Sunburn Archives - Page 2 of 36 - SaintPetersBlog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

***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.***

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

***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.***

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.”

***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.***

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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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 02.27.17

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

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

ABOUT LAST NIGHT…

It was one of the most awkward moments in the history of the Oscars, of television, in entertainment, heck maybe in American history.

And somehow Warren Beatty, Hollywood’s ultimate smooth leading man, was at the center of it, and the accounting firm that is responsible for the integrity of Oscar voting apologized and was vowing a full investigation.

The producers of “La La Land” were nearly done with their acceptance speeches for Best Picture, the Oscar broadcast’s credits sequence about to roll, when a stir of whispers began on stage. Moments later “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz returned to the microphone and said “Moonlight won Best Picture” and insisting that “this is not a joke.”

 The collective jaw of the crowd at the Dolby Theatre — and of America — remained dropped long after they became convinced it was no joke, but what academy historians later called an apparently unprecedented Oscar error. The accounting firm PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, said early Monday that Beatty and Dunaway had been given the wrong envelope.

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture,” a statement from the firm said. “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

The statement came several hours after the chaotic ending, which featured Beatty returning to the mic to explain that he had opened the envelope and he was confused when it read “Emma Stone, La La Land.” He had shown it to co-presenter Faye Dunaway briefly, as though he wanted her to read it, which she did, apparently assuming the Emma Stone part was off but the “La La” part correct.

NOW ON TO POLITICS: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

With just one week until the gavel drops on 2017’s Legislative Session, it is — to use the shopworn expression — the calm before the storm.

No meetings, no committees, no talk; just a lull in the action before regular Session starts next Tuesday.

Before lawmakers assemble to do the people’s business, now would be a perfect opportunity to spend some time with the family, partake in a round (or two) of golf or cross a few things off the honey-do list. Maybe even fly a kite.

Since Spring Training began last week, supported by Florida’s perfect weather for such undertakings (spring is a relative term around here), nobody would fault the legislator who takes in a few ballgames before his or her re-emergence in Tallahassee.

Time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

Of course, everyone involved will need this period of rest and relaxation before the inevitable 60-day fracas over issues such as business incentives, gambling legislation and the 2017-18 Florida budget (the Legislature’s one constitutionally-mandated job).

And for those keen observers of The Process — present company included — it is the one week where we might reasonably expect to catch our collective breaths.

That is unless something interesting pops up during the week — which, undoubtedly, it will.

***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.***

DONALD TRUMP’S JOB APPROVAL STANDS AT JUST 44 PERCENT AS PARTISAN SPLITS REIGN via Carrie Dann of NBC News – A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal: 44 percent approve of the job he’s doing, 48 percent disapprove … Trump begins his tenure in a dramatically less popular position than any of his predecessors. He is the only president in the history of modern polling to begin his first term with a net negative approval rating — and it’s not close. Compared to Trump’s net negative rating of -4 percent, Barack Obama began his presidency with a net positive 34 percent; George W. Bush and Bill Clinton enjoyed a similar advantage, and George H.W. Bush‘s score of popular goodwill pushed even higher to a net positive of 45 percent.

AFTER TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION ORDER, ANXIETY GROWS IN FLORIDA’S FARM FIELDS via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post – As Trump moves to turn the full force of the federal government toward deporting undocumented immigrants, a newfound fear of the future has already cast a pall over the tomato farms and strawberry fields in the largely undocumented migrant communities east of Tampa. Any day could be when deportations ramp up; that, to them, seemed certain. No one knew when or where. And so the community here is in a state of suspension. Children have stopped playing in parks and the streets and businesses have grown quieter, as many have receded into the background, where they feel safe. “It’s all gringos here,” said Maria Pimentel, owner of the community staple Taqueria El Sol, who said she had never heard so much English in her restaurant in her life. Business had plummeted, she said, because her Spanish-speaking customers were “scared to come out of their house.”

MUST-READ: HERE’S WHY IT’S SO DIFFICULT TO BE A SYRIAN REFUGEE IN SOUTH FLORIDA via Patricia Mazzei, Nicholas Nehamas and Kara Dapena of the Miami Herald – The number of Syrian refugees coming to Florida has spiked in recent years, as the U.S. has started to accept more people escaping the war-torn Middle Eastern nation. But resettling these newest immigrants has proven challenging for aid agencies, charities and volunteers who help the new arrivals. Syrians don’t have a large community of their countrymen awaiting them — or many Arabic speakers with whom they can communicate. “Life without language is very hard,” Kamar Byrkdar, a 27-year-old Syrian refugee who arrived in Broward County five months ago with her husband and two children, said through an interpreter. “We want to be able to improve our English so that we’re able to stand on our own two feet.” … it took three months, Byrkdar said, for anyone to show them how to enroll their kids in school. She and her husband didn’t know how to buy bus fare, much less how to navigate routes. Byrkdar learned where she could sign up for English classes only three weeks ago. Her children remain anxious around the police, whom they associate with war.

ANOTHER MUST-READ FROM THE HERALD: SLAIN SEAL’S DAD WANTS ANSWERS: ‘DON’T HIDE BEHIND MY SON’S DEATH’ via Julie Brown of the Miami Herald – When they brought William “Ryan” Owens home, the Navy SEAL was carried from a C-17 military plane in a flag-draped casket, onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, as President Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and Owens’ family paid their respects. Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming … “I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the president” … “I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said. “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’

TRUMP TALKS OBAMACARE OVER LUNCH WITH RICK SCOTT, SCOTT WALKER via Jordan Fabian of The Hill – The trio discussed “how best to solve the problems of ObamaCare, with a special emphasis on the states’ role in health care” … The two governors are in Washington for the National Governors Association winter meeting. The lunch was not listed on Trump’s public schedule and was closed to the press. What to do about Medicaid has emerged as a thorny issue in the debate over ObamaCare repeal.

RICK SCOTT: I’LL HELP TRUMP ON CUBA POLICY via Aidan Quigley of POLITICO Florida – “I’ve been very vocal that Raul Castro does not believe in democracy and freedom and things like that,” Scott said. “I don’t believe it’s good for our country to be coddling a dictator like that. So I’m going to work with the Trump administration on what’s the right policy.” Scott said he was hopeful Trump would soon renegotiate with Cuba and he sounded confident that Trump would make good on his word. However, the Florida governor didn’t want to specify what approach he would advise the Trump administration to take. “My impression is they’re working on what they are going to do, so I don’t want to second-guess what they’re going to do,” he said. “I want to be helpful.”

IT’S OFFICIAL: SCOTT SELECTED AS VICE CHAIR OF RGA via POLITICO Florida – Scott was chosen as the new vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, putting him in line to lead the organization during the crucial 2018 gubernatorial elections. The RGA’s 11-member executive committee voted Friday in Washington, D.C. to name the two-term governor to the post vacated by former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Scott is now the odds-on favorite to take over the chairmanship from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2018, when 36 governor’s mansions around the country are up for grabs.

MARCO RUBIO: I WON’T ATTEND TOWN HALLS FULL OF ‘LIBERAL ACTIVISTS’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The Florida Republican said that the much-ballyhooed events organized last week by Indivisible Miami, a group that opposes Trump, aren’t real forums to exchange ideas. “They are not town halls anymore,” Rubio told WFOR-CBS 4 … “And I wish they were, because I enjoy that process very much, going back to my time as [Florida] speaker of the House.” Indivisible Miami put together several “empty-chair” town halls for Rubio’s constituents last week. The senator was never expected to show up. “These are real people. They are real liberal activists, and I respect their right to do it,” Rubio said of the crowds who showed up to last week’s events, estimating that “80-90 percent” were liberal activists. “But it is not a productive exercise. It’s all designed to have news coverage at night.”

PROTESTERS: CONGRESSMAN BLEW RED LIGHT TO AVOID US via the Tallahassee Democrat – A video has surfaced that protesters say show Congressman Neal Dunn … ran a red light Thursday to avoid talking to them about health care. About 60 constituents had gathered outside of Dunn’s Tallahassee office seeking a meeting. Dunn declined an opportunity to talk to the group and instead left the office through an underground garage. Michael Nair-Collins, a professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine, and others ran to the garage to catch Dunn. They told the Democrat he left with an aide in the Chevy Tahoe caught on video.

