steve crisafulli Archives - Page 7 of 22 - SaintPetersBlog

Long-awaited water policy bill passes House committee

A House budget panel on agriculture and the environment passed an expansive water policy bill by Rep. Matt Caldwell Wednesday afternoon.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Committee approved HB 7005 by a vote of 11 to 1, with Democratic Rep. José Javier Rodríguez opposing.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has signaled its approval for the bill, as did a number of business-backed groups such as Associated Industries of Florida and Florida Chamber of Commerce, while some environmentalists stay on the fence.

Stephanie Kunkel, a lobbyist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, told the panel her group was grateful for steps the bill’s sponsor had taken since the bill appeared before the Legislature this spring.

Kunkel specifically mentioned greater verification and enforcement of best management practices, known as “BMAPs” in legislative jargon.

However, Kunkel also cited lingering concerns about water conservation incentives and new, sometimes permanent, extensions for certain water-use permits, especially on areas near bodies of water with maximum nutrient levels. She also cited a general lack of vigor from the Department of Environmental Protection when it comes to oversight.

Kunkel representative also told the panel that the organization would like to see the development of nitrogen targets for Lake Okeechobee, which has been beset by problems stemming from agricultural runoff that in turn affect ecologically sensitive bodies downstream, such as the ailing Caloosahatchee River.

David Cullen spoke on behalf of the Sierra Club to express appreciation for a “very good amendment” dealing with minimum nutrient levels. However, he too criticized the bill as getting only “halfway there” to a good water policy bill.

Cullen called for more-concrete deadlines for permit holders and seekers, prohibitions against releasing nutrients around springs, and called definitional language governing springs policy “deficient.”

The Nature Conservancy testified in support, highlighting the sections of the bill that create protection for Florida’s springs and that require projects that produce water for nature and people be planned for concurrently.

Rep. Ray Pilon agreed the bill was not perfect, but called the measure “a solid foundation” for water policy going forward.

Similarly, Rep. Debbie Mayfield expressed a wish to change the Legislature’s structure for founding water projects. Mayfield wants projects to be funded more like road projects, where appropriations are granted on a five-year basis and not one year at a time.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli‘s first year at the helm, 2015, was supposed to be the “Year of Water” after  voters passed a constitutional amendment to create a permanent dedicated source of money to pay for water protection efforts.

No bill emerged from this year’s regular Session when a similar bill by Caldwell and the State Affairs Committee became one of many casualties when the House adjourned three days before the scheduled end the Session.

Dana Young planning major re-election fundraiser December 2

House Republican Majority Leader Dana Young will raise funds for her re-election with a major event December 2 in Tampa.

Cabinet members Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi and Adam Putnam, as well as House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Speaker-Designate Richard Corcoran headline the invitation for Young’s fundraiser at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club.

Honorary hosts include state Senators Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee, several state representatives, and Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee.

Other notables on the host committee are Louis Betz, Justin Day, Adam Goodman, restauranteur Richard Gonzmart, Mike Griffin, Todd Josko, John Kirtley, Seth McKeel, Tom Pepin, Ron Pierce, Joey Redner, Jim Shimberg, Eileen Stuart, Trey Traviesa, Nancy and Robert Watkins, and former Speaker Will Weatherford.

Young, a sixth-generation Floridian, has represented Tampa and parts of Hillsborough County since 2010. Her central focus has been keeping the state government to its core mission of  schools, public safety, infrastructure, and supporting children and seniors in need.

For more information about the event, or about Young’s campaign, visit

Young’s fundraiser begins at 5:00 p.m.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.20.15 -Friction begins immediately between House and Senate in special session

Last week in Tallahassee, we heard Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli say sort of a remarkable thing. Referring to the conflict between his House of Representatives and the Senate that has dominated Florida politics in 2015, he said it was a  “extraordinary” that anything gets passed between the two bodies.

