florida politics Archives - Page 4 of 39 - SaintPetersBlog

Sunburn for 3.14.17 – Press skits tonight; Fineout finds out; Kionne McGhee to lead House Dems; Eyeball wars flaring up

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

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

HAPPENING OVERNIGHT – WIND SCRUBS SPACE X LAUNCH via Florida Today – SpaceX is expected to try again early Thursday to launch a Falcon 9 rocket and commercial communications satellite from Kennedy Space Center, after strong winds scrubbed the mission’s first countdown on Tuesday.

The launch team called off the attempt while the rocket was being fueled, with more than a half-hour remaining before the launch window opened at 1:34 a.m.

The mission’s backup launch opportunity is at 1:35 a.m. Thursday, the opening of another two-and-a-half hour window that closes at 4:05 a.m.

Thursday’s forecast is considerably better, with a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions, according to the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. The odds were only 40 percent “go” heading into Tuesday’s countdown.

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR WHEN … GARY FINEOUT PUTS ON A COWBOY HAT!

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s Press Skits, tonight at The Moon (as usual) in Tallahassee.

While the lineup of the skits is a closely guarded secret till showtime, Fineout last month posted a photo of himself—seemingly from rehearsals—wearing a cowboy hat and red shirt, while brandishing two (toy) long-guns.

“Locked and loaded for the 2017 press skits,” he said on Twitter. The mind boggles.

“The event pokes fun at politicians and policy in Florida’s capital city,” the website explains. That’s one way of putting it.

The theme this year is “The Crony Awards,” and “a couple of surprise guests” have been promised. Does this mean Gov. Rick Scott will attend?

To counterbalance the press, the House and Senate will have their own videos, no doubt skewering the newsies (and hopefully themselves).

If you haven’t yet bought tickets, floor seats have sold out but there may be general admission left for $30 each, plus fees, at the Moon box office. Call ahead to confirm: (850) 878-6900.

Remember, proceeds benefit the Barbara L. Frye Scholarship, awarded yearly by the Capitol Press Corps to high school seniors and college students pursuing journalism study.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 7:30 p.m. The Moon is at 1105 East Lafayette Street.

Coming from the Capitol, you’ll probably take a right at Fineout pumping a play-shotgun. He’ll be the one shouting, “Yippee-kai-yay, Governor!”

TWEET, TWEET: @FLPressCorps: Breaking: Due to high demand we have add’l 25 floor seats for Press Skits we are opening up in morning.

A REMINDER of just how funny and relevant Press Skits can be via David Johnson. (Click on the image to watch the video.)

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DAYS UNTIL: Major League Baseball Opening Day – 19; NFL Draft – 44; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 51; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 51; FSU vs. Alabama football game – 172; Election Day 2017 – 237; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 275.

CDC: DON’T DONATE SPERM IN 3 FLORIDA COUNTIES DUE TO ZIKA via Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press – Men from three Florida counties shouldn’t donate sperm because of a small risk of spreading Zika, U.S. health officials said … The guidance had previously applied to Miami-Dade County, the only place in Florida where there’s evidence the virus was spread by mosquitoes. But infections were reported in people in South Florida who couldn’t clearly be linked to Miami-Dade … the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the advice should extend to two counties north of Miami — Broward and Palm Beach. The recommendation applies to men who lived or traveled in those counties since June 15. Zika is mainly spread by mosquito bites but it can also be spread through sex. People can be infected without getting sick, and the virus can remain in semen for months.

FLORIDA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE TICKS UP TO 5% IN JANUARY via Florida Politics — Florida’s unemployment rate ticked up in January, reaching 5 percent for the first time in a year. The January unemployment rate marks a slight uptick from December, when state officials reported an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent. The statewide rate is higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, Gov. Rick Scott lauded private sector employers Monday for creating more than 50,000 jobs in January. The governor made the monthly jobs announcement at Herc Rentals in Bonita Springs, and used his appearance to once again take aim at lawmakers who voted to support a bill (HB 7005) to eliminate Enterprise Florida and a slew of other economic incentive programs. “It makes no sense to me,” said Scott.

UNDER RADAR, STATE OF FLORIDA SPENT $240M ON LAWYERS via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Gov. Scott and other top Florida Republicans frequently complain about government spending, but they have quietly spent more than $237 million on private lawyers to advance and defend their agendas, an Associated Press investigation has found. Florida taxpayers have also been forced to reimburse nearly $16 million for their opponents’ private attorney fees. That means an overall $253 million has been spent on legal fights, including a water war with Georgia and losing battles to test welfare recipients for drugs, trim the state’s voter registration lists and ban companies that do business with Cuba from bidding on government contracts. “A quarter of a billion dollars is a gosh lot of money,” said Dominic Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch, a business-backed group that scrutinizes state spending. Much of the state’s legal spending doesn’t show up in the normal process of assembling the state’s $82 billion budget.

LAWYERED UP? A LOOK AT WHAT THE STATE HAS SPENT MONEY ON via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Here’s a look at some of the spending on outside lawyering Florida taxpayers have had to pay for under Republican leadership:

—More than $100 million in fees paid to lawyers by state agencies, including an expensive water rights struggle with Georgia. The water wars have been waged for nearly 20 years, but costs soared after Scott pushed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. This total also includes money billed by lawyers defending the actions of the Legislature and governor.

— Nearly $16 million paid to opposing lawyers after losing battles over voting rights, gay marriage, drug testing and other controversial policies. This includes $12 million to attorneys who represented pediatricians who contended Florida violated federal mandates by failing to deliver critical health services to 2 million children on Medicaid; more than $800,000 to lawyers working for the American Civil Liberties Union; and nearly $513,000 to lawyers who defeated a state law targeting businesses doing business in Cuba.

— Nearly $20 million spent by the Legislature defending budgets that advocates say shortchange public schools and Republican-drawn legislative and congressional districts. The state won the education lawsuit at its first turn, but the courts sided against them on districts and approved changes that upended the state’s political landscape.

— About $111 million since 2011 through its risk management division on legal cases over auto accidents, employment disputes and worker’s compensation claims against state government.

FIRST ON FLORIDA POLITICS – REPORT: DELINQUENCY DOWN IN FLORIDA, DESPITE A HOST OF CHALLENGES via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – Despite several challenges facing the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), it has managed to lower youth arrests during the fiscal year for non-violent offenses. This reduction in delinquency came through the increased use of civil citations, according to a 2017 report on the DJJ by the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) … entitled “Securing Florida’s Future by Protecting Florida’s Children: The State of the Roadmap to Excellence” … says that in FY 2015-2016, 121,968 children were served by the DJJ, with many children being served in their own communities. In the latest delinquency report just released by the Florida DJJ, juvenile arrests have dropped another 7 percent during FY 2015-16, resulting in a six-year decline of 37 percent. Considerable success has been achieved with the expansion of civil citation and use of detention alternatives. P

Per the report, counties showing the most improvement are Miami-Dade County with a 12 percent drop, Broward County with an 8 percent decrease, Orange County with a 7 percent drop, Palm Beach County with a 6 percent decrease and Hillsborough County with a 2 percent drop. But without sufficient support, maintaining these continued reductions in keeping at-risk youth from falling prey to the so-called “school to prison” pipeline might not last, said Catherine Craig-Myers, executive director of FJJA.

‘FOSTER SHOCK’ DOCUMENTARY TAKES FLORIDA’S PRIVATIZED CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM TO TASK via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics –A documentary film about Florida’s privatized child welfare and fostering programs — made by a Guardian ad Litem and filmmaker from Palm Beach — casts a draconian look at what happens to children when they are taken from abusive situations at home and become dependents of the state, at taxpayer expense, often to their peril. “Foster Shock,” which is currently being screened around the state at community viewings and nationally film festivals, was directed and produced by Mari Frankel, who has also served as a Guardian ad Litem (person the court appoints to investigate what solutions would be in the best interests of a child) for the last several years. Her film paints the picture of a bleak and broken system funded to the tune of roughly $3 billion per year of Florida taxpayer money. The film also argues that a sizable chunk of that money often goes to the six-figure salaries of the executives running the so-called “community-based care” agencies (CBCs), like Eckerd Kids, whose own executive director, David Dennis, earned $708,028 in the fiscal year 2015, according to publicly-available IRS 990 statements.

THE WORST STORY YOU’LL READ TODAY – MOTHER MAY HAVE SEEN DAUGHTER KILL SELF ON SOCIAL MEDIA via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – Naika Venant, a 14-year-old Miami girl, hanged herself Jan. 22 and broadcast her death on Facebook Live. Hundreds of people watched her three-hour broadcast, some of whom pleaded with the girl to reconsider her decision. But others urged her to take her life, calling her names and saying that the broadcast was fake. That included a user called Gina Alexis, the name used by Naika’s mother, Gina Caze, according to an abuse complaint reported to DCF Feb. 9. The user posted comments that could be considered “mentally injurious to her suicidal child” and did not seek help for her daughter, the report states. The following statement was posted by the user in the moments leading up to the death: “#ADHD games played u sad little DCF custody jit that’s why u where u at for this dumb s–t n more u keep crying wolf u dead u will get buried life goes on after a jit that doesn’t listen to there parents trying to be grown seeking boys and girls attention instead of her books.”

***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.***

RICK SCOTT STUMPS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TOURISM DOLLARS IN TALLAHASSEE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Proponents of keeping Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA have been repeating the talking point that even Coca-Cola, king of market share, still advertises … Scott kept driving home his counter-frame to House Speaker Corcoran‘s “corporate welfare” narrative that killing the state’s economic development organization and tourism marketing agency will kill jobs. “Here in Tallahassee, we need to diversify the economy, we need to get more tourism, we need to get more manufacturing companies,” he said, at a business roundtable at the Danfoss Turbocor Compressors plant. “It’s not going to happen if they shut down Enterprise Florida and if they decimate VISIT FLORIDA, so I’m going to be working every day, traveling the state fighting for jobs. This about making sure every family in this state doesn’t have the struggles mine did when I growing up.”

TWEET SHOT & CHASER:

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a rally to call on lawmakers to fully fund Visit Florida at 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.

TOP OP-ED: JOE HENDERSON: AFTER ENTERPRISE FLORIDA FIGHT, SCOTT HAS LITTLE POLITICAL CAPITAL LEFT via Florida Politics – To save his most-favored Enterprise Florida agency, the governor put a public campaign that included visits, robo-calls, videos and a public mocking of House Speaker Corcoran. It didn’t work, at least not yet. The House dealt the governor a stinging rebuke last week with by passing HB 7005 – or what Scott calls “job-killing legislation” – by an overwhelming 87-28 vote. Scott responded with a statement reading in part, “Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism. But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida.” It was easy for Scott to get his way when he arrived in Tallahassee on a populist wave, promising to produce jobs and get Florida out of the Great Recession. He certainly wasn’t the only political leader in the land who favored subsidies to jump-start the economy. Now that those jobs have been created – Scott claims more than 1.3 million overall so far – the mood in Tallahassee has shifted away from what Corcoran calls “corporate welfare.” That has forced the governor into a defensive posture that he clearly isn’t used to and hasn’t shown evidence yet of mastering.

SCOTT’S IDEAS FOR TEACHER INCENTIVES DIDN’T RESONATE; LEGISLATURE HAS OWN PLANS via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott’s recommendation for $58 million in teacher incentives in 2017-18 essentially called for eliminating the controversial “Best & Brightest” program that’s been around for two years. In its place, Scott called for a handful of different kinds of incentives, including recruiting Bright Futures scholars to become teachers and eliminating teacher certification fees. But both the House and Senate don’t want to scrap “Best & Brightest,” they want to expand it — significantly — and they want to flood the program with as much as $250 million, five times more than this year. Each chamber released its own proposal last week wanting to ensure more teachers, and now principals, could qualify for a bonus going forward.

SCOTT SIGNS DEATH PENALTY FIX INTO LAW via the Associated Press – Florida will now require a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed under a bill signed late Monday by Gov. Scott, who has remained relatively quiet about the problems with the state’s death penalty law in recent months. Lawmakers rushed to get the bill passed on the fourth day of their legislative session in hopes of fixing a death penalty law that’s been found unconstitutional twice since January 2016. It’s been seen as a better-than-nothing option for death penalty proponents as well as opponents.

DISPUTE OVER BILL FRAYS NERVES, EXPOSES FRACTURES IN JOE NEGRON’S SENATE LEADERSHIP TEAM via Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The trial lawyers were on the cusp of scoring a big win against the business and insurance lobby, their deep-rooted political rivals, but then state Sen. Lauren Book entered the legislative committee room. Book … was a “no” vote on the bill that would expand prejudgment interest to civil cases, but the new mother of twins hadn’t been expected to show because her infants had been up all night and she was exhausted. Senate Rules Committee Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Republican who favored the legislation, had brought it up for a vote and was surprised — some say unpleasantly — when Book showed. The vote got postponed. Benacquisto privately wound up swearing at fellow Republican senator Jack Latvala, who helped persuade Book to appear. The public arm twisting and tense, profanity-laced exchange between Benacquisto and Latvala goes beyond implications for the big-money bill, and signal what could be a rocky road ahead for Senate President Negron.

LAWMAKERS REVISIT BILL THAT PUNISHES SANCTUARY CITY OFFICIALS via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – Republican legislators are pushing again this year with a measure that would punish local officials if they fail to “fully comply” with federal immigration authorities. The House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee voted for the bill, which would help enforce Trump‘s promised immigration crackdown. The legislation would penalize officials in so-called sanctuary cities with hefty fines. Local government would also absorb detention costs when holding detainees for immigration authorities.

STATE MAY TRY AGAIN TO DRUG TEST WELFARE RECIPIENTS WHO HAVE FELONY CONVICTIONS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – People who apply to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly called TANF, would be subject to the tests if they had been convicted of a drug-related felony in the last 10 years under the bill (HB 1117). It cleared its first hurdle in the House with an 8-2 vote by the Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee. “Somebody that is receiving public assistance shouldn’t spend those dollars on things like drugs,” said Rep. Chris Latvala, who is sponsoring the legislation with his father, Senate appropriations chairman Jack Latvala. Opponents worry that drug testing will make it harder for people in need to access TANF. Applicants who have a drug felony would have to pay for a drug test up-front at an average cost of about $40. The state would reimburse them if they pass the test.

VOTE ON STADIUM-SUBSIDIES BILL DELAYED, BUT PANEL VOTES AID TO RURAL COUNTIES via Florida Politics – A Senate committee approved legislation Monday earmarking 75 percent of Florida’s take from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster for the eight worst-affected counties, and ensuring small counties will be represented on the oversight board. But the Commerce and Tourism Committee delayed a vote on another high-profile bill, SB 236, to dismantle tax subsidies for professional sports facilities, when sponsor Tom Lee, a Republican from Thonotasassa, failed to appear. “We’re facing a crisis in rural Florida — whether it’s education or health care or infrastructure of economic development,” chairman Bill Montford said of those portions of the agenda.

— “Criminal justice reform task force and other reform bills advance in Florida Senate” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “House panel passes crack down on ‘sanctuary’ communities via the South Florida Sun Sentinel

— “Proposal to make secretary of state an elected position passes 1st House panel via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Rural Economic Development Initiative bill passes 1st Senate panel” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

MAGIC JOHNSON VISITS TALLAHASSEE TO TALK UP MEDICAID MANAGED CARE via Florida Politics – Magic Johnson visited with Senate Democrats Monday to praise Medicaid managed care programs that are using town hall meetings and church outreach to steer HIV, dental, geriatric, and other health care to poor people in 60 Florida counties. The programs have served 9,500 people with HIV during the past four years, Johnson said. Moreover, “our providers and our doctors look like the patients they serve. That’s very important, because they can serve them better, understand their needs,” Johnson said, providing “the best health care they’ve ever received.”Johnson later dropped in on Senate President Negron, and was scheduled to meet with Senate Republicans later in the day.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, retired professional basketball player and current president of operations for the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, shakes hands with Senator Bill Montford after a meeting with the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus about health care.

KIONNE MCGHEE ELECTED LEADER-DESIGNATE OF FLORIDA HOUSE DEMOCRATS via Florida Politics – House Democrats elected Kionne McGhee, a former prosecutor whose challenges as child included the murder of two family members and a diagnosis of mental retardation, as their leader-designate Monday. He won 23 votes against 17 for Bobby Dubose. McGhee now stands to lead his caucus effective at the beginning of the organizational session that will follow the 2018 elections. “I want to say, together, he and I are going to move this caucus forward,” McGhee said of his colleague from Fort Lauderdale. The vote came on the 13th anniversary of McGhee’s marriage to his wife, Stacy McGhee. “Don’t you ever, so long as you step foot in this great country, allow critics to tell you that your past will define you,” he said.

“DON’T FEAR THE DEBATE?” – Anders Croy, the Communications Director for the House Democrats, emails the latest breakdown of bills that have been placed on the calendar for a hearing up to this point in Session. As of March 14th, 299 bills have been placed on the calendar in the Florida House. Of those, 250 are sponsored by Republicans, 41 are sponsored by Democrats, and 8 bills have bipartisan prime co-sponsors. To put that in a percentage, 83.6% of the bills that have been heard are Republican bills, 13.7% are Democratic, and 2.7% are bipartisan.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Government Operations & Technology Subcommittee meets at 10 a.m. in Morris Hall to talk about a proposal to repeal a Prohibition-era law that prohibiting grocery stores from selling liquor alongside grocery and other retail items. The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee is expected to discuss a proposed committee bill that would make changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system when it meets at 2 p.m. in 404 House Office Building. The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss a bill to give students who rack up excess credit hours a financial break if they graduate in four yearswhen it meets at 2 p.m. in 212 Knott. Also at 2 p.m.: The House Health Innovation Subcommittee will consider a bill placing new requirements on hospitals that treat patients for drug overdoses when it meets in Mashburn Hall. The Health Policy Committee will discuss a bill that allows patients to stay up to 24 hours at an ambulatory surgical center when it meets at 10 a.m. in 412 Knott. The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Glenn Sutphin during its meeting at 10:30 a.m. in 37 Senate Office Building. The Senate Judiciary Committee will tackle a bill that deals with religious expression in public schools when it meets at 2 p.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee will discuss a bill allowing electric utilities to invest in natural gas reserves during a meeting at 2:30 p.m. in 301 Senate Office Building.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Caregivers and health care professionals will hold a press conference at 10a.m. on the Second Floor Rotunda to oppose cuts to the Medicaid program. Melanie Sellers, the director of maternal/child at Jackson Hospital; Theresa Brown, the patient financial service representative at Baptist Pensacola; and Shawn Salamida, vice president of Families First Network at Lakeview Center are expected to speak.

IS HOUSE SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE OVER THE WHISKEY & WHEATIES BILL? via Florida Politics – After the “whiskey and Wheaties” bill nearly whiffed in the House, a new twist was filed Monday evening. A proposed amendment on the bill (HB 81) would create dual “liquor package store licenses,” with “Type A” licenses going to stores keeping a wall of separation between booze and other retail items, and “Type B” licenses going to those who sell liquor in the same general space as other goods. Those getting a Type B license also must pay “an additional amount” on top of the annual license fee according to a sliding scale based on population. The bill—sponsored by Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican—is set to be heard Tuesday by the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. Avila also offered the latest amendment.

LAWMAKERS WANT TO CREATE A MEDICAL MARIJUANA RESEARCH CENTER AT MOFFITT via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Two Tampa Bay area lawmakers want to make Moffitt Cancer Center a hub for medical marijuana research, according to legislation filed this month that would allow the center in Tampa to launch research initiatives and provide educational outreach on medical cannabis. “Right now, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting the positive benefits medicinal cannabis can have on patients in certain circumstances, but this legislation will help the state of Florida advance the science and research around cannabis as a treatment option for a variety of medical conditions,” Sen. Bill Galvano wrote in a statement. Rep. Jackie Toledo is sponsoring a companion bill in the House.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

On and off: Tyler Teresa is no longer district secretary for Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe GrutersGeeDee Kerr has replaced Teresa.

On: Jeremy Stein is the new district secretary for Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Mel Ponder.

Off: Nicole Pontello Is no longer district secretary for Palm Coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner.

On and off: Elizabeth Casimir is no longer district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia WilliamsRobert Moore is Williams’ new district secretary.

CREDIT UNIONS: A ‘WINNER’ WORTH PICKING via Florida Politics – Free market, corporate welfare, winners and losers. These phrases are uttered every day in the halls of the Florida Capitol while lawmakers are in Session; but, the reality is, government is, across many sectors of society, still in the business of picking winners and losers. One such instance where government picks winners and losers is in the fight between banks and credit unions over public deposits. For years, the credit unions have been seeking legislation that would allow them to accept deposits from public entities, like local governments and universities – just like for-profit banks already do. Yet the powers that be in the Legislature, have kept that from happening. This year, though, lawmakers have a real shot at as we’ve heard so many times before, by getting out of the business of “picking winners and losers” in this industry space and allowing the free market to work … It is not that I am advocating credit unions over for-profit banks; but, this move would allow lawmakers to stick to their principles and remove a protectionist statute from the books and really let consumers, in this case, taxpayer-funded public entities, pick where they want to bank. It’s free market public policy at its best – now let’s see what lawmakers choose to do.

EYEBALL WARS: IT’S ALL ABOUT KNOWING WHO TAKES CARE OF YOUR EYES via Florida Politics – Do you know who is taking care of your eyes? That question is at the heart of “Joanne’s Story” a video about a Vero Beach woman who nearly lost her eyesight after an ophthalmologist caught a rare diagnosis which was missed by her optometrist. Joanne was previously under the care of an optometrist who diagnosed her with a “small cataract.” A retinal surgeon removed the cataract, and Joanne returned to the optometrist for the remainder of her care. After several visits, Joanne was told that “everything was fine.” But everything was not fine. After sensing foreign matter in her eyes, Joanne turned to an ophthalmologist, who then diagnosed a rare fungus infection — a problem unrecognized by the optometrist … the relative lack of instruction for optometrists is why ophthalmologists — who have completed college, a minimum of eight years of additional medical instruction, and are licensed to practice medicine and surgery — are raising their guard in the renewed Eyeball Wars. Ophthalmologists want to ensure they remain the safe, well-trained medical option that millions of Floridians can turn to when faced with serious, debilitating eye diseases. Joanne, who recently died, knew that it was important to know who takes care of your eyes. “I do not feel that optometrists should have the privileges of ophthalmologists,” Joanne says in the video. “I do not feel they are qualified with their background … to become aware of serious eye problems.”

MICHAEL CARLSON: DON’T TRADE A TAX CUT FOR A TAX INCREASE – PRESERVE THE SALARY TAX CREDITS FOR INSURERS via Florida Politics –For three decades, Florida has offered insurance companies a highly effective, performance-based tax credit that has resulted in tens of thousands of good jobs being created or imported to our state. Not only does this credit bolster our state’s economy in a transparent, accountable way, it also helps ensure insurance rates for Floridians stay as affordable as possible. Senate Bill 378 by Sen. Anitere Flores would bring that to an unfortunate end. It would repeal tax credits available to insurers as a way to lower the communications services tax currently levied on telecommunications, video, cable and satellite television and other related services. Cutting one tax but increasing another is a bad trade that would do more harm than good. It would eliminate tax credits that have been working exactly as intended and sets a bad precedent for other businesses considering a move to Florida based on the availability of similar tax credits. Importantly to consumers and businesses, it would amount to a $300 million tax increase that could translate to higher insurance rates for everyone.

***There are two gambling bills in the Florida Legislature. One holds the line; One is a massive expansion. WATCH to learn more.***

LORANNE AUSLEY ENDORSES ANDREW GILLUM FOR GOVERNOR via Florida Politics – The state representative from Tallahassee on Monday announced her support for Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, a Democrat, as governor. “I have worked closely with Andrew since he was FAMU student body president, serving our community together from our respective roles in local and state government,” Ausley said in a statement. “Andrew doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk.” Ausley added that they “share a passion for children’s issues” … Ausley, an attorney, first served in the Florida House 2000-08 until she was term limited, then was again elected last year to House District 9, representing Leon County.

THIS INVITATION FROM ED HOOPER SHOULD HAVE HIS SUPPORTERS WORRIED

Late last month, former state Sen. John Legg announced that he would not attempt to return to the Legislature in 2018. Had he run, Legg’s best path to victory was thought to be through north Pinellas’ Senate District 16, where incumbent Jack Latvala is term-limited from running again.

The person who benefits the most from Legg not running is former state Rep. Ed Hooper who, even if Legg was in the race, is the early frontrunner to replace Latvala.

Hooper was in Tallahassee last Monday for a fundraiser hosted by Latvala, the next two Senate Presidents — Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson — as well as almost all of Republicans who comprise Tampa Bay’s legislative delegation.

In other words, with Legg out and the establishment behind him, Hooper should cruise in 2018, or at least through the Republican primary.

But something, admittedly trivial, has me just a tad bit worried. It’s this dang invitation (pictured below) for a fundraiser on March 29.

You know what this invite reminds me of?

Jim Frishe.

It’s a big serving of Jim Frishe Velveeta cheese.

Frishe, of course, is the former state Representative who wanted a seat in the Florida Senate but was defeated by Jeff Brandes in a 2012 primary. The tech-savvy Brandes campaign exposed the well-meaning Frishe as a career politician and out-of-date. The final result was not even close.

Ed Hooper’s situation is not the same as Jim Frishe’s. There isn’t a Senate leadership fight shaping the primary in Senate District 16 (at least not yet). Hooper’s not on the opposite side of the Brandes-Nick Hansen wing of the Pinellas GOP which, in 2016, beat Frishe for a second time in the Pinellas Property Appraiser contest.

But cheesy stuff like this coming out of the Hooper camp might give some self-financing, unknown conservative — basically a Jeff Brandes of Palm Harbor — the idea that Hooper is, like Frishe was shown to be, a career pol and out-of-date.

Hooper can and should do better than this.

FORT MYERS BUSINESS OWNER MICHELLE GRAHAM ANNOUNCES STATE HOUSE RUN via Florida Politics – Graham is announcing a bid for House District 79. Currently held by term-limited Republican Matt Caldwell, HD 79 covers Alva, Buckingham, Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers Shores, North Fort Myers and Olga. “I have been blessed to be able to raise my two sons here in North Fort Myers and own a business that services all of Southwest Florida,” said Graham, a Republican from North Fort Myers. “Now, it’s time for me to give back to the community that has been so good to my family.” Graham is president and owner of Siesta Pebble, a family-owned business launched in 1995 that offers premium finish solutions for residential and commercial swimming pools.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

PERSONNEL NOTE: VALERIE BREEN TO LEAD FDDC – Breen has been named the new executive director of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC), replacing the recently retired Debra Dowds. Breen will take command March 20. She previously was CEO of the Brain Injury Association of Florida (BIAF). “Her expertise in the field of health care and disabilities spans a more than 30-year career working in the health-related industry,” a news release said. “She is a recognized health care consultant, an innovative leader in the field of health care and disabilities, and is a nationally recognized speaker.” Breen also is the overseer/care coordinator for her mother, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010.

SAS INSTITUTE EXPANDING TALLAHASSEE OFFICE – SAS Institute, the world’s largest privately held software and data analysis company, is doing so well in the Sunshine State that they are expanding in the capital “to serve Florida’s growing demand for data.” Ben Stuart, State and Local Government lead for the Southeast region, said that expanding “our investment and presence in Tallahassee demonstrates SAS’ commitment to providing the world’s most advanced technology, mathematicians and experts to serve our rapidly growing customer base throughout the state. Florida policymakers are showing leadership in integrating data and analytics to better serve their constituents, and we are excited to help them tackle pressing public policy challenges.” The expanded Tallahassee office will “leverage over 15,000 global SAS professionals and a deeply experienced local team in customizing SAS’ offerings to Florida state government,” the release said.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Jason Allison, Foley & Lardner: National Strategies; Title Technologies; Verizon; Xerox Corporation; Grant Thornton

Brett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: City of Palm Coast

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Association of Jewish Federations; Playa Del Mar Association

Joshua Burkett, Mark W. Anderson: Florida Council on Economic Education

Sarah Busk, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: LaunchCode

Mark Grant, Greensppon Marder: Florida Home Builders Association

Jeffrey Greene, Jeff Greene & Associates: Opis Energy

Melissa Gross-Arnold, The Arnold Law Firm: United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida

Kari Hicks, Sunshine State Consultants: GA Zero

Gregory Munson, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: American Water Works Association; Broward College Foundation; NorthStar Contracting Group

Jon Steverson, Foley & Lardner: Title Technologies

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – Tuesday’s Governors club menu takes in all-American theme with roasted butternut squash soup salads, cole slaw, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, red potato salad, fried chicken with biscuit, peppered salmon, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and broccolini.