BRIAN MAST GETS EARFUL AS HUNDREDS PACK TOWN HALL MEETING IN FORT PIERCE via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post – Mast, a double amputee Army veteran … held the meeting to address the concerns of military veterans, but he got an earful on a host of other issues, particularly the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Most of those in the audience seemed intent on tearing into Mast, though the congressman had plenty of supporters among the nearly 500 people who showed up. Unlike some in his party who returned to their districts, Mast did not cancel the town hall meeting, nor did he lose his temper as angry audience members booed some of his answers or shouted at him in fury.

POTENTIAL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES LAY OUT AGENDAS IN ORLANDO via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – … occasionally sparring over education and economic development agencies. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and House Speaker Richard Corcoran all outlined potential platforms in speeches to the Central Florida Urban League. Gillum … spoke at length about the importance of education, drawing on childhood memories of his grandmother telling him to go to school, pay attention, “and one day bring that education home” for the good of his family and community. Corcoran spoke at length about his “battle with the governor” over the Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida development agencies, a priority for Rick Scott. By contrast, Levine, a cruise industry entrepreneur, praised the importance of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida for the power they have to attract businesses and tourists to the state.

LISA EDGAR STEPS DOWN FROM STATE PARKS POST via Florida Politics – Edgar notified Gary Clark, the Department of Environmental Protection’s deputy secretary for land and recreation … “Gary. Thank you for the opportunity to work for you and the Florida Park Service. It has been an honor. Unfortunately, an immediate family emergency requires my full attention. As such, I regretfully must resign at this time,” Edgar wrote. Edgar, a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, previously was deputy secretary of DEP. She decided not to seek another term on the PSC and was replaced by water use engineer Donald Polmann of Dunedin.

RICHARD CORCORAN SAYS PHILOSOPHY, FACTS DRIVE HIS EFI, VISIT FLORIDA AXE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “I’m telling you we’re right. We’re absolutely right,” Corcoran declared in a speech before the Central Florida Urban League. Corcoran described Enterprise Florida as an organization that serves the top 1 percent of companies and most of them did not deliver and belittled VISIT Florida for paying for Pitbull‘s video that he said essentially declared, “Come to Florida and have sex … Here is what we know about VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida. First, Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida didn’t exist in this state until the mid-90s. Guess what we had before that? I’m going to shock you. We had visitors. I’m going to shock you. We had businesses that came to this state.” He said he was not offended by Pitbull’s video, saying he went to the University of Florida for three years, “all of them freshmen … That’s not offensive to me. But it’s the philosophy behind that,” he added. “And all of that money that goes to those things that are gratuitous waste of money, is money that could go to education, that could go to infrastructure, or creating a fair and equitable tax structure.”

SENATE COULD VOTE ON HIGHER ED REFORMS DURING FIRST WEEK OF 2017 SESSION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The higher education package — formerly two bills now blended into one (SB 2) — includes a variety of reforms intended to elevate Florida’s State University System and its state colleges to a more competitive level, nationally and internationally. “We should be at the very top of our game in our state university and college system,” said Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano, the higher ed budget chairman who spearheaded the legislation. “We should raise expectations, and that’s what we’re doing.” SB 2 — dubbed the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017” — advanced unanimously out of the Senate’s full budget committee with some additional revisions … the bill will be among the first considered by the chamber during the first week of session next month.

ANITERE FLORES WANTS TO REPLACE ONE TAX CUT WITH ANOTHER via Florida Politics –Flores, the Senate President pro Tempore, said she was filing legislation (SB 378) to 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 …  The move also aligns with Gov. Scott‘s and the Florida House’s appetite for continued tax relief. Flores’ proposal “could provide $300 million in recurring tax relief for families and businesses” … “Florida’s CST is one of the highest in the nation,” said Flores. “In 2015, we made great progress by permanently reducing Florida’s CST by 1.73 percent. This year, we can reduce this burdensome tax even further and provide additional monthly savings to every Floridian with a cellphone or cable or satellite TV.”

BOB CORTES, EX-TOWING COMPANY OWNER, PUSHES BILL TO HELP TOWING COMPANIES via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Cortes … said he doesn’t believe it’s a conflict of interest for him to sponsor HB 193 because he sold Cortes Towing Service last year. Yet, he still owns the property used by the company and receives rent from it. He also is a consultant for the company. “I’m no longer in the business of towing; I sold it last year,” Cortes said. Ben Wilcox, executive director of Integrity Florida, a Tallahassee-based ethics watchdog group, said the situation seems like a conflict, but under the letter of the law there is none because the bill doesn’t specifically benefit Cortes or his old company. The bill would nullify local governments’ fees, fines and penalties imposed on vehicle owners when tow truck companies haul away vehicles in relation to various infractions. In Winter Springs, for instance, the city issues a $550 fee on owners of vehicles impounded after they’ve been cited for 12 offenses ranging from prostitution to littering, but the fee can be reduced to $250 if owners waive their right to a hearing.

INSIDE ABC CEO’S STRATEGY FOR DEFEATING BOOZE IN GROCERY STORES via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Charles Bailes III is the CEO of Florida-based ABC Fine Wine & Spirits … His strategy for beating the so-called “whiskey to Wheaties” bill is a bit different: appeal to the heartstrings of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. “I’ve been in the business for 41 years and we work really, really hard to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors,” Bailes said. Bailes points to a trove of articles he’s compiled into a well-cited document. A news report in the Oregonian blames Washington’s privatization on a spike in booster-related liquor sales, where professional shoplifters walk off with sometimes thousands of dollars’ worth of booze and sell it to others. “When I hear these arguments about grocery stores being well-trained in spotting theft, I would say they haven’t read these articles,” Bailes said.

REALTORS AND BUILDERS HAVE BUSY AGENDAS FOR LEGISLATIVE SESSION via Clifford Davis of the Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record – Realtors and homebuilder associations are busy laying the foundation for the agendas they’ll promote. The chief concerns in the state’s real estate and construction industries focus on taxes, workforce and regulations. “Workers’ Comp. Workers’ Comp. Workers’ Comp,” said Douglas Buck, the director of governmental affairs for the Florida Home Builders Association. “Any insurance rate increases are a real, direct cost to everyone.” Since 2003, the construction industry has seen its workers’ compensation rates trend downward after the Legislature passed a bill to base lawyer fees in cases on the amount of the defendant’s award. But that changed after an April ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that awarded attorneys an hourly rate for their work.

WORKERS’ COMP JUDGE TOSSED FROM CASE OVER COMMENT CAUGHT ON OPEN MICROPHONE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics –Following a lengthy video teleconference hearing, the 1st District Court of Appeal said in its ruling, Judge Edward Almeyda turned to someone off camera and said, “Was I nice and sweet and patient to let the attorney talk on and on and on ad nauseam?” The attorney overheard the remark and sought to have the judge disqualified. In an unsigned opinion, the court said the motion was “legally insufficient” because the judge “did not specifically single out petitioner’s attorney as the loquacious one.” However, the court pulled the judge from the case anyway, based on an objection the Office of Judge of Compensation Claims filed refuting the motion “by asserting — without any record support — that JCC ‘did not interrupt or raise his voice to counsel’ and that he ‘allowed both sides to fully make their arguments, resulting in what would normally be a five to 10-minute hearing lasting over an hour.”

PRIVATE PRISON DEPRIVED INMATES OF HEAT AND HOT WATER FOR MONTHS, DAVID RICHARDSON FINDS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The 284 women housed in C-dorm at Gadsden Correctional Facility lived for months without hot water or heat, faced flooded bathrooms daily and endured water rations when the septic tanks were jammed with food waste. After state Rep. Richardson demanded action following a series of surprise visits over the past 18 months, the private prison operator that runs the facility — Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah — received approval from the state to repair and replace the water heater, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $10,000. But Warden Shelly Sonberg never authorized the work. Richardson … announced another inspection this month, this time with Chad Poppell, the head of the Department of Management Services, the state agency that oversees private prisons, and two other state legislators. In the two days before they arrived, four work crews descended on the prison and made many of the repairs.