The latest fissure between the House and Senate began immediately after the gavel dropped for the beginning of Special Session C, the third special session of the year, and this was geared exclusively towards creating new, constitutionally approved Senate Districts.

Under the Florida Constitution, senators serve staggered four-year terms, with 20 up for election in a given election cycle. In 2016, only odd-numbered districts are scheduled to be on the ballot. But in redistricting years, all senators are up for election, and any districts that are changed force the incumbent senator to run for re-election again. Although 2016 isn’t a normal redistricting year, the redrawn maps could significantly alter nearly every district throughout the state. And thus, Crisafulli said, it only makes sense that they all go up for election.

Not so fast, countered Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bill Galvano. The Bradenton Republican says that his legal counsel says that only senators up for reelection next year should run for reelection. “It’s a supportable legal argument,” he argues.

Oh, boy. Here we go again.

Not only does the House dispute the Senate here, but so do Senate Democrats. “The law in this case is crystal clear,” said Max Steele, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. “The Senate Republican leadership’s transparent effort to protect their incumbents and bypass the Fair District amendments will fail just like every other legal roadblock the GOP has attempted to use in the redistricting process.”

A lone Republican senator sides with the Dems and Crisafulli on this: Tom Lee from Brandon, who says the GOP needs to “get out of denial.”

Day 2 begins in a few hours.

In other news..

Charlie Crist is expected to announce his candidacy for Congress later this morning. It’s his third major announcement speech from a St. Petersburg Park, but he hopes the outcome is different than the last two occasions.

An NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll published last night shows Marco Rubio the only Republican other than front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson with double-digit support (at 13 percent). And Jeb Bush, languishing in 5th place with just 8 percent support, a considerable downfall from the same poll taken back in June.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn unveiled his selections to the much talked about citizens review board that will provide some accountability to the Tampa Police Department. Perhaps predictably, his critics (or at least one) bashed the choices.

In the wake of that Tribune report about local governments spending money on advertorials or sponsored content on the local news site 83 Degrees, HART board member Karen Jaroch questioned the effectiveness of that effort at a HART board meeting on Tuesday.

Critics wish that Nuclear Recovery Cost recovery was a thing of the past, but it ain’t, and Florida Power & Light exploited that now discredited law yesterday when they asked for and was granted $34.2 million by the Public Service Commission for their two nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point plant south of Miami.

Speaker Steve Crisafulli says Senate will (mostly) take the lead in redistricting Session

The Florida House of Representatives briefly gaveled into Session in which Speaker Steve Crisafulli told his 120-member chamber to expect to take a back seat to the state Senate, which like the House returned to Tallahassee Monday for the third time this year.

“Since the subject of this session is the Senate map, we’ve established the Senate to proceed first,” said Crisafulli. “I think it is wholly appropriate that body takes the lead on sending a compliant map to us.

“If we receive a map that [redistricting] Chair [Jose] Oliva and our House counsel deems compliant with the Constitution, I’d expect us to show appropriate deference to our Senate partners.”

“Interjecting our specific preferences that are not tied to tier one or tier two concerns would give the courts an opportunity to find reason for improper intent. And so members, after the concurrent meeting this afternoon where the map-drawers present the base map, the Senate will proceed and the House will receive the maps passed by the Senate in week three of this Special Session.”

Yet, said Crisafulli, the House will not entirely eschew its hand in the process, leaving the door open to final-house changes according to objections in the lower chamber.

“Members, the House will not be a rubber stamp for just anything that the Senate sends over to us,” said Crisafulli,” but I do expect us to be good partners in passing a constitutionally compliant map.”

The House emerged as the relative good guys after the state Supreme Court swatted down eight congressional districts drawn by the Legislature and forced the Senate into a consent judgment in which it admitted it violated the state’s “Fair Districts” amendments that prohibit gerrymandering earlier this year.

Still, Crisafulli sounded a conciliatory note Monday afternoon.