ANDREW’S CELEBRATES WHO’S WHO OF FLORIDA WITH FAMOUS SHOUT-OUT MENU – Andy Reiss and his team at Andrew’s Capital Grill & Bar have unveiled the latest iteration of their time-honored tradition, customized lunch selections named for the movers and shakers of Florida politics. This cornerstone of Tallahassee dining recognizes significant players with tongue-in-cheek menu offerings: the “Great Scott” salad bar, Galvano’s Gorgonzola Burger, “Diamond” Jim Boyd’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Pepe’s “Barbe-Cuban” Pork Sandwich, the “Oliva” My Cheesesteak Alone. So, if you’re hungry in the Capital City, stop by and feast on your favorite VIP.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, POLITICO’s Matt Dixon discusses how Democrats could make gains during the widening rift between Gov. Scott and House Speaker Corcoran. Sen. Frank Artiles faces scrutiny for accelerating bills favorable to Florida Power & Light. “This is corporate welfare for FPL,” said Nathan Skop, a former FPL manager and a former commissioner on the Florida Public Service Commission. Gomes also talks to Congressman Al Lawson about his work in Washington and with Volunteer Florida’s CEO Chester Spellman about the second annual #SuitsForSession. At a time when there is a lot of uncertainty around health care, Gomes shares stories from seniors rallying support for Medicare Advantage Plans.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA PARTNERING WITH NIC’S TOGGERY, NARCISSUS, AND ARRON’S FINE CUSTOM CLOTHING FOR #SUITSFORSESSION – Volunteer Florida has announced that those who visit the Capitol March 15 and drop off an item for #SuitsForSession will be entered into a contest to win a suit from Nic’s Toggery, a women’s business outfit from Narcissus, and a custom sports coat from Arron’s Fine Custom Clothing. Nic’s Toggery (downtown location) will also have a #SuitsForSession collection box for donations from Monday, March 13-Wednesday, March 15 and will offer a $100 credit toward a new suit for each individual who brings in a donation of men’s clothing. Volunteer Florida and Uber are hosting the second annual #SuitsForSession event on the third-floor Rotunda March 15 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to collect attire for job seekers statewide. For those who cannot make it to the Capitol to drop off their donations, Uber will pick up clothing from homes across Leon County for free all day March 15. Volunteer Florida will donate the professional attire to the Chapman Partnership (Miami); Dress for Success Tampa Bay; ECHO Outreach Ministries (Leon County); Bridges of America (statewide); and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program (Tallahassee). More here.

HAPPENING WEDNESDAY: RED DOG BLUE DOG CELEBRITY BARTENDER EVENT – Politicians will mix it up to raise money and awareness for animal rescue organizations at the Third Annual Red Dog Blue Dog Celebrity Bartender Benefit from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young will sling drinks for the Red Team and Hollywood Democratic Rep. Evan Jenne will pour for Team Blue at Madison Social, 705 S Woodward Ave. #101 in Tallahassee to raise money for animal rescue organizations. This bipartisan event combines dogs, politics and friendly competition to raise money for an amazing cause. Senator Young and Representative Jenne will compete for tips and donations, and all proceeds will be divided evenly between the Tallahassee Animal Shelter Foundation, Last Hope Rescue and the Leon County Humane Society. Last year, Red Dog Blue Dog celebrity bartenders raised nearly $4,000.

***Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Jason Brodeur are fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala and Rep. Brodeur that you support them and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

DAYTONA BEACH IS NAMED #1 ATTRACTION IN FLORIDA IN 2017 via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The World’s Famous Beach was ranked at the top of the chart because of its family-friendly beaches and proximity to other top attractions including historic St. Augustine, Kennedy Space Center and Orlando’s theme parks. “Spring Family Beach Break starts March 20 and goes through April,” said Lori Campbell Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “With 23 miles of beaches and so much more, there’s something here for every family to enjoy.” The beach appeals to families for a number of reasons, the top being safety. Daytona Beach is recognized worldwide for its annual events including Bike Week, Biketoberfest, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Daytona 500.

FLORIDA DEPUTY PULLS TWO JET SKIERS FROM WATER AS CRUISE SHIP RUSHES TOWARD THEM via The Associated Press – A Port Canaveral harbor pilot and a sheriff’s deputy teamed up to rescue two spring breakers on a Jet Ski as a Carnival Cruise ship moved toward them. A cruise ship passenger captured the rescue on video as Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Taner Primmer pulled the women to safety. A Canaveral Pilots Association statement says Capt. Doug Brown spotted them while navigating the Carnival Magic out of the port and alerted Primmer. As he approached in a marine patrol boat, one woman fell off the Jet Ski. It flipped as she tried to get back on, sending both women into the water. With the ship approaching, Primmer pulled them out and steered his boat away. Area news outlets identified them as 19-year-old Skylar Penpasuglia and 20-year-old Allison Garrett of Princeton, West Virginia. (Click on the image below to watch the video.)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Celebrating today is my fellow Dave Matthews Band fan, Drew Heffley, as well as Andy Graham and Seth Platt.

Sunburn for 3.13.17 – The FDP’s next ED? A must-read on Steve Bannon; Voter fraud in Palm Beach?; Magic 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.

THE TOUGHEST JOB IN FLORIDA POLITICS

The choice to succeed Scott Arceneaux as executive director of the Florida Democratic Party is between Jonathan Ducote and Josh Wolf, sources close to the decision-making process tell FloridaPolitics.

Political consultant Jackie Lee and operative Reggie Cardozo were also in the mix, but reportedly are now out of contention.

Ducote has served as political director for the Florida Justice Association since 2014. He previously served as campaign manager for Loranne Ausley’s unsuccessful 2010 bid for CFO, as financial director for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s 2011 election victory, and as campaign manager for Barbara Buono’s unsuccessful challenge to Chris Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.

Wolf most recently served as campaign manager for Patrick Murphy’s U.S. Senate bid. Prior to that, he served as campaign manger for Steve Grossman’s unsuccessful 2014 campaign for governor in Massachusetts. In 2012, he managed U.S. Rep. Ami Bera’s successful campaign in California.

Arceneaux’s departure after more than seven years as Executive Director was announced in January, shortly after Coconut Grove developer and fundraiser Stephen Bittel was elected as chairman.

***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***

DAYS UNTIL: Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Skits – 1; Major League Baseball Opening Day – 20; NFL Draft – 45; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 52; Debut of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 52; FSU vs. Alabama football game – 173; Election Day 2017 – 238; Debut of Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 276.

DONALD TRUMP’S LABOR NOMINEE LIKELY TO BE ASKED ABOUT FLORIDA CASE via Curt Anderson and Laurie Kellman of The Associated Press – Alexander Acosta is expected to face questions at his Senate confirmation hearing about an unusual plea deal he oversaw for a billionaire sex offender while U.S. attorney in Miami. Acosta has won confirmation for federal posts three times previously, but he has never faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill for his time as U.S. attorney. Critics, including attorneys for some underage victims of financier Jeffrey Epstein, say the plea agreement was a “sweetheart deal” made possible only by Epstein’s wealth, connections and high-powered lawyers. Acosta has defended his decisions as the best outcome given evidence available at the time. “Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher. Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view,” Acosta wrote in a March 2011 letter to media outlets after leaving the U.S. attorney’s office. “Had these additional statements and evidence been known, the outcome may have been different. But they were not known to us at the time.”

MUST READ – LONG BEFORE TRUMP HIRED HIM, STEVE BANNON WAS MAKING DEALS AND KINDLING POLITICAL FIRES IN FLORIDA via Alex Leary and Adam mith of the Tampa Bay Times — Chief adviser Steve Bannon — the rumpled former executive of Breitbart News, revered as a brilliant strategist and reviled as a xenophobic champion of the extreme right — was shopping for a home in Sarasota last year before Trump enlisted him to fix the campaign. Bannon, 63, surfaced in Sarasota more than a decade earlier for the most unlikeliest of reasons: nasal spray. He was part of a team formed to guide a startup named SinoFresh. But the deal got bogged down in lawsuits, the inventor ejecting Bannon from the board. Years later, Bannon formed a film company in Sarasota that made an effusive documentary about Sarah Palin. He set up a research outfit in Tallahassee that churned out investigations on Hillary Clinton and, along with Breitbart News, went after two of Florida’s top Republicans, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. …Still, the Florida footprint of one of the most powerful men in the country, is sprinkled with mystery. When Bannon’s voter registration was discovered last year, the collective reaction was: Really?

ABOUT THAT MIAMI-DADE STATE ATTORNEY’S INVESTIGATION INTO STEVE BANNON via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Prosecutors began looking into whether Bannon was a Florida resident in August, after The Guardian reported Bannon was once registered to vote in Miami, where he had leased a home in Coconut Grove … The Miami-Dade elections department confirmed the investigation to WTVJ-NBC 6 Aug. 31 after prosecutors had requested records from elections staff. The Washington Post reported investigators had questioned Bannon’s landlords, gardener and handyman. But the most explosive detail seemed to be that the state attorney’s office, run by Democrat Katherine Fernández Rundle, still considers its Bannon case an “active criminal” investigation. That’s true because the review hasn’t been closed yet. But local prosecutors are notoriously slow in closing out investigations that lead nowhere. And, six months later, it appears that little has come from the Bannon case. The Post’s confirmation of the still-open investigation, however, might actually pressure prosecutors to complete it. Bannon, it should be noted, never actually voted in Florida.

TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO IS HEAVEN — FOR SPIES via Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO – While Trump’s private club in South Florida has been transformed into a fortress of armed guards, military-grade radar, bomb sniffing dogs and metal-detection checkpoints, there are still notable vulnerabilities, namely the stream of guests who can enter the property without a background check. And security experts warn that the commander in chief’s frequent visits — four since he took office in January — afford an unprecedented opportunity for eavesdropping and building dossiers on the president’s routines and habits, as well as those of the inner circle around him. They add that with each repeat visit, the security risk escalates. Former Secret Service agents said the setup at Mar-a-Lago and the president’s other regular clubs presents challenges that their agency wasn’t built to deal with. The Service’s main job is to protect the president from physical threats and monitoring for wiretaps and other listening devices — but not from the kinds of counterespionage challenges presented by the president’s choice to eat, sleep and work at a club accessible to anyone who can get a member to invite them in.

FAMILY OF FLORIDA MAN HELD CAPTIVE ABROAD SEEKS TRUMP’S HELP via The Associated Press – Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared from the Iranian island of Kish in 2007 while trying to cultivate an informant for the CIA. Now, his family is calling on Trump to finish what two prior presidential administrations did not. “We have gone through this for 10 years and every time we have been disappointed over and over and over again,” said Levinson’s youngest son Doug, now 23. “We believe that President Trump has the ability to get this done.” The family’s remarks came on the 10th anniversary of Levinson’s disappearance. As part of the anniversary … the State Department, FBI and White House renewed a pledge to do all they can to retrieve him. If still alive, Levinson has been held captive longer than any other American, including Terry Anderson, a then-journalist for The Associated Press who was held for more than six years in Beirut in the 1980s.

FLORIDA’S NAT’L LAWMAKERS RUN THE GAMUT ON FRUGALITY via Ledyard King of News-Press.com – LegiStorm, which analyzes various government expenses, listed GOP Rep. Daniel Webster of Winter Garden as the House member who spent the smallest portion of his $1,292,579 office budget: 61.5 percent. On the other side of the ledger, former GOP Rep. David Jolly spent almost his entire allotment — 99.1 percent — of his $1,310,892 budget. House members are given a set amount of year to spend — usually between $1.2 million and $1.4 million — and can spend pretty much as they see fit to represent their district. Expenses typically include staff pay, rent for district offices, equipment and supplies, communications and travel. Members spent an average of 91.1 percent of their allotted budgets in 2016.

WHAT MATT GAETZ IS READING – BRAC COULD AID REGION IF NWWEST FLORIDA IS PREPARED via Joseph Baucum of the Pensacola News-Journal – Although uncertain when it will occur, another round of military base closings from the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission could transpire at some point in the next four years, risking the loss of jobs and tax revenues for communities reliant on the military as an economic driver — such as those across Northwest Florida. But with many convinced of its inevitability, the possibility also exists for the region to prepare so well for the next BRAC that the Panhandle’s military installations not only resist downsizing, but add new missions from other states. “BRAC should be viewed as an opportunity to attract more missions,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who predicted the next BRAC would ensue during the Trump administration.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcoRubio: NW Florida plays critical role in natl security. Will work to mare sure any future BRAC won’t hurt region

NEW VA SECRETARY VISITS BUSY MIAMI HOSPITAL via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin visited the Miami VA Healthcare System … less than a month after he was unanimously confirmed to lead the Veterans Affairs Department in February. He is the only member of Trump’s Cabinet to have served in the Obama administration, having previously spent 18 months as undersecretary for health in charge of the sprawling VA medical system, which serves 9 million veterans a year. The 57-year-old internist and longtime healthcare executive is the first non-veteran to serve as VA secretary. Shulkin was president and CEO of New York City-based Beth Israel Medical Center from 2005 to 2009 and he supports integrating the VA system with private-sector healthcare. The Miami VA Healthcare System is among Florida’s busiest, serving about 58,000 patients a year, with an annual budget of $537 million and about 2,800 employees.

TRUMP COULD BE FORCING OUT U.S. ATTORNEY A. LEE BENTLEY via Florida Politics – Trump has asked for resignations from 46 U.S. Attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama, possibly including Bentley of the Middle District of Florida. Bentley was sworn in to the position just a year ago, and was appointed based on the recommendation of U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Bentley spent 15 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the same district. U.S. Attorneys generally step aside when the presidential administration changes parties, but the process usually takes place gradually to ensure replacements are lined up for a smooth transition.

***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.***

SPOTTED: Jon Adrabi with LSN Partners in New York Post story about rumblings Gov. Andrew Cuomo is gearing up for a 2020 run.

INVADE CUBA? ONLY IN SOUTH FLORIDA WOULD THAT COME UP IN A BUSINESS ETHICS DISCUSSION via Patricia Mazzei and Mimi Whitefield of the Miami Herald – The panel of three local mayors discussing how the United States should approach doing business with Cuba was going predictably Friday until Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a likely Democratic candidate for Florida governor, brought up a word that, once upon a time in Miami, might have caused a political maelstrom: invasion. “Why aren’t we discussing the invasion of the island?” Levine asked facetiously during a daylong conference at Barry University that was organized by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. Levine wasn’t actually endorsing the idea of a military incursion. A few moments earlier, he had argued that the best way to help Cubans themselves was to engage in open commerce with the island.

ANDREW GILLUM APPEALS TO NEWTOWN JUST ONE WEEK INTO CAMPAIGN via Zach Murdoch of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The young, black Democrat is counting on historically black neighborhoods across the state, just like north Sarasota and Newtown, to help carry him to the party’s nomination in 2018, he told about 250 attendees of a gospel service at Booker High School. “If the news coming out of Florida is … that the Democratic nominee for governor of the third-largest state in America happens to be a 38-year-old mayor of Florida’s capital city who just so happens to be a brother, I think this race takes on national proportion,” he said. “It could propel us to November, where the last four gubernatorial elections have been won by less than one point — desperately close,” he continued. “I think we may have a real chance of taking it all the way.”

WHAT GWEN GRAHAM IS READING – GOVERNORS RACES TEST DEMOCRATS’ RIFT via Gabriel Debenedetti of POLITICO – With 27 GOP-controlled governorships up for election in 2018, national Democrats envision the midterm elections as a chance to rebalance the scales at the state level, where there are currently twice as many Republican governors than Democrats. But already, party leaders are running into a complication – unresolved issues left over from the Hillary ClintonBernie Sanders presidential primary. Far from defeated, Sanders-aligned progressives are nationalizing their fight, showing less patience than ever for Democrats who don’t agree with them. And that’s generating fear and nervousness in the South … where some promising Democratic candidates who are looking at running statewide in 2018 could face resistance from the left.

IN TAMPA, POTENTIAL CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER CANDIDATE JEREMY RING TELLS HIS STORY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Ring isn’t officially a candidate for chief financial officer, but he talked the part during a stop in Tampa … Speaking at the Oxford Exchange as part of the Cafe Con Tampa weekly event, the former Yahoo executive introduced himself to the audience by humble-bragging about his private sector background, describing himself as the first salesman for the internet search engine company when he started there as a 24-year-old (he’s 46 now). Ring says that Florida has one of the most complete innovation “ecosystems” in the country, not that it’s something that many lawmakers know or understand. “Most elected officials in Tallahassee will inspire you instead of becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, they’ll inspire you to be the next homebuilder or land use attorneys,” he said. “The biggest thing that we’re lacking in this state to build an innovation economy is not the pieces. The pieces exist. It’s the culture. We don’t have the culture.”

ELECTED OFFICIALS HELPED VOTERS FILL OUT THEIR BALLOTS via Lawrence Mower, Lulu Ramadan , Alexandra Seltzer and Justin Price of the Palm Beach Post – Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard and Rep. Al Jacquet, both Democrats running in the August primary, took advantage of gaping holes in Florida’s vote-by-mail laws to pressure and cajole voters in their living rooms … In one case, a blind voter said Bernard filled out and signed his ballot. His vote counted, but … the signature on the ballot envelope after the fact … didn’t match the one on file. Florida law requires that absentee voters sign their own ballot … In other cases, residents said candidates watched over their shoulders, telling them who to vote for. Voters said they received mail-in ballots but didn’t know why. One woman said she felt pressured by a persistent candidate who talked his way into her home and dug out her ballot from a stack of discarded mail. Whether their tactics were allowed under Florida law is unclear. Elections experts had never heard of candidates filling out ballots and found the practice disturbing. For years, campaigns have targeted absentee voters and collected their ballots, but former prosecutors and judges, election lawyers and campaign strategists — even a former Florida Supreme Court chief justice — roundly condemned helping people fill out their ballots.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians. PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce jobs numbers at 10 a.m. at Herc Rentals, 27500 Riverview Center Blvd. in Bonita Springs. From there, the Governor will head to Tallahassee where he’ll hold a “Fighting for Florida Jobs Roundtable” at 3 p.m. at Danfoss Turbocor Compressors, 1769 East Paul Dirac Drive.

DEATH PENALTY FIX HEADS TO RICK SCOTT via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press – Lawmakers rushed to get the bill passed … in hopes of fixing a death penalty law that’s been found unconstitutional twice since January 2016. The effort has been a better-than-nothing option for both proponents and opponents of the death penalty. The House approved the measure 112-3 the day after the Senate unanimously passed it, a rare case of a death penalty issue receiving bipartisan support. Not that everyone was pleased with it. Many Republicans prefer allowing the jury to have a simple majority to condemn a murder convict, while many Democrats would like to abolish the death penalty altogether. But Republican lawmakers believe the unanimous jury bill is better than risking the death penalty’s abolition, and Democrats believe it will lead to fewer executions.

LATE FRIDAY NEWS DUMP BUT WE CAUGHT IT – DEP RESPONDS TO HOUSE RECORDS REQUEST, DEFENDS PAYMENT OF LEGAL BILLS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The state’s Department of Environmental Protection … released its response to the House of Representatives’ request for documentation of the legal billing in a longstanding river water use fight against Georgia. Interim DEP Secretary Ryan Matthews also sent a letter, saying his agency had “denied more than $3 million in expenses and hourly charges submitted by outside counsel.” A cursory review of the records shows not only invoices for legal fees but also, for example, a $272,000 contract between DEP and the University of South Florida for oyster reef research. Another file showed a Nebraska company was paid $49,000 for “video production in support of (the) litigation.” The 16-year long court fight centers around upstream water use from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers in Georgia. They meet at the Florida border to form the Apalachicola River, which empties into the Apalachicola Bay, on which oystermen have depended for decades for their catch.

GUN INJURIES AND DEATHS AMONG FLORIDA KIDS HAVE SPIKED. ONE CHILD IS SHOT EVERY 17 HOURS  via Kathleen Mcgrory and Connie Humburg of the Tampa Bay Times – Between 2010 and 2015, nearly 3,200 kids 17 and younger were killed or injured by firearms. Put another way, a child in Florida was shot, on average, every 17 hours. From 2010 through 2015, the number of kids killed in gun-related incidents rose nearly 20 percent. Injuries from guns jumped 26 percent from 2014 to 2015 alone. “That’s a very rapid increase,” said Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, who runs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Firearms killed 475 kids during that six-year span — slightly less than cancer, but more than cardiovascular, infectious or respiratory diseases. Meanwhile, hospitals statewide billed more than $100 million for pediatric gun injuries. More than $75 million of that was billed to a publicly subsidized insurance provider such as Medicaid or Florida KidCare.

SHOULD POLICE GET A SNEAK PEAK AT BODY-CAMERA FOOTAGE? via William Patrick of FloridaWatchdog.org – A bill that would allow police officers to review body camera footage before making an official statement in an officer-involved shooting is making its way through the Florida Legislature. But not without reservations. Lawmakers on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee heard the proposal for the first time last week. It was initially characterized as a “common sense” measure to help law enforcement ensure minor details would be accurately documented in police reports, such as the color of a suspect’s shirt. When several lawmakers pressed further, they revealed some possible objections. “This isn’t only for minor issues, this is for essentially everything,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes … “This isn’t just to make sure that I’m correct in my statements, it’s to be able to watch everything, and essentially watch the whole episode play out again before a formal written report.”

FLORIDA AMONG SEVERAL STATES CONFRONTING DRUG FORMULARY QUESTIONS via Erin Clark of FloridaWatchdog.org – In Florida, HB 95 was introduced by state Rep. Ralph Massullo to prevent a drug being dropped from a formulary, or moved to a higher-priced tier, in the middle of the insurance plan year. Similar bans are under consideration in Illinois and New York, among other states. A formulary is a set of drugs that insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) arrange in different cost and coverage tiers. Patients can expect their direct costs to reflect a drug’s formulary designation. However, insurers and PBMs have the ability to adjust a drug formulary midyear. “This bill is not a mandate. It doesn’t require any particular drug to be covered. All it requires is for the health providers to meet the obligation that we believe they have to the consumer when they listed the original formulary to begin with,” said Massullo.

LAWMAKERS SEEK TO REPEAL, BUT NOT REPLACE, PARTS OF SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY LAW via Lane Wright of The Capitolist – “This is not a retreat on accountability.” Sen. Bill Montford repeated three different times during a news conference … The stated goals are to remove the high-stakes nature of testing in Florida and respond to over-testing concerns. People upset with too much testing come from all over the political spectrum, but the push to detach student tests from teacher evaluations, school grades, and staffing decisions has primarily been an issue of Florida’s teachers’ union, and aligned groups like the Florida Association of School Superintendents, where Montfordserves as CEO. To reach those goals, the bill (SB 964) would change a number of things in Florida’s education law, but most notably, it would reduce “duplicative” state-required exams and repeal the research-based testing system that shows how much teachers help their students grow without offering any type of replacement. If it passes, it could become radically more difficult for Floridians to know how well schools are meeting their students’ needs.

LEGISLATURE POSTPONES VOTE ON RACIAL BIAS IN SENTENCING via Josh Salman and Emily Le Coz of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Sen. Audrey Gibson … opened the bill for debate in the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee. The legislation calls for the state’s a good doing good how it yourself hold on one second, one second now sorry about that well I just know I did put my and put my headphones on so I can hear you better while in doing this and I pressed the wrong button so is that it was user error is a say they’ll to review sentencing data already collected by the government to check for racial discrepancies in each Florida circuit. The judicial accountability bill garnered support from civic and legal organizations, which maintained that the measure would help bring fairness through bolstered transparency. But it also drew scrutiny from judges, who argued they should not be blamed for potential bias. “This is not an attack on judges,” Gibson told other members of the committee. “It’s not an attack on anybody. It’s an attack on what could be perceived an injustice … This bill is data. And it is data that none of us should fear.”

LGBT RIGHTS GROUPS GROW OPTIMISTIC AS MORE REPUBLICANS JOIN THEIR CAUSE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Fifteen GOP lawmakers have publicly signed onto legislation this session that would ban discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, restaurants and other businesses, bucking a party whose national platform in 2016 opposed gay marriage. Among the 15 who have signed on this year is Dana Young. As House majority leader last year, the Tampa Republican became one of the most prominent Republicans to back protections for the LGBT community. Now a state senator, she’s signed on as a co-sponsor to similar legislation (SB 666/HB 623) this year. Though her support for greater protections came five years into her legislative service, at a time she was considering a run for a swing Senate district, Young said her support is personal, not political. “I’m a mother of two teenage daughters with a lot of friends in the LGBT community, and I want to support not only my children but their friends and the community as a whole,” Young said. “Tampa is a vibrant, urban community with a large, involved and vibrant LGBT community. I’m doing my job by representing their interests along with everyone else.”

ICYMI: SUPREME COURT CASE REPORTING BILL PASSED BY HOUSE via Florida Politics – The bill, by Republican state Rep. Frank White … would require the court to tally in detail “each case on the court’s docket … for which a decision or disposition has not been rendered within 180 days.” The Republican-controlled House has long been antagonized by Supreme Court rulings its leaders have characterized as “judicial overreach.” White’s bill also requires a “detailed explanation of the court’s failure to render a decision or disposition” in pending cases older than six months. It instructs the court to tally cases it decided in the previous year but took longer than six months. The report “shall be submitted in an electronic spreadsheet format capable of being sorted” and sent to “the Governor, the Attorney General, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

STATE DENIES BESTBET REQUEST TO INSTALL 2,000 SLOTS AT JACKSONVILLE POKER ROOM via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – … a change In law is required. The state sent a denial letter to Bestbet President Jamie Shelton … citing three reasons why the Jacksonville facility is not eligible for slots. First, it said state law does not authorize slots in counties that approved a voter referendum unless the referendum itself was authorized by law or in the state constitution. Second, it said the Florida Constitution only allows for slots referenda to occur in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Third, state law only allows slots in buildings that are “contiguous and connected to the live gaming facility.” Bestbet spokesman Brian Hughes said for now no action will be taken.

Speaking of gambling…

***There are two gambling bills in the Florida Legislature. One holds the line; One is a massive expansion. Watch the video below to learn more.***

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment that would make the the Secretary of State an elected member of the Florida Cabinet when it meets at 1 p.m. in Morris Hall. The House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee is set to discuss a bill to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in 404 House Office Building. At 2 p.m., the House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee will consider a proposal requiring drug tests for public assistance applicants with drug-related criminal records when it meets in 12 House Office Building. Over in the Senate, the Commerce and Tourism Committee will discuss a bill to repeal the program offering incentives for stadium projects when it meets at 4 p.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee is expected to discuss a bill to create a criminal justice reform task for when it meets at 4 p.m. in 37 Senate Office Building. The Senate Children, Families & Elder Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Jeffrey Bragg, the Elder Affairs Secretary.

MAGIC JOHNSON VISITING WITH FLORIDA SENATE MEMBERS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – L.A. Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson will be at the Florida Capitol to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. The Senate Democratic caucus announced Johnson will meet with Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon and other members of the caucus at a 9 a.m. meeting … Johnson — who represents a Medicaid managed-care company known as Anthem in Florida — would also be at a “meet and greet” with Senate Republicans.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: House Democrats will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the House Democratic Office, room 316, to hold Democratic Leadership elections for the 2018-20 term.

SUNSHINE WEEK: THE MEDIA ARE YOUR ALLIES, NOT YOUR ENEMIES via the Miami Herald – These are challenging times for the media, which are considered “the enemy of the people” by President Trump and his administration enablers. The president has made clear his hatred for the media by barring certain journalists from White House press briefings. However, this is the start of Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative to educate the public about the importance of transparent government. And it is the perfect time to declare that the president’s tactics won’t work. The tagline explaining Sunshine Week’s mission is, “It’s Your Right to Know.” Banning reporters from the White House, “the people’s house,” is only firing up the people to unequivocally claim that right. It’s a principle in which the Miami Herald and so many of its media peers across the country resolutely believe — and deliver on.

THE WORST STORY YOU’LL READ TODAY – FLORIDA COUPLE FACE ‘SHOCKING’ 700+ COUNTS OF ABUSE AGAINST FOSTERED, ADOPTED CHILDREN via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – A couple living in southwest Florida have been charged in Alabama with 727 counts of sexual crimes and physical abuses against their 11 adopted and foster children … Police in both states are calling it the most shocking case they’ve ever seen … Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon, 47 and 53, respectively, are being held without bond in the Lee County Jail in Fort Myers … None of the children in the Spurgeon’s care came from Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) … Police originally learned of the case when they responded to a tip of two minors at a Cape Coral bar who were inebriated July, claiming their parents had forced them to drink alcohol … Cape Coral Police investigators learned that four girls under the Spurgeon’s care were claiming they’d been sexually abused and were from Alabama.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

HOUSE PASSES SIX YEAR BAN ON LOBBYING FOR FORMER LAWMAKERS, ELECTED OFFICIALS via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Nearly all House members voted in favor of HB 7003, approving the measure by a vote of 110-3. Under the proposal, former legislators and elected officials would not be allowed to lobby in Florida for any person, entity or state government agency for six years. The ban would only apply to lawmakers and elected officials who were members of the legislature or who were statewide elected officials after Nov. 8, 2016. HB 7003 is just one part of a set of more restrictive measures the House has taken up to promote “transparency” in state government this year. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Larry Metz … says the bill wasn’t created to imply any wrongdoing by elected officials, but to slam the “revolving door” in the legislative process.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Krkuc Work Inc.

Brian BallardBrady BenfordChris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: Seminole County Tax Collector

Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: City of Deerfield Beach

Kevin Marino Cabrera, Southern Strategy Group: Mark Anthony Brands Inc.

Dave Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Evan Power, Ramba Consulting: Bancomer Transfer Services, Inc.

Jennifer Green, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: 8Minute Energy Renewables, LLC

Angelina Gonzalez, Panza Maurer & Maynard PA: Automated Healthcare Solutions; Nova Southeastern University; Public Health Trust

James Harris, Jr.: Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters

J.D. Hicks, J.D. Hicks & Associates: Hunt Development Group

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Glades County Board of Commissioners

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Excellence in Education in Action

Greg BlackJim Daughton, Andy PalmerAllison Liby-Schoonover, Metz Husband & Daughton: ACT Aspire, LLC

Paul Lowell, Foley & Lardner: Weston Insurance Holdings Corporation

Bob Martinez, Holland & Knight: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Corinne Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Citizens for Judicial Process, Inc.

Steve Schale, Schale Communications: Florida Distillers Guild, Inc.

Ron Watson, Watson Strategies: Spectra Laboratories, Inc

Derek Whitis, Whitis Consulting LLC: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

APPOINTEDSam Himmel to Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet.