CHILD ABUSE DEATH REVIEW COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE FATALITY EMERGENCY CALLS via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – A total of 931 combined child deaths were reported in Florida in both 2015 and 2016, according to the state’s Child Abuse Death Review Committee (CADR), which met in Tampa to discuss the issue. Broken down, 474 of those reviewable fatalities were in 2015, with another 457 reviewable notifications made in 2016. More than 200 of those are still open cases — 29 from 2015 and 175 from 2016, per graphs compiled in documents by the committee … Among the 20 circuit districts the judicial courts and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) offices fall under across the Sunshine State, only three had completed, and closed, all of their investigations in 2015:  Circuits 3, 7 and 18. One, Miami’s 16th Circuit Court, had not completed or closed a single investigation into the deaths of minors, as said in a CADR review.

***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.***

— REGIONAL READS —

LENNY CURRY BACKS ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Florida Politics — Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Friday that while he recognized that “reforms” of Enterprise Florida were being discussed in Tallahassee, state economic incentives have been good for the city. “We use incentives — local incentives and state incentives through Enterprise Florida — and we use them successfully … Without the state funding, we would have had trouble closing some of the big deals that we closed … We use our tax dollars in a way that’s responsible to taxpayers, and we’ve been able to use the state incentives the same way. I hope they can figure out a way to continue to give us the opportunity to have access to state incentives.”

AFTER LIFE ON ORLANDO STREETS, ALOMA CHARTER HIGH GIVES TEEN RENEWED FOCUS via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – Six months ago, 18-year-old Joseph Tello was homeless and living without much thought or hope for his future. But after finally finding a friend willing to provide him a stable residence and being referred to Aloma Charter High School, his hope is being restored and he is getting back on track to earning a high school diploma and accomplishing aspirations of going on to college. “I would talk to people about my life, and they’d try to provide help,” Tello said. “Someone took me in and gave me shelter, they care about my education and goals.” Aloma High is helping him out in ways his previous schools just couldn’t— a more personal style which suits him. Traditional high school, by contrast (and design), could not accommodate the pressure and stress of Tello’s home life the way Aloma High does. “At Aloma, everyone helps you plan to get somewhere with your education. It’s changed my view on charter schools.”

THE GRIMM TRUTH ABOUT ALBERTO CARVALHO’S ASSAULT ON WLRN via Florence Snyder of Florida Politics – Friends of the First Amendment have their hands full with the War in the White House Pressroom. That may explain why Miami Dade School Superintendent Alberto (Rico Suave) Carvalho thought his attempted hostile takeover of the highly respected and ferociously independent WLRN newsroom might pass unnoticed. Thankfully, fans of the free press have taken notice, and are rallying to the support of the high-quality journalism this public radio station produces with a small staff and a tight budget. The Miami Herald’s veteran columnist, Fred Grimm, explains that “Reporters who’ve dealt with the notoriously prickly Miami-Dade School District … [learned] Carvalho and company can hardly abide critical stories [such as the recent] series of stories exploring problems with the school district’s alternative school for suspended students.”

FROM THE SHADOW OF PILL MILLS, A NEW DRUG CRISIS EMERGES IN TAMPA BAY via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times – We are six years past the peak of the pill mill epidemic, and Pinellas County is going through another killer drug crisis. The statistics are still preliminary but the number of fatal overdoses in Pinellas jumped at least 53 percent from 2015 to 2016. There were 274 confirmed overdoses and, with seven cases still pending, the final tally could eclipse the 280 deaths in 2010 when oxycodone abuse was rampant. This time around, it is being driven by a combination of heroin and fentanyl. The potency is higher and the cost cheaper, and so the results are tragically familiar. “It astonishes me that people are shocked by this,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “We cannot, and we will never, solve this problem at the law enforcement level. This needs to be treated as an addiction problem, a mental health problem. We may have had great success beating back the pill mills, but all that meant is we were going to see a switch to different drugs and different dealers.”

***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***

SENATOR SEEKS PROBE INTO WHETHER LOBBYIST LISA MILLER POSED AS ‘CONCERNED CITIZEN’ DURING CALL via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Sen. Kevin Rader is asking Gov. Scott to investigate whether Tallahassee lobbyist Lisa Miller posed as a “concerned citizen” to mislead participants in a conference call with a company that rates Florida insurers. “I know you understand that matters such as these must be completely in the sunshine and all principals must play by the rules. This is crucial to the integrity and transparency of the insurance market,” Rader wrote in a letter … “The citizens of our state have had a difficult time with their insurance matters over the last decade and they deserve to have a full accounting of this incident. We are talking about peoples’ homes, and it is absolutely critical to get to the bottom of this. Insurers and their rating companies must play by the rules and not orchestrate false or misleading presentations with impersonations of ‘concerned citizens’ intended to deceive government officials and the public.” Miller denied posing as someone named Mary Beth Wilson to praise Ohio-based Demotech Inc. during the call Feb. 10.

PERSONNEL NOTE: SUSKEY CONSULTING HIRES ROB FIELDS FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS VP – Fields joins Suskey as a Florida government veteran with over 20 years of public and private sector experience. He most recently served as a government affairs consultant representing Fortune 500 and other various technology companies before the Legislature and various Florida agencies. Fields served as the Chief Information Officer of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which has primary responsibility for the state’s Medicaid program, the licensure of 48,000 health care facilities, and sharing health care data. Fields then became Chief Information Officer with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles where he oversaw technology operations for the Florida Highway Patrol and the State Driver’s License and Motor Vehicle Registration divisions.

WHERE GEEK MEETS GAIT: ALL CALL FOR LOBBYISTS WITH FITBITS – Sachs Media Group is looking for volunteers who wear Fitbits to participate in a “steps in the day of a Florida lobbyist” data collection project during a typical week of session. Results will be featured in the “Geek Out” section in Sixty Days. For more details, email karen@sachsmedia.com by Friday.

TRIPADVISOR: 7 OF TOP 10 BEACHES ARE IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press – The sand at Siesta Key outside Sarasota was the best rated beach in the nation. St. Pete Beach was No. 3, followed by Clearwater Beach and Panama City Beach. Hollywood’s beach in South Florida was ranked sixth, followed by Pensacola Beach and St. Augustine Beach near Jacksonville. TripAdvisor says the rankings were based on the number and quality of the traveler reviews written on its website.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Joel Brown, Ballard Partners’ Ana Cruz, POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon, former Rep. Jerry Paul, Samantha Jane Sachs, editor of Capitol Soup, and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto. Celebrating today is our very own Logan McFaddin, Mitch Perry, Rep. Kathleen Peters, Kathleen Haughney Rohrer,

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 2.24.17

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

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

TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK

Even if Gov. Rick Scott reached out and poked him in the chest, Richard Corcoran “would take it 10 out of 10 times.”

Yes, those words did come out of the House Speaker’s mouth.

The Land O’ Lakes Republican, seemingly showing signs of fatigue less than two weeks before the start of Session, spoke with reporters Thursday.

That was after Scott’s political committee beat him up in a new video over the Speaker’s attack on Enterprise Florida, VISIT FLORIDA and business incentives.

That video, which refers to him as “Rich Corcoran,” labels him a “career politician” who trades in “fake news” and “waste(s) your money.”

Of course, that was prompted by Corcoran’s own staff-produced video that slammed Scott for failures of business incentive projects that (whoops) began before his time in office.

When asked about the latest video, Corcoran turned on his trademark grin and told a story of how Scott and his wife Ann helped him after his “cataclysmically” unsuccessful 2007 run for a state Senate seat.

The future governor hired Corcoran, an attorney, to do legal work for the Solantic walk-in urgent care centers he then owned.

“There’s too many people in this world who forget what (other) people have done for them” Corcoran said. “Gov. Scott, Ann Scott, I met with them in their house in Naples and they helped contribute to my ability to make money and feed my family.

“To those around him, or their political committees, I would say, for lack of a better phrase, if Gov. Scott poked me in the chest, or whatever, I would take it 10 out of 10 times,” he said. “He’s been a very good man to me and my family.

