities while serving as ambassadors for their local communities.”

HAPPENING TODAY — SALTERMITCHELL CELEBRATES OPENING OF LITTLE FREE LIBRARY — Grab a book and head down to SalterMitchellPR, 117 Gadsden Street, at 11:30 a.m. as the firm celebrates National Library Week with the grand opening of the firm’s Little Free Library. People who bring three or more books will be entered in a chance to win a $50 gift certificate from Midtown Reader. Children’s books are appreciated.

GOVERNORS CLUB THURSDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU Thursday is Italian Day at the Governors Club with pasta fagilio soup; tomato, Italian parsley salad – tomatoes, red onion, Italian parsley, olive oil; seasonal greens; three dressing sections; hearts of romaine salad – hearts of romaine, Parmesan cheese, Kalamata olives, red onion, grape tomatoes; Italian sausage & peppers; snapper puttanaesca; roasted herb chicken; parmesan garlic rice and garlic zucchini with tomatoes and onion.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Sam Killebrew, Chris Chaney, and Todd Pressman.

MUST-WATCH: VIDEO SHOWS HORSE ATTACKING GATOR IN A FIELD NEAR GAINESVILLE via the Tampa Bay Times – A video posted on Facebook appears to show a horse attacking a gator at Paynes Prairie near Gainesville “Horse attacking a gator at Paynes Prairie,” Krystal M. Berry writes on her Facebook post. “I’m still shaking.” The video shows the horse grazing, with a few other horses, behind it, when it trots toward a large alligator in a field nearby and stomps it. The gator strikes back, appearing to bite the horse in the leg. The two then separate.

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