APPOINTED: Latanya Peterson, Dianne Goldenberg, Gilbert Singer, Rebecca Steele, and Tony Jenkins to the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

THE GROVE, A WITNESS TO SLAVERY, WAR AND CIVIL RIGHTS OPENS via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – State officials swung open the doors to The Grove, a state-owned mansion that was once the residence to Gov. LeRoy Collins. Secretary of State Ken Detzner was joined at a ribbon-cutting by members of the extended Collins family. The grand opening, which came after extensive renovations that cost taxpayers nearly $6 million, came one day and 108 years after Collins was born. State officials said more than 2,500 people visited the museum and the grounds on opening day. Built by one of Florida’s early territorial governors using slave labor, the Grove would later serve as home to Collins as he tried to shepherd the state through the civil rights era. The museum includes exhibits and artifacts that stretch over its lengthy history, including rarely heard passages from a diary kept by Ellen Call Long during the Civil War. Long was the daughter of Richard Keith Call, an officer on Gen. Andrew Jackson’s personal staff, who modeled the home after Jackson’s Hermitage in Tennessee and is believed to have finished building it by 1831.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner (front center right) and Johnathan Grandage, Executive Director of The Grove Museum (front center left), joined by members of the Call and Collins families, members of the Friends of Florida History (the Department’s citizen support organization), and former and current Department of State staff who were critical to the project. Photo credit: Sara Brockman.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA PARTNERING WITH NIC’S TOGGERY, NARCISSUS, AND SILVERFOX FOR #SUITSFORSESSION – Volunteer Florida is announcing that those who visit the Capitol March 15 and drop off an item for #SuitsForSession will be entered into a contest to win a suit from Nic’s Toggery, a women’s business outfit from Narcissus, and a custom sports coat from Florida-based SilverFox Label. Volunteer Florida and Uber are hosting the second annual #SuitsForSession event on the third-floor Rotunda March 15 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to collect attire for job seekers statewide. Nic’s Toggery (downtown location) will also have a #SuitsForSession collection box for donations from Monday, March 13-Wednesday, March 15, and will provide a $100 credit toward a new suit for each individual who brings in a donation of men’s clothing. For those who can’t make it to the Capitol to drop off their donations, Uber will pick up clothing from homes across Leon County for free all day March 15. Volunteer Florida will donate the professional attire to the Chapman Partnership (Miami); Dress for Success Tampa Bay; ECHO Outreach Ministries (Leon County); Bridges of America (statewide); and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program (Tallahassee). More here.

***Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Jason Brodeur are fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala and Rep. Brodeur that you support them and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

SPOTTED at the 2017 Gasparilla Music Festival at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park – Attorney General Pam Bondi, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa City Attorney Julia Mandell, City of Tampa Director of Public Affairs Ashley Bauman, and Kyle Simon, Government Affairs Director for the Home Care Association of Florida.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, Rep. Scott Plakon. Belated wishes to Steve Bousquet, Brian Franklin, Sen. Alan Hays, Allison Nielsen and Frank Mayernick.

WHAT MICHELLE TODD IS READING – ON ‘BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER,’ WE FELL FOR THE SLAYER ALONG WITH ANGEL, RILEY AND SPIKE via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post – The love longtime fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” feel for Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends isn’t the same as the romantic ardor that men such as Angel (David Boreanaz), Riley (Marc Blucas) and Spike (James Marsters) felt for Buffy herself. Buffy isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite character. And we all respond to different things in each character’s arc, from Willow’s (Alyson Hannigan) nervous humor and slow unfolding as her magic develops; to Xander’s (Nicholas Brendan) slow maturation into a reliable, dependable and capable adult; to vengeance demon Anya’s (Emma Caulfield) blunt, funny perspective on the human world; to Giles’s (Anthony Head) tender, largely unflappable stewardship of Buffy’s abilities. But Buffy’s most significant relationships do offer fascinating insights into what we responded to about her character and the complicated ways even men who love strong women can react to that strength.

WONDER WOMAN TRAILER SHOWS HOW THE GIRL BECAME A LEGEND via io9.com – This latest trailer introduces us to the younger version of Diana, watching her grow in her strength and abilities over the years. The trailer’s definitely more focused on her personal journey, showing how she overcame the doubt imposed by others and learned to embrace her true destiny. Looks like one exciting ride. Wonder Woman opens June 2.

Sunburn for 3.10.17 – On Buckhorn’s no; Gillum’s emails probed; Grimsley’s $$$; The Bandit speaks; Happy b’day Shawn Foster

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

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

BOB BUCKHORN SAYS NO

Buckhorn is a gregarious, ambitious and determined man, and we think he would have made a fine governor for the state of Florida. He certainly ranks among the best mayors the city of Tampa has ever had.

But we also believe he made the right call when he announced in an email to supporters Thursday morning that “I am not planning to be a candidate for Governor in 2018.”

Now, saying “I am not planning …” does leave a little wiggle room in case Democrats come storming to his door, but that is not likely to happen.

But Buckhorn wasn’t kidding in that email when he said, “I have a job I love.” In his case, that was not the usual politician-speak for “I’ve sized up the field and decided I have no chance.”

Tampa has had some fine mayors dating back more than 40 years – people like Dick Greco, Bill Poe, Sandy Freedman, Bob Martinez, Pam Iorio – and none of them wanted the job more than Buckhorn. He loved saying that Tampa had its “swagger” back. Trust me on this; no one has more swagger than he does.

And Buckhorn came along at the right time, too. When he assumed office in 2011, the city’s knees were buckling from the Great Recession (Iorio deserves credit for how she guided Tampa during that time). But Buckhorn moved ahead with an ambitious plan to reshape downtown from a dead place where the streets didn’t wait until 5 p.m. to roll up.

There are so many things going on now that the biggest downtown problem is a lack of parking.

Buckhorn was an out-front supporter of Hillary Clinton for president, so there was speculation that he would have been off to Washington had she won. We’ll never know that for sure, just as we’ll never know if as Governor he could have successfully worked with what likely will remain a Republican legislative majority in Tallahassee.

Here is what we can say, though. This decision not to run clears a lot of things off his plate and allows him to concentrate on the city he loves.

And barring something unforeseen that can’t be controlled, he will hand the next mayor a city that has changed for the better. Not a bad legacy, eh?

TWEET, TWEET

— @GwenGraham: @BobBuckhorn is an extraordinary leader who has transformed one of Florida’s and America’s great cities.

— @EricJotkoff: @BobBuckhorn is a good man and a great leader, who has transformed Tampa into a world class city & economic powerhouse.

— @MikeGriffinFL: One thing is certain – @BobBuckhorn statement was from his heart. He loves his family and city. We are lucky to have him finish strong!

— @KyleSimon: Is it just me or has @BobBuckhorn’s roll ‘out’ of the 2018 #Florida Governor race been better than anyone’s roll in so far?

— @CommBranchSays: This problem for FLA Dems persists: our best candidates are big city mayors, but it’s better to be king of their castle.

***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***

— MORE FROM THE 2018 TRAIL —

STATE ATTORNEY WILL INVESTIGATE ANDREW GILLUM EMAILS via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – The Leon County Sheriff’s Office will investigate whether Mayor Gillum’s office broke the law when it used taxpayer funded software to send emails with political messages. It was a bombshell development in a story that could have implications for both City Hall and the Florida governor’s race. “We are going to review it, investigate it and see if it has sufficient probable cause,” Sheriff McNeil said. “And once we’ve completed an investigation, (we’ll) submit it back to the State Attorney’s Office to see if there is sufficient probable cause to indicate that a crime has occurred.” Gillum responded by saying the state attorney has a duty to follow up on complaints his office receives.

SUGAR LOADS UP ADAM PUTNAM’S POLITICAL COMMITTEE via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – U.S. Sugar and a railroad the company runs called South Central Florida Express, Inc. sent $200,000 in donations in late February to a political committee that Putnam runs called Florida Grown. U.S. Sugar has now given Florida Grown $465,000 since 2015, making it among the top 5 givers to Putnam’s committee. His top donor is The Voice of Florida Business, a political action committee run by Associated Industries of Florida. They have given $605,000. That doesn’t count $525,000 that AIF has given Putnam’s committee through another committee called Associated Industries of Florida PAC. Yet another committee with ties to AIF called Floridians for a Stronger Democracy gave $150,000 to Putnam’s committee since 2015. Each of those AIF PACs get lots of support from the sugar industries. Since the start of 2016 those three PACs have raised $4.2 million. But nearly $1.3 million of that comes from donations by U.S. Sugar, based in Clewiston, and Florida Crystals, a sugar producer based in Palm Beach County.

FORMER LAKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR RANDY WISEMAN TO RUN AS LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Wiseman, a small-business owner from Mount Dora and the former chairman of the Lake County School Board, will formally announce his run for governor on the Libertarian ticket in 2018 this Saturday in Lakeland. Wiseman served as the Lake County School Board chairman from 1994 to 1998, while also running for Mayor of Mount Dora and Florida State House. He changed his party affiliation from Republican to Libertarian (LPF) in 2016.

DENISE GRIMSLEY POSTS BIG FUNDRAISING NUMBERS FOR AG COMMISSIONER BID – Between her announcement February 1 to the March 7 opening day of the Legislative Session, the Sebring Republican brought in more than $735,000 – with $295,000 to her campaign and $440,000 for her political committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland. “Denise is so very honored by the support she received in these first 35 days, and while she is working during the Session to represent her constituents and work for a greater Florida, her campaign team will focus on the road ahead to the primary,” said David Johnson, who is serving as the general consultant to Grimley’s campaign.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will hold a press conference to discuss the wildfire in Collier County at 9 a.m. at the Collier County Emergency Management Office, 8075 Lely Cultural Parkway in Naples.

RICK SCOTT DEMANDS MEDICAID FAIRNESS UNDER HOUSE GOP PLAN via Rachana Pradhan of POLITICO Florida – Scott is worried about Florida being treated unfairly under the Obamacare repeal bill, which phases out the expansion of Medicaid but gives a funding bump to the 19 mostly Republican-led states that shunned it. Scott … didn’t say he opposed the House bill. But he raised the issue of financial fairness for states like his and the need to give governors new flexibility to run their Medicaid programs, an issue the bill is nearly silent on. “States like Florida which didn’t expand [Medicaid] can’t get treated unfairly,” he said. “I think it’s a work in progress,” Scott said of the House bill. “It’s just the beginning.”

SCOTT NOT TAKING STAND ON POLLUTION NOTIFICATION BILL NOW MOVING IN SENATE via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A Senate bill that passed its first committee stop this week requires DEP to issue the notification rather than those responsible for the spills. That’s what Associated Industries of Florida and other industry groups along with utilities pushed for last fall during DEP workshops on the proposed rule. … A spokeswoman for the governor’s office didn’t say whether Scott is supporting the bill. “The governor will review any legislation that makes it to his desk,” spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said.

THE BANDIT SPEAKS – BURT REYNOLDS BLAMES GOV. FOR FLORIDA’S FLOUNDERING FILM INDUSTRY via Peter Burke of Local10.com – The 81-year-old “Smokey and the Bandit” star was critical of Gov. Scott when he met with the media before a March 3 Florida Music Awards kickoff party in Fort Lauderdale. Reynolds … criticized Scott for not doing more for Florida’s struggling film industry, which has faltered since the state’s tax incentive program was allowed to sunset last year. “More films should be shot here,” Reynolds said. “It’s not Florida’s fault, because Florida’s got everything, you know? It’s the governor. I remember I went in to see him and I said, ‘You know, we ought to be shooting more movies down here.’ And he said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘How did you get to be governor?’ He’s dumber than a peach orchard sow.” His last line drew laughter from the crowd, but he was only half-joking.

JAY FANT IS DOWN ON BILL THAT WOULD END ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – He said he doesn’t “like going against leadership on a vote, and I stick with them on just about everything, but this just isn’t one of those things.” The Jacksonville Republican had asked critical questions of bill sponsor Paul Renner, a former political rival, in the floor session. Fant … said killing Enterprise Florida “will hinder our ability to bring businesses to Florida.” He instead favors heightened scrutiny of the agency, which is funded mainly with public dollars. The entity is “the right thing at the right time,” he said.

BIG TROUBLE ON CAMPUS: RICHARD CORCORAN TARGETS FLORIDA UNIVERSITIES FOR FOUNDATION SPENDING via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – He’s raising questions about how the foundations that grow endowments for the universities pay for worldwide travel, spend on lavish salaries and use public money to raise donations. Corcoran‘s chief budget-writer, Rep. Carlos Trujillo, invited officials of all 12 universities to the Capitol to justify their spending, laying the groundwork for what’s expected to be a bipartisan House strategy to slash their spending — a year after giving them tens of millions of dollars for new projects. The House is going in the opposite direction of the Senate, which wants to increase university spending by $1 billion next year to make them more prestigious. A three-hour hearing by Trujillo’s House Appropriations Committee followed his demand in January for records showing that universities spend taxpayer money to hire people who in turn raise money for the schools’ foundations.

SENATE SAYS YES TO MORE HELP FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS via The Associated Press –  The Florida Senate voted 35-1 for an overhaul of the state’s higher education system that is a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron. The bill (SB 2) would require the state to cover 100 percent of tuition costs for top performing high school students who attend a state university or college. Florida used to pay 100 percent of tuition for those eligible for the top Bright Futures scholarship, but it was scaled back during the Great Recession. It’s not clear, however, if the Florida House will pass the bill.

OOPS! JOE NEGRON INITIALLY DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIS HALLMARK HIGHER ED LEGISLATION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – When the final Senate floor vote was announced for SB 2 at 1:22 p.m., there was no vote recorded for Negron, even though he was present and overseeing the chamber at the time. The result was announced by the Senate secretary as 35-1 …  But when the vote was first recorded and uploaded to the official Senate website, it changed. The result was time-stamped as the same time of the vote but it was published as 36-1 with Negron’s “yes” vote included. “He voted after the roll call,” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said … there was “miscommunication” between Negron and the Senate secretary and the voting “board locked before he could record his vote.” Senate rules specifically state “an original roll call shall not be altered,” but senators can change their votes or cast their votes afterward and, if no senator objects that same day, the official daily Journal can reflect that revised vote.

PARENTS, ADVOCATES BEG LAWMAKERS NOT TO CUT MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel – While Gov. Scott’s budget has proposed adding $25 million to the annual base budget for mental health, Senate leaders are weighing a $50 million cut in those funds, which could wipe out most of the gains in community-based programs made in the past two years. … In 2016, the Legislature pushed through an additional $58 million — a 6 percent increase — for some of the state’s most pressing needs, including staffing for state mental hospitals and programs that divert nonviolent offenders with mental illness to treatment instead of jail. Still, Florida lags far behind the nation’s top states, which spend over $300 per person in mental health funding, Marzullo said. The average state spends $127 per person. Currently, Florida spends $37 per person.

SENATE RULES PANEL TEMPORARILY POSTPONES PREJUDGMENT INTEREST BILL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A Senate bill that would allow plaintiffs to recover prejudgment interest on noneconomic claims, including pain and suffering, was suddenly postponed during its final review panel …  Sen. Rob Bradley moved to yank the bill (SB 334) from consideration during its public comment period before the Rules Committee. When done during a hearing, such a move suggests a lawmaker has counted votes and determined a measure isn’t going to pass. The bill is being pushed by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube. A companion bill is in the House.

DANA YOUNG LOOKING FOR ‘SWEET SPOT’ WITH POT BILLS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Senate Health Policy Committee Chairwoman Young will hold a workshop to try to reach consensus on how to implement a constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients. Young said she’s hoping to find the “sweet spot” between patient access and appropriate regulation to use as the basis for the ultimate proposal. Five separate marijuana measures (SB 406, SB 614, SB 1388, SB 1758, SB 1666) now are floating in the Senate, including one co-sponsored by Young (SB 406), and the House released its version of the implementation bill (HB 1397) on the opening day of session.

— “Medical marijuana plans stacking up in Legislature” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel

DARRYL ROUSON, LORI BERMAN URGE FLORIDA TO BECOME A ‘TOBACCO 21’ STATE via Florida Politics — Two Florida lawmakers want to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco in the Sunshine State. The proposals (SB 1138 and HB 1093), lawmakers said, would help lower the number of young adults who become addicted to tobacco and cut down on the state’s leading cause of preventable death. “I’ve seen many struggles with addiction and its consequences,” said Rouson. “I believe we should firmly protect the youth and teens of this state from the dangerous addictive properties … in tobacco. Protecting them, their welfare, and their health is essential.”

— “Democrats Tracie Davis, Darryl Rouson file Dozier School apology bill” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

DWAYNE TAYLOR, FORMER HOUSE REP FROM DAYTONA BEACH, INDICTED via Seth Robbins of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Taylor, a former Daytona Beach city commissioner and four-term member of the Florida House of Representatives, was charged with nine counts of wire fraud, according to the nine-page indictment. The indictment accuses Taylor of withdrawing thousands of dollars from his campaign accounts and then depositing the cash, within minutes or hours, into his personal account. According to the indictment, he withdrew money eight times from ATM machines and cashed one check in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach and Tampa. The withdrawals, which ranged from $100 to $400, came to $2,440, and prosecutors are seeking a forfeiture $62,834 from the entire scheme, officials said. He also faces 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud, according to a news release.

FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH PLANS LAUNCHES VIDEO SERIES via Florida Politics – … to highlight how help plans help Floridians. “As the 2017 Legislative Session gets underway and discussion and debate on the health care environment in our state continues, FAHP is launching the ‘Florida Patients Matter’ campaign and video series to showcase how health plans truly have a positive impact on the lives of their patients,” said Audrey Brown, president and CEO of FAHP. “In the midst of debate, policy questions are often the focal point, but health plans understand that what is really of critical importance is ensuring Florida patients get the best quality health care that is both accessible and affordable.” FAHP membership includes more than a dozen health insurance providers, though the first part of the ‘Florida Patients Matter’ campaign will feature Community Care Plan, Molina Healthcare and Sunshine Health.

STATE LAWMAKERS APPLAUD FLORIDA TAXWATCH DURING ANNUAL STATE OF TAXPAYER DINNER via Florida Politics — The taxpayer advocacy group hosted its State of the Taxpayer dinner Wednesday. The annual event is meant to highlight issues affecting the average taxpayer, and features speeches from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Attorney General Bondi, Sen. Jack Latvala, Rep. Jim Boyd and Rep. Manny Diaz.  While speakers used the event as a chance to promote the work they’re doing, some took a few moments to show their support for Enterprise Florida, one of Gov. Rick Scott’s top priorities. … “I believe the way we do that, just like the governor believes, is by growing the economy organically,” said Latvala. “We need to bring in high paid employees and get them in to the Florida economy, get them buying homes. And that’s been a function that’s been performed admirably by Enterprise Florida.”

***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.***

FLORIDA MAKING PROGRESS ON LATEST FIX TO DEATH PENALTY LAW via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press – The proposal – the second attempt in two years to address court decisions that found the state’s capital punishment law unconstitutional – is expected to go to Gov. Scott after the House votes on it. It’s a fix that people on both sides of the death penalty issue see as needed, but few on either side are entirely happy with. Many death penalty proponents were OK with a majority jury vote determining a death sentence and are frustrated the courts forced them to move to a unanimous decision. Opponents would prefer to abolish the practice altogether. “I still think there is work to be done on the death penalty,” said Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy, the bill’s sponsor. “One of them is that the death penalty has been unevenly applied. Depending on where you are in this state – (and) sometimes unfortunately, the color of your skin – it can determine whether you get the death penalty or not.” But he called the measure a good first step.

PAM BONDI TOUTS $165 MILLION RECOVERED BY STATE’S MEDICAID FRAUD UNIT via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – A report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed Florida recovered more than $165 million in otherwise lost funds through fraudulent Medicaid cases during fiscal year 2015-2016 … The report shows Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) is working, according to the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services. “My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigators work tirelessly to stop Medicaid fraud and recover stolen funds for taxpayers,” Bondi said in the statement. “This report sends the strong message that we will continue to aggressively pursue anyone trying to defraud Florida’s Medicaid program.” Florida ranked only second in the nation in total funds recovered for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, with New York raking in the most at nearly $229,000,000.

FDLE CONSULTANT ARRESTED IN FRAUD SCHEME via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – John Leland Goelz, a non-sworn technical consultant to the FDLE for 23 years, oversaw the cellphones used by agents and employees throughout the agency, said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Pessinger. Investigators believe Goelz purchased cellphones for himself and his family using FDLE’s mobile device contract, a violation of ethics … FDLE began examining Goelz after a member reported not being able to get an older cellphone upgraded, and went to a supervisor about it. As part of its mobile device contract, FDLE is eligible for a certain number of mobile device upgrades at discounted rates each year. Goelz purchased 10 mobile devices for his personal use that should have been used to upgrade FDLE member phones … By using FDLE’s contract, he could receive steep discounts on the phones he purchased. The value lost to the agency was nearly $5,000.

ENGINEERS GIVE FLORIDA A “C” GRADE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE via The Associated Press – That’s still better than the grade of “D+” given to the nation overall. An American Society of Civil Engineers report card says investing in infrastructure must be a top priority in Florida given its growing population. Florida’s best score was on bridges, for which it received a “B.” The report card says only 1.7 percent of Florida’s bridges are structurally deficient. Florida’s worst scores were for coastal areas because of beach erosion and schools. The report card faulted Florida schools for not keeping pace with a growing student population, as well as its aging school buildings.

ORANGE, GRAPEFRUIT CROP FORECASTS TAKE ANOTHER HIT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The forecast for Florida orange production has dropped again, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, down a whopping 3 million boxes. The March report projects a reduction in the state’s orange crop to 67 million boxes. “2 million of that comes from the early and mid-season varieties, which are now fully harvested,” it said. In more bad news, grapefruit crop expectations were “reduced by 100,000 to 8.9 million boxes.”

***Sen. Jack Latvala is fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala you support him and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Stacy AriasJerry McDaniel, Southern Strategy Group: Jacksonville Multispecialty Group, LLC

Keith ArnoldBrett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: City of Fort Myers

Slater Bayliss, Chris Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: American Board of Medical Specialties

Amy Bisceglia, Matthew Sacco, The Rubin Group: Caregiver Services, Inc; The Corradino Group; Patients for Fair Compensation, Inc

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Venetian Condominium, Inc.

Melanie Shaanks BostickTimothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: 8Minute Energy Renewables, LLC

Dave Ramba, Allison CarvajalEvan Power Ramba Consulting Group: Smart, LLC

Mike Haridopolos: Floridians for Access to Health Care Inc

Douglas Mannheimer, Broad and Cassel: George Hackney, Inc d/b/a Trulieve

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: City of Tampa

Jon Steverson, Foley & Lardner: Florida East Coast Industries LLC

Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: Dewberry Engineering

Herschel Vinyard, Foley & Lardner: EH Mitigation Management, LLC; Florida East Coast Industries LLC

‘GAME OF THRONES’ LITERALLY ENCASED ITS SEASON 7 PREMIERE DATE IN A BLOCK OF ICE via Chelsea Tatham of the Tampa Bay Times – Apparently, someone in the Game of Thrones PR department thought freezing an object (A long brick? A really thick piece of cardboard?) with the show’s premiere date on it would be a good idea … the Game of Thrones Facebook page posted a live feed of a very large block of ice sitting in a stone chamber surrounding by flames. Inside was a dark object with the premiere date etched on it. Viewers were supposed to comment FIRE on the feed so phantom blow torches would appear to help the ice along. At any point, there were more than 100,000 people watching a block of ice melt. Creative? Yes. Weird? For sure. Punny? Most definitely. The seventh season of Game of Thrones comes back July 16 on HBO.

HAPPENING SATURDAYThe Tallahassee Irish Society is hosting the eighth annual St. Patrick’s Festival and Jack Madden Memorial Parade from noon to 9 p.m. at Kleman Plaza, 306 South Duval Street in Tallahassee.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sen. Doug Broxson, as well two pretty good dudes, Shawn Foster and Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News.

Sunburn for 3.9.17 – Buckhorn out; King remembered; Negron’s priorities vetted; Akerman lobbyists gone; Lyft in Tally

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

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

BREAKING OVERNIGHT – Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for Florida governor. The Mayor made the announcement on his social media accounts early Thursday.

REMEMBERING JIM KING

The late state Sen. Jim King, who would have turned 78 this year, was remembered at an annual happy hour in his honor last night in Tallahassee.

The Jacksonville Republican, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009, was first elected to the House in 1986 and became one of the most powerful politicians in the state, serving as Senate President from 2002-04.

After serving as President, King stayed in the Senate as an elder statesman, a jovial mentor to new members or for that matter anyone interested in the legislative process.

Though he didn’t attend, former Sen. Garrett Richter, a Naples Republican, offered a toast to King for the gathering:

The Florida legislature just ain’t the same

Without the man we’re about to name

A man with wit, humor and control

A man that made a difference… he was nobody’s fool

He’d speak his mind …. would drive Sarah crazy

Lots of energy at night …. but in the morning, a bit lazy

Not really lazy, just tired from the night before

He’d take your watch if you tried to head for the door

Nobody was leaving when this fine man held court at night

He’d drink with the left and drink with the right

Yes, fun times, good humor and Bacardi 8 was his thing

Three cheers and God bless our friend Senator Jim King!!!

Hold up your glass … prepare to toast…

Here’s to Jim King …. he was the most

The most fun, the most effective …. yes, he was quite a delight

Yes drink down your drinks …. cheers to Jim King tonight!

Hosting the event were  Ken Cashin, Claudia Davant, Dave Ericks, Scott Dick, Christine Knepper, and the entire Bascom Communications & Consulting team.

“We had some laughs, a drink or two and remembered him as he asked us to do,” said Sarah Bascom, a protégé of King.

Seriously, how many people do you know can still have a room laughing six years after leaving?

***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***

JOE NEGRON’S WATER BILL EXPANDS TO $3.3 BILLION AND CLEARS ANOTHER COMMITTEE, AS OPPOSITION CONTINUES via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Despite modifications, the 5-1 vote of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee is closer than it appeared because many supporters expressed reservations that the expensive plan to store water is the most cost-effective solution to address Negron‘s goal of preventing discharges of polluted water from the lake into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries that led to toxic algae blooms and a state emergency. Voting against the bill was Sen. Oscar Braynon … who said the Glades area is “a place that’s hemorrhaging” and he wants to see an economic development bill for the impoverished Glades region, regardless of whether this water bill is passed or not. “I visited Haiti, which is a Third World country, and I would compare some of the areas in the Glades to the conditions of a ravaged Third World country,” he said before opposing the bill.

SENATE CONSIDERS NEGRON’S HIGHER EDUCATION LEGISLATION via Florida Politics – The Excellence in Higher Education Act, a top priority for President Negron, has been set up for a vote by the full Senate. The bill (SB 2), carried by Bradenton Republican Bill Galvano, was discussed Wednesday on the floor. Achieving many of the bill’s goals, which could cost up to $161 million, depend on funding getting approved in the 2017-18 state budget. The legislation, among other things, increases certain scholarship benefits, overhauls how colleges and universities measure progress and attract top professors, and mandates block tuition—a flat rate per semester—rather than by credit hour.

HOUSE FAULTS UNIVERSITIES OVER SALARIES AND SPENDING via The Associated Press – State Rep. Carlos Trujillo suggested that legislators may need to look at how much university presidents are paid, as well as even how much football and basketball coaches are paid. The Miami Republican and House budget chief said too many people work for universities or university foundations who earn more than $200,000 a year. The House is scrutinizing university spending at the same time that the Florida Senate is poised to approve a major overhaul of colleges and universities that includes spending more.

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES BILL ON JUVENILE PUNISHMENT via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Legislation advanced through a second state Senate committee that would make civil citations mandatory for first-time offenders accused of 12 minor crimes, such as possession of alcohol or less than 20 grams of marijuana. The bill is a top priority for President Negron, and is receiving considerable attention in the Legislature this year. But mandatory civil citations are strongly opposed by the state’s two main law enforcement associations and the proposal has run into trouble in the House. At the same time the Senate was advancing the mandatory civil citations bill, the language was being stripped from House legislation dealing with the issue. Instead, the House bill now focuses on automatically expunging the criminal records of first-time misdemeanor juvenile offenders if they complete a diversion program.

RICHARD CORCORAN TELLS DEMOCRATS HE NEEDS THEM TO OVERRIDE EXPECTED RICK SCOTT VETOES via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – If Democrats join with his Republican majority, Corcoran said, the House will be able to override Gov. Rick Scott’s expected veto of legislation to abolish Enterprise Florida, the embattled economic development agency, and another that would place tight restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing entity.  “The bill is going to pass,” Corcoran told the Democrats in a closed-door meeting attended by POLITICO Florida. “I’m asking you to help me get a veto-proof majority.”

FDLE COMMISSIONER: ‘WE KNOW THAT TERRORISTS ARE HERE’ via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – “We know that terrorists are here, either plotting against Florida or using our state as a location to train, raise money and plan attacks in other areas of the country,” FDLE commissioner Richard Swearingen told a Senate committee. Swearingen said FDLE does not currently possess sufficient resources to dedicate adequate personnel to fighting terrorism and needs the $6.4 million to fix that. “What happened in Orlando on June 12, 2016, shook us all,” Swearingen told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. “But it did not break us. And it convinced all of us in public safety that we can and we must do more to protect our state.”

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE PASSES STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE CHANGE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The House Appropriations Committee passed HB 7007, which gives state employees a health insurance plan offering four different “benefit levels” to choose from starting in 2020. If the state’s contribution exceeds the cost of the selected plan selected, employees could put that money toward health savings accounts, purchase additional benefits or increase their salary. The bill, previously PCB HHS 17-01, will now head to the chamber floor.