“That said, we have a position on an issue and we believe in that position and we’ll fight for it,” Corcoran added. “We’ll try to do it as civilly and honorably as we can.”

That must not apply to his film crew. But hey, that’s what surrogates—and staff—are for.

CONCILIATORY RICHARD CORCORAN ANNOUNCES ‘WE’LL GET THERE’ ON A JOINT RULE WITH SENATE ON BUDGET PROCESS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Corcoran said he is open to compromise with the state Senate on his hardline new rules aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in the budget process. Senate President Joe Negron has resisted Corcoran’s rules, last week even threatening to sue the House over what he considers an unconstitutional attempt to control the Senate, an independent coequal branch of government. Negron defused the potential legal battle when he said the Senate would not sue but instead would work out their differences over the House rules in closed-door negotiations to come up with a joint rule.

Corcoran believes the rules, which have the support of both the Democrat and Republican caucuses in the House, “have revolutionized the budget process.” Although he taunted the Senate last week, urging them to “sue us,” he sounded more conciliatory this week. “The concepts of transparency and accountability and not hiding things in the budget, if we could get that in a joint rule, absolutely we’ll compromise,” Corcoran told the Herald/Times in a pre-session interview.

— “So I guess Twitter is Florida’s new field of honor” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times

***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.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will be in Washington, D.C. to take part in POLITICO’s 7th annual State Solutions Conference. He’ll be taking part in the afternoon session, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m.

RICK SCOTT THE HEAVY FAVORITE TO BE NEXT RGA CHAIR via Kevin Robillard of POLITICO – Scott is the heavy favorite to be the new vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, putting him in line to lead the organization during the crucial 2018 gubernatorial elections. The RGA’s 11-member executive committee will vote on a new vice chair Friday in Washington, D.C., according to two sources with knowledge of the executive committee’s thinking.

SCOTT TO COURT: THROW OUT LOTTERY LAWSUIT via Associated Press Scott’s administration is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by Speaker Corcoran. A Leon County circuit judge held a brief hearing Thursday over Corcoran’s lawsuit that maintains the Florida Lottery broke the law when it approved a more than $700-million contract with IGT Global Solutions to help run lottery games. Corcoran’s lawsuit contends the contract is illegal because it exceeds the department’s authorized budget.

SCOTT COULD BE BIG LOSER IN FIGHT OVER ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times – All the “So’s your old lady!” bickering between Scott and House Speaker Corcoran makes for lousy government. But it sure is fun watching this Tallahassee pie fight between politically ambitious egos. Sensing perhaps that Scott’s lame duck light is beginning to flicker more brightly, Corcoran is challenging Scott over his pet projects, Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida … The speaker sees them as needless, wasteful expenditures of precious taxpayer dollars. This has royally peeved the state’s official hologram. Scott, who would rather bestow public money on swells rather than peasants in need of Medicaid coverage, has flitted about the state trying to save his legacy bureaucracies, most notably by attacking fellow Republicans. Say, there’s a brilliant strategy on the part of a politician who just might need GOP support in 2018 in an expected race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

AMID REPUBLICAN ROW, SOME HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOICE DISAPPROVAL OF ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via William Patrick of FloridaWatchdog.org – Several House Democrats joined their Republican counterparts in voicing displeasure with Enterprise Florida. House Minority Leader Janet Cruz even broke ranks and voted with the GOP, although she was the only Democrat to do so … The shared criticism signals an area of bipartisan agreement at the outset of a legislative process that’s sure to entail a contentious and drawn-out process of argument and amendment. Rep. David Richardson was perhaps the most vocal opponent of the taxpayer-funded business assistance organization during a House Appropriations Committee hearing … “I have very little good to say about Enterprise Florida and the way it has been conducted in the past,” he said. The rub, however, is that eliminating Enterprise Florida also would include reducing Visit Florida’s budget to pre-2009 levels under the substitute approved this week, something Richardson said he wasn’t prepared to do. “But if you pull out Enterprise Florida … I’d be happy to kill it for you,” he said.

HOUSE GAMBLING BILL GETS THUMBS UP ON FIRST LOOK via Florida Politics – With its chair saying he wants to “freeze” gambling in the state, a House gambling panel on Thursday cleared that chamber’s overhaul bill, including a renewed blackjack agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee OK’d the measure on a 10-5 party-line vote. But the bill, which isn’t yet assigned to another committee, differs greatly from the Senate’s gambling legislation. Its proposal now is cleared for consideration by the full chamber after a 14-2 vote in the Appropriations Committee, also Thursday.

***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.***

DISMAYED, DCF HEAD MIKE CARROLL EXPLAINS FRAGMENTS OF FACEBOOK LIVE SUICIDE CASE via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – Standing before the members of the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee Thursday, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll admitted Naika Venant had been in out of foster care since 2009. Naika, 14, closed her chapter on this planet through suicide, hanging herself, shockingly, on Facebook Live’s video feature. “Can you imagine? And to have hundreds of friends watching, but only one friend would call to do anything,” Carroll asked committee members. “We became involved with Naika at a young age.” Carroll conceded this case was not like others, and it was likely to take longer than normal, which drew specific questions from committee member Rep. Kionne McGhee and Chairwoman Gayle Harrell about what date, exactly, they could expect a copy of the investigative report on Naika’s death.

FEDERALISM MESSAGE ECHOED BY HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS via Erin Clark of FloridaWatchdog.org – The House Health Innovation Subcommittee approved sending a memorial to Congress asking lawmakers to consider giving Medicaid funding to the states in the form of block grants. “As you know, Medicaid is supposed to be a partnership. In reality, the federal government is in control,” said state Rep. Frank White who introduced the memorial at the hearing. He argued that the states need flexibility to design programs tailored to their specific demographic and geographic needs. In the public testimony on the memorial, speakers offered a mix of caution and enthusiastic support. “In the redesign of health care, would you like to be in charge, as the state Legislature? Or would you like a bunch of people in Washington to be in charge, dictating terms, creating more requirements, limiting your ability to manage the utilization of your own Medicaid program?” asked U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

FLORIDA TO LEGISLATE FREE SPEECH ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES? via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The Florida House Subcommittee on Post-Secondary Education heard from conservative academic Stanley Kurtz about the Campus Free Speech Act, a piece of proposed legislation that he says would defend free speech in Florida universities. “When protesters disrupt speakers or break in on meetings and take them over to list demands, administrators tend to look the other way,” Kurtz told committee members as he began his 16-minute address. “Students have come to take it for granted that they will face no discipline for such disruptions, administrators themselves often disinvite controversial speakers and limit the exercise of liberty to narrow and highly regulated so-called free speech zones. University boards and trustees rarely act to curb these administrative abuses.”

HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO RAISE THE BAR FOR PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS via Florida Politics – A lively debate on governing principles broke out Thursday as a House committee voted unanimously to ask the voters to raise the threshold for amending the Florida Constitution. HJR 321 would require approval by 66 2/3 percent of the voters to change the state’s foundational document. At present, that requires 60 percent approval. Sponsor Rick Roth … acknowledge his proposal would make it harder to change Florida’s basic law. “I watch politics very closely, and have for 30 years, and it seems like it’s becoming, more and more, who has the money to put something on the ballot,” he said  following the 14-0 vote by the Oversight, Transparency, & Administration Subcommittee.

HOUSE PANEL WOULD ALLOW INTEREST PAYMENTS ON NONECONOMIC VERDICTS via Florida Politics – Insurance interests are up in arms about a House committee’s approval of a bill that would allow plaintiffs to recover prejudgment interest on noneconomic claims, including pain and suffering. HB 469 says that plaintiffs who prevail in lawsuits could collect interest — at a rate now set a 4.9 percent, but varying with inflation — from the date of a loss. They could collect against attorney fees and costs, too. … Sponsor Shawn Harrison, an attorney from Tampa, said plaintiffs could not collect interest on punitive damages. … “A person who is damaged by a tortfeasor is just as damaged regardless of whether they have an action in contract or in tort,” Harrison said. “Why should there be a difference?”

