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Sunburn for 5.8.17 – Sine Die

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 work of the people ended with a whimper Friday, as lawmakers agreed to extend the 2017 Legislative Session to complete the budget, killing a host of other legislation.

As the Legislature turned out the lights around 9:30 p.m., high-profile dead bills included efforts to overhaul workers’ compensation and assignment of benefits, and to implement the state’s medical cannabis constitutional amendment.

House Speaker Rep. Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron confer during a budget conference in the Knott Building Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

The House and Senate agreed to a concurrent resolution extending session to 11:59 p.m. Monday to pass the 2017-18 state budget and several other measures, including the annual tax cut package.

The General Appropriations Act wasn’t delivered until 2:43 p.m. Friday. With the state constitution’s required 72-hour “cooling off” period, Monday afternoon is the earliest that the budget can be voted on.

Now it remains to be seen, with a budget that includes drastic cuts to Gov. Rick Scott‘s tourism marketing and economic development priorities, whether Scott will veto part or all of the spending plan.

John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times offers this stinging criticism – “Imagine how much better life could be without a Legislature – Why not get rid of the state Legislature? 1. Consider the evidence … Once again, the Legislature failed to come up with a new plan for gambling in Florida. If you’re counting … Not that it’s important, or anything. It’s only a billion-dollar industry. 2. More than ever, legislators have proven to be a spineless group of lemmings … Republicans are lap dogs for Corcoran, and Democrats seem to think whining is an actual strategy. Neither party has enough independent thinkers. 3. The most important thing they do — the one thing they are required by law to do — was apparently done without the input of 99 percent of the legislators. The budget was hammered out in private with negotiators from the House and the Senate, while the rank-and-file tried not to look like wallflowers. It’s almost comical when you think about it.


Speaker Corcoran’s hometown newspaper is already looking ahead to the Legislature vs. Gov. Scott:

Orlando Sentinel, Squabbling lawmakers to come back for final vote Monday – “House and Senate leaders did agree to many of their priorities, but they all but ignored fellow Republican Gov. Scott’s agenda, underscoring major rifts within the state’s ruling political party.” South Florida Sun Sentinel, The final countdown in the Florida Legislature – “Greetings from Day 60 of the 60 63-day legislative session … Lawmakers will return just to vote on the budget … But not me. Watching a single vote is no reason for me to stay in this town. So goodbye, Tallahassee.” The Daily Stampede, A Call To Arms: Florida Legislature Moves Goalposts To Screw USF. It’s Time For Bulls To Fight Back. – “This is a lot of legislative minutia, but the tl;dr is USF got screwed out of a ton of money last night, as well as “pre-eminent” status, in a legislative move that will guarantee even more money for UF and FSU.” Miami New Times, Here Are the Worst Ideas the Florida Legislature Proposed This Year – “A bill ratcheting up the drug war …  A half-billion cut to Medicaid, including a $157 million cut to South Florida hospitals … A ridiculous bill letting public-school parents object to the science in their children’s science books.” Sunshine State News, Ten big issues of the 2017 Legislative Session – “Budget … Death penalty … Economic development … Education … Gambling … Guns … Health care … Insurance … Medical marijuana … Water.” Daytona Beach News-Journal, Winners, losers during the 2017 legislative session – “Winners: Legislative leaders, universities, taxpayers, flows of green algae, charter schools. Losers: Hospitals, Florida Forever, Gov. Scott, casino operators, ethics and transparency, marijuana activists.” Miami Herald, In last-day surprise, Legislature loads education policy into pass/fail budget – “Crammed into a single mammoth bill  … With $414 million in spending attached  … The sheer size and scope of the new version of HB 7069 caught many lawmakers by surprise … Several senators, in particular, were troubled by the process and said the bill wouldn’t automatically have their support.”

Facebook status of the day via Sen. Jack Latvala, who lit up the Speaker:

What Richard Corcoran is reading –Looming departures would reshape powerful Miami-Dade legislative delegation” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – When Florida lawmakers return to the Capitol to pass a state budget in legislative overtime, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz will grab a microphone and say goodbye to the House of Representatives, a year ahead of schedule. Diaz is not the only influential Miami Republican likely on his way out. Rep. Carlos Trujillo, the prominent House budget chief and an early local Trump supporter, interviewed in Washington last month for a position as U.S. ambassador. In short: Diaz’s farewell speech could mark the beginning of the end of the most powerful House delegation that Miami-Dade County has seen in the GOP-controlled Capitol in recent years. The tight-knit Republicans on the delegation will leave a lasting legacy in the form of Rep. Jose Oliva, who is slated to become the next House speaker — Miami-Dade’s first since Marco Rubio concluded his term in 2008. Support for Oliva’s future speakership came from Republicans who like him make up the legislative class of 2012. But veterans from the class of 2010, like Diaz and Trujillo, laid the political groundwork for Oliva’s success.

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The House and Senate agreed to a concurrent resolution extending session to 11:59 p.m. Monday to pass the 2017-18 state budget and several other measures, including the annual tax cut package.

The General Appropriations Act wasn’t delivered until 2:43 p.m. Friday. With the state constitution’s required 72-hour “cooling off” period, Monday afternoon is the earliest that the budget can be voted on.

Over the weekend, lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters sifted through the $83 billion budget and, in some cases, were shocked by what they found.

State budget stuffed with local projects: USF center, water taxis and … Bernardo de Galvez?” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – One of the biggest items in the budget for Tampa Bay is, once again, USF’s Morsani College of Medicine … USF will get $12 million for the new downtown Tampa medical education and research center … Pasco County got $15 million for an Interstate 75 overpass to relieve congestion on State Routes 52 and 54. Hillsborough Community College won $10 million in construction money for a new Allied Health Center on the Dale Mabry Campus … And St. Petersburg College will get $6.5 million for its new Student Success Center at the Gibbs Campus …

— (T)he House and Senate appeared to strike a deal to send $400,000 to Forward Pinellas for its water taxi work. But when the budget printed out … Jack Latvala announced $1 million would go toward the taxis …

— A similar thing happened two funding for structural improvements for the Cuban Club in Ybor City … $1 million had been set aside for the project.

— Pensacola won $100,000 to build a statue of a Spanish sailor — Bernardo de Galvez — who defeated the British in 1781 in a battle in that city.

— Sarasota won $1 million for a circus conservatory and another $2.5 million for a rowing park.

— State taxpayers are helping build or repair fire stations for East Palatka, LaBelle and Wakulla County.

This is the issue that has the Tampa Bay delegation up in arms: Deep inside a massive higher education policy bill, lawmakers raised the four-year student graduation standard from 50 percent to 60 percent by 2018 for universities to reach “preeminent status” and qualify for more money and prestige, reports the Tampa Bay Times. USF, the only state school hurt by the change, issued an appeal to Tampa Bay lawmakers to “take action,” but it’s too late for the budget conforming bill to be changed.

— The four-year, 60 percent provision appeared in law for the first time Friday afternoon on page 232 of a 292-page higher education bill, Senate Bill 374, that will pass Monday as part of the state budget.

— This change was done at the behest of President Negron — and he’s not budging. “The mistake by some at the University of South Florida was assuming that the Legislature would adopt the 50 percent graduate rate to be immediately applied retroactively,” Negron said. “As everyone knows, legislation is changed throughout session.”

— Negron and Corcoran agreed to the change at a public meeting Friday — and no lawmaker from Tampa Bay publicly questioned it.

Mammoth education budget bill will decide testing, recess, teacher bonus policies and more” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – At the insistence of Speaker Corcoran, numerous major changes to education policy for Florida’s K-12 public schools — from teacher bonuses and daily recess, to testing reforms and expansions for charter schools — were crammed into a single mammoth bill … with $414 million in spending attached. All of the policies in the the 278-page bill (HB 7069) will pass or fail as one … when lawmakers vote on the annual budget. No changes can be made to the bill. If lawmakers’ pass it, the bill ties the hand of Republican Gov. Scott. Should he want to veto the bill, he would be politically responsible for shooting down every policy in it — particularly the parent-demanded daily recess measure.