“There’s not only one right way to draw a map, but there are definitely standards that must be followed, and members, we will follow those standards.”

“If we’ve learned anything throughout these sessions, it’s that map-drawing is a complicated process and the standards are certainly subject to interpretation,” said Crisafulli.

Tom O’Hara: Banner plane delivered highlight of AP Legislative Planning Day

I attended the annual Tallahassee ritual Wednesday when politicians address the media and take some questions.

The Republicans talked in generalities at the AP Legislative Planning Session and, for the most part, refused to respond to direct questions with direct answers. The Democrats, because they have absolutely no power in Florida government, mostly complained.

Nonetheless, the gathering was great fun, particularly for someone like me who rarely sees these people. (I saw Gov. Rick Scott last year in a Starbucks in Fort Lauderdale wearing that annoying Navy hat and again at the debate with Charlie Crist when it appeared no one was going to see Rick unless Charlie turned off his fan.)

Rick started the festivities at 9 a.m. As a novice to these things, I was taken aback by how many people were with him. It was like a scene from “Entourage.”

Rick’s groupies then spread themselves around the room and applauded every time he delivered a dull talking point.

“It’s the year of the manufacturer,” Rick said. Applause. Applause.

“My grandson wants to be a construction worker. … We’re going to make sure there are jobs for him.” Applause. Applause.

Based on his comments, I think this is Rick’s agenda for the 2016 session: extend the sales tax break on the purchase of manufacturing equipment, cut taxes by millions of dollars, badger legislators to give Enterprise Florida bags of money so Rick can lure prestigious companies to Florida and then brag about it to other Republican governors.

Now, I had never seen Melissa Sellers, Rick’s chief of staff, before Wednesday. I’ve heard that if you like Rick, she’s efficient; if you don’t like Rick, she’s ruthless.

What little I saw Wednesday concerns me. While Scott was delivering his talking points, she was staring directly at him and nodding her head in approval of a statement such as, “This is going to be the year of the manufacturer.”

I had many talented assistants when I was a newspaper managing editor. But if any of them stared at me and relentlessly nodded after I made some mundane statement, I would have eased that person into a less stressful job.

At any rate, if you oppose this weekend’s bear hunt, apparently you should contact Melissa. At least, that’s what the message on a banner plane flying by the Capitol during the AP get-together said.

I don’t know whether Melissa likes bears. Given her reputation, she may like to eat bears. But then again, I’ve known many people who don’t much like humans, but they love furry critters.

At any rate, if you care about the bears, you can contact her at:

Other important people addressed the media Wednesday. Here’s what I learned:

•Congressman Ron DeSantis, who wants to be a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, played in the Little League World Series and on the Yale University baseball team. He seems like a very nice man.

•Congressman Dave Jolly, who is running against DeSantis, said he gave himself to Jesus when he had a religious experience at age 5. He let us know that after a reporter asked him why he supported gay marriage. To his credit, Jolly said that even though he personally believes in “traditional marriage,” states should have the right to determine who can get married to whom. Jolly was refreshingly blunt about the dysfunction of the GOP.

•Senate President Andy Gardiner. He has an autistic child. He desperately wants to pass legislation to help special-needs children and their families. The consensus is that he’s going to have to play ball with the governor during the session or risk having Rick veto his bill – like Rick did last year.

•House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. He said that unlike last session, the Senate, House and Rick are all going to get along fine this year. He didn’t sound convincing.

•State Sen. Arthenia Joyner and state Rep. Mark Pafford. These were the two legislative Democrats invited to speak. Arthenia called Republicans “callous and cruel” for refusing to expand Medicaid in Florida. Pafford said he’s been working eight years in a “bizarro atmosphere.”

•Congressmen Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy. Both these guys want to be the Democratic nominee in the U.S. Senate race. Grayson is very smart and isn’t shy about letting you know it. Murphy used to be a Republican because his dad was. He said the Iraq war and the Tea Party drove him to the other side.