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

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND – GOP LAWMAKERS HOSTING ANNUAL ‘MARDI GRAS’ FUNDRAISER via Florida Politics – Ever wanted to ask Senate President Negron what he’d do to earn some Mardi Gras beads? Well, you’ll have the chance to do just that if you take part in a “Mardi Gras Celebration” at Universal Studios in Orlando where Negron, Speaker Corcoran, Senate Presidents-to-be Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson and House Speakers-to-be Jose Oliva and Chris Sprowls and other legislative leaders will come together for a fundraiser this weekend … the Republican lawmakers will take part in a full schedule of activities, including VIP tours. There will be a lunch and dinner, followed by a VIP viewing of a Mardi Gras Celebration Parade & Concert. Funds raised at the event will benefit House Majority 2018, one of the campaign arms of the Republican Party of Florida.

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND:

HAPPENING NEXT WEEK:

BRING ON THE ORANGE JUICE: DENISE GRIMSLEY SCHEDULES BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER FOR MARCH 7 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Grimsley is scheduled to hold a fundraising reception for her 2018 bid for Agriculture Commissioner at 7:30 a.m. on March 7 at Florida Finance Strategies, 111-B East College Avenue in Tallahassee. The reception … is hosted by Sens. Aaron BeanDennis BaxleyRob BradleyAnitere FloresGeorge GainerBill GalvanoRene Garcia, Jack LatvalaTom LeeDebbie MayfieldDavid SimmonsWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel and Greg Steube. The breakfast fundraiser comes just hours before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session.

>>>Interesting that Steube is on the host committee; there has been some reporting he too wanted to run for Ag. Commissioner. Guess he’s staying in the Senate?

ANDREW GILLUM TO MAKE CASE FOR GUBERNATORIAL BID IN ORLANDO SPEECH via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Gillum will all but announce his 2018 bid for governor today, hoping to become the first African-American to win an office that Democrats haven’t held in two decades. Gillum won’t commit outright to running for governor – at least not yet. But his speech this morning to the Central Florida Urban League in Orlando has all the trappings of a campaign stemwinder, replete with biographical references, policy positions and shots at Republican President Donald Trump, according to excerpts shared with POLITICO Florida.

PHILIP LEVINE LAUNCHES POLITICAL COMMITTEE, HIRES MATTHEW VAN NAME via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Levine launched All About Florida and has hired Matthew Van Name to work for the political committee. Van Name recently served as U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s campaign manager and was formerly the Florida political director of the Service Employees International Union. The news of Van Name’s hiring comes just one day before Levine is scheduled to deliver remarks at the annual Cornerstone Award Breakfast sponsored by the Central Florida Urban League. Levine is expected to discuss his vision for Florida’s future. He is expected to make an announcement this spring about “his plans for continued public service.”

SURPRISE (OR NOT): MICHELLE REHWINKEL VASILINDA JOINS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY via Florida Politics – The former state representative for Tallahassee, who quit the Democratic Party and became an independent shortly before being term limited out of office last year, now has officially become a Republican. Rehwinkel Vasilinda, 56, officially announced the switch at the 2017 Leon GOP Lincoln Day Dinner held in Tallahassee … “We are excited to welcome former Representative Michelle Rewinkle Vasilinda into the Republican Party,” said Leon County GOP chairman Evan Power. “Her switch really shows how the protest and identity politics from the left is driving people from the Democratic party.”

***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.***

AS DONALD TRUMP REVOKES TRANSGENDER STUDENT PROTECTION, FLORIDA LGBTQ COMMUNITY WONDERS WHAT’S NEXT? via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – Michael Jones, a well-known entertainer and drag whose stage name is “Meagan Towers,” was in street clothes, sipping on a drink at Pepperz Cabaret in Gulfport … “I think what they’re doing is wrong,” Jones, who works mostly in Naples, said. “I know too, too many trans people that this could affect if (Trump) takes this further.” He and a couple of friends worried whether Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress were poised to do much more, like rescind the right for those in the LGBTQ communities to legally marry. Jones said Trump used to support “the LGBTQ team,” but since becoming president, the shifting winds of politics had taken hold. “Apparently, he’s making it known to all minorities and us that he doesn’t give a damn,” he said, irked.

SPECIAL REPORT: IN HARM’S WAY via Kathleen McGrory and Connie Humburg of the Tampa Bay Times — Gun injuries are a growing problem for Florida’s children, rising along with the increasing availability of firearms across the state, the Tampa Bay Times has found. To determine how many kids are shot each year — accidentally, intentionally or during the commission of a crime — the Times looked at millions of hospital discharge records for patients across Florida, as well as data collected by the state’s 24 medical examiners. The analysis found that, 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.

SOLARCITY’S QUESTIONABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES A WARNING FOR FLORIDA SOLAR DEBATE? via Florida Politics – A recent New York Times article exposes some of the “diminutive” players in Florida’s solar industry for what they really are – billion-dollar, for-profit corporations which engage in highly questionable business practices to lure consumers. SolarCity, the nation’s leading installer of rooftop solar panels – and a favorite in the renewable energy sector – promotes itself to investors with a single idea; a 20-year lease for those signing up for its solar panels. Reporters found dozens of homeowners who, over the last three years, entered such long-term solar panel agreements shortly before (and sometimes after) defaulting on mortgages. More than a dozen homeowners were already in default, or with other liens on the property, by the time SolarCity submitted paperwork to the government … in the past few years, SolarCity lowered its requirements for entry into the program – using a 650 FICO score cutoff, considered by many to be only “fair” credit. But that credit score is assessed months before solar panels are installed, and can fluctuate considerably based upon financial situations.

WHAT WILL WEATHERFORD IS READING – FLORIDA CHAMBER CEO DELIVERS UNEXPECTED MESSAGE via Janelle O’Dea of the Bradenton Herald – Mark Wilson delivered a somewhat unexpected message to a room of 75 businesses leaders and government officials. “I’m positive that when some of you got the invite for today you asked, ‘What’s the chamber doing looking at poverty?’” he said. Wilson took attendees through a presentation showing how business leaders and their attitudes need to adjust to solve the problems associated with generational poverty. “Generational poverty means you were born into it,” Wilson said. “It is not your fault. If you’re born into poverty, you don’t know anything else.” He recognized that this concept may be foreign to some, especially business leaders who thrive on the idea that if one works hard enough, they can ascend the throes of a life in poverty. It’s not that easy, Wilson explained.

***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

Melissa Akeson, The Rubin Group:  Friends of the Underline; Orthodox Union

Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Broward County Property Appraiser; Florida East Coast Industries LLC.; Friends of the Underline

Travis Blanton, Jon JohnsonDarrick McGhee Sr., Johnson & Blanton: Transdev North America, Inc.

Michael Bronstein, Bronstein Consulting LLC: American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Region X of the Appraisal Institute

Lynne Elizabeth Grinsell, Capital City Consulting: Zurich American Insurance Company

Travis Mitchell, Louis Betz & Associates Inc.: 3 Bees Corp

Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Wexford Health Sources

William RubinHeather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Friends of the Underline

Ryan Sacco, The Rubin Group: Broward County Property Appraiser; Dosal Tobacco Corporation; Florida East Coast Industries LLC; Florida Taxi Cab Association; Friends of the Underline

Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: Florida Airboat Association

SPOTTED on American Association of Political Consultants’ 40 Under 40 lists: Tim Saler, the vice president of Grassroots Targeting former deputy campaign manager of Rick Scott’s 2014 re-election campaign, and the former deputy executive director for political strategy at the Republican, and Christian Ulvert, president and founder of EDGE Communications.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jessica Ellerman, Matt Farrar, and Susan Goldstein. Belated wishes to my longtime friend, Joel Silver.

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Sunburn for 2.23.17 – Scott’s sky-high approval ratings; Corcoran says ‘hell no’; Bill Nelson targeted

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

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

STORY MORE IMPORTANT THAN POLITICS: 7 EARTH-SIZE WORLDS FOUND ORBITING STAR; COULD HOLD LIFE

For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a nearby star — and these new worlds could hold life.

This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery Wednesday.

The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three are in the so-called habitable zone, where liquid water and, possibly life, might exist. The others are right on the doorstep.