Tweet, tweet:

It wasn’t a last-minute budget item, but the $2.8 million in taxpayers’ money paid to Visit Florida to produce a fishing show is a perfect example of the kind of spending issue Speaker Corcoran will use to buttress his arguments against funding both Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News has the scoop Since the first deal was made in 2012, VISIT FLORIDA paid Pat Roberts $2.8 million in taxpayer money for the show and allowed him to keep all of the advertising and sponsorship revenue.

— VISIT FLORIDA agreed to pay Roberts $450,000 for the first season of “Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller,” including $10,000 for production of each of the 10 half-hour episodes and $10,000 to air each on the NBC Sports Network. The company also received money for re-airings, web articles and short videos, according to contracts provided by VISIT FLORIDA.

–VISIT FLORIDA paid $550,000 for the second season in 2014. The third and fourth seasons in 2015 and 2016 each cost $580,000, and this year’s season cost $600,000, the contracts show.

— Roberts also received a 36-foot boat from Bradenton-based Yellowfin Yachts in the deal, according to an October 2012 bill of sale that identified the transaction as advertising credit for the show.

— VISIT FLORIDA provided a ratings analysis … showing a 9-1 return on the taxpayer investment. But by giving up advertising and sponsorship revenue and having no way to determine what Roberts collected, it is unclear how much better Roberts did than the taxpayers of Florida in the deal.


… about the heroin crisis via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post – Unlike recent years, when bills related to addiction and sober homes faced indifference and pious judgment, this year’s legislative session saw bipartisan bills flying through both houses unopposed. Some of the urgency is a response to the unrelenting, rising death toll from overdoses of heroin and other opioids. Bills breezed through seven committees in both houses unopposed. On the second-to-last day of the session, the Senate unanimously approved the House version, sending it to Gov. Scott for his signature.

The bill, which becomes law July 1, addressed three concerns: Marketing: Requires marketers of drug treatment services to be licensed by the state’s Division of Consumer Services. Criminal penalties: Allows the statewide prosecutor to investigate and prosecute patient brokering. Increases fines and prison time for higher volumes of patient brokering. Brokering up to 19 patients becomes a second-degree felony and a $100,000 fine. Brokering more than 20 patients is a first-degree felony with a $500,000 fine. Empowering Department of Children and Families: Significant increase in licensing fees. Operating without a license becomes a third-degree felony, carrying a maximum five-year prison sentence. DCF must draft rules for clinical and treatment best-practices, facility standards, qualifications for employees and staff ratios.

… about fantasy sports fails via The Associated Press – Late Friday, the Florida House rejected a proposal that fantasy sports are legal and not subject to regulation. The Florida Senate had added the provision earlier in the week to a bill repealing state regulation of several different types of jobs. This means the Florida Legislature won’t consider fantasy sports again until next year’s annual session.

… about transportation  – Despite last-minute amendments – a few withdrawn – a legislative package sought by the Florida Department of Transportation received final passage as the Session ended. Originally sponsored by Panama City Republican Sen. George Gainer, the legislation received six amendments Friday. The FDOT annual transportation bill, the FDOT sought to make it easier to modify its five-year construction plan to accommodate emergencies; giving the agency more control over bridge inspections, and improves the requirements for the process of accepting rapid response no-bid contracts for emergency construction, among other things.

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The Legislature failed to agree on rules to enact the medical marijuana amendment supported by 71 percent of Florida voters last November.

Who’s to blame for the issue’s collapse?

If you ask John Morgan the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Ben Pollara, the executive director of Florida for Care, an advocacy organization which was formed, in part, to lobby the Legislature on issues related to the expanded use of medical marijuana.

Over the weekend, Morgan and Pollara’s partnership exploded, with Morgan blasting Pollara in the media and social. scored the first interview with Morgan and it was a doozy.

–“Ben Pollara fucked the patients,” Morgan said Saturday morning. “The person who strengthened the cartels (a reference to the seven existing licenses permitted to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana in Florida and who have been on the opposite side of Florida for Care as the Legislature debated the implementation of Amendment 2) the most is Ben Pollara.”

— “The first thing I am going to do is make sure the people who helped me pass Amendment 2 know not to give Ben Pollara another red nickel,” Morgan said.

Pollara played defense all weekend.

— “The only compensation I have ever sought or received for work related to medical marijuana has been for political consulting and lobbying,” said Pollara. “I have always viewed any financial stake in the marijuana industry as a clear conduct with my roles as an advocate and leader of these two organizations.”

Pollara told Sunshine State News their relationship began to crumble earlier this week in the midst of negotiations on retail facility caps. Morgan was not happy over the idea of capping dispensaries and made it clear the bill would fail if caps were part of the end language.

Be sure to read Allison Nielsen’s reporting on the 11th hour lobbying which led to the collapse of the medical marijuana legislation.

What’s next for Morgan and medical marijuana? On Saturday, Morgan called for the Legislature to be brought back to Tallahassee in a special session focused on cannabis, reports Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times.

— Asked Saturday if Gov. Scott would call a special session and what he wanted to see in health department rules, a spokeswoman said simply, “Our office is reviewing our options on this issue.”

— Health officials now go back to the drawing board to write sweeping public policy that patients, advocates, business interests and doctors are sure to scrutinize. “Regardless of what myself or Florida for Care does on it, it’s going to be ripe for challenge from the patient side and the physician side and the businesses,” Pollara said.

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This story from Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times is amazing:

Multiple sources report that about two weeks ago, House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo walked down to the Governor’s Office, met with Scott’s chief of staff, Kim McDougal and offered a compromise. The House would agree to give VISIT Florida $75 million, with $100 million for the dike project this year and $100 million next year, but Enterprise Florida would get no money. In addition, the House encouraged Scott to veto every single hometown project in the budget (which could still happen).

— A Capitol lobbyist with knowledge of the transaction urged Scott to take the deal and claim victories … but he didn’t.

— The sources said McDougal responded a day or so later with a counterproposal that was essentially what Scott wanted all along: $100 million for VISIT Florida, $200 million for the [Herbert Hoover] dike and $100 million for Enterprise Florida, all of which the House rejected.

Reality check: One lobbyist who is plugged into Scott’s office sent over these thoughts when nominating the EOG as one of the losers of the 2017 Session. “The Governor’s team got their behinds whooped up and down the Capitol and Adams Street. It is shameful to watch as a team allows its leader to be publicly embarrassed over and over and over and over. While the Legislature was shaming the administration, the administration was either hiding behind secured doors or entering the local pubs on Adams Street.”

If Scott vetoes budget, House Speaker says they have votes to override” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Speaker Corcoran is not sweating the idea that Gov. Scott could veto the entire state budget the Legislature is expected to pass …”If he vetoes the budget, we have the votes, we’ll override,” Corcoran told reporters … Scott has said that vetoing the entire budget is one of his options, but has stopped short of threatening it. “I’m going to look at my options,” Scott said.

Here’s our question: Why veto the entire budget and risk an override, when Scott can selectively veto hundreds of millions of dollars in member project, thereby doling out punishment to individual lawmakers?

Meanwhile, the campaign to pressure Scott to veto the ‘whiskey and Wheaties Bill’ is intensifying via The Associated Press – Owners of small, independent liquor stores in central Florida are asking customers to support their efforts urging the governor to veto a bill allowing the sale of spirits in grocery stores … “Whiskey and Wheaties Bill” (SB 106) … Independent liquor store owners opposed the bill, saying supermarkets and big box stores could drive them out of business … “Not only do they have a price and convenience advantage, but grocery stores will have the power to kick us out when our lease is up,” Bully’s Liquor owner Steve Park [said] “If our landlord had to choose between us and the grocery store next door, we would be gone.” The bill is the latest legislative proposal to change how beer, liquor and wine can be made, distributed and sold in Florida. For example, brewers and distillers now can sell their products directly to consumers in pubs and in takeout jugs called growlers.