SENATE PANEL OUTLINES $7M IN BUDGET CUTS – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development unveiled $7.7 million in budget cuts in the senate’s transportation and economic development bill. Departments getting money shaved off their budgets include the Departments of Economic Opportunity, Transportation, State, Military Affairs, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Division of Emergency Management. DOT would get the biggest cut at $2.5 million, mainly through reducing management positions, followed by a $1.8 million cut in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The plan would also take $500,000 out of Initial Skills Review, which are housed under the DEO. The committee said that cut was due to improving jobs numbers, which it says has left the program with unspent money at the end of each year. Each senate appropriations subcommittee will be announcing cuts to programs under their purview due to an expected drop in state revenue from prior estimates.

SENATE PANEL VOTES TO BAN TEXTING AND DRIVING via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – A bill put forward by Sen. Rene Garcia … would make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida passed 6-1 in the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, the first of four committee stops. Dubbed the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” SB 144, originally drafted to stop minors from texting while operating a vehicle, was OK’d with an amendment extending the ban to all drivers in Florida. But Sen. Jeff Clemens … who down-voted the bill, voiced concerns over the effectiveness of the legislation. A similar bill (HB 69) by Rep. Emily Slosberg … does not yet have an amendment extending the provision past minors. It has not been heard in committee.

MANDATORY RECESS BILL SAILS THROUGH SECOND SENATE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (SB 78) requiring school districts to provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, unstructured free play each week — or 20 minutes of free play each week — to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. While the bill received strong support from the committee, some members expressed concern they were issuing a mandate to local school districts. “Who can be against recess? I loved it. It was one of my favorite portions of the day, and I was pretty good (at it),” said Sen. Doug Broxson. “However, this is a mandate and we are telling our 67 school districts that they must do this. I would’ve preferred to make a strong suggestion and see if they could work it out themselves, but it appears we’re not going to do that.”

SENATE ADVANCES BILL TO WEAKEN CITIZENS’ LEVERAGE IN PUBLIC RECORDS DISPUTES via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The bill, SB 80 by Sen. Greg Steube would give judges more discretion in deciding whether or not to award attorney’s fees in public-records lawsuits. Florida law allows for citizens to be awarded attorney fees to encourage people to pursue their right to access government records and prevent public agencies from violating the public records laws. The bill would remove the requirement that the legal fees be paid by agencies by changing the requirement that judges “shall” award attorney’s fees to “may award the fees.” The Senate Community Affairs Committee adopted an amendment … to require attorney’s fees only if a complainant can show by a preponderance of evidence that “an agency willfully or intentionally violated the public records act.” If the complainant cannot show that, then the judge would have the discretion to not award the fees … open-government watchdogs and First Amendment advocates say that even with the changes, the proposal will still have a chilling effect on people who face obstacles to their efforts to get access to public records.

— “House subcommittee OKs bill aimed at PSC, utilities despite concerns” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

— “Lawmakers look to phase out community redevelopment Agencies” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida

— “Senate committee signs off on pollution notification rule” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians. PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more here.***

WANT RENE GARCIA’S VOTE? START TALKING MENTAL HEALTH. via Michael Auslen and Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – “I can’t find myself voting for any bill that does not have a mental health component to it,” he said. “Making sure that we invest more money into the system, making sure that people have access and treatment abilities. That is my main focus.” Garcia, the Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs chairman who has advocated to improve Florida’s mental health system, often finds himself a swing vote in hearings over issues like gun access. A more moderate Republican from an urban district, he has bucked the party line before. In the wake of mass shootings at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, and the Ft. Lauderdale airport, Garcia has become even more concerned about widespread gun access, particularly among people in a mental health or substance abuse crisis who might be more likely to commit a violent crime.

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS TOUTS BENEFITS OF CUTTING STATE TESTS via Leslie Postal and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – The group wants the Legislature to pass their bill (SB 964), a far-reaching proposal that would eliminate some tests, push back testing dates to the end of the school year and allow schools to use paper-and-pencil exams rather than online ones. The proposals are backed by many school superintendents, who say existing testing requirements eat up too much instructional time. “There is far too much testing and not enough teaching,” said Sen. Bill Montford, the bill’s sponsor. “We have tied the hands of teachers and stressed out our kids.”

BLOCK TUITION COULD BE COSTLY FOR UNIVERSITIES via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – Block tuition — a flat rate for undergraduates whether they take 12 or 15 credit hours a semester — has been bandied about Florida’s halls of higher education for years. Saying it’s time has come, Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano wants to flip the switch from optional to mandatory on block tuition. His omnibus education package, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act, would require the state’s 12 universities to come up with block tuition plans by October to roll out in time for the fall 2018 academic year. How they would do that will be up to the universities, their boards of trustees and the state Board of Governors. Such a plan could cost Florida State University as much as $40 million, Sen. Jeff Clemens said when introducing an amendment to require a fiscal impact study to find out how much it will cost each university to implement block tuition. “It’s a $40 million hit to the bottom line of your university to do this,” Clemens said. He withdrew the amendment.

CARLOS SMITH, JEFF CLEMENS INTRODUCE DECRIMINALIZE POT BILLS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The pair of lawmakers introduced bills this week that would make possession of 1 ounce or less of cannabis – described as a “personal use quantity” to be a civil violation, rather than a misdemeanor. Punishment would come in the form of fines and community service, rather than jail time. Smith filed House Bill 1443 and Clemens Senate Bill 1662. Unlike a similar ordinance enacted by Orlando last summer, in these bills police would not have the option of the civil penalty or a misdemeanor. When Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando Police Chief John Mina declared support for that ordinance Mina pointed out that extenuating circumstances, such as a belligerent violator, could lead police to choose an arrest over a ticket.

CHARTER VS. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: WILL STATE FUND CONSTRUCTION OR IS LOCAL TAX HIKE COMING? via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – A complicated and controversial measure to change how Florida’s 4,300 public schools get taxpayer money for construction and maintenance projects is limping through the Florida Senate, advancing even as lawmakers agree it needs a lot more work before it might become law. Senators behind the measure (SB 376) envision the final bill would have two main elements: It would require school districts to share local tax dollars with charter schools, and it would give school boards the freedom to raise local tax rates back to pre-recession levels, so that they could collect more revenue to address the backlog of maintenance needs in traditional public schools.

PINELLAS LAW ENFORCEMENT PROJECT HAS HIGHWAY PATROL UP IN ARMS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The FHP testified in “stark opposition” to a House plan to shift the handling of car crashes on all state roads and unincorporated areas from the FHP to sheriffs in Pinellas and Polk counties. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee’s bill also would require the patrol to transfer about $6 million of its budget to those two counties for the next two years. “This would be a stark change to our business model,” Lt. Col. Mike Thomas of the patrol testified … In many counties, state troopers are responsible for investigating car crashes on state roads and in unincorporated areas. But sheriffs say that there are so few troopers on the roads that sheriffs end up working those crashes, or staying with traumatized motorists and directing traffic until a trooper arrives. “We’re already doing it,” Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri [said]. “I believe we can do it faster, better, cheaper … The citizen doesn’t understand why the guy in the green uniform goes by five times while they’re sitting there waiting for the guy in the brown uniform.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Lori Berman and Sen. Darryl Rouson will hold a press conference to discuss their proposal to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 at 11 a.m. outside the Senate Chamber on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here.***

FLORIDA DOESN’T NEED AN ELECTED SECRETARY OF STATE, OR AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER via Martin Dyckman of Florida Politics – It would tax the imagination to come up with anything that Florida needs less than to elect a secretary of state once again. Why would the Legislature even consider that? Sen. Aaron Bean, the sponsor … told the Senate ethics committee that in the main he wants a fifth position on the Cabinet to avoid tie votes that require the governor to be on the prevailing side or the motion fails. Actually, he and nearly everyone else are incorrect when they refer to that group of four as “the Cabinet.” Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution provides for the Cabinet to consist of an attorney general, a chief financial officer, and a commissioner of agriculture. The governor is NOT — I repeat, NOT — a member of the Cabinet. And because they are elected, it’s not “his” Cabinet even though the members too often vote as if it were. They oversee 12 agencies in their collective role as — to put it accurately — “the governor and Cabinet.”

FLORIDA NEEDS TO SAY YES TO AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, NO TO PROPOSED FRACKING BAN via Jason Fischer for Florida Politics – Thanks to technological advancements and remarkable improvements in extraction techniques, we no longer have to choose between having a stable and affordable supply of energy resources and being good stewards of the environment, no matter what the naysayers suggest. And record-setting upticks and enhancements in hydraulic fracturing is the biggest reason why. Just look at the numbers, economically and environmentally. It’s not a coincidence. The two go together. Yet come the next legislative session, Florida lawmakers will again take another look at a regulatory curveball they’re better off not swinging at. It’s that outdated one-or-the-other thing rearing its ugly head again.

FCTA CAPTIAL DATELINE ONLINE LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW FEATURES PETER SCHORSCH — FCTA President Brad Swanson chats with EEM President Peter Schorsch about the 2017 Legislative Session. The two chat about the fight over economic incentives, medical marijuana, gambling, and workers’ compensation and other insurance issues. The interview can be found on the Florida Cable and Telecommunications Association’s YouTube site or on its Facebook page, Capital Dateline Online.

ERIC EISNAUGLE A FINALIST FOR APPEALS COURT BENCH via Rene Stutzman of the Orlando Sentinel – Eisnaugle was named one of six finalists for an open job on the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach. The Republican lawmaker from Windermere has no judicial experience, but he was one of six people nominated for the job by a local committee of the Florida Bar … The list includes four circuit judges – two from Orlando: Alice Blackwell, who’s been on the bench for 26 years, and Lisa Munyon, who’s been a judge for 14. The other judge-finalists are Circuit Judge John M. Harris, former chief judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit who’s been a judge for 15 years and works in Titusville, and Circuit Randell Rowe III, who works in DeLand and has been a judge for 12 years. The other finalist is Winter Park attorney Margaret “Amie” Kozan, who specializes in appeals.

AKERMAN LAW FIRM, LOBBYISTS ELI NORTELUS, DAVID ROBERTS PART WAYS AFTER ‘WHISKEY & WHEATIES’ ISSUE POSTPONED via Florida Politics – A spokesperson for Akerman said Nortelus and Roberts “have resigned from the firm to pursue other interests.” Sources close to the two lobbyists and the legislative issue told FloridaPolitics.com that Nortelus and Roberts were fired on the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session after Wal-Mart, which Akerman counts as one of its largest clients, insisted the lobbyists be given their walking papers. In a statement, Akerman said that “Wal-Mart was not part of this decision.” … Nortelus and Roberts had represented the Florida Independent Spirits Association, a trade group opposed to ‘tearing down the wall’ separating the proverbial whiskey from the Wheaties. The FISA is on the opposite side of Wal-Mart and other retailers, which support legislation sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Bryan Avila that would repeal the Prohibition-era law requiring liquor be separated from groceries and other retail goods, an issue commonly referred to as the “liquor wall.”

MAGIC JOHNSON TO LOBBY FLORIDA LAWMAKERS ON HIV/AIDS via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – Johnson, who represents a Medicaid managed-care company known as Anthem in Florida, contracted HIV more than two decades ago and has since been outspoken on treatment for the illness. In an email to Florida Senate Republicans, Sen. William Galvano announced Johnson’s presence as a “meet and greet.” Johnson isn’t lobbying on a specific bill, Galvano said, but he is advocating that “when we make a decision with regard to managed care, that we continue to recognize the importance of covering illnesses like HIV/AIDS.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: FLORIDA STATE HIRES NEW FEDERAL RELATIONS DIRECTOR via Florida Politics – D.C. veteran Jonathan Nurse has joined Florida State University as the new director of federal relations, Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander announced Wednesday. Nurse will serve as the university’s liaison to federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation as well as the state’s congressional delegation. He will be based out of Washington, D.C., and travel to Tallahassee monthly.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Ivette O’DoskiBrett BacottMichael Harrell Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida League of Cities

Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Lemonade Inc

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: U.S. Submergent Technologies, LLC

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Galt Towers Condominium Association, Inc.

Kimberly Case, Holland & Knight: Pensacola Christian College

Jorge ChamizoCharles Dudley, Floridian Partners: HP Inc

Jacob Cremer, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler: Collier Resources

Daniel Diaz Leyva, Daniel J. Diaz, P.A.: AT&T.

Candice Ericks, Ericks Advocacy Group: TrakWagon

Marnie GeorgeJim MagillTimothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers

Jeff Kottkamp, Jeff Kotkamp: GA Zero, LLC

Jim McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Asad W. Qamar/Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence (ICE)

Travis Mitchell, Louis Betz & Associates: Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, LLC

Edward Pozzuoli, Tripp Scott: TrakWagon, LLC

Jon Steverson, Foley & Lardner: EH Mitigation Management, LLC

Larry Williams, Larry Williams Consulting: PowerSchool Group

***Sen. Jack Latvala is fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala you support him and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

SCHOOL BOARD VOTES TO PROTECT KIDS FROM IMMIGRATION RAIDS via The Associated Press – A South Florida school board is taking steps to protect the children of undocumented immigrants who face deportation. The School Board of Broward County approved the resolution in response to increasing fears of more aggressive immigration enforcement polices implemented by the Trump administration. School Board member Robin Bartleman says immigrant families “wanted to know that we had their backs.” Any requests to access schools or get information about a student will be directed to the district’s attorney. The board also agreed to have schools work with parents and community organizations to come up with a plan in case a student’s parents are deported.

JUST HERE FOR THE ARTICLES: CITY’S OLD WEBSITE USED FOR PORN via The Associated Press –  the city of Springfield began receiving complaints last week from citizens who were visiting the city’s old website … Mayor Ralph Hammond said the city apparently let the old domain name expire, and the site now contains pornography. Springfield switched its website to a .gov domain about three years ago. The city’s information technology department is seeking to buy back the old domain and any domains names similar to the city’s current website, springfield.fl.gov.

PHILIP LEVINE TO AIRBNB IN TRUMP-LIKE TIRADE: ‘MIAMI BEACH DOESN’T WANT WHAT YOU’RE SELLING’ via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami Herald – In other words, “You’re fired!” The exchange between the platform and Levine on Twitter was sparked by an article in Sunshine State News … critical of Levine’s push for hefty fines against short-term rental sites. Per the city’s code, short-term rentals are banned in the city except for in some multifamily buildings in specified areas. When Airbnb Citizen, the company’s policy and communications arm, posted the article, Levine fired back. “Against destroying neighborhoods/buildings [with] short-term rentals in Miami Beach! LOVE Airbnb but not in [Miami Beach],” Levine tweeted at about noon Saturday.

WHAT JONATHAN KILMAN IS READING – LYFT EXPANDS TO THE CAPITAL CITY – Lawmakers, lobbyists, and other politicos should feel “upLyfted” with the introduction of a new transportation option available in the Capital City starting today. The ridesharing service Lyft today expands into the Tallahassee market, providing convenient and affordable rides for the area’s residents and visitors. New passengers can use a special code LYFTLOVE17 to receive $5 off their first Lyft ride. Now, let’s see if this is the year Florida finally passes statewide ridesharing legislation.

***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.***

GOVERNORS CLUB THURSDAY BUFFET MENU – Thursday’s buffet at the Governors Club offers an Italian flair with tomato basil soup, roasted eggplant salad, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, Caesar salad, hearts of romaine, Parmesan cheese, Kalamata olives, shrimp Bucatini Pomodoro, roasted garlic chicken, parmesan garlic risotto, cauliflower & plum tomatoes, and eggplant parmesan.

DISNEY REVEALS NEW DETAILS ABOUT PANDORA via Terry Roen of Florida Politics – Pandora – The World of Avatar will share the same core values as Animal Kingdom – the value of nature, discovery through adventure and giving back to the planet earth … the new attraction opens May 27 … “Visitors will walk away from Pandora with information they can apply to the real world of earth,” said Joe Rohde, a Disney Imagineer best known for serving as the leader of the creative team behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Flight of Passage, the flying theater ride on the backs of mountain banshees, with have a 44-inch height restriction. All ages can take a tour on the Na’vi River Journey indoor boat ride. A walk-through attraction, called Valley of Mo’ara, will give visitors an up-close look at bioluminescent flora, as well as see Na’vi totems and cultural artifacts.

HEY, ROOKIE! METS’ TIM TEBOW TAKES PRACTICE SWINGS ON WRONG SIDE via The Associated Press – Tebow made his first rookie mistake even before stepping into the batter’s box. The New York Mets newcomer walked behind home plate and took his practice swings near Boston’s on-deck circle. “I didn’t know who that was back there. I thought it was the ball boy,” AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello said. Tebow’s debut as a big leaguer didn’t go much better.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Melissa Akeson of The Rubin Group and Kristy Campbell of, well, Jeb’s group.

Sunburn for 3.8.17 – Governor gets personal; Speaker gets joyful; Bills get moving; Don Gaetz’ next run?; It’s Space Day!

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

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

#HUMBLEBRAG

It’s that time of year when everyone in the process emails around CATECOMM’s annual legislative aide study — even the clients he’s working against. It’s a must-read perennial reminder for advocacy groups and coalitions to not send spam form emails or do other dumb things that don’t work.

Here is the Medium post everyone is sharing.

But this year, something special happened and Kevin Cate gave me the heads up — FloridaPolitics.com is about to overtake SayfieReview.com as the most-read political news website by lawmakers. We tied Justin’s aggregator this year, and we’ve been on a huge curve up since the study began five years ago.

The top five overall go-to news outlets for lawmakers goes like this:

— Local TV News

— Local Print Newspapers

— Local Print Newspapers Online

— FloridaPolitics.com, Sayfie Review, and POLITICO Florida (tied)

— News Service of Florida

To give you an idea of how far we’ve come, compare the 2013 survey results…

… with this year’s results:

And we get our numbers without the benefit of receiving direct links from Marc Caputo‘s POLITICO Playbook or Sayfie Review.

The full results are now available on the Medium post.

***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***

RICK SCOTT GETS PERSONAL IN 2017 ‘STATE OF THE STATE’ ADDRESS via Florida Politics – The Governor … told a joint session of the state’s House and Senate that he knew “what it’s like to be poor” … “I have lived in poverty …  I watched my parents struggle to put food on the table. When most kids were playing Little League or riding bikes, I had a job … I went from delivering papers, to opening a small business so my mom could have a job, to running the nation’s largest health care company.” … “It’s easy to throw out catch phrases like ‘picking winners and losers’ and ‘corporate welfare,’ ” he said. “(T)hat’s not what we are doing. We are competing with 49 other states and hundreds of countries for jobs. When we bring new jobs to Florida, there are only winners … I will admit it is probably more difficult for people who have never gone hungry, or gone through foreclosure, or seen their family car repossessed, to understand this.”

— “Scott sets off for D.C. to meet with GOP leaders on ACA overhaul” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

ANDREW GILLUM CRITICIZES  SCOTT FOR NOT MENTIONING GUNS OR LGBT IN PULSE COMMENTS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “No mention of common sense gun law reforms, nor the continued discrimination against the LGBTQ community in @FLGovScott’s State of the State,” Gillum tweeted after the speech. Potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham also weighed in, criticizing Scott and other notable Republican leaders – led by House Speaker Corcoran, though she did not mention names – for fighting with each other rather than working together for Florida. Before the speech, Gillum anticipated that with a prebuttal statement that said Floridians are looking for someone to champion “the issues and values that matter to us, and sadly Governor Scott will not and cannot rise to that level.”

MORE REAX: “He made a pretty vigorous sales pitch for a lot of his ideas — Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida; also keeping that alive. We expected him to lay out his vision for Florida. We expected him to lay out his priorities. The House in special order calendar, I believe on Thursday or Friday, is going to take up those bills and I’m sure we’ll have a very robust debate.” – Rep. Carlos Trujillo, House Appropriations Chairman; “It was a good one. He played it on the line in terms of the need for EFI and Visit Florida. The governor’s very passionate about helping those who need some help. That’s been his trademark since he got here, and I appreciate that and respect that.” – Sen. Bill Montford; “It was great. He set out his goals for the session and what he wants to accomplish and we’re ready to go.” – Senate President Joe Negron; “Obviously we have some points we have disagreements on. I thought it was encouraging. He did a good job of building some consensus around things that we all believe in — Republican and Democrat, different branches of the government. You can take out a couple of the points of contention that we have, but overall, I didn’t leave with a bad feeling after the speech.” – Rep. Clay Ingram; “It’s opening day, so I expected them both to do what they did. They set the tone. They laid out their plans.” – Rep. Cynthia Stafford; “There were a couple of hot-button issues, obviously, with the House. I think there was some truth for some members, but I think it’s probably a little bit of an exaggeration for some. … I know that there are real concerns here in the House about some of the ways state money has been spent. We’re taking a good, hard look at it. I don’t think the outcome is 100 percent clear of what’s going to end up at the conclusion of session.” – Rep. Joseph Geller.

RICHARD CORCORAN: ‘LET’S FIGHT … JOYFULLY CRASHING AGAINST THE SPECIAL INTERESTS AND STATUS QUO’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Corcoran opened the legislative session Tuesday with a defiant tone, urging his flock to “keep fighting” and “joyfully crashing against the special interests” that control Tallahassee. …. Corcoran did not mention Gov. Scott by name — but he left no doubt that his remarks were directed mostly at his fellow Republican. … He also has accused Scott of trying to impose a half-billion dollar property tax increase on Floridians, the result of higher property values, to pay for a per-pupil increase in public school spending. Scott and the Senate disagree with Corcoran and say it’s not a tax hike.

JOSE OLIVA TALKS DOUGHNUTS AND INCENTIVES AFTER RICK SCOTT SPEECH via Florida Politics – Oliva, a cigar company executive, said Scott underestimated House members’ experience. “Very many of us in that chamber know what it’s like to be poor,” said Oliva, who remains as CEO of Oliva Cigar Co. after selling the company last year to a European concern. “We know what it’s like to have a car repossessed, to have the power cut in your house. “We also know what it’s like to start a business … I don’t know that when I was building my business I would have liked some of my tax dollars to go to help a competitor.” Scott, who didn’t mention it specifically … often has spoken of a doughnut shop he ran in the 1970s. “Imagine if the governor, while he had that same doughnut shop, had his tax dollars go to Dunkin’ Donuts so they could come across the street and compete against him?” Oliva said.

ADVOCATES CALL ON LEG. TO FOCUS ON WORKING FLORIDIANS DURING ANNUAL ‘AWAKE THE STATE’ EVENT via Florida Politics – “In 2010, Rick Scott said ‘let’s get to work.’ In 2014, he said ‘let’s keep working,’” said Rich Templin, the legislative and political director for the Florida AFL-CIO. “The problem is, Florida is not working for most of our families and nobody in the building is fighting for them.” Templin was one of several advocates who spoke out during the “Awake the State” event at the Florida Capitol. The annual event generally serves as a response to the governor’s State of the State speech, and this year speakers touched on a variety of issues, including poverty, the environment and immigrant rights. Citing the United Way of Florida’s 2017 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report, Templin said millions of Floridians are struggling. “They’re doing everything they’re supposed to do, working a job, working two jobs, working three jobs, but they still have to make decisions between food and rent, medicine and child care, decisions no worker should have to make in this state,” he said. “Millions of Floridians are suffering, and the state is doing very little to support (them).”

— “Isn’t it time Florida progressive put the ‘Awake the State’ mantra to bed?” via Peter Schorsch

AFP-FL ENCOURAGES LEGISLATURE TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT BILL TO ELIMINATE ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Florida Politics – “There is no question that Governor Scott and the Florida legislature have helped Florida endure the recent recession, and through their effective leadership the state of our state is strong,” said Chris Hudson, the state director for AFP-FL … “But make no mistake, the positive strides and gains we’ve made together are not because of top-down big-government programs. Because Florida entrepreneurs are the best investors of their dollars, they are thriving in the low tax, low regulatory environment which are among the most critical reasons millions of Americans from across the country have migrated to the Sunshine State.” … It’s also out in full force in support of a bill (HB 7005) that would eliminate Enterprise Florida and a slew of other incentive programs.

NEW HOUSE VIDEO ASKS: WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE MEMBER ACROSS THE AISLE — The Florida House didn’t waste much time after the “State of the State” to try and show unity among its members, releasing a video showing Republicans and Democrats talking about their favorite representative across the aisle. The 2-minute video includes Reps. Chris Sprowls, Carlos Guillermo SmithByron DonaldsRandy FineJackie ToledoEmily SlosbergAmy Mariano, and Dane Eagle. Several Republican picked Rep. Tracie Davis, with Rep. Cyndi Stevenson even saying she seemed “delightful.” Davis response when asked her favorite member across the aisle: “I don’t have any. I don’t like any of them.” (Don’t worry, she was teasing).

AS TENSE SESSION OPENS, SOME SAGE WORDS FROM A ‘HAS-BEEN’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Former House Speaker Allan Bense is home in Panama City, tending to his businesses and mostly watching from a safe distance. “There’s clearly room for improvement in Tallahassee,” Bense said. “He (Corcoran) has unveiled things that really weren’t working very well … Clearly, he’s aggressive, and I respect him for that.” He said Corcoran is right to call for a stricter six-year revolving-door restriction before ex-lawmakers can become lobbyists. It’s hard to believe Bense was eight speakers ago … “Remember, I’m a has-been. A nobody,” Bense said over coffee at a Panama City diner. “I was, at best, a C as speaker. Probably a C-minus.” On that, few would agree. Bense was viewed as evenhanded and unpretentious … His advice to Scott, Corcoran and Negron is to keep the line of communication open, which now is not the case. “Communicate,” Bense said. “It’s like a marriage. The more you talk, the more you learn.”

ANTI-POVERTY LOBBYIST SKEPTICAL AS SESSION OPENS via Florida Politics – Karen Woodall … at the Florida Center for Economic and Fiscal Policy …  spent 37 years lobbying in Tallahassee on behalf of the poor … wasn’t impressed. Unfortunately, particularly this year, it seems that the conversations about poverty have to do with attacking poor people. We have bills to cut people off food stamps where the staff analysis says the majority of the people impacted will be children. We have bills to cut people’s temporary cash assistance the first time they commit some violation, without ever asking what are those violations — it could be missing a meeting, or not filling out a form. We’re talking about evictions. We have bills filed to block grant Medicaid, which is going to severely impact not only very, very low income and vulnerable people in this state, but it’s going to cripple the health care industry. There are a lot of other areas of poverty. So many people are working, yet still struggling. There just seems to be, over and over and over again, a denial. It’s like don’t ask, don’t tell. We want to talk about the symptoms without digging really deep into the causes.

FOLKS COME FROM AFAR TO SEE LEGISLATURE BEGIN via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – About 20 minutes after the House convened at 9:30 a.m.Jon Karl Kuykendall sat outside the Capitol next to his backpack. The former Eastside High student from Gainesville and freshman at the University of Florida spent the first two days of spring break hiking with his friend Oscar Psychas from St. Marks Lighthouse to Tallahassee, to demonstrate their commitment to the environment … Tom Hunt, a long-serving member of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office, celebrated his 32nd legislative session with a Happy Face tie. He’s got 98 funny ties and each year he starts the first day of session wearing one of them … Mark Byington had the important job: holding a box of sandwiches and snacks for the covey of fourth-graders from Community Leadership Academy. The Tallahassee school was started by Peter Boulware, a Florida State University football all-star who spent his professional career with the Baltimore Ravens.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians.  PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more here.***

JUDGE SIDES WITH HOUSE SPEAKER IN LOTTERY LAWSUIT via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Circuit Judge Karen Gievers on Tuesday ruled the Florida Lottery lacked the legal authority to sign off on more than $700 million contract with IGT Global Solutions to run lottery games. Gievers declared the contract, which is supposed to run until 2031, “void and unenforceable.” … During a daylong hearing on the lawsuit held this week, top aides who work for the Florida House also testified that the contract also was structured in a way to sidestep legislative oversight. They noted that lottery officials last fall asked legislators for more money to pay for the contract. … Gievers said the Florida Lottery did not follow state law and that the contingency clause did not give lottery officials the authority to approve the contract.

SCOTT COMMITTEE ROLLS OUT MORE ROBOCALLS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Scott is again targeting members of his own party for their votes against a bill that would abolish Enterprise Florida, the mostly-taxpayer funded economic development entity that Scott chairs, and place tight restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm. Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, sent the messages, including emails, to the voters in districts of 17 House Republicans, each of whom backed the measure. “Unfortunately, your state representative … is playing politics with Florida’s jobs,” the ad says to voters. “He voted to decimate Florida’s tourism and jobs programs. And that will destroy our economy and lead to higher taxes.”

2017 SESSION BRINGS A RECORD NUMBER OF BILLS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Legislators have been busy this session … House and Senate members filed 2,905 bills before the noon bill filing deadline … That makes 2017 the session with the most bills filed, eclipsing the 2004 session’s previous record of 2,691 bills. The trend in recent years has been toward fewer individual pieces of legislation filed. However, House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s new process for member’s appropriations project requests is largely responsible for the increased number of bills, with 1,210 member projects filed in total. The total number could increase even more, as legislation in the form of proposed committee bills, or PCBs, may continue to be filed after the deadline.

HOUSE MEMBER PROJECTS TOTAL $2.58 BILLION via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Members of the Florida House have filed 1,205 active appropriations projects bills, totaling $2.58 billion. The largest appropriation project filed is the $100 million requested in HB 3767 by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz for Florida Residential Citrus Canker Litigation Judgments. In all, 74 bills request appropriations that were vetoed in previous budgets including the $15 million for HB 2521, funding the Center for Innovative Technology Education (CITE) at Eastern Florida State College. Who filed the most member projects? That is Rep. Brad Drake with 46. He’s followed by Rep. Halsey Beshears with 42 and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz with 33. Members had to file their appropriations project bill request forms by Feb. 7, 2017, and bills had to be filed by the opening day deadline of noon March 7, 2017.