Scientists said they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these rocky, terrestrial planets could support some sort of life. But it already shows just how many Earth-size planets could be out there — especially in a star’s sweet spot, ripe for extraterrestrial life.

The takeaway from all this is, “we’ve made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there,” said the University of Cambridge’s Amaury Triaud, one of the researchers. The potential for more Earth-size planets in our Milky Way galaxy is mind-boggling.

Now, back to politics on Planet Earth…

FLORIDA REPUBLICAN HAVE A GREAT FEELING ABOUT THE HOME TEAM

Gov. Scott is enjoying sky-high approval ratings, while Attorney General Pam Bondi continues to be a rock star. And Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam may have a future in this business.

With just a few weeks until the start of the 2017 Legislative Session, Associated Industries of Florida surveyed 800 likely Republican primary voters. The survey looked the direction of the state, the approval ratings of statewide elected officials, and took at stab at gauging public consensus on a couple of key policy debates.

And of course, no survey would be complete without mulling a hypothetical 2018 gubernatorial match-up.

So, what did AIF find? Here’s five takeaways from the February 2017 report:

Scott’s approval rating soars

Being the middle of a high-profile feud with the Florida House might suit Scott. The survey, conducted by phone from Feb. 14 through Feb. 17, showed 81 percent of likely Republican primary voters polled said they approved of the job the Governor was doing.

According to the polling memo, 41 percent of those surveyed said they strongly approved of the job he was doing. “In essence,” the memo reads, “the Governor enters his second to last session with the highest marks from Republicans that we have tracked during his term.”

Bondi is a rock star

As Attorney General, Bondi has received top marks for most of her time in office. And, according to the polling memo, that makes total sense, considering the “among of earned media she has received over her time on the Cabinet.

But after a few months of bad headlines, the news that 54 percent of the Republican base approve of the job she’s doing as Florida’s attorney general must have come as a relief. In fact, Bondi had the third highest job approval rating, behind only Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Speaking of Cabinet members, 38 percent of GOP primary voters said they approved of the job Putnam was doing as agriculture commissioner. AIF didn’t include CFO Jeff Atwater in image testing, since he’s leaving his post at the end of session.

Too early for 2018

We may love covering the horserace, but Republican voters don’t appear ready to start thinking about 2018.

Associated Industries of Florida tested hypothetical ballot tests for Governor and the Cabinet and, according to the polling memo, “low name ID’s are obviously forcing ballots that are largely undecided.”

In a hypothetical four-way race between Putnam, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala and businessman (and alligator ‘wrassler’Ron Bergerson, 71 percent said they would be undecided. Putnam, however, had an 18-point lead over Corcoran, 22 percent to 4 percent.

No love for land buy 

GOP voters aren’t thrilled about the idea of the state buying private land for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee.

Sixty-four present of respondents said they disagreed with the statement “The state should continue to buy private farmland for environmental purposes and take it out of production, even if that means the state must borrow the money to purchase bonds.”

The poll found 65 percent did not believe the state should use eminent domain to buy privately owned lands for environmental uses.

Under a bill (SB 10) moving through the Senate, the South Florida Water Management District would have until the end of 2017 to find a willing seller of 60,000 acres of land, upon which the state could build one or more water storage reservoirs.

If the water management district can’t find a willing center, the state can decide to buy 153,000 acres of land from U.S. Sugar, under an existing option in a contract signed by the state and company in 2010. The bill, however, does not propose use eminent domain to acquire land.

Incentive debate just too darn complicated

AIF tried to ask voters about the ongoing debate over whether to dismantle economic incentive programs and tourism marketing arm Visit Florida, but concluded the issue was too complicated for voters to comprehend.

“Overall awareness on these debates is low in this survey, regardless of how the question is tested,” said Ryan Tyson, AIF’s Vice President of Political Operations. “Furthermore, the nuances of the policy points used to better describe ‘incentives for job growth’ vs. ‘corporate welfare’ are far too complex for decisive support for either position in this survey.”

AIF said no matter the phrasing, the results for the incentives debate were contradictory “and talking points can easily get a voter to one side of the argument or the other.

RICK SCOTT’S PAC SLAMS HOUSE SPEAKER RICHARD CORCORAN AS “CAREER POLITICIAN” IN NEW VIDEO via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s the latest in the back and forth policy battle between the two Republican leaders over the future of state job incentive programs and the state’s tourism marketing agency. Last week, Corcoran used a closed-door meeting with Republicans to release a video slamming Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida as agencies that waste tax dollars. That video specifically highlight two job incentive projects – Sanford Burnham and Digital Domain – approved by previous governors that have since failed, but the ad did not explain that they came before Scott took office in 2011. The Let’s Get to Work video specifically takes on that point, criticizing the video as misleading and saying both projects occurred under then-Gov. Charlie Crist. But that also isn’t accurate. The Sanford Burnham project was approved when Gov. Jeb Bush was still in office in 2006.

ON SCHOOL SPENDING, RICHARD CORCORAN HAS TWO WORDS FOR RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA SENATE: ‘HELL NO’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Corcoran says he won’t compromise on the question of whether the Legislature should write a budget that includes nearly $500 million more in local property taxes from Florida homeowners to hit Scott‘s target of a K-12 spending increase, under a program known as required local effort. Scott and Senate President Negron don’t consider that a tax increase because the property tax rate would stay the same. The extra money would come from rising property values paid by homeowners and businesses. “The governor has in his budget a $450-plus million property tax increase,” Corcoran [said]. “That’s a hell no. That’s a hell no. We’re not raising property taxes to fund government waste. We’re not raising taxes on property owners to give it to business owners. It’s a non-starter. It’s nonsensical.”

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BILL WOULD EXTEND TIME TO SUE ABORTION DOCTORS via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Women who have abortions in Florida would find it easier to sue the doctors who performed the procedure, under a contentious bill now moving through the House. But it’s unclear if the legislation … opposed by some Republicans … will become law since there’s no companion measure moving through the Senate. A House panel narrowly approved a bill that would give women more time to sue physicians for physical or emotional injuries stemming from abortions. Most legal claims arising from medical procedures must be filed within four years, but the bill would allow lawsuits to be filed for up to 10 years following the abortion. But the legislation is opposed by those who support abortion rights as well as groups that represent Florida doctors.

STAND YOUR GROUND BILL PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Even before the House took a single vote on the bill, which would put the burden of proof on prosecutors to refute defendants’ self-defense claims, 42 members had signed on as primary or co-sponsors. That represents more than two-thirds of the votes needed to pass a bill in that chamber. “The bill places the burden of proof where it belongs, on the prosecution, and is consistent with the foundation of our criminal law that a person is innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Rep. Bobby Payne … one of a trio of Northeast Florida lawmakers serving as the main sponsors of this legislation.

SENATE FINANCE & TAX APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE OK’S ‘TAMPON TAX’ EXEMPTION via Florida Politics — The Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee approved a proposal (SB 176) to make feminine hygiene products, like tampons, exempt from state sales and use tax. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, now heads to the full Appropriations Committee. … If approved, the Revenue Estimating Conference estimates the exemption would reduce general revenue receipts by $3.8 million in fiscal 2017-18 and by $8.9 million on a recurring basis. It would reduce local revenue by $1 million in fiscal 2017-18, and then by $2.3 million each year after.

BILL WOULD STRIP TRI-RAIL OF FUNDING, CONTRACTING AUTHORITY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The Bay County Republican’s Senate Bill 1118 … would force the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority to decide between the ten-year, $511 million operations and maintenance contract it is awarding to a sole qualified bidder, or the $42 million in state funding it expects each year. The bill also would require state approval for any future SFRTA contracts for the South Florida commuter rail system that would be paid for with state money. Tri-Rail provides commuter rail service through Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority provisions are buried in what is a much broader transportation bill from Gainer that covers everything from bridge inspections to natural gas vehicle regulations.

CRAFT BEER DEBATE INCLUDES … CHANCE THE RAPPER? via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Senate Regulated Industries Committee cleared the measure (SB 554) on a 6-3 vote. The measure would allow smaller craft brewers to distribute their own beer. It would create an exception to Florida’s “three-tier system” born after Prohibition, which requires separation of alcoholic beverage manufacturers, distributors and retailers to avoid price-fixing. [OscarBraynon explained that Chance, who won three Grammy Awards this year, first independently distributed his own music before getting “multimillion-dollar offers for distribution deals.” The bill “would allow small brewers to do just what Chance the Rapper did,” Braynon said. “So, I’m going to give this (bill) a chance—thanks to Chance the Rapper.”