Scott to hold rally in Miami to call for release of Leopoldo Lopez” via Florida Politics — The Governor’s Office announced Scott, a Naples Republican, will hold a Freedom Rally at 6 p.m., Monday at El Arepazo 2, 3900 NW 79th Avenue in Miami. … Scott joins other Florida Republicans in calling for López’s release. Sen. Marco Rubio accompanied Lilian Tintori, López’s wife, to the White House for a meeting with President Donald Trump in February, and has called for his release. So has Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican who in February called López “one of many pro-democracy members of the opposition … that have been imprisoned for running afoul of the corrupt Maduro regime.” The governor’s decision to hold a rally is also notable for another reason: He’ll be far from Tallahassee as state lawmakers finish work on the 2017-18 budget, which doesn’t fund several of his priorities.

What the Governor’s Office is reading – “Lockheed Martin is moving ballistic missile jobs to Florida” via The Associated Press – Lockheed Martin Corp. plans to move about 300 ballistic missile program jobs from California to Florida’s Space Coast over the next two years … employees moving to Brevard County will work on testing and maintenance for the Navy’s Trident II D-5 Fleet Ballistic Missile … Lockheed Martin currently has nearly 1,000 employees in Florida. In January, the company completed renovations to a Cape Canaveral Air Force Station facility that had been built in 1961 for NASA’s first manned spaceflight program.

A year after her predecessor lost his job, Senate confirms Celeste Philip as surgeon general” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – On the final day of 2016’s Legislative Session, Philip became Florida’s acting surgeon general after the Senate refused to confirm her predecessor, Dr. John Armstrong. This year, as the Legislature prepared for a final set of votes … the Senate confirmed Philip to the job permanently. The surgeon general, appointed by Gov. Scott, is head of Florida’s Department of Health.

Mike Dew is a shoo-in for Transportation Dep’t top job” via Florida Politics Dew got a phone call from the Governor’s Office this week telling him the job was his. Dew, who put in for the top spot the morning of this Monday’s deadline to apply, was Gov. Scott‘s external affairs director in 2011-12. The Florida Transportation Commission, the department’s advisory board, scheduled interviews of applicants on May 11. The finalists are Dew, Florida Transportation Commissioner Ronald Howse, FDOT district secretary Phillip Gainer, former FDOT assistant secretary Richard Biter, and former North Carolina Department of Transportation Gene Conti. The panel will meet Wednesday, May 17, in Tallahassee to recommend three candidates for consideration by the Governor.

Sources: Noah Valenstein set to become next DEP head” via Florida PoliticsValenstein, Gov. Scott‘s former environmental policy coordinator, has the inside track to become the next secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection … Valenstein, now the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, is the top pick over interim secretary Ryan Matthews. Scott and the Cabinet in February OK’d Matthews to serve as interim department head to fill in for departing secretary Jon Steverson. He quit in January to join the legal-lobbying firm of Foley & Lardner.

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— 2018 ON THE MIND — 

Adam Putnam looks like Florida’s next governor, but lifelong politician tag will dog him” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times Putnam, the fellow who seems most likely to become Florida’s next governor, will stand on the steps of the old Polk County Courthouse in Bartow on Wednesday to kick off his campaign and lay out his vision. The two-term Republican agriculture commissioner, five-term U.S. House member and two-term state House member may be the best-qualified candidate for governor in Florida history. Trouble is, that’s also what they said about Hillary Clinton, who struggled to generate energy and passion as a presidential candidate. But what if after all this painstaking preparation, Putnam finds himself running at the worst possible time for a career politician? Trump won the presidency thanks to voters’ disgust with the status quo and establishment politicians, and on the eve of his campaign kickoff Putnam looks a lot more like Jeb Bushthan Trump. He already has a campaign war chest of more than $7 million to help scare off primary rivals. A play-it-safe campaign might be just the thing to help rivals in both parties paint him as another bland, lifelong politician.

Adam Smith ID’s the leading Republican AG candidates via the Tampa Bay TimesCorcoran has ruled out running for the office to be vacated after Bondi is term-limited in 2018, and other leading Republican contenders are now looking at other jobs … the likeliest candidates seem to be recently resigned Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, 42, and state Rep. Jay Fant, 49, of Jacksonville. The most prominent political figure in the mix is President Negron, who is still a big question mark. The Democratic side has been quieter on the Attorney General front. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler is a leading contender.

Miami-Dade Schools chief Alberto Carvalho explores run for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaCarvalho — a voter with no party affiliation — says he has been deluged with calls from Democratic and Republican insiders and leaders who have urged him to look at the seat. “I am serious seriously dedicated and committed to Miami Dade public schools and my commitment is as strong as ever,” Carvalho said. “At the same time, based on the significant voices of people who have urged me to at least think about it, I owe it to them minimally to entertain their request for consideration.” One top Florida Democrat, however, said he spoke with Carvalho and that he “is strongly considering a run, and that if he does it, he would be the instant front-runner.”

Navy vet to run against Dennis Ross” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times Andrew Learned, a Bloomingdale Navy veteran who runs an academic tutoring business, says he plans to file to run as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross in 2018. Learned, who’s 30 and single, hasn’t run for office before but said in an interview he’s always wanted to be in public service. Learned grew up in Valrico and was student body president at the University of Tampa on an ROTC scholarship, earning a degree in economics and political science. He was a boarding officer in a carrier strike group overseas and later stationed in Bahrain, starting his business in Valrico between deployments. He returned from Bahrain in late April and said he’s waiting for his separation date from the Navy to file candidacy papers. Learned said he disagrees with Ross most strongly on health care. Ross is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act.

Outraged by health care vote, Pam Keith considers facing Brian Mast in CD 18 next year” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics Keith has formed an exploratory committee … making the announcement at the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee meeting … just hours after Mast voted with the majority of his fellow Republicans for the American Health Care Act. “The response has been phenomenal,” Keith said. “People love that I am a veteran and feel that this helps to neutralize a lot of what Brian emphasized in his campaign.” Keith wanted to wait longer before making the announcement, but said Mast’s vote in support of the AHCA “really pushed me to get out there and test the waters.”


Lenny Curry declines consideration as CFO” via Teresa Stepzinski of the Florida Times-Union Curry said in a prepared statement that in light of ongoing media speculation, “I feel I must make clear my plans for the future.” Jacksonville remains his focus, he said. “I have stated many times in recent weeks that it is flattering to hear speculation about a statewide position that would allow me to do more for the state. And I always stand ready to work with Gov. Scott to make the future brighter,” Curry said. “But to stem the gossip and get the focus back on the city I love, I informed the governor … I am not seeking an appointment to CFO,” he said.

— With Curry out, the CFO job is Pat Neal’s to lose, right? RIGHT? Maybe not, we hear Joe Gruters is still in play, as is former Rep. Jimmy Patronis.

— We think Scott should reward his only real ally in the Senate — Jack Latvala — with the appointment.

“Constitutional review panel’s rules committee will meet” via Florida Politics – Even though it’s held several public hearings already, the Constitution Revision Commission has yet to agree on final rules governing its own work and deliberations. A “working group” will get together in Tampa on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the campus of Hillsborough Community College to hammer out those rules. The public will be given an opportunity to comment during that meeting. Then, the full commission will hold a public hearing for ideas on proposed constitutional amendments 5-8 p.m. in the same location, the DSTU Auditorium on the college’s Dale Mabry Campus. Both meetings will be live-streamed by The Florida Channel on

Assignment editors – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga will be the keynote speaker at a Law Day event by Legal Services of North Florida, the Legal Aid Foundation of the Tallahassee Bar Association and the Florida State University College of Law. Event begins 5 p.m. at Florida State University, Turnbull Conference Center, 555 West Pensacola St. In Tallahassee.