SENATE ADOPTS COMPROMISE BUDGET RULES via Florida Politics – Senators convened at 9:30 with a prayer and the traditional singing of the national anthem. “They need wisdom, direction, and understanding,” Pam Olsen, president of the Florida Prayer Network said during the invocation. … “I know I’m asking for a miracle, but make this session end on time.” … One of the first orders of business was approval of rules changes designed to prevent a meltdown over the House’s strict new rules for member projects in the state budget while respecting the Senate’s prerogatives. In reaching the agreement with the House Friday, “potentially we dodged a bullet that could have stopped our appropriations process in about the fifth week,” budget chairman Jack Latvala said.

CABINET MEMBERS UNAWARE OF PROPOSED PROVISION EXEMPTING THEM FROM ‘GUN-FREE ZONES’ via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Among many gun bills Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube has filed for the 2017 session, one proposal being considered for the first time Tuesday calls for letting the three members of the Florida Cabinet carry guns virtually anywhere — so long as they have a concealed weapons permit and federal law doesn’t prohibit guns in that location. Each of the Cabinet members … said they were unaware until contacted by the Herald/Times this week that Steube had proposed exempting them from the state’s “gun-free zones.” But only one Cabinet member – Jeff Atwater – would say whether they themselves might be affected by the potential law change. A spokeswoman for Atwater confirmed he has a concealed weapons permit, but also said Atwater did not seek out the provision.

SENATE COMMITTEE REVERSES YEARS OF OPPOSITION AND PASSES FRACKING BAN via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation voted unanimously to prohibit  “advanced well stimulation treatment,” specifically hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing — the high pressure process that is used to inject water into rock formations to extract oil and gas. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dana Young … who reversed her opposition to a fracking ban last year, promising voters in her newly-drawn Senate seat that she would make passage of the ban a top priority.  “This has been a wonderful journey,” Young said, acknowledging the shift in position since she voted for a House bill lasts year that would have regulated and authorize fracking beginning in 2017, after a state study.

WHY THE LONG FACES?

HOUSE RELEASES PLAN FOR MEDICAL POT, WHICH ACTIVISTS CRITICIZE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The bill (HB 1397) gives the existing seven growers licensed under more limited cannabis statutes the first crack at selling the drug. It automatically adds five second-place growers that applied for regionally awarded licenses previously but were rejected after 150,000 patients have registered with the state. Beyond that, it bans edible cannabis products and smoking. It limits “vaping” — using vaporizer devices with a cartridge of the drug — to only terminal patients, though vape pens and cartridges are currently being sold under the existing state laws. Ben Pollara, executive director of advocacy group Florida for Care, said in a statement that the House’s proposal is “moving backward.” … “HB 1397 also offers only a modest expansion of the marketplace for medical marijuana treatment centers and again takes a step backward in doing so,” he said.

HMMM… HOUSE’S WHISKEY & WHEATIES BILL STUMBLES IN SECOND COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – The Walmart-backed HB 81, sponsored by Hialeah Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, would allow grocery stores and other retailers to sell liquor, rather than keeping up the so-called “liquor wall.” The issue is a top priority for Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores and a boatload of retailers, but conservatives in the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee wanted nothing to do with it. The bill was temporarily postponed … because, apparently, it didn’t have the votes to pass, which almost happened last month when it narrowly escaped the Careers & Competition Subcommittee with an 8-7 vote. Pulling up that vote record might give an indication of which lawmakers are squares.

BILL TO CLOSE PENSION PLAN OPTION FOR CITIES STARTS TO MOVE IN SENATE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate Community Affairs Committee agreed to legislation (SB 0428) that would close enrollment in the Florida Retirement System’s defined benefit or “pension” plan to any city not currently involved on a 5-2 vote … Employees would instead have to enroll in a defined contribution or “investment” program. The legislation is being carried by Sen., Jeff Brandes and Rep. Jason Fischer with HB 353, who described his hometown as being “crippled” by unfunded liabilities.

HOUSE PANEL BACKS PRIVATE SCHOOL CHOICE BILL via Travis Pillow of redefinEd.com – The House K-12 Innovation Subcommittee passed HB 15 on a 12-3 vote. The measure by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan … would triple the size of Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship program, which offers education savings accounts to children with special needs. It would also broaden eligibility for special needs vouchers, known as McKay scholarships, and increase per-student funding for tax credit scholarships, with help low-income and working-class students pay private school tuition. A bill in the state Senate would match the House’s Gardiner scholarship funding proposal, and a separate measure mirrors its tax credit scholarship changes.

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE PASSES RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES ACT via Sunshine State News – Senate Bill 436 by Sen. Dennis Baxley … Senate President Negron emphasized during his Opening Day speech as a bill he favors … creates the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” and specifies that a school district may not discriminate against a student, parent, or school personnel on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression. Senate Bill 436 authorizes students to express religious beliefs in written and oral assignments, free from discrimination. Students may also wear clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display a religious message or symbol to the same extent secular types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display messages or symbols are permitted in public school dress codes. Further, students may pray, or engage in and organize religious activities before, during and after the school day, to the same extent student engagement in secular activity or expression, and the organization of secular activities and groups are permitted.

LEGISLATION THAT WOULD MAKE SECRETARY OF STATE AN ELECTED POSITION ADVANCES via Florida Politics – Historically, the Secretary of State in Florida was elected by the public, but that changed in 1998 … Fernandina Beach Republican Aaron Bean wants to bring that position back into the Cabinet. At the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections committee meeting … Bean told his colleagues that the main motivation for his joint resolution (SB 882) is to add another member to the Cabinet, which currently consists of four members – the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner. “I always felt that it’s been odd,” Bean said. “We have some strange rules when it comes to voting with our cabinet,” referring specifically on the state rule that in two-two ties on the Cabinet, the governor must be on the prevailing side.

— “Bill to fund a $1M in-state marketing campaign clears House committee” via Florida Politics

— “Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously OK’s claim bill for man injured in bus accident as teen” via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics

BILL WOULD REQUIRE LEOS TO WEAR BODY CAMERAS DURING TRAFFIC STOPS via Florida Politics – State Rep. Al Jacquet filed HB 513 … The bill would, if enacted, require officers to wear and use body cameras while conducting routine traffic stops every time. “Body cameras are a tool to increase public safety that help protect both officers and the citizens they serve,” Jacquet said in a statement. “Dashboard cameras have helped to protect people for years and this builds off that idea. It’s our responsibility to do all we can to increase accountability, safety and trust for both officers and their communities.” HB 513 is a companion proposal is SB 828, proposed by Sen. Bobby Powell.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Jacquet and Sen. Powell will hold a press conference to discuss legislation require police to wear and use body cameras when conducting traffic stops at 11:30 a.m. outside the House Chambers on the Fourth Floor Rotunda.

‘SPILL BILL’ APPROVED BY SENATE COMMITTEE – Senate Bill 532 “Public Notice of Pollution Act” passed its first committee – the Environmental Preservation and Conservation – by a unanimous vote. Its next stop is the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. SB 532 will require companies to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the release of any dangerous substance within 24 hours of discovery, and DEP must then publish a public notice within 24 hours. This legislation comes in the aftermath of multiple high-profile incidents over the past year that resulted in chemical contaminants possibly being leaked into local drinking water supplies – without the public being made aware of the situation.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

IT’S SPACE DAY IN THE CAPITOL!

Time for lawmakers and others in Tallahassee to put on their space geek hats.

Space Florida is leading the charge to Tallahassee for the annual Space Day tour, with representatives of three dozen space companies and other institutions, including two astronauts, in the invasion.

The state’s space industry development corporation has virtually missed battles being fought over Enterprise Florida Inc., VISIT Florida, and wants to keep it that way.

They’ll be touting 150,000 jobs, bringing $20 billion in annual sales and revenues into all 67 Florida counties. Yet much of the focus is on the Space Coast, where Space Florida and others are seeking to transform the space economy from government-sponsored to entrepreneurial driven.

Space Florida gets almost $20 million a year from the state, and arranges business incentive grants and tax deferments, through other agencies, that have totaled  tens of millions of collars in recent years.

The space business invaders will include rocket companies such as United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Orbital ATK.

And, for celebrity power, those reps will include former NASA space shuttle astronauts Chris Ferguson and Sam Durrance.

BILL GALVANO TELLS SEMINOLE TRIBE HIS GAMBLING BILL “WILL MOVE FORWARD” via Florida PoliticsGalvano, the Florida Senate’s point man on gambling, has told the Seminole Tribe of Florida “inaction … is not an option” this year. Galvano, the Bradenton Republican in line to be Senate President in 2018-20, responded this week to a letter sent by Tribal Chairman Marcellus Osceola to legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Scott. Both chambers have gambling legislation filed this year with competing priorities, but both contemplate a new agreement, or “compact,” with the Tribe offering exclusive rights to keep offering blackjack in return for $3 billion in revenue share over seven years.

FILM FLORIDA GIVES UP THE FIGHT FOR INCENTIVES THIS YEAR via Florida Politics – The president of Film Florida, the state’s nonprofit “entertainment production association,” says her group is taking a “step back” from fighting for film and TV show incentives this year. “For the first time since 2004, Florida does not have a statewide program to entice film, television and digital media projects and companies to our state,” wrote Film Florida President Kelly Paige in a Tuesday email to supporters. As part of a plan to get rid of business incentives deemed “corporate welfare” by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, legislation would “close the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment (the State Film Office)” and “also end the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption program,” Paige said.

HOUSE CHAIRMAN SEEKS ‘GOOD FAITH’ AS HEARINGS OPEN ON WORKERS’ COMP DRAFT BILL via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee opened hearings on a 28-page draft bill on workers’ compensation reform, as Chairman Danny Burgess urged members and interest groups to “conduct ourselves in good faith — that we not plant our flags on one side or the other and be absolutely inflexible.” Burgess said the draft represents a “fair, comprehensive approach to fixing this problem.” He also conceded: “It’s by no means perfect … The draft bill achieves four overarching goals … We have addressed and implemented case law by the Supreme Court. We have increased opportunities for competition. We are offering measured changes based on workers’ compensation cost drivers. And we are looking to protect the injured workers’ personal information through a separate (bill).”

HOW LEGISLATORS PLAN TO OPEN THE DOOR FOR FPL TO CHARGE ITS CUSTOMERS FOR EXPLORATORY FRACKING via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The bill, HB 1043 by Rep. Jason Brodeur, is titled “Prudent Utility Investments in Natural Gas Reserves,” and the Senate companion is SB 1248 by Sen. Aaron Bean … “Natural gas is a proven commodity that brings rates down and so we are going to allow FPL to go forward with a proven technology to have these reserves so that we pay down the road,” Bean said. The bill would essentially overturn a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year that said that Florida regulators exceeded their authority when they allowed FPL to become the first utility in the nation to be allowed to charge its customers, not its shareholders, for its speculative investment in fracking operations.

‘STAND UP FOR NORTH FLROIDA’ RELEASES TV AD CRITICAL OF LAKE O LAND BUY via Florida Politics — The group released a television ad Tuesday designed to call attention to what it calls “the threat of the South Florida land buy, proposed by Senators Joe Negron and Rob Bradley, to the limited conservation funding resources available to the North Florida region.” The group objects to Senate Bill 10 which would bond money backed with Amendment 1 funds to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee for water storage. “North Florida has precious water resources – lakes, rivers, springs and beaches – that desperately need protecting. There are limited funds available and it is imperative we receive our fair share,” said former Rep. Steve Southerland, chairman of the group. “Yet South Florida received more than 90 percent of the Amendment 1 funding for water projects last year.”

COURT: SCHOOL CHILDREN MUST TAKE STANDARDIZED TEST via The Associated Press – A Florida appeals court says school districts have a right to hold third-graders back when they score badly on a mandated standardized reading test. A three-judge panel threw out a ruling by a lower court judge who said school districts must consider options other than students’ performances on the Florida Standards Assessment test when deciding whether to promote a student. The decision is a blow to parents who try to “opt out” on standardized tests. Parents in six counties instructed their children to fill their name in on the test and not answer any questions. School officials then told the children they’d have to repeat third grade.

DON GAETZ PENSACOLA’S NEXT MAYOR? via Duwayne Escobedo of Rick’s Blog – A recent survey commissioned by Inweekly found Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, a two-term incumbent, could be vulnerable in the 2018 election should he run a third time. Among likely voters, Hayward garnered just 27.9 percent of the vote, setting up room for other candidates to run. Might one of those be former Florida Senate President Gaetz, a Republican from Niceville? Gaetz did point out he owns property in Pensacola, runs a business in Pensacola, TLC Caregivers, and has paid taxes in Pensacola for 20 years. “I see that Mayor Hayward is vulnerable,” Gaetz said in an exclusive interview with Inweekly. But he added he will “probably not run for mayor.” Throughout his 10 years in the Senate, his wife of 35-plus years, Vicki, was right there with him in Tallahassee by his side. Gaetz said it was “very much a partnership in politics” … “Every time I say, ‘No,’ my wife reminds me that I run for office,” Gaetz said. “My wife says never say, ‘No.’”

***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.***

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

On: House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee has brought on budget analyst Bryan Mielke, formerly a legislative assistant for Sebring Republican Rep. Cary Pigman.

On: Brandon Miller is replacing Mielke as Pigman’s legislative assistant.

On: Daniel Brackett is a new attorney for the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee.

On: Angelique Rinaldi is the new legislative assistant for Port Orange Republican Sen. Dorothy Hukill.

On: Jervonte Edmonds is the new district secretary for West Palm Beach Democratic Rep. Al Jacquet.

Off: Andrew Green is no longer a district secretary for Orlando Republican Rep. Mike Miller.

On: Charles Martin is the news district secretary for St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Wengay Newton.

Off: Nathan Klein is no longer a district secretary for Cape Coral Republican Rep. Dane Eagle.

On: Samantha Surdin is the new district secretary for Orlando Republican Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

Off: Elizabeth Casimir is no longer a district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Florida Education Association

Brian BallardMonica Rodriguez, Ballard Partners: K9s for Warriors

Erin Daly BallasJack CoryKenya Cory, Public Affairs Consultants: Stiles Corporation

Slater Bayliss, Christopher Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Florida MEDS, LLC

Laura Boehmer, Southern Strategy Group: Locust Branch, LLC

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Galt Mile Apartments, Inc.; Southpoint Condominium Association, Inc.; The Lands of the President Condominium Seven Association, Inc.

Brittany Dover, Hopping Green & Sams: Florida Water Environment Association Utility Council

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith, Inc.: City of Tampa; InVesta Services

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting, LLC: VIMRO

Richard Heffley, Heffley & Associates: Florida Community Services Corp of Walton Co (dba Regional

Utilities); Humane Society of the United States,

Jeff Kotkamp, Sunshine State Consultants: Florida Distribution Association; Mint Organics

Bruce May Jr., Holland & Knight: Florida Society of Ophthalmology

Frank MayernickTracy Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: State Farm Florida Insurance Co.; State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: AAA Scholarship Foundation, Inc.; Auto Care Association

William Peeples, John Wayne Smith, Peebles & Smith, Inc.: InVesta Services

Bob Pritt, Roetzel & Andress: City of Naples; Matlacha Pine Island Fire Control District; Port Labelle Community Development District; Sanibel Public Library District; Upper Captiva Fire Protection and Rescue Service District

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Lincoln Memorial University

PERSONNEL NOTE: NEW DEPUTIES APPOINTED AT OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION via Florida Politics – The new deputy commissioner for property and casualty insurance in the Office of Insurance regulation is Susanne Murphy, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier announced … Eric Johnson becomes deputy for life and health insurance. [Murphy’s] job will include oversight of a new Property & Casualty Market Conduct unit. Johnson joined the office in 2011, “and since that time has been a nationally recognized thought leader on issues from the Affordable Care Act to long-term care,” Altmaier said.

#SUITSFORSESSION IS COMING – A week from today, Wednesday, March 15, lawmakers, agency heads, aides, and lobbyists will be carrying something extra to the Capitol: new or gently-used professional attire for job-seekers. Volunteer Florida and Uber are hosting the second annual #SuitsForSession event on the third-floor Rotunda from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to collect attire for job seekers statewide. For those who can’t make it to the Capitol, Uber will pick up clothing from individuals across Leon County for free all day March 15. #SuitsForSession has quickly grown into a can’t-miss Capitol event, and for a good cause: the new or gently-used professional attire will be donated to the Chapman Partnership (Miami); Dress for Success Tampa Bay; ECHO Outreach Ministries (Leon County); Bridges of America (statewide); and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program (Tallahassee). More here.

WORTH THE CLICK — “Brian Goldmeier: The man behind the money” via Cheshire Academy|1794

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – Wednesday’s Governors club menu hails from the Caribbean: conch chowder soup; yucca salad; seasonal greens; three dressing sections; tomato salad; carne asada- beef; chicken ala planca; BBQ grilled salmon; arroz con gandules and black beans.

FLORIDA STATE BEGINS REPLACEMENT SEARCH FOR RB DALVIN COOK via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – With Cook leaving early for the NFL draft, coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff began spring practices seeing who can replace the school’s career rushing leader. Cook is still a big fixture around the school’s football facilities, and not just from the 20-foot mural of him that adorns the player’s lounge. Fisher said that he saw Cook working out in the weight room after he returned from the NFL scouting combine. Fisher believes it may take more than one player to replace Cook’s contributions. “You would always love to have that one guy, but you also know at that position that you are going to need to have a stable of guys,” Fisher said. “That’s just something we will constantly be continuing to grow in.”

LEGOLAND TO CELEBRATE THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE WITH SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEKEND via Terry Roen of Florida Politics – Fans can meet Gotham City’s iconic superhero –  in LEGO form – at the Winter Garden theme park. LEGO Batman Movie Days will include a photo op with LEGO Batman, a Batman-themed scavenger hunt throughout MINILAND USA and a variety of hands-on LEGO building activities inspired by the movie. Guests can also watch master builders create a 7-foot tall LEGO Joker. The Big Shop and LEGO Studio Store will have LEGO building sets, limited-edition LEGO mini figures, costumes, accessories and more from the Batman movie. Regular admission and annual passes will apply for the LEGO Batman Movie Days. No extra ticket is required.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Michael Bileca and to Ryan Smithapalooza.

Sunburn for 3.7.17 – Scott’s SoS; Curtain raises on Leg.; Cruz is ready; Brodeur’s haul; Ander’s new gig

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

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

TAILSPIN

A stall, it is said, “can best be described as the situation where there is not enough air flowing over the wings to create the amount of lift needed to hold up the airplane.”

“If pilots can recognize an impending stall,” one website explains it, “they can take corrective action to either avoid the stall altogether or to recover as quickly as possible.”

Based on the events of Monday, the administration of Gov. Rick Scott is now in a stall. Indeed, by later in the day it seemed there was “not enough air … to hold up the airplane.”

Case in point: The day before the 2017 Legislative Session was set to begin, this Governor’s hand-picked CEO for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, quit with no warning. Chris Hart IV had been in the position for little more than two months. 

Why? Hart and this governor “do not share a common vision or understanding” for the organization going forward, he wrote in a resignation letter—a disconnect apparently so bracing Hart believed he could “no longer be effective.”

What was this governor’s reaction? An astounding puzzlement. This Governor never knew of “any differences of opinion or vision” until he read Hart’s resignation, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said. 

No matter—the nose of the aircraft had dipped. 

Later in the day, the House Rules committee slaughtered 23 of this Governor’s prized business incentive programs, which House Speaker Richard Corcoran has framed as “corporate welfare.” 

That panel also voted to abolish Enterprise Florida and saved VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency, though hobbling it like Annie Wilkes did to Paul SheldonThose measures could go to the full House as early as this week. 

“What you see is gathering momentum – bipartisan momentum, with only a couple of no votes – for what we’re trying to do,” Palm Coast Republican Paul Renner said, virtually standing over the carcasses. 

This Governor now will walk into a Legislature Tuesday to deliver a State of the State address that, at least according to the snippets his press shop has released, is backward-looking. 

He will mention the tragedies of the Pulse nightclub and Fort Lauderdale airport shootings, the fight against the Zika virus, Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. He will mention his ongoing feel-good commitment to tax cuts. 

But after the speech, what then? What “corrective action” will he take “to recover as quickly as possible”? It may be that the Senate will arrest the House’s assault in the weeks ahead. But in the air show of public opinion, this governor is in a tailspin.

— “Why did Chris Hart eject from Enterprise Florida?” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

EXCERPTS FROM RICK SCOTT’S SOS

Over the coming weeks, we will have many debates over bills and policies, but what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us – and what unites us is the resiliency of our great state. After every challenge, every heartbreak and every tragedy, Florida comes back stronger and better any time we are knocked down.

Since I last stood here to address you, Florida has endured many heartbreaks. I have prayed for families around our state who have been impacted by tragedy, and my own heart has been broken for their losses. Our state has been rocked by the gruesome terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando. We endured two hurricanes, fought against the rapid spread of the Zika Virus, and were devastated by the deadly Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooting.

And, if there is one thing you remember from this speech today, I hope it is this: Florida is a state full of fighters, and I will never stop fighting for our families.

Nothing could have prepared me for the horror we saw on June 12, 2016 when a terrorist inspired by ISIS stormed into Pulse and senselessly killed 49 innocent people.

This was a terrorist attack and 49 brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and spouses were murdered.

The days I spent in Orlando following the shooting will always be with me.

This year, I am fighting to cut taxes by $618 million to cut costs for small businesses, students, veterans, teachers and families.

Our Fighting for Florida’s Future tax cut package will boost our economy and encourage businesses of all sizes to create jobs and build opportunities for generations of Floridians.   Let’s remember, when jobs are created, it helps the poorest, most disadvantaged families who need a job the most…families just like mine when I was growing up.

One of the taxes we are fighting to cut is the commercial lease tax, which unfairly targets small businesses.

Even more important than continuing to cut taxes in our state is that we prevent against unfair tax increases in the future so our progress is not undone. My goal before I leave office is that we work together on a solution to make it harder for any future legislature – even one not as conservative as we have here today – to raise taxes.

START OF SESSION BRINGS PROCEDURAL CHANGES via LobbyTools Legislative IQ — The Senate will convene Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. while the House will go into session at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m.Gov.  Scott will deliver the “State of the State” address during the Joint Session in the House Chamber. Ahead of the chambers convening, members are required to submit all bills to be considered during session. Members face a noon deadline on Tuesday for filing bills for introduction, but committees can continue to propose legislation throughout session as PCBs, or “Proposed Committee Bills.”

… Committee meeting notice deadlines also change during Session. Instead of the seven days notice that must be given before meetings during interim committee weeks, Senate meeting notices must be given three weekdays in advance of the meeting and House meeting notices must be given by 4:30 p.m. two days before the meeting. Committee amendments must be filed by 6 p.m. the day before a House committee meeting and 24 hours in advance of a Senate committee meeting.

The start of Session also affects campaign fundraising — according to both House and Senate rules, members cannot accept contributions during any regular or special session.

***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***

HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE VOTES TO KILL MOST ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS via Florida Politics – The House Rules committee voted, 15-3, Monday to kill state support for 23 economics development programs worth around $200 million, including Enterprise Florida, but spared Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion organization. The members then voted, 15-2, to subject Visit Florida to stringent oversight, comparable to contract, pay, and disclosure requirements that apply to state agencies. “They could come to the floor soon — perhaps as early as this week,” sponsor Paul Renner said of the bills. “What you see is gathering momentum — bipartisan momentum, with only a couple of no votes — for what we’re trying to do,” the Palm Coast Republican said.

CONTROVERSIAL PUBLIC RECORDS BILL CLEARS SECOND SENATE PANEL via Florida Politics — The bill (SB 80), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, aims to give judges discretion in whether they should award fees to the plaintiff and requires request be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees. The committee amended the bill Tuesday to add provisions that allow the court to consider “if the request to inspect or copy the public record was made in bad faith or was made to harass the agency or to cause a violation … and if the responsible agency responded in good faith to request to inspect or copy the records.” … But the amendment did not appear to alleviate concerns. Barbara Petersen, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, spoke out in opposition of the bill. … The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Steube said he is prepared to “work with anybody to try to bring it in for a landing.”

CITING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHRISTIANS, SENATE PANEL PASSES SCHOOL RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION PROTECTIONS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – The Senate education committee approved a bill broadening protections for religious expression in public schools that appears to be fast-tracked for passage despite critics’ contentions that it would be unconstitutional and carry unintended consequences. The bill would explicitly allow public school students to express their religious beliefs in assignments without being discriminated against. It protects students’ ability to pray before, during or after the school day. It requires school boards to adopt policies allowing students to discuss religion at any school event in which they are allowed to speak publicly. Under the bill, the state department of education would be directed to design a model policy school boards could adopt.

— “Bill to allow law enforcement officers who wear body cameras to review footage advances in Senate committee” via Florida Politics

— “Democrats file bills that would allow citizens to directly propose legislation” via Florida Politics

— “Jack Latvala files bill to create regional transit authority for Tampa Bay” via Florida Politics

— “Med Mal exempt from CAT fund assessments under bill approved by Senate panel” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

— “Parenting plan bill that skip courts, lift court overload gets unilateral support in Senate committee via Florida Politics

— “Paul Renner elections bill affects filing fees, extended polling hours” via Florida Politics

— “Victor Torres seeks to save call-center jobs” via Florida Politics

“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. To this point, there have been 131 bills heard in committee in the Florida House. Of those 131 bills, 117 are sponsored by Republicans, 13 are sponsored by Democrats, and 1 bill has bipartisan prime co-sponsors. To put that in a percentage, 89.3% of the bills that have been heard are Republican bills, 9.9% are Democratic, and .8% are bipartisan. As former Senate President Andy Gardiner liked to say, ‘Don’t fear the debate.’ “

BUSINESS GROUPS OPPOSE TAX BREAK SWAP via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A coalition of Florida business groups is giving the thumbs-down to state Sen. Anitere Flores’ proposal to pay for a cut in the state’s tax on mobile phone and satellite and cable TV service by repealing a tax break to insurers. The legislation (SB 378) would swap the insurance break for a 2 percent reduction in the state’s communications services tax (CST). The proposal is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron … But the coalition – including Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida Insurance Council (FIC) – suggested the move would be a net neutral.

LEGISLATION WOULD REQUIRE REPORTING ON RACE DISPARITIES IN CRIMINAL SENTENCING via Florida Politics – Sponsors of legislation requiring the state to produce a report each year on criminal sentencing disparities based on race said Monday that they don’t mean an attack on judges but need to know what the data show. “I’ve heard there’s been some consternation from some judges,” said Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Democrat from Jacksonville. “The bill is not about judges. It’s justice, and it’s about data. Nobody should fear data,” she said.

***The State of the Taxpayer Dinner — March 8 (6-9 p.m.) — The one event in 2017 you can’t afford to miss. While the annual State of the State address and opening statements of each legislative chamber cover the accomplishments and future of our elected leadership, none specifically highlight the issues affecting taxpayers. This unique event puts the spotlight back on the taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch and Host Committee Chairman Gov. Bob Martinez present the 2017 State of the Taxpayer, the premier event for Florida’s elected leaders to discuss the issues that will impact taxpayers over the next year. The 2017 event welcomes speakers Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sen. Jack Latvala, and Rep. Jim Boyd. Last year’s event sold out and just a few tickets remain for next week’s event – visit Floridataxwatch.org/sotd for more info or to purchase tickets.***

RICHARD CORCORAN NAMES NINE APPOINTEES TO CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Among Corcoran’s appointees are school board members, state lawmakers and lawyers, with a heavy significance on Corcoran’s home base of Tampa Bay. Corcoran tapped two Miami-Dade lawmakers in his selection: Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nunez. From the Tampa Bay region, Corcoran chose Rep. Chris Sprowls, Sen. Darryl Rouson, and Sen. Tom Lee … Sheriff Chris Nocco of Pasco County … School boards and charter schools will also have a friend in the CRC: Collier County School Board member Erika Donalds. Donalds has been a longtime advocate of the charter school movement and is a founding member and past President of a nonprofit organization focused on representing parents and students in Florida, Parents Rights Of Choice for Kids (R.O.C.K).

LOTTERY CASE NOW IN JUDGE’S HANDS; AGENCY SAYS IT DID NO WRONG via Florida Politics – The Florida Lottery went on an illegal spending spree when it inked a multiple-year, $700 million contract for new equipment and “blew up” the state’s budget process, a lawyer for Speaker Corcoran argued Monday. The Lottery’s lawyer countered that it takes money to make money, and the agency simply did what lawmakers told it to do: Maximizing its revenue for education, Barry Richard said. Lottery proceeds go to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. Both sides gave closing arguments after a one-day, non-jury trial over Corcoran’s contention that the contract with International Game Technology (IGT) went “beyond existing budget limitations,” as House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum told Circuit Judge Karen Gievers … Gievers did not rule immediately from the bench, saying she would … issue a decision “as quickly as I can.”

JANET CRUZ IS READY TO LEAD HER CAUCUS DURING WHAT’S EXPECTED TO BE A RAUCOUS SESSION via Florida Politics – Tallahassee has a “priority problem,” the House District 62 representative said. “The Republicans have continued to focus on massive handouts for the ultrawealthy and the large corporations at the expense of our public education, at the expense of our hospitals, at the expense of our environment, and at the expense of small businesses, which in my opinion is the backbone of this country,” Cruz said. While acknowledging that the Scott versus Corcoran contretemps will entertain Capitol observers this spring, she supports Corcoran’s attempts to kill Enterprise Florida, the public-private agency that entices companies to add jobs in the state.