HOME RULE FIGHT BREAKS OUT AS PANEL APPROVES REGULATION REFORM BILL via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The bill, HB 17, is sponsored by Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine, and would not allow local governments to regulate issues that are not already allowed under state statute … He says it comes down to a philosophical approach: increased regulations hurt businesses and job creation. “Regulations, which smother businesses, should be hard to create,” he said. Democrats on the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee were joined by Rep. Shawn Harrison … in opposing the bill. They argued it took too much control away from the elected officials closest to the people and would require any regulatory change to go before the Legislature, which meets far less than local governments. “I think this is simply a bridge too far,” said Harrison, who represents a Democratic-leaning seat.

HOUSE TRANSPORTATION AND TOURISM PANEL BEGINS VETTING MEMBER PROJECTS via Florida Politics – The House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee began voting on nearly $500 million in member project bills Wednesday, as its chairman warned that the panel’s approval does not guarantee a project will make it into the final House budget bill. “Our point here is to try to vet these to the extent we can in the time that we have,” Rep. Clay Ingram told committee members. … Ingram said he had sidelined some projects that he knew just wouldn’t fly.

HOUSE WON’T CHANGE NURSING HOME REIMBURSEMENT FORMULA THIS YEAR via Florida Politics – The House won’t pursue a proposal to change the way the state reimburses nursing homes caring for Medicaid patients — at least, not this year. … “Although we like the idea of a prospective payment system … perhaps the calculations that were done in that study don’t meet all the needs,” Jason Brodeur, chairman of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, told members Wednesday. A plan by Navigant Consulting Inc. … would pay nursing homes using a per diem rate calculated based on four components. “One of the things I think we could probably do as a committee is maybe commit ourselves to a more intellectually disciplined approach,” Brodeur said.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUDGET CHAIR FAVORS VOCATIONAL TRAINING AS VOTING BEGINS via Florida Politics – The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee OK’d eight member requests for state funds Wednesday, including programs boosting technical training … and a veterinary lab at the University of Florida. … Chairman Larry Ahern is particularly interested in vocational projects — apprenticeships, internships, other forms of nonacademic training. … For example, the panel approved $200,000 for a partnership with car dealers to train young people for relatively high-paying jobs in auto shops. … “There is a demand for those jobs, but they’re not able to train enough young adults to fill these jobs,” Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., said.

JURY UNANIMITY BILL PASSES HOUSE, SENATE COMMITTEES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Bills that would require juries to be unanimous in recommending the death penalty [come] on the heels of a Florida Supreme Court decision came in that lifted a hold on current death penalty cases. HB 527 by Rep. Chris Sprowls passed the House Judiciary Committee 17-1 and will be discussed on the House floor. Sen. Randolph Bracy’s SB 280 was unanimously vetted by the Senate Rules Committee and is now ready to be heard by the full Senate.

LAWMAKERS TARGET CRIMINAL UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS, DESPITE CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald –  A controversial plan to impose more prison time on undocumented immigrants who commit severe violent crimes in Florida narrowly passed its second Senate committee … but it’s unlikely to advance much further without buy-in from the House. The measure (SB 120) has drawn a litany of criticism and questions about its constitutionality from Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocacy groups, because it would impose harsher penalties on undocumented immigrants than U.S. citizens or legal residents would otherwise face for the same offenses. “What is it about their immigration status that makes the crime more heinous?” asked Sen. Jeff Clemens … “The fact that somebody is here without papers, how does that make the rape or the murder worse?”

PROPERTY TAX CAP SAILS THROUGH FIRST COMMITTEES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools –HJR 21, put forth by Rep. Colleen Burton … would permanently instate a 10 percent cap on non-homestead property assessment increases, a constitutional regulation set to expire in 2019. The bill passed the House Ways & Means Committee 16-1 and has one more committee stop. A similar Senate version (SJR 76) by Sen. Tom Lee … passed unanimously Wednesday in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax. The cap would not apply to property taxes levied by school districts under the two bills.

STADIUM FUNDING BILL PASSES FIRST HOUSE COMMITTEE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – HB 77, which would prevent sports teams from building or renovating stadiums on public land, passed the House Government Accountability Committee 14-5 … The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bryan Avila, said the bill “protects taxpayer funds from being used to subsidize already successful businesses.” The bill would also require a stipulation in future contracts between sports franchises and state and local governments that compels franchises to pay any outstanding debt the state acquired for construction on sports facilities if the franchise permanently leaves the facility. Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, who voted against the bill, questioned whether the bill would impede the overall economic boost sports teams create.

— “Senate moves ahead with changes to ‘estoppel’ certificate standards” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida

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ANITERE FLORES PROPOSES COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP FOR 50 CHILDREN OF FARMWORKERS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The amendment to SB 2, the Senate’s higher education reform bill which will be up for a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee, authorizes children of migrant workers who meet the criteria of the award, including meeting the state’s residency requirements, to receive the scholarship annually. The scholarship would be administered by the Florida Department of Education and students would be required to have a 3.5 weighted grade-point average, have at least a 90 percent attendance rate and complete at least 30 hours of community service. Flores, who as a House member helped establish the First-Generation Matching Grant program a decade ago, expects the annual cost will be about $1 million.

SENATE ADDS BINGO, DOPING, ADW TO ITS 2017 GAMBLING BILL via Florida Politics – On a first read, the strike-all’s most significant changes are: A new bingo provision for charitable organizations. A provision that appears to outlaw a form of gambling called advance-deposit wagering (ADW), “in which the bettor must fund his account before being allowed to place bets,” according to Investopedia, adding “racetrack owners, horse trainers and state governments sometimes receive a cut of ADW revenues.” The amendment makes a third-degree felony out of accepting such a wager, but only “on horseraces,” not dog races. Toughening testing standards for race animal “doping,” the giving of performance-enhancing drugs to a racehorse or greyhound. In other sections, the strike-all also changes the proposed “Office of Amusements” that would regulate fantasy sports to an “Office of Contest Amusements.”

SHOULD LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE LESS POWER? SOME STATE LAWMAKERS THINK SO via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Lawmakers are pushing a bill (HB 17) that would prohibit cities, counties and other arms of local government from passing any regulations on businesses unless they have been given specific permission from the state Legislature. The same proposal would repeal existing rules governing businesses in 2020. The stated goal: eliminating confusion for people trying to start a business in multiple cities or counties. “Imagine being someone who wants to try to build their business and doesn’t want to hire lawyers and doesn’t want to hire lobbyists,” said Rep. Randy Fine. “The intention of this bill is to try to make it easier for those folks to do that.” But local elected officials, Republican and Democrat alike, see it as an attack that would limit their power and harm their residents. “Why don’t they just abolish local government?” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn … “This is by a group of allegedly conservative people who during campaigns will say less government is better and the government closest to the people governs best, and that’s local government.”

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee will consider its proposed committee bill when it meets at 9:30 a.m. in 212 Knott. The House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee will discuss a bill that revises the list of documents lenders can use as an admission of bankruptcy by defendants in mortgage foreclosures when it meets at 9:30 a.m. in 404 House Office Building. The House Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee will get a presentation about free speech on college campuses when it meets at 10 a.m. in 306 House Office Building. The House won’t be the only chamber rolling the dice on gambling Thursday. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to discuss its wide-sweeping gambling bill during its meeting at 9 a.m. in 412 Knott. In addition to the gambling bill, the committee is also scheduled to hear his “Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Rene Plasencia will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. outside the Senate Chamber on the 4th floor of the Capitol to discuss the public school recess bills. They will be joined by representatives of the Florida PTA and “recess moms.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The James Madison Institute will hold a press call to release its study regarding current proposals being considered by the Florida legislature surrounding the Everglades Agricultural Area. Call is 9:30 a.m., 800-371-9219/PIN: 9714346.