RIP – “Self-taught Miami photojournalist and blogger Bill Cooke dies at 70” via David Smiley of the Miami HeraldCooke, a tough-as-nails photojournalist and blogger, died in the Miami Veterans Affairs hospice after years of battling pulmonary fibrosis. He was 70. A Vietnam veteran and notorious curmudgeon who taught himself to shoot a camera, Cooke built his career in Miami as a freelance photographer with a nose for news. He scored big in 1992 when he followed a crew sign pointing down a neighborhood alley and snapped Madonna naked in a backyard shooting stills for her book “Sex.” While working as a car valet, he got a gig at The Associated Press by walking into the Miami office with photos of Al Pacino shooting scenes for “Scarface.” “He’d managed to sneak in and get some really outstanding pictures,” said Phil Sandlin, a former AP photo editor who worked with Cooke for about a decade. “Bill was a hustler. And he was actually as good a newsman as he was a photographer.”

Political consultant, competitive grillmaster Josh Cooper competing to be Fox’s new MasterChef” via Florida PoliticsCooper is more than a skilled Florida politico; he’s also a widely respected Tallahassee grillmaster. And now Cooper, a founding partner of Strategic Information Consultants and a competitive barbecue chef, is hoping to become the next “MasterChef.” MasterChef, in its eighth season on the FOX Network, is a reality cooking show hosted by award-winning celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay that takes a batch of home cooks from around the nation, invites them to Los Angeles for the “Battle for a White Apron.” Throughout his career, Cooper had taken his skills — in both politics and grilling – from Washington to Tallahassee by way of Memphis, where in 2008 he became part of a competitive barbecue team called the Swinos. The eighth season of MasterChef begins Wednesday, May 31, (8:00-9 p.m. ET/PT) on FOX.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Edgar Castro, Southern Strategy Group: ofo US Limited

Julie Fess, Fess Consulting: First Manatee Tag Agency, Inc.

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— ALOE — 

 “Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter group has the money to buy the Marlins, source says” via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald — A group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and ex-YankeeDerek Jeter has rounded up the investors to buy the Marlins. “They have the money,” a Major League Baseball source said. But the source said negotiations to purchase the Marlins are ongoing and that three groups are in the running to acquire the franchise from current owner Jeffrey Loria. A group led by Massachusetts businessman Tagg Romney is also in contention to buy the club, the source said, as well as a third “surprise” group that is a latecomer to the process. The Romney group also has the money to buy the team, the source said. An agreement could be reached within the next 10 days but would require approval from MLB owners. That final step might not take place until as late as August.

 “Snake fan hunts pythons in Florida to save other critters” via Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press — Florida is paying $8.10 an hour to hunt invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades, but Brian Hargrove says he’d work for free. He’s enjoying special access to state-owned wetlands and reliving his teenage years, when catching snakes gave him something better to do than join a Miami gang. It’s the best job ever for a man with a cobra tattooed over his heart. “I feel like I won the lottery, and I make minimum wage,” Hargrove said. But he must kill the pythons he finds. “The last thing I ever want to do is kill a snake,” he said. “I love snakes. It’s not their fault.” There is a long list of reasons why the pythons must die: all the animals they’ve eaten. It’s estimated 90 percent of many native mammals have ended up in pythons’ stomachs – they had never faced such a voracious predator before pet pythons escaped or were dumped into the Everglades. Hargrove, of Cutler Bay, is one of 25 hunters selected to kill pythons through June 1 for the South Florida Water Management District, the state agency overseeing Everglades restoration. Traps, snake-sniffing dogs, radio-tracking implants, occasional cold snaps and two public roundups so far have failed to significantly reduce the population of the giant constrictors. Florida’s wildlife commission announced Mondaynew prizes and plans to hire additional contractors to boost python removals from state-managed lands. “We’re trying to save the deer, the alligator, the rabbits, the rat snakes, the rattlesnakes – everything is slowly but surely disappearing,” Hargrove said.

Were Walt Disney’s dying words really ‘Kurt Russell’? As Disney’s ‘Guardians’ opens, the urban legend persists” via Michael Cavna of The Washington Post — The urban legend has persisted for decades: Were Walt Disney’s final words, whether written or spoken, actually “Kurt Russell”? … Russell, of course, was a child actor making a series of Disney movies — including 1966’s “Follow Me, Boys!” with Fred MacMurray — when Walt Disney died that same year. …Russell has said over the years that the legendary animator-filmmaker liked to ask him questions to get a sense of how a young mind works. The actor has said that Walt Disney reminded him of his own grandfather — inventive and creative and thoughtful — and so the teen actor was unintimidated by the mogul. Walt Disney, impressed by the young actor’s gifts, wanted him under contract for future Disney films — which might well explain why the words “Kirt Russell” were found scribbled on a note on the filmmaker’s desk when he died at age 65. … Russell himself was shown the sheet soon after the filmmaker died, when a Disney employee asked him about its possible meaning. Perhaps Walt had written the actor’s name weeks earlier, while planning a next picture for him? No one knows for sure. “It isn’t exactly a true story, that this was the last thing [Disney] wrote in his office,” (Jason) Gunn says.

Happy birthday belatedly to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Tracie Davis, Jennifer Edwards and Ken Littlefield. Celebrating today is the wonderful Elizabeth Ray and Ashley Walker, as well as Juan del Cerro and Dick Kravitz.

Sunburn for 5.5.17 – It’s sorta Sine Die

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

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


Readers: We’re asking for your suggestions for who are the “Winners and Losers of the 2017 Legislative Session.” Your recommendations are needed by Sine Die. All submissions will remain anonymous. Whose and which bills came out on top? Whose disappeared in committee, or worse, never got heard? Let us know soon!


Many Floridians are unable to answer simple questions about how government works, says a new survey of residents by Florida Southern College.

— Even those with college degree missed some of the answers from questions included on exams administered to those becoming new citizens of the nation. For example, only 65 percent could name Rick Scott as Governor of Florida.

— While only 65 percent were able to name Scott as Governor, even fewer (45 percent) knew Paul Ryan was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

— Asked why some states have more members of the U.S. House than others: Only 68 percent correctly said it was based on population; 20 percent did not know; seven percent said other reasons. Five percent gave no answer.

— For the name of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, only 53 percent knew it was “Bill of Rights.” Thirty-nine percent didn’t Know; 8 percent gave no answer.

— Many commentaries address the falling use of the printed newspapers, but results of the Florida Southern poll would suggest it is greater than previously reported. Asked what they would say is their main source of news, 41 percent of those agreeing to participate in the random sample telephone survey said television. Forty percent said the internet while 7 percent said newspapers, the same percentage who said their main source of news is radio. Another 2 percent listed other sources and 3 percent gave no answer.

Read the full polling memo here.

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Gov. Scott chastised state lawmakers for being unable to complete the 2017-18 budget on time, but once again stopped short of saying whether he would veto the entire spending plan once it reaches his desk.

“You would expect that when people have a job to do they’d get it done. I’ve been in business all my life, and that’s what you expect if you have a deadline,” said Scott following a stop in Naples on Thursday morning. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.’”

Gov. Scott visited PropLogix during his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour. PropLogix is a Florida-based company that does business with home buyers across the nation. Over the past two years, the company has grown from eight to more than 90 employees.

“They’re supposed to vote on this budget on Monday, and I have no earthly idea what’s in this budget,” said Scott. “Remember what Nancy Pelosi said about … Obamacare a few years ago: ‘You won’t know until you vote for it.’ It’s similar to this. I don’t know anyone is going to know (what’s in it).”

“On an annual basis, there’s 4,000 lines in the budget. It takes us a long time to review them,” he continued. “How is someone going to vote on Monday on a budget, 4,000 lines in a budget, that they haven’t seen?”