‘DRAMATIC’ REFORMS IN PLAY FOR ALL LEVELS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Just some of what’s on the table: “Dramatic” expansions of school choice alternatives in K-12 public schools and the state’s voucher-like scholarship programs are a top priority of Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The operations of Florida’s 28 public colleges could be reined in over what some senators see as unnecessary competition with the state’s public universities, sparking a need for more oversight. And the State University System itself faces a changed future as Republican Senate President Joe Negron seeks to make Florida’s 12 public universities globally competitive with the likes of the University of Virginia or the University of Michigan.

RANGE OF DCF OVERSIGHT ISSUES, BILLS TO BE DEBATED BY LAWMAKERS THIS SESSION via Florida Politics – Hot-button subjects with bipartisan support in the Senate and House include improvements in mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, working toward identifying and reducing human trafficking, better child protection and a funding shift from the federal level … The agency has had a string of high-profile incidents drawing negative attention beyond the state’s borders … In a few instances, historically, lying on such reports led the agency to lose track of where children are located … Worse yet are the deaths of minor children continuing under the department’s care or in instances where the agency had been alerted to a situation but didn’t act in a time appropriate manner. Among the most sensationalist stories making headlines around the country — shocking Florida residents — were the deaths of Naika Venant in Miami Gardens and Phoebe Jonchuck in St. Petersburg. DCF had been warned or involved in both cases.

— “A look ahead at the Florida 2017 Session: What to expect” via USA TODAY

— “Florida reporters to See how lawmakers stand on open records via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post

— “Legislative Session highlights local impacts of statewide issues” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

— “Republicans ready to ‘duke it out’ over budget, ideological differences” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

— “Top education issues to watch in 2017 Legislative Session” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News

LAWMAKERS GEAR UP TO HEAR COURTROOM CARRY, OPEN CARRY BILLS via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear two bills, SB 616 and SB 646, both sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube … SB 616, dubbed “courthouse carry,” would give courthouses permission to temporarily store firearms carried by concealed weapons permit holders while they are conducting business at Florida courthouses. The bill aims to reassure permit holders that they’ll be able to carry their firearms always rather than be unarmed while going to places like a courthouse. The second bill, SB 646, would decriminalize temporarily exposing one’s firearm for concealed carry permit license holders. The proposal would also law enforcement from arresting CCW permit holders who are lawfully carrying their concealed weapons and whose firearms become temporarily visible.

***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 – DENISE GRIMSLEY HOSTS BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER — It’s never too early in the day to start fundraising. Sen. Grimsley will hold a fundraising reception for her 2018 bid for Agriculture Commissioner at 7:30 a.m. at Florida Finance Strategies, 111-B East College Avenue in Tallahassee. The reception is hosted by Sens. Aaron BeanDennis BaxleyRob BradleyAnitere FloresGeorge GainerBill GalvanoRene GarciaJack LatvalaTom LeeDebbie MayfieldDavid SimmonsWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel, and Greg Steube.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Shevrin JonesAliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters; Rich Templin, the legislative and political director of the Florida AFL-CIO, and others will hold a press conference to unveil the “Awake the State” progressive agenda at noon on the fourth floor Rotunda.

ON3 PUBLIC RELATIONS RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF LEGISLATOR EMAILS, TWITTER HANDLES — Want to give a certain a lawmaker a shout-out, but don’t know their Twitter handle? Don’t worry, On3 Public Relations has Florida covered. “We put in the work, so you don’t have to,” wrote Christina Johnson. The firm released its updated guide to the emails and Twitter handles of members of the 2017 House and Senate members. We hope you find it a useful tool in connecting with our elected leaders,” she said.

SPOTTED: Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon on Travel Channel’s “Big Time RV.”

TWEET, TWEET:

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians.  PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more here.***

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS VOTING RIGHTS AMENDMENT via The Associated Press – The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to approve the wording of a proposed amendment that could allow convicted criminals to vote … Justices must decide whether the amendment is misleading. The amendment would allow most convicts to have their rights automatically restored after they have completed their prison sentence. Felons convicted of murder or a sexual offense would not be eligible. Amendment supporters still must gather more than 700,000 signatures to place the amendment on the 2018 ballot.

BAD NURSING HOMES BENEFIT FROM AHCA’S PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE WAR ON #TRANSPARENCY via Florence Snyder of Florida Politics – The Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) high profile flack works hard duty playing hardball with some of Florida’s best reporters, but makes tens of thousands of dollars less than men paid by taxpayers to tell tall tales about #Transparency … Taking up the cause of families who love their grandparents, reporter Kate Santich asked AHCA to explain why inspection reports are being scrubbed of “dates, places and pivotal words” that make it possible to gauge the quality and safety of Florida’s nursing homes. People who pay attention to Transparency and Accountability (T&A) in Florida had no trouble believing the attorney who told Santich “I’ve been looking at these reports for 20 years, and I know what they used to look like and what they look like now. It has become arbitrary and inconsistent what they redact — but I think it’s all part of a bigger purpose to confuse people and make the reports useless.”

POLICE RADIO PANDEMONIUM: IS THE HARRIS CORP. IN OVER ITS HEAD? ASK PENNSYLVANIA via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – Floridians should feel relieved Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature insisted on open and competitive bidding for a new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) … After what happened in Pennsylvania, Florida will want a chance to look beyond the dollar figure of each bid for P25 equipment and consider the bidder’s performance. Pennsylvania had such a bad experience with their police-radio contract that after two decades, hundreds of millions of wasted dollars, and problems that never did get fixed, the state kicked the contractor off the job. Fired him. It’s a vendor Florida knows well … it’s the Harris Corp. of Melbourne — Florida’s current vendor, the vendor trying occupy the catbird’s seat in the process — that was just bounced out of Pennsylvania.

WITH ROLE ON THE LINE, NCCI INSISTS: WE’RE NOT ‘AN EVIL EMPIRE UNTO ITSELF’ via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The National Council on Compensation Insurance will take no position on a Senate bill that would require workers’ compensation carriers to propose their own rates to the Office of Insurance Regulation. “We don’t have an opinion in it. We operate in both environments,” Susan Donegan, chief regulatory services officer for NCCI, said in a telephone interview. SB 1582 would shift Florida from a “fully administered” state to a “loss cost” system. That means that instead of proposing premium levels for most of the carriers in the state, as NCCI does now, the companies would compete on rates. NCCI would have a role under either system, Donegan said. In fact, of the 36 states in which it operates, only four — including Florida — are fully administered. In the others, the company crunches numbers for individual carriers.

ANDREW GILLUM’S GET via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, who announced his bid for governor last week, is counting cash and endorsements. From a campaign source email: “Former Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, who raised over $350K for President Obama in 2012 and $250K for Secretary Clinton in 2016, is hosting a private finance dinner for Andrew’s core supporters Tuesday evening. Big name donors who have contributed … include Chris Findlater & Howard Wolfson. Gillum raised more than $110K in the last week with over 1,500 donors contributing online.”

GILLUM COURTS BERNIE SANDERS WING OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Gillum will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida … which last year endorsed Bernie Sanders for president … Said it is “inspired by (Tallahassee) Mayor Gillum’s leadership on gun safety, education, criminal justice reform, immigration, marriage equality, and making Florida’s economy work for everyone.” In a crowded field of Democratic candidates being seen as the most passionate advocate for working class Floridians could be a significant help for Gillum, who is also widely expected to earn the support of the influential Service Employees International Union.

TRUMP’S VICTORY IN FLORIDA WASN’T BECAUSE OF HIS NEWFOUND HARDLINE CUBA POLICY via Latin America Goes Global – At a meeting at The White House in the final days of the Obama Administration, a senior adviser to the 44th president shared a remarkable observation: members of the incoming Republican administration believed that Donald Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes because of his 180° turn on U.S.-Cuba policy. Apparently, even President Trump believes it. Problem is: it isn’t true. Not even close. […] The reality, though, is that all of the empirical evidence—both polling and actual election results—points in the opposite direction. Not only did Trump not perform well with Cuban-American voters, his changing position on the issue did not help him one bit. And one more thing: the Cuban-American vote did not determine the winner in Florida.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

JASON BRODEUR RAISES $405K IN FEBRUARY FOR STATE SD 9 BID via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – Brodeur has raised about $405K for his State Senate District 9 bid in February according to state campaign finance reports. Brodeur’s personal campaign finance account brought in about $87.5K, which brings him over the century mark when added to his January totals which began later that month. He has essentially all of it on hand. The “Friends of Jason Brodeur” PAC brought in about $318K, with $282K on hand when the other figures are totaled in since the PAC was established almost a year ago.

APPOINTED: Major General Michael Calhoun as Representative on Florida Defense Support Task Force.

ANDER CRENSHAW MOVES ON TO D.C. LAW FIRM KING AND SPALDING via Florida Politics – Crenshaw, who represented the Jacksonville area from 1993 to 2016, will serve as senior counsel in the Government Advocacy and Public Policy practice in King & Spalding’s Washington, D.C., office. “King & Spalding’s roster of former government officials—elected and non-elected, both Democrat and Republican—was a compelling platform as I contemplated life after Congress,” said Crenshaw. Officers from the firm noted Crenshaw’s knowledge and affinity for consensus-oriented solutions as unique value adds for its newest hire.

CHIP IGLESIAS NAMED MANAGING PARTNER OF BALLARD PARTNERS MIAMI OFFICE — Ballard Partners announced Monday Genaro “Chip” Iglesias has been promoted to managing partner of the Miami office. “As the chair of our Local Government Practice, Chip has been an integral part of our Miami team and we are pleased to promote him to this new leadership role,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president, in a statement. “His keen insight into the Miami-Dade government affairs landscape and the wealth of contacts in the area will continue to help our clients achieve their policy goals, while allowing us to grow our business in South Florida.” Iglesias joined Ballard Partners as a seasoned public affairs expert in 2014. His resume touts several key senior level positions, from deputy mayor/chief of staff of Miami-Dade County and chief executive officer of the Village of Key Biscayne, to chief of staff to then-City of Miami Manager Carlos Gimenez and a 24-year stint as a firefighter and paramedic at the City of Miami Fire Department. Iglesias will take over the position previously held by Sylvester Lukis, who moved to Washington, D.C., to lead the firm’s newly-opened office.

KIM BERFIELD NAMED CHIEF LOBBYIST FOR ALL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL via Florida Politics – Berfield, a former deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health and state Representative from Clearwater, has been appointed Vice President of Government and Community Affairs for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Following her work for the state, Berfield served as Business Strategy and Development Contractor for the Florida branch of Primerica and Director of Government Affairs for Tampa-based Wellcare Health Plans. Her duties included developing and implementing multiyear business plans, building and maintaining collaborative relationships and providing strategic counsel in the government relations arena.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian BallardChristopher Hansen, Ballard Partners: Eastern Florida State College Foundation

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Town of Lake Park

Chr CarmodyRobert Stuart, GrayRobinson: RB Jai-alai, LLC

Jon CostelloGary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: Neurology Diagnosis & Applied Solutions, Inc.

Pete Dunbar, Martha EdenfieldBrittany FinkbeinerCari Roth, Dean Mead: City of Holmes Beach

Kimberly Fernandes, Kelly Kronenberg: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Chris Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: Patients for Fair Compensation, Inc

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Transdev North America, Inc

Brecht Heuchan, The Labrador Companies: Waterford Institute

Kari Hicks, Sunshine State Consultants: Mint Organics

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Florida Power & Light Company

Douglas Mannheimer, Broad and Cassel: U.S. Submergent Technologies, LLC

Robert Spottswood, Baker & Hostetler LLP: American Resort Development Association

Herschel Vinyard, Foley & Lardner: GCM Contracting Solutions, Inc.

***Sen. Jack Latvala is fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala you support him and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY BUFFET MENU – For first day of Session, the Governors Club offers an All-American buffet menu: KC steak soup, egg salad, macaroni salad, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, fried chicken, meatloaf with brown gravy, garlic Yukon mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and green beans.

THE GROVE MUSEUM SET TO OPEN via Gerald Ensley of the Tallahassee Democrat – It’s taken nearly eight years in the 21st century to turn the antebellum mansion into a state-operated museum. But visitors should find the wait worthwhile. Following a thoughtful and assiduous restoration, The Grove, opens this week to the public – fulfilling the intention of its longtime owners, the late Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins and his wife, Mary Call Collins. The Grove’s grand opening is this coming Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be guided tours of the two-story brick mansion, music performances, children’s games and food trucks. Following the grand opening, The Grove will be open to the public four days a week (Wed-Sat). Admission is free.

‘HAMILTON’ THE MUSICAL COMING TO TAMPA via Francis McMorris of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – The much-heralded Broadway production is coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts for the 2018-2019 season. Season ticket holders for this year’s Best of Broadway Tampa Bay season are guaranteed seats to the musical when renewing for the 2018-2019 season. However, they must renew their subscription by the deadline in order to guarantee those seats. “Even though we’ve had big shows like ‘Wicked’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ this is by far the biggest,” said Straz Center CEO and President Judy Lisi of the show. “It is absolutely a phenomenon.”

AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS IN NEWS, MIKE DEESON ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT via Florida Politics – “I know this will come as a surprise to many of my friends in Tampa Bay,” Deeson says in a Facebook post, “but I have decided to retire from Channel 10 effective today.” Deeson, named one of the INFLUENCE Magazine’s top 100 Florida influencers in 2015, will use the time to “put more effort into many of other projects I have been trying to juggle while working full time … Maybe I’ll even improve my golf game.” He explains that he had been thinking about retiring for a while “especially because of the changing landscape of TV news.” As for his seemingly sudden announcement, Deeson says he “didn’t want the long goodbye tour,” instead “ripping off the bandage” and go forward immediately. “My nature is to come to a conclusion and act on it quickly without looking back,” he says.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — As the Florida Legislature begins its 60-day session, Trimmel Gomes previews some of the controversial issues on the latest episode of The Rotunda. As the White House conducts its review of America’s foreign policy towards Cuba, Gomes documents his travels to the Communist-run Island as Cubans share their views on proposed policy changes. Plus, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum sits down for a one-on-one interview about his bid for governor in 2018. Plus, University of South Florida Political Scientist Susan McManus provides analysis on Gillum’s early start in what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Joe Geller and Rochelle Koff, who writes about food and dining for INFLUENCE Magazine and on her blog, Tallahassee Table.

Sunburn for 3.6.17 – Last-minute fundraising; Speaker’s surprise CRC pick; Rick Scott’s new policy director; ‘Get me Roger Stone’

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 IN SUNBURN: Bill Nelson leads Rick Scott 44 to 38 percent among registered voters, according to a new poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida. Data crunchers will shake a lot of salt on the poll because a) it’s of registered voters and was conducted over thirteen days.

FIRST IN SUNBURN: Sens. Darryl Rouson and Tom Lee and attorney Rich Newsome are among Richard Corcoran‘s nine selections to the Constitutional Revision Commission. As for others, Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News reports that Erika Donalds is another pick, while Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Speaker-to-be Chris Sprowls and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco will be on the commission. As for the other three picks, read this post — “With ‘nice’ picks to CRC, did Joe Negron just hand Richard Corcoran an opportunity” — from a week ago.

LAST MINUTE MONEY — Think of it as the gold rush before the storm. Members of the House and Senate can’t raise money while the Legislature is in session, putting a 60-day pause on fundraising each year. And while that might be good news for their most loyal contributors’ pocketbooks, it also means you can expect a mad dash for last minute fundraising before the clock starts on the 2017 session.

House Majority, the fundraising arm of House Republicans, has a bevy of fundraisers planned for today. All of the events are hosted by Speaker Corcoran, Rep. Jose Oliva, and Rep. Sprowls.

Reps. Cord Byrd, Clay Yarborough, and Jason Fischer will kick off their fundraising early in the day with a reception at the Governors Club, 202 S. Adams Street, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Yarborough will be back at the Governors Club at 5 p.m. for another fundraising reception, this time with Reps. Thomas Leek and Stan McClain.

The Southern Public House, 224 East College Ave, is the place to be Monday evening from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. That’s where you’ll find a fundraiser for Reps. James Grant, Mel Ponder, and Halsey Beshears. Rep. Brad Drake will be raising dough a few blocks away at Clyde’s and Costello’s, 210 South Adams Street. His fundraiser is also scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If hanging out at bars aren’t your style, then the fundraising reception for Reps. Cary Pigman, Michael Grant, Bryon Donalds, Joe Gruters, Ralph Massullo, and Julio Gonzalez might be up your alley. The event is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Governors Inn, 209 S. Adams Street.

Senators are also getting in on the action. Senate President Joe Negron, Sen. Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, and Sen. Jack Latvala will host a fundraiser for Ed Hooper, who’s hoping to replace Latvala in the Florida Senate, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Governors Club.

Galvano and Simpson are also hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Frank Artiles and Rep. Manny Diaz, who is running for Senate in 2018, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at The Maddox House, 510 North Adams Street.

And if your dance card isn’t full already, don’t forget the annual Associated Industries of Florida Legislative Reception. The shindig has helped kick-off the 60-day Session for more than 30 years, and AIF officials anticipate thousands of the Tallahassee elite to attend

“AIF is proud to host this event every year as it signals the start of the legislative session,” said Tom Feeney, president and CEO of AIF, in a statement. “Each year, the event draws a couple thousand attendees from the governor to cabinet members, lawmakers and AIF members and of course Capitol watchers.”

So what does it take to throw a party for 2,000 of your nearest and dearest? Associated Industries of Florida brings in 70 catering staff members to do prep work, cook, clean and wait on guests. And this year, those staffers will be serving up about 200 pounds of steamed shrimp, 30 gallons of pasta, and 15 gallons of ice cream.

The reception starts at 5:30 p.m. at Association Industries of Florida, 516 North Adams Street.

UBER TO OFFER FREE RIDES TO, FROM AIF PRE-SESSION PARTY — Uber is once again partnering with Associated Industries of Florida to offer free rides (up to $10) to and from the AIF pre-session reception on Monday, March 6. The promotion isn’t open to public officials and employees Uber riders just have to enter the promo code AIF2017 to redeem the offer. The promotion expires on March 7.

2017 SESSION PREVIEWS AND THINKPIECES GALORE

— “2017 Legislative Session Preview: Alimony rears its head via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

— “2017 Legislative Session Preview: Oscar Braynon on juvenile justice, incentives and Chance the Rapper” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

— “2017 Legislative Session Preview: Sewage, transportation, beer issues face Tampa Bay” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “2017 Legislative Session Preview: Tempered expectations for Duval legislative delegation” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “A betting man’s guide to the bills that will rise and fall” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat

— “A look ahead At the Florida 2017 session: what to expect” via USA TODAY

— “A guide to the session players of 2017” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

— “As legislative session begins, lawmakers should put brawls on the back burner” via the Miami Herald editorial board

— “Big issues facing Legislature as GOP leaders battle” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— “Combative new Florida House speaker vows contentious session” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press

— “Dismantling Enterprise Florida is a top priority for AFP-FL via Florida Politics

— “Dueling Florida lawmakers face long list of issues” via Gray Rohrer and Dan Sweeney of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Duval delegation ready to roll” via Florida Politics

— “Florida could flip burden of proving ‘stand your ground” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press

— “Florida’s new legislative leaders talk issues, personalities” via the Associated Press

— “For a better Florida: The battle over Florida’s free market” via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay times

— “Greg Steube leads charge on gun legislation” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— “Gun bills loaded for 2017 Session” via CBS Miami

— “Guns, gambling and other diversions: Let the legislative games begin” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

— “Here’s how Richard Corcoran stormed Florida’s capital and made some people angry” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Insurance companies have plenty to worry about as legislative session opens” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

— “Joe Gruters diving right into contentious issues” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— “Powerful Bill Galvano takes lead on major issues” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— “Ten big issues to watch during 2017 Session” via the Sunshine State News

— “The road, fast food and Session — all aboard!” via Blake Dowling of Florida Politics

— “This legislative session has the chance to be one of the most significant in Florida’s history” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics

— “Veterans group releases priorities ahead of 2017 Legislative Session” via Florida Politics

— “What to watch and how to weigh in on the legislative session” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

— “Your 2017 bipartisan guide to ridiculous legislation” via Alex Pickett of Creative Loafing Tampa

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LEGISLATIVE LEADERS STRIKE DEAL TO WRITE STATE BUDGET via Florida Politics — Released Friday, the proposed joint rule follows Senate Appropriations Chairman Latvala telling his chamber’s Rules Committee in February that House leaders had agreed to compromise to streamline the process. … The new rule first defines an appropriations project identically to the House Rules. It also stipulates that no appropriations project “may be included in a budget conference report unless the project was included in the House or Senate general appropriations act,” according to a memo to House members from Speaker Corcoran. In the memo, Corcoran goes on to say that the “Senate has agreed to collect and post online specific detailed information on each appropriations project prior to the passage of their proposed general appropriations act.” The new rule further grandfathers in existing recurring projects as long as they do not receive additional funding. New money must be non-recurring, meaning not required in future budgets, and “the project must be clearly identified in the conference report.” … “I think this is a big potential problem that’s been dodged,” said Latvala. “The only thing you have to do in the Constitution during the session is do a budget, and by having a game plan and a joint approach to that before we start out is a big deal.”

GUN BILL SHOWS HOW DEMOCRATS STRUGGLE IN TALLAHASSEE via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Sen. Linda Stewart knows her bill banning assault weapons sales won’t pass. But after the Pulse nightclub massacre June that left 49 dead, she’s disappointed it hasn’t even come up for discussion. Her biggest problem: She is a Democrat in a Republican-dominated Legislature. When the legislative session begins Tuesday, it will mark 20 years of total Republican control of both chambers of the Legislature. GOP majorities have grown to near-super majorities in both chambers in that time, leaving Democrats all but irrelevant on most major issues. That means Democratic bills ranging from Stewart’s gun measure to more moderate bills such as requiring a mental health evaluation before someone can get a concealed weapons permit don’t even get hearings. Bills to increase the minimum wage or require equal pay for women also are nonstarters. But highlighting those issues could be the key for Democrats hoping to make gains in the 2018 elections.

HOUSE, SENATE RELEASE DETAILS OF THEIR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LEGISLATION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Although SB 1582 would eliminate the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s role in proposing rates to the Office of Insurance Regulation, the House would merely allow insurers to deviate from approved rates by up to 5 percent. The fee cap formula, approved by the Legislature in 2003, and tied to benefits won, would remain under both measures. But judges of compensation claims could approve fees of as much as $250 per hour when justified by the degree of difficulty or time involved. And both measures would repeal criminal sanctions against lawyers who accept fees outside the fee structure. Neither chamber appeared interested in an Associated Industries of Florida proposal to require both parties — the worker and the insurance company — to pay their own attorney fees. But both bills do include AIF’s proposal to make petitions for benefits specify the benefits sought and how they were calculated.

JACK LATVALA WANTS FLORIDA’S BEACHES ‘DONE RIGHT’ via Ryan Mills of the Naples Daily News – Saying state leaders are falling behind on their commitment to beach communities, Latvala outlined comprehensive legislation that would overhaul the way Florida manages its eroding shores. The legislation would … increase funding to $50 million annually; require long-term planning; establish a new framework for scoring proposed renourishment projects. “We’ve got tangible evidence that the health of our beaches is a big return on investment,” Latvala said. “Everyone acknowledges that; even the House acknowledges it. We’re fighting over some of the other economic development programs. Nobody is fighting over this … Let’s at least get this done right.”

JEFF BRANDES AMENDMENT WOULD GIVE FELONS GUN RIGHTS via Florida Politics – SB 934, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston, would automatically restore all other civil rights, such as the right to vote, when a felon completes their sentence, but specifically carves out the right to own firearms. Thurston argues in the bill that automatic restoration helps felons reintegrate into society and takes some weight off the “cumbersome, costly” process of executive clemency. Brandes’ amendment removes the portion of the bill carving out gun ownership and would automatically restore gun ownership rights so long as the felon was not convicted of murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, sexual battery, incest, child sex abuse or human trafficking. Executive clemency is currently the only way felons can have their civil rights restored.

LEGISLATION WOULD HELP FLORIDA CRAFT DISTILLERIES, BREWERIES via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Senator Dana Young‘s craft breweries bill (SB 554) … would allow brewers to directly sell up to 7,000 kegs to bars and restaurants before needing a distributor. In 2015, the Legislature passed a bill allowing craft breweries to sell unlimited products at their breweries. Sen. Greg Steube‘s bill (SB 166) would allow customers to purchase as many bottles of craft liquor that they want. The current law, which was approved in 2013, allows customers to buy only two bottles per label per year. It also allows distillers to sell liquor at one other salesroom located in the same county. Florida is 10th in the nation in number of craft distilleries.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Rules & Policy Committee will take up controversial bills (HB 9 and HB 7005) that would change Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, and abolish Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development program, during its meeting at 3 p.m. Monday in 404 House Office Building. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will consider a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to vice body camera footage before writing incident reports during its 1:30 p.m. meeting in 37 Senate Office Building. Also at 1:30 p.m., the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will discuss a bill dealing with parenting time plans and child support when it meets in 110 Senate Office Building. Pharmacy benefits will be on the table when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets at 4 p.m. The Senate Community Affairs Committee will hear a public records bill that would give judges discretion in deciding whether to award attorney fees in public records lawsuit during its meeting at 4 p.m. in 301 Senate Office Building.

CONTROVERSIAL PUBLIC RECORDS BILL TO GO BEFORE ITS SECOND COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – A bill that would give judges discretion in whether to award attorney’s fees in public records cases is set to go before the Senate Community Affairs Committee … Current law allows winners of public records lawsuits to collect attorney fees, but SB 80 would give judges discretion in whether or not they award fees to the plaintiff and would require requests to be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees. Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, the bill’s sponsor, and ther proponents say there has been a swath of insincere public records requests where the true aim was to file suit and collect the fees.

AFTER CANCER TREATMENT, DOROTHY HUKILL EYEING TALLAHASSEE RETURN via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Hukill … has not been able to travel to Tallahassee and has had to do the work of a lawmaker, reading bills, setting her Education Committee agenda and consulting with her staff and other lawmakers, from home. She took mild issue with a reporter’s characterization that she has appeared to be missing in action. “Not so much out of the public eye,” she said. “I’ve had certain limitations, obviously. The limitations now would be the type of travel to get to Tallahassee.”

***The State of the Taxpayer Dinner — March 8 (6-9 p.m.) — The one event in 2017 you can’t afford to miss. While the annual State of the State address and opening statements of each legislative chamber cover the accomplishments and future of our elected leadership, none specifically highlight the issues affecting taxpayers. This unique event puts the spotlight back on the taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch and Host Committee Chairman Gov. Bob Martinez present the 2017 State of the Taxpayer, the premier event for Florida’s elected leaders to discuss the issues that will impact taxpayers over the next year. The 2017 event welcomes speakers Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, Speaker Corcoran, Sen. Latvala, and Rep. Jim Boyd. Last year’s event sold out and just a few tickets remain for next week’s event – visit floridataxwatch.org/sotd for more info or to purchase tickets.***

ICYMI: PAM STEWART, JIMMY PATRONIS AMONG RICK SCOTT CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW PANEL PICKS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Unsurprisingly, his selections are heavy with friends, appointees and supporters … Scott disclosed the remaining picks, after previously announcing Carlos Beruff as chair and Jeff Woodburn, currently the governor’s Policy Director, as the executive director. In addition to Stewart and Patronis, they are: Dr. Jose “Pepe” Armas,“a distinguished physician and health care executive whose focus on patient-centered care has defined his career;” former state Sen. Lisa CarltonTim Cerio, the governor’s former general counsel now practicing with the GrayRobinson law firm.; Emery Gainey of Tallahassee; Brecht Heuchan, who helps run Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee; Emery Gainey, a “member of the Attorney General’s senior executive management team and currently the Director of Law Enforcement, Victim Services & Criminal Justice Programs. Marva Johnson, chair of the Florida State Board of Education and regional vice president of state government affairs for Charter Communications; Darlene Jordan, executive Director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, “a nonprofit organization that supports education, health and youth services, and the arts;” Fred Karlinsky, the governor’s go-to man on insurance issues and co-chair of the Greenberg Traurig law firm’s Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group; Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keiser University and past member of the Workforce Florida board of directors; Frank Kruppenbacher, an attorney who has been on the Florida Commission on Ethics, Florida Commission on Sales Tax Reform and others; Dr. Gary Lester of The Villages, its vice president for community relations and a Presbyterian minister; Nicole Washington, state policy consultant for the Lumina Foundation, an educational grant maker.

DAUGHTER OF EVERGLADES FOUNDATION FOUNDER SAYS GROUP ‘BADLY LOST ITS WAY’ via Florida Politics – Daughter of Everglades Foundation founder George BarleyCatherine Barley-Albertini, now a freelance writer in California, says the Everglades foundation has “badly lost its way” from its initial mission of Everglades restoration. “Sadly, his dream of saving the Everglades is slipping away … as that focus has been replaced by the battle pitting coastal environmental groups against agriculture over damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges.” Environmentalism has become “just another special interest” with fundraisers, lobbyists and paid staffers. Barley’s passion was to work with the public and private sectors as well as political leaders to act. “Today’s activists are spreading a message of hate and division … My father would never support a plan to send massive amounts of polluted lake water south to the Everglades when it was already too full … He would consider the issue more comprehensively, balancing the entire ecosystem, north, south and central, while considering the complex and comprehensive effects of the many septic systems as well as the effects of nitrogen, fertilizers, pollution and pesticides from our air and soil.” It may sound simple, Barley-Albertini says, but introducing that much lake water would “destroy what’s left of the Everglades.”