Everyone talked about guns but no one has any convincing idea how to stop the gun-slinging lunacy.

Tom O’Hara is a veteran newspaperman. He is the former managing editor of The Palm Beach Post and the Plain Dealer in Ohio. 

Mitch Perry Report for 10.15.15 — Notes from AP Legislative Day in Tally

Good morning once again from the Motel 6 ($50 a night) in Tallahassee, where this reporter spent his Wednesday hearing from Florida state leaders and U.S. Senate candidates (and had our slumber disturbed by a man shouting obscenities to someone on his cellphone in the motel’s parking lot at midnight!).

What we learned: Rick Scott wants a sh*tload more tax cuts — like possibly more than the $673 million he proposed last year that was whittled down to $400 million — and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says there’s the “potential’ for that to happen.

Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, unlike the tag teams of Haridopolous/Cannon and Weatherford/Gaetz, did not appear as a couple at the AP Legislative Session Day in Tally yesterday, but both men expressed their respect for each other, blah, blah, blah. One can only hope that the deep divisions between the two legislative bodies will act more in harmony in 2016.

Twenty-five weeks. That, according to House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, is how many weeks total the Florida Legislature will have spent in Tallahassee in 2015 after the next special session on Senate redistricting concludes early next month.

Pafford was on a veritable roll yesterday, denouncing the GOP Republicans all over the place for some of their actions, or in the case of Medicaid expansion, inaction(s). He also tore them apart for the insatiable desire for more liberalized gun use, calling the recently proposed bill allowing for “open-carry” in Florida too “wacky”and “outrageous.”

“Why even have concealed permits?” he asked with exasperation.

On public education he said, “We are seeing a catastrophe,” and decried lack of leadership in the state on such a crucial issue.

In the end, he also placed blame on Florida voters, saying that they need to do a better job of electing — or dethroning — current incumbents.

Speaking of guns, Rick Scott, Crisafulli and Gardiner couldn’t have acted more nonplussed about that pending legislation that their Republican brothers are attempting to pass in the next session. Gardiner says he leaves such matters to his committee chairmen, which is probably appropriate, but one would have liked to have known what they really thought about whether it was actually good legislation or not.

Ron DeSantis, the Ponte Vedra Beach GOP congressman who is running for the U.S. Senate, made some news when he said that it would be healthy for Republicans to get out and meet some black people. He said that the difference in getting between 5 percent of the African-American vote and 10 percent could be the difference in winning an election.

“You can get elected to Congress without ever talking to black voters at all, and I think that’s bad for the party,” he said.

All in all it was a good day, though, as Ice Cube sang a couple of decades ago.

In other news..

Well, actually it’s mostly all related to being in the state Capitol on Wednesday.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (who we learned is a big fan of New Order), who said that there’s such a wide gap between what the members of the Florida House and Florida Senate believe in it’s amazing anything gets done, failed to mention that the leaders in both houses all belong to the Republican party.

David Jolly is running hard as an anti-Washington Republican, and certainly his lone votes on some issues give him some backup on why he votes on occasion against his party (and not because he’s not as conservative as his GOP colleagues).

In their race for the Democratic U.S. Senate campaign, it’s the usual Alan Grayson talking trash about his main opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Not yesterday, however, when Murphy slammed Grayson as acting like a hypocrite for allegedly being a progressive hero while also maintaining hedge funds in the Cayman Islands.

And here are a few stories about local fundraising efforts in some competitive Democratic primary Hillsborough County races, for County Commissioner and Clerk of the Courts, respectively.

Jeb Bush got a nice endorsement in New Hampshire yesterday. He also said if he’s lucky enough to run against Hillary Clinton next year he won’t do a Bernie Sanders when it comes to discussing the former secretary of state’s private email server.

Judge gives redistricting parties extra time for maps

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis has given parties in the ongoing congressional redistricting case until Monday to submit their final versions of how to draw boundary lines for those districts.