“Scott: Legislature’s inaction on gambling ‘doesn’t make any sense’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Scott doesn’t understand lawmakers’ inability to pass comprehensive gambling legislation this year—especially when he gave them a head start. “I don’t understand why they didn’t take that and try to work with it,” Scott said. “I know you have to work with both the Seminoles and the pari-mutuels. But there was a great framework there to get something done.” Part of the continual tug-of-war that ultimately kills gambling bills is the tension between pari-mutuels who want more games to offer—meaning slots and cards—and the Seminoles, who want to limit the competition against them. “I don’t get it. It’s more money for the state,” the governor said. “It stops this constant thinking about what we’re going to do, and it would solve a lot of problems … It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

– “Scott calls out Sarasota, Manatee representatives” via Zach Murdock of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will wrap up his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour with a stop at 8 a.m. (CDT) at the Holley Academic Center at Florida State University Panama City, 4750 Collegiate Drive in Panama City.


Gov. Scott has been fighting to keep Visit Florida funded through the state budget, going as far as filming an ad to push jobs in the state. That ad, though, wasn’t shot in Florida, reports WFTV Channel 9’s Chris Heath.

— When first asked, Scott did not recall where the ad had been shot. Scott told Heath that he shot the ad in Washington D.C. because he was on the road and it was easier.

— Rollins College political science professor Dr. Rick Foglesong said the ad sends mixed messages. ‘It’s certainly contradictory,’ he said. ‘I would say, in this case, the governor doesn’t practice what he preaches. ‘He could have selected someone in our state to create that ad, but instead he took the work out of state.

— The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is pouncing; spox Dave Bergstein: “Each day brings a fresh revelation confirming why Floridians despise self-serving Tallahassee politicians like Rick Scott — instead of creating good paying jobs in Florida, Scott takes his own business out-of-state. It’s just more proof that Scott will say and do anything to help himself, while Floridians who work for a living pay the price.”

— Meanwhile, Scott’s political committee, “Let’s Get to Work,” raised at least $485,100 in April. Among the big checks: 100K from UnitedHealth Group, $50K from a Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC and Florida Blue. The committee has approximately $2.53 million cash-on-hand.


Yesterday’s edition of Sunburn had barely begun to hit inboxes — and with it, an urging of Speaker Corcoran to consider also running for the U.S. Senate — when the Tampa Bay Times revealed the Pasco County Republican’s timetable for 2018.

— As the Speaker has told us privately, he won’t make a final; decision about a gubernatorial bid until after the 2018 Legislative Session, which ends in March of that year.

— What an interesting timetable that sets up. Adam Putnam is already in the race. Jack Latvala has told us and others he will make a decision and announce his plans in July. That leaves a big gap between those two and Corcoran’s decision.

— Corcoran says he won’t consider a bid for the U.S. Senate; it’s Tallahassee or bust: “Those are the only two choices — Governor or not run for office.”

Speaker  Richard Corcoran drops in the press room overlooking the House of Representatives chamber at the Florida Capitol.

— He’ll create a new political committee this summer (no word on what he will do with his current vehicle) but not just to raise cash for a gubernatorial run. (I)f I raise the money and I don’t want to run for Governor, I don’t run for Governor. I’ll use it for constitutional amendments, I’ll use it for helping real conservatives, or I’ll turn it over to the (Republican) party.”

— Although this story is bylined by Adam Smith, we’re told that the quotes were provided to Steve Bousquet.

Worth a read: “In begrudging praise of Speaker Richard Corcoran …” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Florida Squeeze

And speaking of 2018 – “Andrew Gillum’s campaign money boxes top $1 million” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – The Gillum for Governor campaign and its aligned political committee, Forward Florida, have raised a combined $1,051,473 through the end of April, from more than 5,600 individual donors, and have $743,827 cash on hand … That means he had a combined income of just over $200,00 in April … “Floridians are excited about the Gillum for Governor campaign, and our monthly fundraising report underscores their enthusiasm,” chief strategist Scott Arceneaux stated in a news release. “We’re on track to have the resources necessary to compete in all 67 counties and continue sharing Andrew Gillum’s fresh vision of a clean break from the old ways of governing Florida.” The early money certainly assures an early campaign infrastructure, including Arceneaux, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. Yet the statewide campaign is likely to cost several tens of millions of dollars.

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


The House and Senate budget conferees resolved their final differences Thursday and added nearly $2.5 million in last minute projects, including a rodeo facility in Arcadia, canal improvements in Florida City, and the Urban League.

“The budget is closed,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala said. “It should be on the desk tomorrow morning. No more. No more. The budget is closed.” Later, he announced on the floor that the budget was being printed.

Sprinkle by the numbers: Total Senate supplemental funding initiatives: $47,243,461; Total House supplemental funding initiatives: $11,498,825. Overall total: $58,742,286

— The health and human services budget was the last big roadblock to a compromise $83 billion budget. Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida estimated that hospitals took a cut of $250 million in recurring general revenue in their Medicaid payments … with legislators agreeing — for the upcoming year only —to reduce those cuts by $50 million. Because state dollars are matched by federal Medicaid dollars, the cuts amount to a $520 million reduction in hospital spending this fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Jack Latvala: House bill on conservation funding looks ‘very political’” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A House bill that would restructure funding for conservation land programs may not get a hearing in the Senate if appropriations chair Latvala has a say. HB 7119 would revise the Florida Forever formula to provide funding only for three conservation programs: Agricultural conservation easements, a local parks grant program and the Florida Forever acquisition list at the Department of Environmental Protection. Latvala … said the bill “came out of nowhere the last week of session” and has no Senate companion. “The optics on it would look very political to me,” Latvala told reporters.

Also raising Latvala’s ire, per @Fineout who asked legislators about putting language into a conforming bill taken from a bill not in conference … Because what the House/Senate did was take provisions from state worker insurance bill & place it in bill in budget conference … And there are rumblings that the Legislature may do the same and add education policy into 2 education conforming bills … So why is this important? Because conforming bills with budget can’t be amended – can only be voted up or down … And if anyone cares – they can consult Senate Rules 2.19 – paragraphs 2 and 3 – and decide if a point can be raised

— “House agrees to budget language hammering Miami housing developer” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Superintendents ‘gravely concerned’ by proposed K-12 funding” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The organization representing Florida’s 67 county school district superintendents says the Legislature’s small funding increase for K-12 public schools next year is “not sufficient to meet the basic funding needs of Florida’s 2.8 million public school students.” The Florida Association of District School Superintendents says that “many school districts in Florida will receive less student funding next year” under the levels that House and Senate leaders set … after private negotiations. Under lawmakers’ compromise proposal, per-student spending would rise slightly to $7,221 — an increase of only 0.34 percent, or about $24.49 per student. The impact on each district’s state funding varies greatly in some cases. “Considering the overall economic strength of our state, it is alarming that the basic funding needs of Florida public school students could go unaddressed,” said Malcolm Thomas, president of the superintendents’ association and Escambia County schools’ superintendent.


“Insurance bills fail to attract AOB, PIP amendments; workers’ comp still pending” via Florida Politics – The Senate retired Thursday night without taking up its workers’ compensation reform package. But Sen. Jeff Brandes’ insurance housekeeping bill survived without attracting unwanted amendments such as assignment of benefits reform. There was speculation it might after Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benaquisto pulled it from her committee Wednesday. Brandes wanted to keep the bill clean. “My deal to pull that from committee was to take only things that were in the House bill or were in the Senate bill, plus one or two other issues that leadership of the Senate agreed would go on that bill,” Brandes said. “AOB, PIP, workers’ comp are not any issues that are authorized to go on that bill, nor has the president asked me to put that on there,” he said. The House version — which would prevent third parties from collecting attorney fees — is favored by Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, the industry, and business lobbies.