IT MAY BE LEGAL NOW, BUT OPENING A MEDICAL MARIJUANA STORE IN FLORIDA IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times –”We’re trying to change the stigma,” said Monica Russell, a spokeswoman for Surterra, who noted even securing insurance for the company’s fleet of delivery trucks has been a challenge. “We want people to come here so they can have a conversation and see we’re actually a health and wellness company.” Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level, despite the 28 states that have legalized it for recreational or medicinal use in recent years. That makes it nearly impossible for banks to fund marijuana distributing companies, which in turn makes it hard to sign a lease for a commercial store or warehouse. “The short answer is, because federal law makes it illegal to possess or distribute marijuana, this is considered money laundering,” said Robert Rowe, vice president and associate chief counsel of the American Bankers Association. “Banks have generally been steering clear of these companies even if it’s legal in their state. It will take an act of Congress at the federal level to change that.”

TOP OP-ED – JOHN SOWINSKI: FINALLY, A SENSIBLE GAMBLING PLAN FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE via Florida Politics –Leaders in the Florida House have taken a different tack. They have put forth a bill that fixes weaknesses in existing gambling law, closes loopholes that gambling lawyers continually exploit, stops the proliferation of slot machines throughout Florida, honors Florida’s constitutional restrictions on gambling, and respects the will of the people of Florida, who have consistently rejected statewide expansions of gambling. Finally, it provides for an agreement with the Seminole tribe that would achieve the stated intent of the original Seminole compact — holding the line on gambling and creating a firewall to stop the spread of casinos throughout Florida. There are many reasons to oppose the expansion of gambling in Florida. The legislature’s own economists have repeatedly said in presentations that, “some or all of the jobs, wages and tax revenues attributed to gambling enterprises may be simply transferred from elsewhere.” This means that money spent in a casino merely cannibalizes existing jobs and businesses. It puts our multibillion-dollar family-friendly tourism brand at risk, and it spreads addiction and dependency that destroys lives and families, at a huge cost to society and taxpayers.

WEEKS AFTER FOSTER TEEN’S SUICIDE, CHILD WELFARE GROUPS SPAR OVER SYSTEM’S DYSFUNCTION  via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald – Naika Venant, the 14-year-old foster child whose live-streamed suicide last month became a rallying cry among critics of social media, is taking on another role: poster child for the dysfunctions of Miami’s long-troubled child welfare system. At a meeting of the county’s child welfare oversight board, judges, educators and children’s advocates excoriated the leaders of Our Kids, Miami’s privately run foster care and adoption agency. Board members accused Our Kids administrators of intimidating their critics, and seeking “retribution” against foster parents who challenged them. Typically a tame group, the Community Based Care Alliance generated raised voices and sharp rebukes. The most vocal critic was also one of the most veteran: Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman, a 20-year mainstay of the child welfare bench.

WHEN HER $90K PAY WASN’T ENOUGH, A STATE WORKER SET UP A JEWELRY STORE — IN HER OFFICE via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald – Lola Pouncey, who makes more than $90,000 a year as the operations chief of the health department’s division of medical quality insurance, “conducted a personal for-profit business during state work hours and on state property” selling jewelry and fashion accessories, said the inspector general’s report … Although Pouncey “knowingly and intentionally violated laws and agency rules” and tried to thwart the state’s investigation with “evasive and misleading” statements, she wasn’t fired or even suspended, just “counseled appropriately by her supervisor” … She was peddling merchandise for Magnolia And Vine, a fashion company that, like Amway and Avon, recruits its own customers to work as a freelance sales force — a practice sometimes known as pyramid sales or network marketing.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians.  PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more.***

LISA CARLTON NOT RUNNING FOR FLORIDA AG. COMMISSIONER via Florida Politics – Instead, the former state Senator, who co-owns a cattle ranch with her family, will focus on her new role as a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Carlton … changed her mind since January, when she was considering a statewide campaign in 2018 for agriculture commissioner. Last week, Gov. Scott appointed Carlton to the CRC … she wants to spend the next year “traveling the state and hearing my fellow Floridians’ ideas for improving our state’s founding document.”

CONSTRUCTION AT CAPITOL CONTINUES UNDERGROUND via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – “The next milestone for the Senate garage is structural repair as we work to restore that main girder,” said Maggie Mickler, spokeswoman for the Department of Management Services, the state’s real estate manager. The repair work, started last month, is expected to be completed in April, she added. The Senate garage, in continuous use since 1978, was shut down “in an abundance of caution,” officials said. That meant 210 spaces were no longer available for use, with senators and staffers shunted to other state garages and surface lots downtown.

FIRST ON FLORIDA POLITICS – MEGAN FAY TAPPED AS RICK SCOTT’S DIRECTOR OF POLICY via Florida Politics – The governor announced he had appointed Megan Fay as his new Director of Policy, replacing Jeff Woodburn, who will be Executive Director of the Constitution Revision Commission. Fay has worked for Scott since 2013 as Chief Analyst in the Office of Policy and Budget, Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs and most recently as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. She received her undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Florida and a law degree from the Florida State University College of Law. The new organizational chart for the Governor’s Office is here.

SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP ADDS FORMER RICK SCOTT STAFFER via Florida Politics — Amanda Trussell has been brought on board to handle the administrative needs of the firm’s Jacksonville office, and will also work on research projects, marketing efforts and other client-based support activities. Trussell was previously the director of scheduling for Gov. Scott. Before that, she worked as an intern for Sen. Aaron Bean and former Rep. Erik Fresen.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Keith ArnoldBrett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Haven Hospice

Patrick Bell, Capitol Solutions: Mary Mifflin-Gee

Edward Blakely Jr., Blue Tusk Communications: Redflex Traffic Systems

Matt BryanDavid DanielJeff HartleyJim NaffAndrea Reilly,  Smith Bryan & Myers: Eagle Eye Intelligence, LLC; South Central Florida Express, Inc; Southern Gardens Citrus Groves Corporation; Southern Gardens Citrus Holding Corporation; Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery Corporation; Southern Gardens Citrus Processing Corporation

Dean CannonChristopher Dawson, GrayRobinson: Dewberry Engineering; Gulf County

Christopher Carmody, GrayRobinson: Dewberry Engineering

Laura Jacobs Donaldson, Manson Bolves Donaldson Varn: Common Rights

Christopher Dudley, Southern Strategy Group: GuideWell Group, Inc.

Thomas GriffinLisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Eagle Eye Intelligence

Deno Hicks, Southern Strategy Group: GCM Contracting Solutions

Nick Iarossi, Capital City Consulting: VE Group

Ashley KalifehRon LaFaceScott Ross, Capital City Consulting: NeoGraft Solutions

Glenn KirklandJonathan Menendez, Kaleo Partners: F5 Networks

Matthew Sacco, The Rubin Group: Patients for Fair Compensation

Kristen Crawford Whitaker, Sachs Sax Caplan: Association of American Publishers Higher Education Division

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here.***

BREVARD COOK DISHES ON POLITICS IN ‘FOOD FOR THOUGHT’ TV SHOW via Suzy Fleming Leonard of FLORIDA TODAY – Lori Halbert wants to bring civility back to politics, one meal at a time. After five years of cooking up tempting topics on her “Political Food For Thought” for Florida television audiences, she’s ready to take the show to Washington … Lori cooked with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the pilot for the new season. Other people from the national political arena have expressed an interest in participating … By combining two of her loves — cooking and politics — Lori wants to open the kitchen to delicious meals as well as bipartisan conversations about issues that affect us all, regardless of party affiliations.

DAVE ARONBERG’S WIFE FILES FOR DIVORCE via Gossip Extra — The wife of Palm Beach County State Attorney Aronberg filed for divorce earlier … citing irreconcilable differences after just 21 months of marriage. Lynn Aronberg, a public relations maven and event planner, confirmed she put in the paperwork …. at the West Palm Beach courthouse. The petition … won’t be made public until Monday. Lynn Aronberg cited two reasons — her desire to have a child and politics — as issues. Dave, 45, and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Lynn, 36, were engaged while visiting Paris in December 2014. They were married the following May before family and friends on the sand of St. Pete Beach. …Through his spokesman, Dave said: “Lynn is a good person and I wish her a great future, and know this will be resolved privately between the two of us.”

ROGER STONE TO GET NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY via Gregg Kilday of the Hollywood Reporter – A new documentary about Stone, the political consultant and Trump supporter, is heading to Netflix, which will launch it globally this spring. The film, titled Get Me Roger Stone, directed by Morgan PehmeDaniel DiMauro and Dylan Bank, is also scheduled to have its world premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the man who is seemingly everywhere: Stephen Gately.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 03.03.17

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

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

THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE

Session is coming, and Floridians are sounding off on some of the issues lawmakers could be taking up in the days and weeks ahead.

Think Floridians are clamoring for open carry? Think again. Reducing the tax on business rents might be a killer campaign promise, but few Floridians seem to support it. A tax they would like to see disappear? The tampon tax. And most Floridians are giving a thumbs up to proposals prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

With just one week before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session, the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the Universty of North Florida surveyed Floridians on several policy and tax issues likely facing the Legislature this session.

The statewide poll of 972 registered voters was conducted by phone from Feb. 13 through Feb. 26. It has a margin of error of 3.14 percent.

So what did the survey find? Well let’s start with this: Floridians are pretty much split in what they think of the Florida Legislature. The poll found 40 percent disapproved, while 39 percent approved of the work the legislative branch it was doing. Another 21 percent of respondents said they just didn’t know.

So when it comes to the work at hand this coming session, what exactly do Floridians want? Here’s five takeaways from the recent University of North Florida poll:

Divert business rent tax to public universities

Reducing the business rent tax is an oft-mentioned priority for Gov. Rick Scott and many in the Florida Legislature. Florida is the only state in the country that has the tax, and officials say getting rid of the tax would be an economic driver.

It seems like the average Floridian, though, is giving that idea a big, old thumbs down. When asked by UNF pollsters whether they would rather have Florida “reduce the corporate lease tax” or “not reduce the tax and dedicate that money to public universities,” 44 percent of respondents said they would like the money be dedicated to public universities. Another 33 percent of said they would rather the Legislature “not reduce the tax and dedicate that money to improving infrastructure.”

Just 13 percent said they would like to see the corporate lease tax reduced.

End the tampon tax

A majority of Floridians say they support making feminine hygiene products tax exempt, according to the University of Florida poll.

A bill moving through the Florida Senate would make end eliminate the so-called tampon tax, making the Sunshine State one of just a few states in the country to make feminine products tax exempt. The quickly cleared its first two committee stops, and could be heard in the coming weeks in the full Appropriations Committee.

The UNF poll found 60 percent of Floridians supported ending the tax, while 28 percent opposed it. Another 13 percent of respondents said they didn’t know.

Little support for campus carry

When it comes to allowing concealed weapons on college and university campuses, Floridians appear to want lawmakers to just say no.

The UNF poll found 62 percent of Floridians said they opposed allowing licensed individuals from carrying concealed handguns into a college or university facility. Perhaps even more startling: 48 percent of respondents said they strongly opposed the idea. The poll found 35 percent of respondents said they supported campus carry.

Floridians also appear to be opposed to allowing the open carry, except under certain circumstances. When asked how they felt about “allowing licensed individuals to openly carry a handgun in Florida except in police stations, prisons, courthouses, schools, athletic events and establishments that dispense alcohol,” 53 percent said they opposed that idea.

The survey did, however, show that Floridians don’t want to see assault weapon ban put in place, with 50 percent saying they were opposed to that idea. Forty-six percent of respondents supported a ban.

More money for the environment

Show us the money!

That seems to be what Floridians think needs to happen when it comes to spending on protecting Florida’s environment. When asked, 55 percent of registered voters said “Florida should be spending more resources on protecting the environment,” while 27 percent said the state was spending just the right amount of money.

“Despite the fact that Floridians don’t consider environmental issues to be among the most important problems facing the state, a clear majority want the government to allocate more resources to protecting our natural environment,” said Josh Gellers, UNF assistant professor of political science, in a statement.

Four percent of respondents said they thought the Sunshine State should be spending less when it comes to the protecting the environment.

Floridians oppose discrimination based on gender identity

The UNF poll found 50 percent of Floridians said they support efforts to prohibit “employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity.”

That could be good news for backers of the Florida Competative Workforce Act. Filed in February by Sen. Jeff Clemens, and Reps. Ben Diamond and Rene Plasencia, the proposals look to protect people from discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and accommodations. These protections currently exist only on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, marital or disability status.

“By modernizing our civil rights laws, we can protect our LGBT community from discrimination, and make Florida a more competitive state in the global economy,” said Diamond in a statement at the time. “That is good for our businesses, our workers, and for all Floridians.”

According to the UNF poll, 45 percent of Floridians said they opposed prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

***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***

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS BAN ON OPENLY CARRYING GUNS via The Associated Press – The Florida Supreme Court says there’s nothing wrong with a state law that bans openly carrying handguns. In a 4-2 decision Thursday, the court rejected a claim that the law is unconstitutional because it restricts the federally protected right to bear arms… Florida hasn’t allowed guns to be openly carried in public for decades, although the Legislature is considering bills this year that would grant that right. Similar bills failed last year.

DONALD TRUMP, RICK SCOTT, MARCO RUBIO EXPECTED AT GOP DONOR WEEKEND IN PALM BEACH via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – A few hundred people are expected at the Republican National Committee event at the Four Seasons. Trump, who will be spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club, is slated to speak at a dinner tonight. Scott will speak to a Saturday lunch and Rubio to a dinner Saturday.

SCOTT TO INVOKE TRUMP IN FLORIDA HOUSE LEADERHIP FIGHT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – During a Republican National Committee fundraiser in Palm Beach on Friday, Gov. Scott is set to insert President Donald Trump into his messaging and legislative war with the Florida House over taxpayer-funded incentives given to businesses to relocate to Florida. “I’m sure the biggest surprise President Trump will have in his transition from business life to political life is the same surprise I had — the number of people who treat politics as a game,” Scott will say, according to excerpts provided to POLITICO Florida. “We have some in Florida’s Republican House right now that are trying to get rid of our jobs agency and our tourism agency.”

HOUSE BILL TO KILL ENTERPRISE FLORIDA INCLUDES LESSER KNOWN PROVISION CUTTING NEARLY $300M IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The House bill, HB 7005, includes language that would send $289 million in economic development cash to the state’s general revenue fund, meaning the money could be used for anything — not solely traditional economic development activities. The measure faces a huge hurdle in Scott, a vocal advocate of economic development spending to lure businesses to the state, but underscores the multiple avenues with which House speaker Corcoran can use to try and take a baseball bat to the swath of budget real estate Scott most covets. The biggest shift to general revenue funding comes with the elimination of three trust funds, the most significant of which is the State Economic Enhancement and Development, or SEED, trust fund. The current budget uses roughly $160 million from the trust fund, which at the end of the 2016 fiscal year had a $90 million balance.

COURT SUSPENDS JUDGE CONSIDERED BY HOUSE IMPEACHMENT PANEL via Florida Politics – A North Florida judge used as an example by a House panel looking into impeachment of public officials has been suspended for six months by the Florida Supreme Court. The court’s 46-page decision, released Thursday, also orders 3rd Circuit Judge Andrew Decker to get a public reprimand and pay investigative costs. A judicial misconduct hearing panel had recommended the same, but only a 90-day suspension. Decker had been under investigation for three years for alleged attorney-ethical lapses before he was elected a judge in 2012. State Rep. Larry Metz, chair of the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, has been critical of the court for sitting on the case for over a year without taking final action.

***The State of the Taxpayer Dinner — March 8 (6-9 p.m.) — The one event in 2017 you can’t afford to miss. While the annual State of the State address and opening statements of each legislative chamber cover the accomplishments and future of our elected leadership, none specifically highlight the issues affecting taxpayers. This unique event puts the spotlight back on the taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch and Host Committee Chairman Gov. Bob Martinez present the 2017 State of the Taxpayer, the premier event for Florida’s elected leaders to discuss the issues that will impact taxpayers over the next year. The 2017 event welcomes speakers Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sen. Jack Latvala, and Rep. Jim Boyd. Last year’s event sold out and just a few tickets remain for next week’s event – visit floridataxwatch.org/sotd for more info or to purchase tickets.***

JOE NEGRON SAYS FEDS WON’T BACK PLAN TO RAISE WATER LEVELS IN LAKE OKEECHOBEE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — Senate President Joe Negron on Thursday sent a gentle push back against agriculture and other interests who are calling for alternatives to building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the algae-causing discharges…he said he was in Washington, D.C. on Monday and Tuesday and met with Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson… Here’s Negron’s synopsis: “Once the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation is complete in 2024, the Army Corps of Engineers is not committed to storing one more gallon of water in Lake Okeechobee.  The LORS must go through a multi-year review process, with the Corps predicting only negligible modifications to the release schedule.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Kathleen Peters will unveil landmark legislation to protect and restore Florida’s beaches during a press conference at 4 p.m. at Lowdermilk Beach Park, 1301 Gulfshore Boulevard North in Naples.

AIF ANNOUNCES 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION PRIORITIES via Florida Politics – Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) on Thursday released its “2017 Session Priorities” publication, outlining its legislative agenda on behalf of its members for the 2017 Legislative Session. “As the collective voice of businesses from the Panhandle to the Keys, …we are proud to continue the fight to protect Florida’s job creators,” AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney said. “Each year, Florida’s business community faces a variety of tough issues and this year will be no exception.” … The business lobby expects to see numerous legislative proposals that revolve around Gov. Rick Scott’s $83.5 billion budget proposal for FY 2017-18, including $618 million in tax cuts and $85 million for economic incentives to businesses.

SADOWSKI COALITION SEEKS FULL FUNDING FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN STATE BUDGET via Florida Politics – Affordable housing advocates urged the Legislature Thursday to spend all of the state’s dedicated housing money for its intended purpose, saying that more than 910,000 Floridians pay more than half their income for shelter. Representatives of the Sadowski Housing Coalition … appeared during a news conference to make their case. One doesn’t even need to be poor to have trouble arranging shelter. In Collier County, for example, the rent is too high for some people in well-paying professions including nursing. “If a person is making what you consider to be a good income here in Tallahassee, where they might be able to find housing fairly easily, they’re not able to with that same profession in Collier County,” said Jaimie Ross, president and CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition, a member of the Sadowski Coalition.

DEFY ME AND I’LL JAIL YOU, JUDGE IN FACEBOOK LIVE HANGING CASE TELLS LAWYER via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald – A Miami child welfare judge is threatening to jail a lawyer for the Florida Department of Children & Families, suggesting in a strongly worded order that agency attorneys lied to her about the welfare of foster children who may have witnessed a teenager hanging herself at their Miami Garden’s foster home. The suicide was live-streamed on Facebook. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia ordered Clarissa Cabreja, the state’s regional child welfare legal director, to appear before her March 8. More generally, the order requires “CLS,” a reference to DCF’s Children’s Legal Services, to appear in court “to show cause why they should not be held in indirect civil contempt of court.” In her order, Sampedro-Iglesia, who heads the court’s child welfare division, wrote that the failure of Cabreja “to appear at the hearing may result in the court issuing a writ of bodily attachment for your arrest. If you are arrested,” Sampedro-Iglesia added, “you may be held in jail up to 48 hours before a hearing is held.” The warning was written entirely in uppercase lettering.

REVIEW OF 250 REPORTS BY DCF INVESTIGATORS ACCUSED OF LYING SHOWS 40 PERCENT FALSIFIED via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – Caseworkers at the Florida Department of Children and Families are being forced to shoulder nearly unbelievable workloads, leading some to falsify records … A single child protection investigator in the (DCF) had at one point 32 cases with 77 accompanying children. the average caseload for DCF investigators is currently between 18 to 21. The state agency tasked with overseeing child welfare in the Sunshine State gave the ABC News Channel 9 Investigates team – which carried out an examination of DCF employee record falsifications … records indicating 59 employees had been terminated since sometime in 2014. One former DCF investigator … had 34 cases at one time during a particularly busy point before he was arrested for falsifying reports in portions of some of his investigations. At the time of the arrest, he told Jones, there were 24 open cases involving 36 children.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Jim BoxoldDean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: VE Group

Matt Brockelman, Southern Strategy Group: GCM Contracting Solutions

Donovan Brown, GDB Group, Associated Industries of Florida

Larry Cretul, Kirk Pepper, Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Gannett Fleming

Brian Ballard, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: Wendover Housing Partners

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersol & Rooney: Universal City Development Partners, LTD dba Universal Orlando

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Okeechobee Utility Authority

Corrine Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Manny Reyes, Gomez Barker Associates: Miami Dade Citizens for Property Rights

HAPPENING TONIGHT – Quorum, the not-too-political happy hour, returns to St. Petersburg. As one of Tampa Bay’s premier casual networking events, Quorum features candidates, operatives, media and political enthusiasts of all stripes. The get-together will start with 5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres at its customary location: Cassis American Brasserie on Beach Drive. More information is on this Facebook event page.

Sunburn for 3.2.17 – Putnam, Latvala post monster $ totals; Legg not running; CRC picks; Poll has Scott up on Leg.

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

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

ADAM PUTNAM, JACK LATVALA POST MONSTER MONTHLY FUNDRAISING TOTALS

The shadow campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is well underway.

With 544 days until the August 2018 primary, it’s still might be a little too early endless handshaking, baby kissing and everything that goes into retail politicking. (Well unless you are Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the only person officially in the Governor’s race so far.)

But it is never too early for the oft-mentioned likely contenders — including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala — to begin testing the waters, raising a little campaign cash along the way.

And that push to see who can raise the most has already begun, something clearly evident this week when both Putnam and Latvala released February fundraising figures ahead of the March 10 deadline.

In an email Wednesday, Florida Grown chairman Justin Hollis told supporters the political committee, which is expected to fuel Putnam’s gubernatorial bid, raised more than $2.25 million in February. If accurate, that would be one of the largest monthly fundraising totals posted by the committee since it was created in 2015.

Florida Grown does post contribution data on its website; and according to the site, the committee raised at least $538,170 between Feb. 1 and Feb. 16. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, the committee hadn’t listed contributions covering the final 12 days of the month.

Latvala’s committee is also touting a strong February. According to contribution data posted to its website this week, Florida Leadership Committee raised at least $870,083 during the one-month period. Campaign insiders expect the sum to be more than $1 million when final numbers are calculated and reported to the state later this month.

A prolific fundraiser, the February numbers would also mark one of the largest month fundraising totals the committee has reported since 2013. By comparison, the committee raised $487,625 in February 2015.

If Putnam and Latvala can raise this much money in just 28 days, how much can they pull in as the months get longer and the anticipation greater?

HOW ANDREW GILLUM’S ROLLOUT PLAYED – Palm Beach PostTallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: ‘I’m running for governor’ – “Gillum posted on Facebook … with a link to his video, which stresses his upbringing as the son of a municipal bus driver.” Washington PostThe 2018 Florida governor’s race just got its first serious candidate– “Gillum plans to pitch himself as the progressive in the primary race.” South Florida Sun-SentinelAndrew Gillum declares candidacy, Donald Trump gives coherent speech – “’Bring it home’ … one part biography, one part inspiration and a complete attempt to hit sentimental voters right in the feels.” Sunshine State NewsAndrew Gillum Officially Declares Run for Governor – “Gillum’s campaign has already faced bumps in the road, since the video was professionally produced before he officially filed for governor … Under Florida law, candidates cannot accept potential contributions until they’ve opened a campaign account.” Orlando SentinelAndrew Gillum says he’ll run for governor in 2018 – “But Gillum, who was elected mayor in 2014, comes from the state’s isolated capital city, nestled in a sparsely populated news media market.”  Orlando WeeklyTallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum is running for Florida governor – “Nothing about my background suggest[s] I should even dream, let alone think about running for Governor. And yet, here we are.” Miami HeraldTallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum to announce for Florida governor – “Gillum … has been viewed as a rising star in a party that is clamoring for relevance after Donald Trump’s win in November.”

GILLUM’S LAUNCH VIDEO (Click on the image below to watch the vid):

RGA DEMANDS GILLUM DISCLOSE ENTIRETY OF IMPROPER CAMPAIGN EMAILS via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The Republican Governors Association wasted no time in its counterstrike on Tallahassee Mayor and new Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum … after it was discovered he used city email to conduct campaign business … the RGA hit back at Gillum, filing a public records request to find out just how many times Gillum had improperly communicated using a campaign email address on taxpayers’ dime. The request comes after the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Gillum had used city tax dollars to blast out emails for his newly-minted gubernatorial campaign. One email included Gillum’s campaign logo and campaign post office box address. Another included an invitation to an event featuring former Vice President Joe Biden in Tallahassee.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will speak at the Palm Beach Democratic Party Meeting at 7 p.m. at the S. County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road in Delray Beach.

SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES OPPOSE LENNY CURRY FOR CFO JOB OVER LGBTQ PROTECTION via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Family Policy Council … told its members to call Gov. Scott and demand he stop considering Jacksonville Republican Mayor Curry for the CFO’s job … Their opposition has nothing to do with financial experience. The council has advocated loudly against rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Florida, and that’s why they oppose Curry’s possible appointment. As mayor, Curry last month allowed an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBTQ residents to go into effect in Jacksonville. But there’s more to the story than just that. “Lenny’s refusal to veto the deceptive and unconstitutional “Human Rights Ordinance” (HRO) in Jacksonville puts women and children in danger by allowing men to use women’s showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms in domestic violence shelters and in other nonprofit charities with residential facilities,” the council, headed by attorney John Stemberger, wrote in a call to action for its members.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Business. Bright House Networks Business Solutions is now Spectrum Business, and we are committed to delivering your business with superior business Internet, Phone, and TV services to help power your success. We offer the best value in business with the fastest Internet for the price, advanced phone with unlimited long distance, cloud-based Hosted Voice and reliable TV – all delivered over our reliable, state-of-the-art, fiber-rich network.  Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Spectrum Business. Learn more.***

IT’S OFFICIAL: JOHN LEGG NOT RUNNING IN 2018 via Florida Politics – “After 12 years my family and I need a break,” he said. “Also, I am enjoying working on education issues and innovation both national and statewide. I feel like I can make a bigger difference in education right now outside of the Florida Legislature. However, that may change in time.” Many pondered whether Legg was considering in 2018 in Senate District 16, the seat currently held by Sen. Jack Latvala. Legg backed during the contentious leadership battle, and Legg indicated in the past the north Pinellas seat was one of several options he had been considering. But Legg said there is no state race in his immediate future, saying “we are not running in 2018.”

HAPPENING TONIGHT:

DAVID SMITH FILES TO RUN IN HD 28 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Smith, 56, of Winter Springs, is a retired Marine Corps colonel and former director of the Marines simulation and modeling center in the University of Central Florida’s Research Park. He ran against then-U.S. Rep. John Mica in the 2014 Republican primary, finishing second … Smith is the second candidate to enter the race for [JasonBrodeur’s seat, following 19-year-old Devin Guillermo Perez, a Democrat.

2 PINELLAS REPUBLICANS ANNOUNCE 2018 HD 66 RACES – Pinellas County Republican Party chairman Nick DiCeglie confirmed he will be running for the House District 66 seat in 2018, and will make a formal announcement sometime this spring …  The seat is currently occupied by Larry Ahern, who is term limited out in 2018. The news comes as another Republican, former Pinellas County assistant state attorney Berny Jacques, announced that he is running for the HD 66 seat next year. Jacques works in private practice with the St. Petersburg law firm of Berkowitz and Myer.

VANCE ALOUPIS FILES TO RUN FOR HD 115 SEAT – Aloupis, CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, has filed to run for the seat held by Rep. Michael Bileca, who will be term-limited. Aloupis, 33, practiced law for several years after graduating from the University of Miami and the University Miami School of Law … In 2010, he joined The Children’s Movement, where he now serves as the CEO. Through his leadership, Aloupis has built support for smart investments in early education and common sense policies that will ensure a competitive workforce in Florida.

FORMER LAWMAKERS REGGIE FULLWOOD, DWIGHT BULLARD FINED FOR CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS via Florida Politics –The Florida Elections Commission found Tuesday that former state Rep. Reggie Fullwood had committed 17 violations of Florida’s campaign financial disclosure rules and fined him $1,000 on each count. … The case involved failure to disclose more than $17,000 in contributions to Fullwood’s 2014 campaign, and contributions worth more than $13,000.  Additionally, his bank records showed $2,600 in expenditures not reflected in his campaign documents, according to the commission’s legal staff. … Fullwood did not appear during the hearing. On Feb. 7, he was sentenced to time served and house arrest on federal wire fraud and tax charges. Also on Tuesday, the commission imposed a $1,000 fine on former state Sen. Dwight Bullard for failure to file a campaign disclosure form on time. Bullard also skipped the hearing.

***The State of the Taxpayer Dinner — March 8 (6-9 p.m.) — The one event in 2017 you can’t afford to miss. While the annual State of the State address and opening statements of each legislative chamber cover the accomplishments and future of our elected leadership, none specifically highlight the issues affecting taxpayers. This unique event puts the spotlight back on the taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch and Host Committee Chairman Gov. Bob Martinez present the 2017 State of the Taxpayer, the premier event for Florida’s elected leaders to discuss the issues that will impact taxpayers over the next year. The 2017 event welcomes speakers Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sen. Jack Latvala, and Rep. Jim Boyd. Last year’s event sold out and just a few tickets remain for next week’s event – visit floridataxwatch.org/sotd for more info or to purchase tickets.***

FIRST ON FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM – RICK SCOTT PICKS CARLOS BERUFF AS CRC CHAIRMAN; JEFF WOODBURN NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott announced Wednesday that Beruff, the Manatee Republican homebuilder who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016, will serve as chairman of the Constitution Revision Commission. “My goal for the CRC is to fight for policies that will ensure a strong future for Florida and I know Carlos also shares this vision,” he said in a statement. “As we undertake this historic review, I am hopeful that this Commission will propose policies that build a legacy upon which the families and businesses in our great state will thrive for generations to come.” … Scott tapped​ Woodburn, currently the Policy Director in the Executive Office of the Governor, as the executive director.