At a brief hearing on Friday, Lewis set the date for all competing maps to be submitted. A final hearing on the matter still is set for Sept. 24, court dockets show.

Time is of the essence: Candidate qualifying for congressional office is set for next June 20-24, according to the state’s elections website.

Just last week, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli has said his chamber won’t back down from its version and didn’t agree to try to work out differences with the Florida Senate.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, who heads that chamber’s redistricting panel, had last offered a map that puts the southern flank of eastern Hillsborough County back into the 16th Congressional District, now held by Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

Previously, the Senate backed a map by state Sen. Tom Lee that put all of eastern Hillsborough into the 15th District, now held by Republican Dennis Ross. It also drew Ross out of his district, putting Ross’ residence across the street from the new boundary line.

House leaders said that Senate map almost certainly would be ruled unconstitutional because it favors Hillsborough at the expense of portions of central Florida.

The Legislature held a special session last month but failed to agree on a new map.

The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause sued over the current congressional lines drawn after the 2010 census.

They said the current map violates a state constitutional prohibition against gerrymandering, the manipulation of political boundaries to favor a particular incumbent or party.

The case worked its way to the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled the current map “tainted by unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbents.”

The court handed the case back to Lewis, giving 100 days to come up with a solution. That time runs out in mid-October.

Another special session to redraw the state Senate districts is set for Oct. 19 to Nov. 6.

Current officeholders are watching the congressional maps’ court case closely.

For example, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham’s political future is in question because the court ordered U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown‘s district, which now runs north-south from Jacksonville to Sanford, to be redrawn “in an east-west manner.”

That stretches it into Graham’s 2nd Congressional District in the Big Bend and Panhandle.


Bill Galvano calls redistricting issue ‘more difficult than anything I’ve ever experienced’

Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano calls the current redistricting situation he’s engrossed in the most challenging and difficult experience he’s ever worked on in his 13-year legislative career in Tallahassee.

The Bradenton Republican chairs the Senate Reapportionment Committee, and has been intricately involved with trying to work with House counterpart Jose Oliva in coming up with a newly redrawn map of the state’s 27 congressional districts.

After the Legislature ended their special session on redistricting without coming to an agreement on a newly drawn map last month, Galvano came up with a “compromise map” to assuage the concerns that House members had with the final Senate map. House Chairman Oliva essentially said thanks but no thanks, with the two sides still at loggerheads.

Ultimately, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis has been given the discretion by the Florida Supreme Court to review the maps that came out of both the Houses and Senate. He has scheduled a hearing for Monday, September 24.

Earlier this week House Speaker Steve Crisafulli rejected any attempt to have legislators — or at least House members — return to Tallahassee for yet another special session to work on a new map. In a letter sent to House members as reported by Florida PoliticsJames Rosica, Crisafulli wrote,” I do not believe we have fully resolved the fundamental differences that prevented the adoption of a map during Special Session.”

“It’s tough because we’re the test case for the (Fair District) Amendments 5 and 6,” Galvano says, referring to the passage of the two constitutional amendments in 2010 that required the Legislature to amend the state Constitution so that districts are compact, contiguous and rely on existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in July that the Legislature had violated the Constitution by gerrymandering eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts. “It’s one of the most unique circumstances I’ve ever encountered in my legislative career because everything is being done under the backdrop of the judicial system and we are operating within the confines of a judicial opinion,” Galvano said, referring to how the Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to redraw those eight districts within 100 days, which would be October 17.

Galvano said someone asked him if it now appeared that Judge Lewis was ultimately going to be the one drawing the map.

“I said, for the most part, the Supreme Court already has,” Galvano said. “That 172-page opinion was very instructive. So it’s different than anything I’ve ever experienced and, yes, it makes it more difficult.”

House leaders have said that the Senate map almost certainly would be ruled unconstitutional because it favors Hillsborough County at the expense of portions of central Florida.