Trial attorneys and chamber both pushing to kill workers’ compensation compromise bill” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – In an unusual display of unity, lobbyists for the Chamber and the Florida Justice Association (literally sitting side by side even) sent the same message to Florida senators: kill a compromise bill related to workers’ compensation. While the two groups have very different reasons why, the message was the same, an attempt to strike a compromise on workers’ compensation issues has made it unacceptable to both.

“Renewable-energy tax break bill heads to Rick Scott” via Florida Politics — The bill (SB 90) cleared the Senate unanimously. If signed into law, businesses that install solar panels wouldn’t have to pay additional property taxes from the increased value of adding such devices. “The voters of Florida spoke loud and clear in support of an expanded solar market in the sunshine state,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes in a statement. “Reducing property taxes on solar and renewable energy devices will bring more solar energy to Florida. The unanimous support of the legislature shows that we are dedicated to expanding the share of renewables in our energy portfolio, and I am excited to continue to advocate for energy reform.”

Senate approves amended House medical marijuana bill” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Senators approved the House proposal by a vote of 31-7. The measure now goes back to the House. The Senate bill sponsor, Sen. Bradley, late-filed a 70-page amendment to the House bill … just hours before that chamber took up the measure. Among the proposed changes in Bradley’s amendment: limiting growers to opening up five retail facilities, an alteration from the House version, which previously allowed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) to open unlimited facilities. The delete-all amendment would allow the Department of Health to grant 10 new licenses before Oct. 1 and would add five new licenses for every 75,000 patients.

Ben Pollara with Florida for Care reacts: “The implementing bill approved this evening by the Senate is not perfect but its passage is necessary. Hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering Floridians are counting on legislative action to provide access and relief — the amended HB 1397 would do so. The House should act quickly tomorrow to send this critical legislation to Gov. Scott.”

But – SIREN – Ray Rodrigues is saying he won’t accept the Senate’s latest proposal. “There were things included in the [amendment] that appeared to be different from what was agreed to in our previous negotiations,” Rodriguez told Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida.

— Bradley said he’s “surprised” by Rodriguez’ posture.

— Ducassi reports that Speaker Corcoran is now involved in negotiations after they hit a snag. And Corcoran seems to be really opposed to the idea of caps on dispensaries.

Sen. Rob Bradley listens to colleague during a Senate recess at the Florida Capitol. Photo credit: Mark Wallheiser.

House rejects compromise in fentanyl trafficking bill” via The Associated Press – A bill that toughens penalties for certain synthetic drug traffickers hit a roadblock after the Florida House rejected a Senate-added provision that would have allowed judges to break from mandatory minimum sentences in certain fentanyl cases. State Rep. Jim Boyd, a Republican sponsoring the measure (HB 477), said that not having minimum mandatory sentences for “scumbag” drug dealers would defeat the purpose of the bill. The bill now heads back to the Senate for reconsideration. But time could put the effort to combat opioid abuse in jeopardy.

Sober homes bill heads to governor” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel –The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Hager in the House and state Sen. Jeff Clemens in the Senate, represents a bipartisan attempt by lawmakers to target bad actors in the sober-home industry. Sober homes — halfway houses for people fresh out of rehab — have inundated South Florida. Officials estimate there are more than a thousand, with hundreds in Delray Beach, which has seen the most significant problem with them. The bill adds patient brokering to the list of crimes to be investigated by Florida’s Office of Statewide Prosecution. It also bans sober homes from lying in advertising, and tightens background screenings for workers at licensed rehab centers that refer patients to sober homes. Scott has not said whether he will sign the bill, but he is almost certain to do so. At a news conference last month, he cited the bill as a top priority in fighting the state’s opioid epidemic.

“Tom Lee quietly files amendment affecting Uber, Lyft” via Florida PoliticsState Sen. Lee on Wednesday filed an amendment for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles bill that would regulate the operations of ridebooking services like Uber and Lyft. The language would prohibit local governments and governmental bodies, including airport authorities, from cutting deal with “transportation network companies” (TNCs) to operate exclusively in their jurisdictions. The amendment for the bill (HB 545) also prohibits agreements “that provides disparate treatment” to any TNC. The bill was discussed on the floor later Thursday, but was postponed.“

More Tom Lee magic: “Controversial fee for private auto tag vendors springs back to life” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – An optional new fee on licenses and tags renewed through private vendors sprang back to life in the Senate … at the urging of Hillsborough County’s elected tax collector. The new fee is being sought by several county tax collectors and a lobbyist for for-profit vendors that want to issue licenses and tags to a growing universe of motorists. “We have a lot of people who don’t have time during the day to get this done,” said Hillsborough Tax Collector Doug Belden, whose offices often have two-hour wait times. “I can reduce wait times during the week. Our core concept is customer service.” Other tax collectors oppose the idea. The change would give private vendors power to charge motorists an undetermined “convenience fee,” subject to approval of tax collectors or by county commissions in Miami-Dade, Broward and Volusia, which do not have tax collectors but which allow private vendors to sell tags and issue car titles and registrations.

– “It’s the end of the road for the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Steve Andrews getting involved in Kevin Rader’s crusade against lobbyist” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Could someone in the Senate please ask Rader to knock it off? That’s the gist of a letter Tallahassee attorney Andrews wrote to Senate general counsel Dawn Roberts last week. “Would you kindly ask Sen. Rader to stop disseminating my client’s picture around the Capitol on stationery that bears the Senate’s seal?” Andrews wrote. “The last week has been bad enough without this nonsense,” Andrews continued … This was after the Democrat from Boca Raton had plastered in Capitol elevators posters bearing a pixelated image strongly resembling insurance lobbyist Lisa Miller. Rader has been on Miller’s case ever since another insurance lobbyist wrote on his blog that Miller had impersonated that “concerned citizen” during a conference call with the Demotech Inc. ratings agency.

Gary Farmer’s sneakers get him in trouble (sorta) on Senate floor” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – State Sen. Gary Farmer was sent to the back of the Florida Senate chamber for a brief timeout — because of his shoes. The Broward Democrat’s apparent faux pas: He was wearing sneakers. In the middle of legislative debate, Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores … interrupted the proceedings to point out Farmer’s choice of footwear. She called on Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers to take up the attire matter and instructed the sergeant to keep Farmer near the chamber’s back wall. “I’m not kidding,” a straight-faced Flores said, amid grins and chuckles around her. Farmer, too, was laughing — clad in his black sneakers with white soles. Flores later clarified that she was, in fact, joking. “Senator Farmer has been exonerated,” she said.

A Senate Sergeant of Arms taps Sen. Gary Farmer on the shoulder as he is called out during Senate debate for wearing tennis shoes on the Senate floor as Sen. Randolph Bracy, left, looks on at the Florida Capitol. Photo credit: Mark Wallheiser.

“Craft distillery bill set up for final Senate vote” via Florida PoliticsA bill to allow craft distillers to sell more product directly to customers was set for a final vote late Thursday. Sen. Greg Steube substituted the House version (HB 141) of his bill, which was set for third reading. The measure would let distillers sell up to six bottles of spirits per customer in a given year. Now, they may sell two bottles. If passed in the Senate, the bill would next head to Gov. Rick Scott.

Senate refuses House change on ‘Stand Your Ground’ burden of proof” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby ToolsThe Senate refused to accept the House’s amendment to the “stand your ground” burden of proof standard the lower chamber OK’d in early April. The House amendment on SB 128 said prosecutors must overcome “clear and convincing evidence” claimed in “stand your ground” immunity cases, a more lenient standard that the Senate’s wording: “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The bill has been returned to the House with a request to remove the amendment.