HEARING that among Scott’s 15 picks for the CRC will be Tim Cerio, Brecht Heuchan, and former Rep. Jimmy Patronis.

ARTHENIA JOYNER VOWS TO FIGHT JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS via Jim Ash of WFSU – On  the Constitution Revision Commission … [RichardCorcoran’s lieutenants are expected to push judicial term limits, but newly appointed Commissioner Joyner will fight it every step of the way. “I have always believed in the three, independent separate branches of government and the court’s job is to interpret the laws and that’s what they do. And I will stand up for that because that’s why we have this great system of checks and balances.”

OFF EMBARGO – POLL: SCOTT MORE POPULAR THAN THE LEGISLATURE – As Gov. Scott steels himself for a Session showdown with the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature, he got some good news from a new poll. A University of North Florida survey shows that, among registered voters in Florida, Scott is more popular than the legislative branch. 46 percent of those surveyed approve of Scott, with 40 percent disapproving. Scott’s strength is with Republicans, according to the UNF poll; 74 percent approve of the Governor, compared to 24 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of NPAs. Meanwhile, the Legislature sees that same mark of disapproval, but only 39 percent approval. The approval numbers for the Legislature, asserted UNF polling director Michael Binder, were a “surprise … a very positive number for them compared to most polling on Congress.”

FLORIDA INSIDER POLL PREDICTS RICHARD CORCORAN TO DOMINATE STATE POLITICS FOR NEXT TWO MONTHS via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – As we head into another legislative session … Corcoran looms over virtually other public official in the state. In a Florida Insider Poll of nearly 180 of the state’s most experienced and plugged-in political players, a whopping 71 percent predicted the 51-year-old Land O’Lakes Republican would dominate the session, while only 12 percent touted Gov. Scott and 9 percent Senate President Negron … Given the overt animosity between Scott and Corcoran and with both men interested in running for statewide office in 2018, the Florida Insiders are highly pessimistic about what’s in store.

SMELLS LIKE AN OPPO DUMP FROM GOV’S SHOP – HOUSE MEMBER OPPOSES STATE BUSINESS INCENTIVES — BUT GOT PUBLIC DOLLARS FOR JOB CREATION via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – State Rep. Alex Miller has joined House leaders in opposing Gov. Scott’s push for giving taxpayer-funded incentives for businesses statewide, even though the Sarasota lawmaker’s own company has taken advantage of a county grant for creating a few dozen new local jobs. In 2013, Mercedes Medical, a Sarasota-based medical device company run by Miller, who is CEO, was awarded an economic development grant of up to $111,000 by neighboring Manatee County. Her company is eligible to get the full funding if it achieves certain performance metrics, including the creation of 47 jobs. The company is currently in the middle of that deal, which was finalized in February 2014. “Let me just say, I have no problem with incentives,” she [said]. “I put my business owner hat on and I do what is right for my employees and shareholders, and I will take incentives because it helps my company … When I put my state representative hat on, I have to do what is in the best interest of the state.”

***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.***

SENATE: HIGHER WORKERS’ COMP RATES HERE TO STAY via Jim Ash of WUSF – Republican Rob Bradley of Fleming Island says his goal is rate stabilization. Employer groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce are demanding action after rates soared 14.5 percent in December in the wake of recent Florida Supreme Court decisions. But Bradley says the Senate is unwilling to cut health benefits, and rate reductions are too much to expect. “Our workers’ comp system is kind of middle of the pack when it comes to the rate levels and they’ve been reduced significantly over the years.”

JEFF BRANDES PUSHES FOR SWEEPING BUSINESS DEREGULATION via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Jeff Brandes is trying for the second year in a row to remove or reduce a series of regulations on industries like architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Under a bill Brandes plans to file this week, interior design and architecture firms would no longer have to re-certify businesses on a biennial basis. Instead, the businesses would be required to report any changes as they occur and remain in compliance with other applicable state laws following staffing changes. Branch offices for yacht and shipbrokers would no longer require separate licensing under Brandes’ bill. Instead, those offices would operate under the company’s license. Another provision deregulates athlete agents and removes penalties for acting as a business agent without a license or permit. The bill would also remove licensing requirements for certain cosmetic services including polishing fingernails and hair or body wrapping.

GEORGE GAINER WARY OF HOUSE TRIUMPH BILL via Tom McLaughlin of the Panama City News-Herald – An amendment to a proposed Florida House bill would eliminate one aspect of oversight for the Triumph Gulf Coast board selected to allocate Northwest Florida’s share of BP funds. But the same amendment, put forth by Rep. Jay Trumbull … would allow the board “to provide grants to Visit Florida to promote tourism.” State Sen. Gainer said he’s been left in the dark by Northwest Florida House members about why a provision added to the proposed bill included any mention of Visit Florida. “Why would Visit Florida not be good enough to receive funding from the state of Florida, but putting BP money into it would be more acceptable?” Gainer asked last week after Trumbull introduced the concept of Visit Florida grants at a Select Committee meeting.

DOROTY HUKILL WANTS STUDY OF SCHOOL FUNDING via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools  – Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who heads the Senate Education Committee, filed legislation that would instruct the Office of Program Analysis and Government Accountability to conduct a study of a component of the state’s K-12 education funding formula. The proposal (SB 1394) would require a study of what is known as the “district cost differential” — long an issue in the state’s formula for distributing money to school districts … The district cost differential is designed to consider variances in costs of living across the state, but critics have questioned its fairness.

GREG STEUBE FILES ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CRIMINALIZATION MEASURE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The bill … would create a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. The proposal would apply to anyone who “is denied admission to, is excluded, deported or removed from, or who departs the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding and thereafter enters or is at any time found in the state.” It creates an exception for those who can show that the federal government “consents to his or her admission or the person can establish that federal law does not require advance consent,” the bill says.

NURSING EDUCATION BILL STARTS MOVING IN HOUSE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools  – Republican Rep. Cary Pigman and Sen. Denise Grimsley are again carrying legislation (HB 543 and SB 328) to address “problem” nursing programs. When Grimsley was still in the House in 2009, she successfully started a process to increase the number of nursing schools and slots in nursing schools in response to a growing looming nursing shortage with HB 1209. The committee agreed to pass Pigman’s new bill which, among several provisions, prevents nursing programs terminated by the Board of Nursing from reapplying for approval for three years and requires programs put on probation to notify its students and applicants of its status in writing. Grimsley’s similar bill has yet to get a committee hearing.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:Rep. Bob Cortes; Sen. Victor TorresAnthony Suarez, President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida and others will convene at Acacia-Centro Borinqueño to announce a joint resolution acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the Jones Act, which granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship in 1917. Event begins 1 p.m. at 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***

FEDS MAY NOT HAVE APPROVED NEW SEMINOLE COMPACT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The nation’s top Indian gambling regulator last year told the Seminole Tribe of Florida that the federal government would be “hard-pressed” to approve its new blackjack agreement with the state. The Tribe disclosed the June 2016 letter from Paula L. Hart, director of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Indian Gaming, as an attachment to its own letter this week to Gov. Scott and legislative leaders. The Hart letter also confirmed a warning that Barry Richard, the tribe’s outside counsel, gave three years ago. The Interior Department later interpreted the law to mean that a tribe may give a cut to a state in return for exclusive rights to a game, but the amount a tribe pays has to be a “fair value” for the exclusivity it’s getting, he said.

SEMINOLE TRIBE LETTER: BOTH GAMING BILLS STINK via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist – In a letter addressed to Gov. Scott, Senate President Negron, and House Speaker Corcoran, the Seminole Tribe of Florida says that neither the House nor Senate gaming bills are acceptable. “While the Tribe appreciates the efforts that have been devoted to developing these proposals, neither would satisfy the requirements of federal law, nor satisfy fundamental tribal concerns,” wrote Marcellus Osceola, Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe … both the House and Senate bills would require “dramatic increases in the Tribes payments” to the state “without providing increases in the Tribe’s exclusivity” that would justify the higher revenue payments. Under the current Compact, negotiated by Governor Rick Scott in 2015, the Tribe agreed to pay the State of Florida up to $3 billion over seven years. But the Florida Legislature declined to ratify that agreement. The letter also asserts that the House bill is “less objectionable” than the Senate bill in that it does not propose any new exceptions to the Tribe’s exclusivity agreements, and the Tribe claims that the Senate bill represents an expansion of gaming.

TRIBE BUYS FORMER TRUMP TAJ MAHAL CASINO IN NJ via Florida Politics – The Seminole Tribe of Florida is expanding its gambling holdings to the Garden State. Hard Rock International, which the Tribe controls, Wednesday announced it had bought the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino on Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk from billionaire Carl Icahn. The deal includes two New Jersey investors. The sale comes four months after Icahn closed it amid a crippling strike. A sale price was not disclosed. President Donald Trump opened the casino in 1990 but lost control of it in a bankruptcy filing.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Sadowski Housing Coalition will hold a press conference to call on the Florida Legislature to appropriate all housing trust fund dollars for housing in fiscal 2017-18 at 10:30 a.m. at the Florida Realtors Office, 200 S. Monroe Street in Tallahassee.

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT BUILDING EIGHT NEW SOLAR PLANTS via Florida Politics – FPL expects plants in Alachua, Putnam, Indian River and DeSoto counties to be completed by the end of 2017, with plants in Brevard, Hendry, St. Lucie counties and a second plant in Indian River County scheduled to come online by March 1, 2018. The company said the new plants will cost $900 million to build and will use 2.5 million solar panels. Once completed, FPL said the plants will generate enough energy to power about 120,000 homes, saving customers an estimated $39 million over their lifetime. The plan was lauded by environmental groups The Nature Conservatory and Audubon Florida as well as from economic development agencies and local politicians from the areas where the plants are being built.

STATE AGENTS ARREST INSURANCE COMPANY MANAGER FOR ALLEGED $1M FRAUD via Florida Politics – An investigation by the state Division of Investigative and Forensic Services has resulted in the arrest of an insurance company manager for allegedly defrauding her employer of more than $1 million. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater identified the accused as Jennifer Summerlott, an accounts-payable and commercial lines manager for Fairway Insurance Group LLC of Fort Lauderdale. … Summerlott used fake invoices to generate checks tied to Fairway’s company account, which she diverted to her private account, Atwater said.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Thur., 3/2/17 Gainesville Infant Circumcision Protesters”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians.  PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more.***

FIRST IN SUNBURN – UBER TO OFFER FREE RIDES TO, FROM AIF PRE-SESSION PARTY — Uber is once again partnering with Associated Industries of Florida to offer free rides (up to $10) to and from the AIF pre-session reception on Monday, March 6. The promotion isn’t open to public officials and employees Uber riders just have to enter the promo code AIF2017 to redeem the offer. The promotion expires on March 7.

APPOINTEDJose “Ernie” MartinezThomas DeLillaAndree AubreyFrank CherryRobert CoxSara GaverTasha TurnerNicole Attong and Whitney Harris to the Florida Independent Living Council.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Anita BerryMatt BlairMichael CorcoranJeffrey JohnstonAmanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Southeast QSR, LLC

Taylor Patrick Biehl, Capitol Alliance Group: Codio Ltd.; Medishine Resources LLC, Made in Space Inc.

Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Florida International University Foundation

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Galt View Apartments, Inc; Regency Tower Association, Inc.; Shore Drive Apartments Inc.

Dean Cannon, Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: The Florida Bar, Tax Section

James Card, Larry J. Overton & Associates: DentaQuest

David Childs, Hopping Green & Sams: Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida

Jon Costello, Diana Ferguson, Rutledge Ecenia: The Humane Society of the United States

Carlos Cruz, Cruz & Company: Association for Accessible Medicines

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith, Inc: City of Mount Dora; The Trust for Public Land

David Ericks, Ericks Consultants: Quidel Corporation

Christopher Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: Arcadia Healthcare Company; Florida Harbor Pilots Association, Inc.; Veyo

John Forehand, Kurkin Brandes: Pompano Imports, Inc; South Motor Company of Dade County

Thomas Griffin, Smith BryAn & Myers: Health Network One/HN1

James Hamilton, HBEC Group: Florida Association of School Administrators; Santa Rosa County School District; School Board of Escambia County

BILL Helmich, Helmich Consulting: OUR MicroLending

Doug Holder, The Legis Group: Duke Energy Florida, Inc.

Jessica JanasiewiczGary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Frank MayernickTracy MayernickRob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Columbia Care, LLC

Seth McKeel, Southern Strategy Group: City of Lakeland; Dex Imaging Inc.

Georgia McKeown, GA McKeown & Associates: Global Automakers

Chris Moya, Jones Walker: Florida House Experience

Jack Eugene Nicholson, Catastrophe Risk Consultings: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Peter Murray, Colodny Fass: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Ron PierceEdward BriggsNatalie King, RSA Consulting Group: Mobilitie Services, LLC

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: Renovate America, Inc.

Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Dex Imaging Inc.

William Rubin, The Rubin Group: Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc.; Argus Dental & Vision, Inc.;

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: City of Hollywood

Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: DeLucca Enterprises

Jeff Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: Made in Space; Medishine Resources LLC

Chris Snow, Snow Strategies: All American Kids PPEC, LLC

James Randolph Spratt: CAS Governmental Services: Florida Federation of Fairs

Craig Deron Varn, Manson Bolves Donaldson: Plants of Ruskin

Cameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Collective medical technologies

SPOTTED: #SuitsForSession collection boxes starting to pop up at agencies and associations downtown to collect clothing in preparation for the big day on March 15. Learn more here and don’t forget to donate on March 15.

***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 at cqrcengage.com/ahcafl.***

SPEAKING IN TALLAHASSEETIMOTHY GEITHNER SEES POLITICAL GRIDLOCK AS A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES via Florida Politics – The biggest danger to the United States and its economy is the breakdown of the political system in Washington, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in Tallahassee Wednesday. “Nothing is more important than improving the quality of the decisions you get in Washington,” Geithner told members of the Economic Club of Florida during a luncheon. … “We have no capacity to think about those other threats from outside without taking care first of that fundamental part of the American system,” he said.

BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS THE OLD ATTRACTIONS OF FLORIDA, DISAPPEARING FAST via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s version of Stonehenge, the Airstream Ranch, was being torn down. The Airstream Ranch, a line of shiny silver travel trailers buried nose down in the dirt like the famed Cadillac Ranch out west, was one of those classically kitschy Florida attractions. Now, Matt Strollo of RV Superstores, which owns the property, says it’s time to replace the Airstream Ranch with a 17,000-square-foot Airstream dealership. The dealership’s footprint, says Strollo, made saving the display impossible. A few of the old classics are still around, like the Monkey Jungle in Miami and Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs. Some became state parks, such as Weeki Wachee Springs, which makes Florida the only state where the list of government jobs includes “mermaid.” With the price of Disney tickets skyrocketing, maybe we’ll get some of the old ones back soon.

SEAWORLD POSTS $12 MILLION LOSS AMID ATTENDANCE DROP via the Tampa Bay Times – The Orlando-based company lost $11.9 million in the last quarter of 2016, up from $11 million lost in the fourth quarter of 2015. Overall, fourth quarter attendance was down by about 30,000 visitors, or just under 1 percent, with the company attributing the decline to the impact of Hurricane Matthew in October and a drop in international attendance.

STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL KICKS OFF via Jon Wilson of the Tampa Bay Reporter – Running through March 12, the festival will once again be held on the event’s property at  2209 Oak Ave. in Plant City and feature 24 headline entertainment artists, a midway, youth livestock shows and plenty of strawberry shortcake. Gates will open daily at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. with admission costing $10 for ages 13 and over and $5 for children ages 6-12. Children under five get in for free with a paid adult admission. Festival-goers can purchase discounted admission tickets in advance at select Publix grocery stores. The theme for this year’s festival is “We’re Playing Your Song” and Drew Knottswill serve as the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Florida Hospital’s David Christian, smart guy Ralph Lair, Adrianna Sekula, Sally West, and our contributors Roseanne Dunkelberger and Steve Kurlander. Celebrating today are Rep. Manny Diaz and our courageous friend and fraternity brother James Miller.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 02.28.17

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

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

‘BEST OF WIVES AND BEST OF WOMEN’

Happiest of birthdays to my beloved wife, Michelle. It was six years ago today that a toast on a pirate ship — remember Anthony Pedicini? — led to our fairytale life.

A devoted mother and wife, Michelle makes every day for Ella Joyce and I seem magical, whether it be a perfectly prepared themed-lunch for Ella or the perfectly considered piece of advice for me. Smart, beautiful, elegant, vivacious, thoughtful, generous, devoted … Michelle is all of these and more.

There is a line from the musical ‘Hamilton’ which, in its simplicity, captures how I feel about about Michelle. She’s the “best of wives and women.” I’m no Alexander, but she is certainly both my Eliza and Angelica.

Happy birthday, love of my life.

PROGRAMMING NOTE – Sunburn will be off tomorrow so that I can devote all my time to helping Michelle enjoy her birthday cake.

Now, let’s lead today’s Sunburn with a report from one of my and Michelle’s best friends in the world of journalism, Brendan Farrington…

LEGISLATURE AT WAR WITH THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

The Republican-dominated Legislature’s tense relationship with the state Supreme Court is hanging over this year’s legislative session as lawmakers take up two bills to deal with the aftermath of court rulings that Republicans don’t like.

One of them is a fix to the state’s death penalty rules and the other a revision of the “stand your ground” law to better protect defendants claiming self-defense.

It’s no surprise that two other bills are seen as a shot back at the court – a proposal to limit justices’ terms to 12 years and a bill that would require them to file reports to the governor and Legislature on the timeliness of their decisions.

One of House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s priorities this session is to “reign in” the Supreme Court, which he said is trying to serve as two branches of government by writing laws.

“You see decision after decision after decision where courts are legislating from the bench,” Corcoran said.

Of the 2,300 or so bills before the Legislature, House Bill 1 would ask voters to change the state constitution to set 12-year term limits for Supreme Court and state appeals court judges. The fact that it’s the lowest numbered bill is symbolic of its importance to Corcoran.

“Nobody should have an office for life,” Corcoran said.

… For the second year in a row, lawmakers are trying to fix the state’s death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016 declared the state’s death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges to make the ultimate decision. The Legislature responded by overhauling the law to allow the death penalty be imposed by at least a 10-2 jury vote.

In October, however, the state Supreme Court voted 5-2 to strike down the new law and require unanimous jury decisions for capital punishment – a decision Corcoran said created upheaval throughout the justice system. Bills are ready for votes in the House and Senate that would require unanimous decisions.

While Republicans are supporting the new death penalty bill, it doesn’t mean they’re happy about being forced to fix the law.

“Do I think the Supreme Court has shown a hostility to the death penalty? Sure. I do, but we have an issue before us,” said Republican Rep. Chris Sprowls, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “The court has made a decision, and we can either ignore that decision and continue to allow paralysis of the system, or we can fix it.”

Another bill addresses a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that states defendants making a “stand your ground” self-defense claim bear the burden of proof during pre-trial hearings. The bill would shift that burden to prosecutors.

Republican Sen. Rob Bradley is sponsoring the bill and he doesn’t hide the fact that Republican lawmakers aren’t fond of the court. He said that tension escalated when the Supreme Court forced lawmakers to give depositions in a lawsuit over the political maps they approved.

“That decision alone has created a real tension between our branches,” said Bradley. “My sense is that they are frustrated by some of the actions they see on the part of our branch. That tension, I don’t think, is unhealthy, but to not acknowledge that there is a tension would be ignoring reality.”

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SPEAKER CHANGES VISIT FLORIDA PLAN AFTER GOP OPPOSITION via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Speaker Corcoran agreed to separate VISIT FLORIDA from a bill that strips taxpayer money from Enterprise Florida and other programs offering corporate incentives he calls wasteful, creating a separate proposal for the tourism agency in the face of GOP opposition. A new bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Renner … would instead carve VISIT FLORIDA into its own proposal, addressing Corcoran’s plan to rein in spending at the tourism agency that many lawmakers and local leaders have praised.

HOUSE MEMBER PROJECTS TOP $2 BILLION via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Members of the Florida House have filed 1,028 appropriations projects bills as of Monday afternoon, and the total currently exceeds $2.15 billion. According to House Rule 5.14, in order for a project to be included in the House budget, it must be filed as a standalone bill, favorably considered in committee, and made with non-recurring appropriations. Forty-five bills have met the minimum requirements for inclusion of the House budget so far. So far, 61 bills request appropriations that were vetoed in previous budgets … Members had to file their appropriations project bill request forms by Feb. 7, 2017, and bills must be filed by the opening day deadline of noon Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

HOUSE FILES SHORT WITNESS LIST FOR LOTTERY TRIAL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The House of Representatives’ in-house lawyer also plans to call just two witnesses at trial in Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s lawsuit against the Florida Lottery. House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum … listed JoAnne Leznoff, staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, and Bruce Topp, budget chief for the Government Operation and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. Leznoff, among other things, will testify as to the history of the Lottery’s budget requests, while Topp will talk about the agency’s “fiscal policy” and “communications” between House and Lottery staff about the IGT contract.

BTW – SEMINOLES PAID $40 MILLION IN BLACKJACK SHARE SO FAR THIS YEAR via Florida Politics – Despite ongoing litigation over its right to offer blackjack, the Seminole Tribe of Florida continues to pay gambling revenue share to the state, a total of nearly $40 million for the first two months of the year. Stephen Lawson, spokesman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Monday said the Tribe had deposited the money to cover January and February. The department regulates gambling in the state. The money will go into the state’s General Revenue Fund, Lawson previously said.

FRANCHISE BILL GETS HOUSE COMPANION via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Rep. Jason Brodeur filed HB 1069, a companion bill to one by Sen. Jack Latvala that would make it harder to terminate contracts with franchise owners. The bill would also ease restrictions on franchise owners that prevent them from selling or transferring stores without the approval of national chains. “I want to be sure that there is a level playing field for all business owners in Florida, whether they are a small independent shop or a franchisee,” Brodeur said in a statement.

NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @ProtectFLBiz

LAWMAKERS BRING BACK BILL TO REFORM HOW JUVENILES ARE TRIED AS ADULTS via Laura Morel of the Tampa Bay Times – State Sen. Darryl Rouson … a co-sponsor of this year’s SB 192, said he is optimistic the measure will move forward this time given the shift in valuing rehabilitation over punishment. “This is a good climate to discuss criminal justice reform,” he said. “I think there’s been a realization that during the 80s we had a lock-them-up mentality and attitude that has not resulted in lower recidivism.” A companion bill has not been filed. Rouson said he is in discussions with a few representatives. Rep. Sprowls … said the measure will be looked at once the House version is filed. “The topic of the juvenile justice system will be something that the House talks about this year,” he said.

HAPPENING TODAY: “House Speaker, Jack Latvala bring VISIT Florida debate to West Palm Beach” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

WHEN WAS THE ELECTION? Rep. Robert Asencio will hold a ceremonial swearing in ceremony and town hall meeting at 7 p.m. at 8625 SW 124 Avenue in Miami.

CORCORAN, RICK SCOTT STILL HOLDING ON CONSTITUTIONAL PANEL PICKS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Senate President Joe Negron have already announced their combined 12 picks. Corcoran last week said he planned to disclose his nine picks next Monday, the day before Session begins. Scott’s office has not said when he plans to announce his 15 selections. As governor, Scott will choose 15 of the 37 commissioners, and he also selects its chairperson. Corcoran, as House Speaker, gets nine picks, as does Negron as head of the Senate.

MYSTERY WEBSITE URGES SCOTT TO NAME ANITERE FLORES CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER via Florida Politics – A privately registered website is urging Scott to name Flores to replace Jeff Atwater when he resigns as the state’s chief financial offer at the end of the coming legislative session. “Ask Gov. Scott to stand with working class Floridians and appoint Flores as our next CFO!” the site urges. The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers website lists the Flores website’s administrator as private. The site includes a button to push to send Scott an email, and gives his office telephone number.

SCOTT: ‘GREAT TO SEE IVANKA TRUMP LAST NIGHT’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Gov. Scott …  tweeted a photo of him and Ivanka Trumpfrom [Sunday] night’s Governors’ Ball at the White House. Scott, who had lunch with Trump Saturday, remains in Washington.

DONALD TRUMP MAY VISIT ORLANDO, PALM BEACH ON FRIDAY via Mike Stucka of the Palm Beach Post – On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration warned pilots to expect the kinds restrictions around Orlando that typically accompany Trump’s visits: Flight restrictions 0f about 35 miles and an even stricter restriction of about 11 nautical miles. Those restrictions have been a hallmark of Trump’s visits, but not of trips by Vice President Mike Pence.

TRUMP AND THE MANSION THAT NO ONE WANTED. THEN CAME A RUSSIAN FERTILIZER KING via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald – The fog of political war has made it difficult to tell the real from the shadow. Except for one very visible landmark: a sprawling, rococo seaside mansion in Palm Beach that Trump himself liked to boast about as an example of his real-estate acumen …  a wild and goofy tale of the Palm Beach real-estate market involving tax fraud, Russian billionaires, lurid divorce-court accusations and … the execrably vulgar taste of the super-rich. It’s a tale that’s now coming to a sad end: That $100 million mansion, once the most expensive home in America, has become its most expensive tear-down. Not a single trace of the compound remains, and soon even its address will disappear: The 6.3-acre estate on which it stood has been broken into three parcels, and one of them has already sold.

MATT GAETZ POSTS VIDEO OF BEING CHEERED, BOOED AT “OPEN GAETZ DAY” – Other members of Congress may have cherrypicked favorable moments at recent town halls, but Gaetz showed warts and all. The new Panhandle congressman posted a short video on YouTube of highlights from his home district “Open Gaetz Day” last week in which he is booed and cheered in turn. Gaetz is seen talking about repealing Obamacare, abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, and supporting President Donald Trump on building a wall on the border with Mexico. At one point, a protester yells that Gaetz “should be ashamed,” to which Gaetz responds, “I’m not ashamed of myself.”

PHILIP LEVINE INVITED TO TESTIFY IN SENATE HEARING via Florida Politics – Levine has been invited to testify at a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In a letter dated Feb. 24, committee chair and South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune invited Levine to testify in the hearing, titled “Connecting America: Improving Access to Infrastructure for Communities Across the Country.” Thune said the hearing would focus on the infrastructure needs of communities across the country, and that the committee is looking for testimony “on the policies required to help move people, goods and information safely and efficiently.” The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

OP-ED – BORDER ADJUSTMENT WOULD SOCK FLORIDA WITH HUGELY HIGHER INSURANCE RATES via Christian Cámara – Congress repeatedly has considered legislation that would have adversely and profoundly impacted disaster-prone states like Florida. Luckily, we were spared passage, over and over again. Unfortunately, a tax “reform” package supported by House Republicans and likely to be introduced soon may contain provisions that would do essentially the same damage. Historically, these bills targeted reinsurance purchased by property insurers from affiliates located offshore. The key change would be to eliminate the U.S. subsidiary’s ability to write off the reinsurance costs from their corporate income. The measures long have been supported by a group of U.S.-based insurance companies, who sought to reduce competition they face from foreign insurers and reinsurers.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA PRESIDENT STEPPING DOWN IN 2018 via The Associated Press – John Delaney … the former mayor of Jacksonville … will retire from his position when his contract expires in May 2018. Delaney has been UNF president since 2003 and he was appointed to the position despite never having worked in education before his selection. Delaney was elected to two consecutive terms as Jacksonville’s mayor in the 1990s. Delaney was often mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office and he came close to getting appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 after then-Sen. Mel Martinez resigned.

PRESS RELEASE ABOUT CHICKEN SH*T: “Environmental Groups Announce Lawsuit Against World’s Second Largest Chicken Producer for Illegal Pollution of Suwanee River.”

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ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, House Speaker Corcoran explains the reasoning behind his push to reform Tallahassee. Gomes also talks with former Tallahassee Representative Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda about her decision to join the Republican Party. Meanwhile, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia pledges to comb the state to convince conservative Democrats to switch to the GOP. A bill to create statewide ridesharing regulation advances as the coalition, Floridians for Ridesharing tout significant bipartisan support. Gomes also shares insights on upcoming reforms facing Florida’s college system from Florida Times-Union Statehouse bureau chief Tia Mitchell and the president of South Florida State College, Tom Leitzel. Gomes also looks ahead to the 2018 governor’s race as Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announce he’s considering running for the job.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC: GVDB Holdings, Inc.

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Atlantic Ocean Club Condominium Association; Boca Towers Condominium Association; Coastal House Association; Pinnacle Apartments, Inc., a Condominium; Plaza East Association, Inc.; Regency Tower South Association; The Commodore Condominium Apartments

Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: National Council of La Raza

William Helmich, Helmich Consulting: Univision Communications Inc.; Village of Pinecrest

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: The City of Venice

Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Sheriffs Association

GOVERNORS CLUB PATIO TO START CONSTRUCTION via Florida Politics – Praise the lord and pass the Macanudos: The building of the long-delayed outdoor patio in front of the Governors Club starts today (Monday). Allison Ager, the club’s membership and marketing director, says the new “front porch” should be ready in about a month, under the iconic magnolia tree on the corner of Adams Street and College Avenue. “The pavers being used are an environmentally friendly product that will allow water to flow straight through to the ground so the tree can thrive,” Ager says. The project had been hung up in permitting with the city of Tallahassee for years. All this means cigar aficionados will soon be able to puff with abandon during the day: Smoking is prohibited in the club, except on the second-floor balcony and in the lounge after 7 p.m.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD Henry Wayne Stevens, the healthy baby boy of Jodi and Monte Stevens. He was born Friday, weighing in at six pounds two ounces.

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