Google to sponsor Sayfie Review’s Florida Leaders Summit

Justin Sayfie, publisher of the Sayfie Review, announced Monday Internet search giant Google will help underwrite its upcoming Florida Leaders Summit confab in Orlando.

Announcing the recently reorganized Internet behemoth as a “Gulf Sponsor,” Sayfie wrote on his news aggregation site that “Google’s generous sponsorship will help provide all Summit attendees with an exceptional Summit experience.”

Sayfie billed the event, now in its third consecutive year, as an “invitation-only, nonpartisan event for Florida’s top leaders, modeled after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.”

Sayfie recently announced a list of 11 “thought leadership partners” whose proposals and ideas will inform the conference, such as the AIF Foundation, Leroy Collins Institute, and The James Madison Institute.

Attendees of the first two Sayfie Review powwows have included former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, publisher Arianna Huffington, CNN host Fareed Zakaria, futurist Ray Kurzweil and legislative presiding officers Speaker Steve Crisafulli and President Andy Gardiner.

Sayfie’s lobbying shop represents Google in Tallahassee as a client before state officials.

The event is set for November 16-17 in Orlando. The publication says that further details regarding the setting and program of the summit will be forwarded to invitees this fall.

For more information, visit the summit’s website.

What Pinellas Commission’s redistricting letter to Legislature really means

On the surface, Pinellas County Commission’s recent letter to the Florida Legislature seems benign enough. Follow the rules, it says in more words. Fairly redraw the state’s Congressional districts.

An appropriate piece of guidance, no doubt. The judge who gave the Senate and House until today to complete the task would surely agree.

However, like a lot of political communication, much of the message’s true meaning lies beneath the surface.

So, in the spirit of transparency, we’ve not only included the original text, but the politically unfiltered version of the original text as well. The real stuff’s in quotations. Everything in italics amounts to slightly more than a spectacular delusion.   

“As the Legislature gathers for Special Session B. to redraw Florida’s Congressional District Lines, including the Congressional Districts in Pinellas County, we urge you to take Pinellas County’s unique geography of a peninsula on a peninsula into consideration.”

Look, this is Pinellas County we’re talking about here. We’re original. Our people are tight. Not only do we live in a state that’s surrounded by water on three sides, but we live in a county that’s nearly an island too — and that kind of stuff brings people together. See? So don’t forget it when coming up with the new map.

“As stated in Section 20 of the Florida Constitution, we encourage the Legislature to utilize existing political and geographic boundaries.”

You have some pretty practical boundaries set in place already — use those for the Congressional districts. Like we mentioned, we’re a peninsula — the earth lumped us together all on its own, why disrupt nature? And county boundaries have been working well for quite a while now, use those for guidance too. And if you still need more direction, check out the Florida Constitution — see Section 20 specifically, it was put in there to address this exact type of ordeal.

“In addition, we would like the Legislature to consider the portion of Section 20 that states that ‘districts shall consist of contiguous territory’ in order to help keep Pinellas County whole during the redistricting process.”

Refer back to the part of the state Constitution that says all portions of a Congressional district should be touching. Go by that passage when redrawing the new map. Because, here in Pinellas, things aren’t touching like they should. Part of South St. Pete is in the same district as downtown Tampa. To stay within that district, while still getting from South St. Pete to downtown Tampa, you’d need a boat to cross Tampa Bay. 

“Thank you for your careful consideration of this information and please feel free to reach out to me or my fellow Commissioners with any questions.”

We’ve done our research, performed our due diligence, and made our position publicly known. Now the ball’s in your court.

End scene.

The original letter was signed by John Morroni, chairman of the Pinellas County Commission, addressed to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

Last Tuesday, the House passed the base congressional map, which makes all of the Pinellas peninsula one congressional district. The Senate then amended that map, and the House, in turn, rejected it. Legislators are supposed to end their current congressional redistricting special session today, though an agreement between the House and Senate has yet to be reached.   

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