House argues prosecutors have no discretion on death penalties” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In a friend of the court brief bound to raise state attorneys’ eyebrows throughout Florida, the Florida House is arguing that prosecutors have no discretion with regard to capital punishment, that the state Legislature’s intent was to rest all discretion with juries. The House filed the brief in the Florida Supreme Court case of Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala versus Gov. Scott. The issues, in that case, are whether prosecutorial discretion gives Ayala the power to refuse all capital punishment prosecutions, as she’s done; and whether the governor has the right to strip capital cases away from her, as he’s consequently done. The brief … argues that a state attorney is not the one to decide on death penalties. It contends the state attorney’s role is more clerical, to review facts of a case to determine if aggravating circumstances exist that could merit a death penalty, and then leave the decision of death or life in prison entirely up to the jury.

School testing reform faces pass/fail exam in House” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – After several days of private collaboration among lawmakers, one major late-night rewrite and some last-minute tweaks, senators unanimously passed a sweeping education bill — the main feature of which is to address excessive testing in Florida’s public schools. HB 549 eliminates only a single test — the Algebra 2 end-of-course exam — and it requires the state Department of Education to study by Jan. 1 whether national exams, like the SAT or ACT, can be used as alternatives to the Florida Standards Assessments and other statewide tests. The results of that study could spur further action by lawmakers in the 2018 session to curb duplicative testing, which several senators had hoped to accomplish this year. “Is this bill what I wanted? No. I wanted more, but … I know that, at least, this is a good beginning,” said Tallahassee Democratic Sen. Bill Montford, a former Leon County schools superintendent whose opinion on education policy is well-respected by the chamber.


Pink is what distinguishes the last day of Florida’s Legislative Sessions.

Lobbyists, consultants, former lawmakers and observers, clad in pink outfits, roam the Capitol hallways during the session’s final hours.

Pink is the tradition for Capitol veterans to pay tribute to the late lobbyist Marvin Arrington.

“Marvin was here for a long time, and he had a tradition of wearing a pink sports coat on the last day of Session,” said Wayne Malaney, who lobbies for newspaper publishers.

In 2002, Arrington succumbed to a heart attack in a parking lot a block north of the Capitol. It was the Monday of the last week of session for that year. By the time people realized he was in crisis, smoke from the spinning of his car tires filled the downtown area.

“Marvin wore pink carnations and no one serving today was here when Marvin was, but those who remembered him by wearing pink,” said Keith Arnold, who served in the House in the 1980s and 1990s and now lobbies.

The last day of the 2002 session, Arrington’s son, Reynolds, and nephew, Patrick, showed up at the Capitol wearing Arrington’s trademark pink jackets. Joining them were more than 100 lobbyists sporting pink: carnations, jackets, shirts, all responding to Reynolds’ request to remember his dad with a display of pink.

“We respected him greatly for his intellect and honesty,” said Steve Schale, who knew Arrington while working for Rep. Doug Wiles. “And my way of paying homage to the way I think we are supposed to treat this business as advocates is to wear pink for Marvin Arrington.”

Seeing pink at the Capitol on Session’s final day, to paraphrase Artis Whitman, is a visual reminder of how each generation takes nourishment from earlier ones, giving knowledge to those who comes after.

Meanwhile, look for Pepi Diaz to give his farewell speech today, reports Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald. The Miami Republican has asked to say good-bye because he expects to be gone from the House one way or another before the 2018 session.Diaz, a lawyer, is a finalist for the Miami U.S. attorney job under President Donald Trump. But even if he doesn’t get appointed to the high-profile e gig, he intends to run for the state Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles.


The Indian River Lagoon is repeatedly being choked with oxygen-robbing algae, its surface increasingly dotted with thousands of dead fish, manatees, birds and other creatures.

The culprits: farm runoff and a huge influx of people that has sent lawn fertilizer and other pollutants into the lagoon, which runs 156 miles along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, almost to Palm Beach, and includes the Cape Canaveral area, reports Jason Dearen and Mike Schneider of the Associated Press.

— Although the federal and state governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to heal the lagoon in recent years, an examination found that pollution spiked, algae blooms spread and fish kills worsened over the past decade and a half as central Florida’s population swelled faster than that of anywhere else in the state.

— Since 2000, more than 1.5 million people moved into the six counties along the lagoon and three Orlando-area counties that drain into Lake Okeechobee or directly into the lagoon. More than 500,000 new homes were built in those counties over the same time period. Paved-over expanses such as roads, driveways and parking lots have allowed runoff to make its way into the lagoon more easily. It has also been fouled by wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the lagoon, sewage spills from the plants during heavy rains, and leaky septic tanks.

— The reported number of marine creatures that have died spiked to 1.2 million in 2011, compared with 7,000 in 2000, and experts blame the algae.

— In the past 20 years, the annual value of the clams, oysters, crabs and shrimp caught along the lagoon has dropped from more than $20 million to $4.3 million, according to regional planners. The lagoon’s problems, along with a voter-approved ban on large nets, played a big role in the disappearance of commercial fishermen.

— In Brevard County, which stretches along nearly half of the lagoon, the fish kill in March 2016 prompted voters to approve a sales tax to raise more than $300 million over 10 years for cleanup efforts, including upgrading wastewater treatment plants and removing thousands of old septic tanks. Florida environmental officials say they are pitching in $24 million in grants.

Dead fish clog the Banana River in Cocoa Beach. Photo credit: AP.

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Congressman Tom Marino is no longer in the running to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. That means the possibility of Attorney General Pam Bondi as the nation’s next drug czar is still alive.

Roll Call reports Thursday that the Pennsylvania Republican had been in the final steps of completing paperwork necessary ahead of official nomination. The job requires Senate confirmation.

A brief statement from Marino’s office only said he had withdrawn, citing a family illness. Chief of Staff Sarah Rogers would not comment on whether Marino failed a background check. Marino will remain in Congress.

Marino’s departure is reviving speculation that Bondi may still take a role in the Donald Trump administration. Last month, a state prosecutor cleared Bondi and Trump of wrongdoing in connection with a $25,000 contribution to a political action committee supporting her 2014 re-election campaign.


CFO Jeff Atwater gives big raises on way out” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando SentinelAtwater … has given six top-level staffers in his office substantial raises backdated to January, according to state records. Smaller raises also were given to 10 division directors at the Department of Financial Services. In total the pay hikes will cost taxpayers $96,977 over the course of a year. The raises for the top-level staffers were approved in April and made retroactive to January. Most state workers haven’t received an increase in pay since 2013, but the current state budget allows agency chiefs to issue bonuses and raises “to address retention, pay inequities or other staffing issues.”

“Carlos Lopez-Cantera to head federal judicial nominating panel” via Florida PoliticsLt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera will be the next statewide chair of the panel that vets candidates for federal judges, according to a Thursday statement from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office. The purpose of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission is “to identify highly qualified individuals as finalists to become U.S. district judges in each of the three judicial districts in Florida,” the release said. “Carlos is well-suited for this position and I am confident he is dedicated to this important process and will successfully lead the commission in identifying exceptional candidates to serve on the federal bench in Florida,” Rubio said.

PSC OKs rate hike under Gulf Power settlement via Florida Politics –– The Florida Public Service Commission signed off a rate increase of $6.20 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours for Gulf Power Co. Bills would increase from $131.43 to $137.63. The increase comes under the $62 million settlement agreement the utility reached April 4 with the Office of Public Counsel and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Gulf Power originally sought to charge its customers in Northwest Florida an additional $106.8 million. The deal guarantees the utility a return on investment to Gulf Power’s stockholders averaging 10.25 percent — more than the public counsel’s office, which represents consumers before the PSC, had argued was justified.

***Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) reduce prescription drug costs and protect Florida consumers, employers, unions, and government programs from high drug prices. PBMs will save Floridians $43.4 billion over the next decade. Learn more at***

Publix taps former Delta staffer to manage political spending” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business JournalJohn Provenzano will oversee the Lakeland-based company’s local, state and federal government affairs as well as manage the company’s political action committee. The company has given more than $6 million to various campaigns over the past two decades … Most of those contributions favor Republicans, with the company’s largest gift going to the Republican Party of Florida. Provenzano is currently the executive director of the National Association of State Treasurers. He starts with Publix June 12.