***The quality of nursing home care is better in states like Florida that use a certificate of need process. You can help protect Florida’s most frail seniors by urging legislators to keep CON for Florida’s outstanding skilled nursing centers. Learn more from the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) at cqrcengage.com/ahcafl/CONProcess.***

HAPPENING TODAY – LAWMAKERS HOST FUNDRAISERS ACROSS TALLAHASSEE — House Majority, the fundraising arm of the House Republicans, will hold a fundraiser for Reps. Danny Burgess and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen at 11:30 a.m. at Clyde’s and Costello’s, 210 South Adams Street. Members of the Senate are also getting in on the fundraising action: Sen. Debbie Mayfield will hold a fundraiser for her Senate District 17 re-election campaign at the Governors Club Boardroom, 202 ½ S. Adams Street; while Sen. Travis Hutson will hold a fundraiser at 5 p.m. at the Governors Club Library. Both fundraisers are scheduled for 5 p.m.

HAPPENING TONIGHT:

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AGENCY FOR STATE TECHNOLOGY AUDIT SCRUTINIZED BY HOUSE PANEL via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee discussed a January Auditor General report about the Agency for State Technology and State Data Center operations. Despite the findings of that report, which included issues with user access privileges, accounts kept active despite being unused, and other such seemingly-exploitable security glitches, the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee showed little interest in the kind of specific, drill-down inquiry about remedies for these issues one might have expected … in the House was a different matter. Arthur Hart, audit manager for Information Technology Audits in the Office of Auditor General, addressed the audit. “I think there is reason for some concern about some findings in the audit,” Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said by way of introducing Hart.

— “DCF files roundup: Tony Dungy, adoption, false reports and a new trend – falling asleep in cars, high and with kids” via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics

HOW FLORIDA’S WELL-CONNECTED MEDICAL MARIJUANA CHIEF GOT HIS JOB, DESPITE LITTLE EXPERIENCE via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – In July 2015, former Surgeon General John Armstrong signed off on a memo from current Surgeon General (then deputy health secretary) Celeste Philip asking that the department not advertise the open job for director of the Office of Compassionate Use on the basis that Christian Bax was “the best candidate for the position,” making the assertion that he had “several years of experience in navigating medical marijuana regulations.” But it turns out Bax was the only candidate who applied for the position, and on his job application he claimed to have only about 15 months experience working part-time as a consultant in Boston doing application work for medical cannabis firms in Washington and Nevada. Department spokeswoman Mara Gambinerirefused to address the contradiction. She insists that “based on Mr. Bax’s policy and rulemaking knowledge and experience, the department determined he was the best candidate for the position” — even though Bax was the sole candidate to apply. Soon after Bax was hired in July 2015 as the director of OCU, his office was beset by legal disputes alleging the method for awarding medical marijuana licenses was arbitrary. Now the office is plagued by a growing pile of legal bills.

VISIT FLORIDA’S BREAKUP WITH PITBULL ALMOST COMPLETE via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – But when new Visit Florida leader Ken Lawson stood before a Florida Senate committee earlier this week there was a strong acknowledgement that the highly controversial (and for the longest time secret) $1 million contract with Pitbull to promote state beaches will never happen again on his watch. “A great Floridian who’s made his way,” Lawson said of Miami music start Pitbull. “But anytime we use a celebrity or any person, we need to make sure it fits the brand.” Lawson said in the future any use of celebrities would have to “fit our program” and require “commonsense.”

WE TOLD YOU SO; EYEBALL WARS SET TO BEGIN ANEW via Florida Politics – Nearly four years have passed since the truce was called in the decades-long “eyeballs war” between Florida optometrists and ophthalmologists … that fragile peace seems all but finished. Optometrists are seemingly going back on their word, working behind the scenes to file legislation to allow them to perform surgery … the FOA and associated parties have given more than $2.1 million to committees and candidates statewide — and is bolstering its Tallahassee lobbying roster, specifically through Michael Corcoran, brother of Speaker Corcoran. And in his 2016 Legislative Update, FOA chair Dr. Ken Lawson issued the clarion call. “Our ability to be heard in the Florida Legislature could not be more paramount to the success or failure of our profession than in this very moment in time … I can assure you the 2017 legislative session will be a pivotal point in the future of Florida Optometry.”

***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***

ONE NATION LAUNCHES AD CALLING FOR REPEAL OF OBAMACARE — The political organization launched 30-second spots in nine states, including Florida, Wednesday calling on federal lawmakers to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. The advertisements are part of a $3 million ad campaign to take place over three weeks in 11 states, and will be followed by radio, digital, print and mail campaigns. In Florida, the ad calls Obamacare a “failed mess created by Sen. Bill Nelson’s vote” and urges Floridians to “tell Sen. Bill Nelson he was wrong to vote for Obamacare.”


NRSC OUT WITH DIGITAL AD COMPARING BILL NELSON TO ELIZABETH WARREN — The National Republican Senatorial Committee debuted a new digital ad campaign Wednesday to “inform Florida voters of Nelson’s liberal record in Washington to that of the new face of the far left, Elizabeth Warren.” The ads will run on Facebook and are part of a national campaign targeting Senate Democrats in states won by President Donald Trump. “Bill Nelson has positioned himself squarely on the left, voting with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren 92% of the time,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin. “Bill Nelson may try to pose as a moderate as the election approaches, but his record shows that he has more in common with Washington liberals than with Florida voters.”

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN – “With N-word sign, Florida man tries to scuttle Tampa mayor’s gubernatorial hopes — but there’s a twist” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida. It’s not that this isn’t a story sure to drive clicks and it’s one that Caputo tells well, but anyone who has been to downtown Tampa has seen these ridiculous, offensive signs. Local media has rightly chosen to ignore this gadfly. Unfortunately, with Caputo’s article, he now has a national platform.

TOM GRADY EYES AG, CFO NOW THAT FGCU PRESIDENT IS OUT via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – No longer in the running to be Florida Gulf Coast University’s president, former Naples’ state representative Grady is eyeing state Attorney General and maybe even the state’s chief financial officer position. And to get either office, he might rely on the help of a friend, his neighbor and former constituent Gov. Scott, who could find himself appointing interim officials to both positions soon. “I speak with the governor often about many things, especially where I have some expertise and can be helpful,” Grady said. He declined to disclose his private conversations with the governor. Grady was not among the finalists announced last week for the FGCU position. The university’s board is in the process of selecting a new president from four finalists.

***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.***

FIRMS RANDOMLY PICKED FOR LOBBYING COMPENSATION AUDITS via Florida Politics  Even as some lawmakers have questioned its necessity, legislative and executive branch lobbying firms were again randomly selected Wednesday for audits of their compensation reports. The firms picked for legislative lobbying audits are: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Buigas & Associates, David R. Custin & Associates, Ericks Consultants, Hopping Green & Sams, Lewis Longman & Walker, Lisa Aaron Consulting, Luis E. Rojas, McGee & Mason, Redfish Consulting, Ronald R. Richmond, Shumaker Loop & Kendrick, Smith & Smith, The Labrador Co. The ones picked for executive lobbying are: Andrew J. Liles, Calhoun Management & Consulting, Capitol Insight, Carr Allison, Champion Consultants, Janet Llewellyn, Lester Abberger, Lindstrom Consulting, Pruitt & Associates, T.B. Consultants, TC Wolfe, Wilson & Associates. 

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: National Council of La Raza

Douglas Bell, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Preserve Vision Florida

Wayne Bertsch Jr., Civility Management LLC: Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors

Charles Cliburn, New Capitol IT LLC: Gentis Solutions DBA Interlink

Jon Costello, Rutledge Ecenia: Citizens for Judicial Process; Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; Pinnacle Housing Group, LLC

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Miami Children’s Health System

Jim Horne, Strategos Public Affairs LLC: Academica

Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting LLC: Sebastian Ferrero Foundation

Gary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: Citizens for Judicial Process; Pinnacle Housing Group, LLC

Matthew Sacco, The Rubin Group: Florida Association of Health Plans; Florida East Coast Industries LLC; Florida East Coast Railway, LLC

Cameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Southern Company Gas

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of our besties, Amanda Taylor.

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