New and renewed lobby registration

Brian Bautista, Impact GR: ofo US Limited

Paul Bradshaw, Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: ofo US Limited

Matt Brockelman, Jonathan Setzer, Southern Strategy Group: Modern Health Concepts

Christopher Dudley, Paul Mitchell, , Southern Strategy Group: Auto Club Group (AAA)

Mike Haridopolos: Astronauts Memorial Foundation

Joy Ryan, Meenan PA: Pringle Lane Farm, LLC

Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: Auto Club Group (AAA); Modern Health Concepts

Miami-Dade mayor’s son leaves Trump-linked lobbying firm that represented Venezuelan-owned company” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami HeraldC.J. Gimenez, a son of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, is leaving the lobbying firm Avenue Strategies, in part because the company took on as a client Citgo, the Venezuelan-government owned oil company. Avenue Strategies’ founder, former Donald Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, also announced his exit from the firm after a spate of negative publicity. The younger Gimenez, who had joined Avenue just last month, characterized the Citgo representation as the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and said he and Lewandowski will now focus solely on domestic lobbying clients. “I will personally never represent the interests of the Maduro regime, which reflects the worst there is of all humanity,” Gimenez, who was traveling, told the Miami Herald in a text message.

“Orlando-area judge ordered suspended for campaign ad” via Orlando RisingThe Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a 90-day unpaid suspension and public reprimand for an Orlando-area judge who “circulated a deceptive, misleading advertisement.” The court’s hearing panel also suggested paranoia on the part of Circuit Judge Kimberly Shepard, who believed “sinister forces (were) at work” trying to defeat her, they said … During the campaign, she handed out fliers that “implied that the Orlando Sentinel had endorsed Ms. Shepard, when it had, in fact, endorsed her opponent,” Norberto Katz, according to a report by a hearing panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Barbara Poma, foundation to develop national memorial, museum at Pulse site” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The owner of the Pulse nightclub announced her newly formed foundation will seek to develop a national-caliber memorial and museum campus on the site of America’s worst recorded mass shooting. Poma pushed through the pain of last year’s tragedy to declare her new foundation’s motto, “We will not let hate win,” and announced the creation of the OnePulse Foundation, which will raise money and work with the community to plan, develop, build, operate, and maintain the memorial in Orlando. “We have come so far in these 11 months. I can say finally that I am finding hope and inspiration by being back here at Pulse,” Poma said. “Pulse has become part of you, and you a part of Pulse. What was once our little corner at Kaley [Street] and Orange [Avenue] is now shared with the world. Together, we are all part of Pulse’s future, right here on this property.”

“Busted: Cocaine found in 5 greyhounds at Derby Lane” via Associated PressState officials revoked a racing greyhound trainer’s license after five dogs tested positive for cocaine after a race in January. According to records from the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Malcolm McAllister’s racing license was permanently revoked April 24. Urine samples for the dogs were taken by state employees following races at the St. Petersburg Kennel Club — known as Derby Lane — in January. McAllister didn’t dispute the findings and waived his right to a hearing. He wrote in a note to the agency that someone he’d hired either dropped or administered the drug, and that it wasn’t him.

Happy birthday to our wonderful friends, Laura Jolly and Jim Magill as well as Paul Flemming and Susannah Randolph.

Sunburn for 5.4.17 – May The Fourth Be With You

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

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


While it’s clear what Gov. Rick Scott hopes to accomplish with his barnstorming tour of the state over the next few days, it almost certainly won’t make any difference.

He calls it the “Fighting For Florida’s Future” tour because he wants to fully fund Enterprise Florida so it can continue providing $85 million in taxpayer “incentives” for out-of-state businesses to bring jobs here.

Businesses will come to Florida if they believe they can make money. They don’t need what House Speaker Richard Corcoran has mocked as “corporate welfare” to do that.

Scott’s hope for his speaking tour is that people will get riled up enough to call their legislators and demand they approve his agenda.

Yeah. That’ll happen.

He also wants the Legislature to spend $200 million to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. That dam was considered a culprit in last summer’s polluted water runoff that led to the disastrous algae bloom.

Pushing for that money makes the governor look like he cares for the environment. A better time to show that might have been before that runoff and while his administration was gutting environmental laws left and right, but I digress.

The bigger picture is that Scott was essentially neutered during this Legislative Session by Corcoran. The Governor is now the lamest of ducks, and that won’t help him as he casts a longing eye toward Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

Corcoran outfoxed the governor at every budgetary turn this year and was very public about it. It goes to Corcoran’s core belief that Tallahassee spends too much money and needs to go on a fiscal diet.

It has been assumed the Speaker has considered running for Scott’s soon-to-be vacant governor’s chair, but what if there is something bigger afoot?

While Corcoran would have a tough time breaking through against fellow Republican Adam Putnam to win the Republican nomination for governor, he could draw a strong contrast between himself and Scott if he decided to go for the Senate seat instead.



Legislature crafts secret budget deal to end Session” via the Associated Press – Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced that the Legislature will extend its annual session to next Monday. The session was supposed to end on Friday. Legislative leaders also said that they will only consider the budget and budget-related bills during the three-day extension. Negron and Corcoran and other top Republicans worked out the details of the budget in secret. They announced that a deal had been worked out before anything was released to the public.

— This new timeline contrasts with the Speaker’s comment to reporters Tuesday that he was “90 percent” sure the session would end on time, which would have been this Friday. The announcement also means that millions of dollars in spending differences were worked out behind closed doors, out of public view and participation … The state constitution provides that a “regular session of the Legislature shall not exceed (60) consecutive days, and a special session shall not exceed twenty consecutive days, unless extended beyond such limit by a three-fifths vote” of each chamber.

— The President insisted the process has been “very open and transparent.” For example, the House and Senate agreed not to insert projects into the budget during conference committee meetings. “That’s a dramatic change from how the budget process was done before.”

As for the Capitol Press Corps, it reacted something like this…

@BylineBrandon: Yes, deals were often cut behind the scenes. But there’s a difference for public, reporters between incremental and wholesale agreements. It’s easier to scrutinize a couple of 15-page offers at a time than a complete package that runs over 100 pages late in the process

@MDixon55: Can’t be said enough: presiding officers did not hold one public meeting.

@SteveBousquet: This year is the first time in memory that so much of the budget negotiations were conducted in private.

@TiaReports: So surprised. No public comment on offers no one has seen? That we didn’t know about until an hour ago? Who would think it.

Of course, the real reason lawmakers will meet Monday instead of Saturday:


At first, it appeared that Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran had forged a closed-door agreement, but they acknowledged that a dispute over cuts to hospitals and changes in reimbursements to nursing homes delayed final resolution.

Some additional details did emerge Wednesday, including agreements on environmental programs, spending on beach restoration and a decision to cut $1.3 million from the budget of an Orlando prosecutor who has come under fire for her decision to stop prosecuting death penalty cases.

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— “Budget deal includes no money for Florida Forever” via Florida Politics — The Senate accepted the House offer on the agriculture and natural resources portion of the budget, agreeing not to set aside any money for Florida Forever in 2017-18. The $3.6 billion plan zeros out funding for land acquisition. According to LobbyTools, the agreed upon budget sets aside $2 million for St. Johns River and Keystone Heights projects, significantly less than the $20 million the Senate initially requested. The offer also included $13.3 million for beach recovery and $39.9 million for beach projects, on top of the $10 million base budget. But the offer zeroed out funding for land acquisition. “By zeroing out Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust, this is now the third year in a row that politicians in Tallahassee have thumbed their noses at voters,” said Aliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, in a statement.

— “House accepts Senate AST reorganization language, ends government ops budget negotiations” via Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools The House accepted Senate budget language on reorganizing the Agency for State Technology Wednesday. The House initially pushed for a complete overhaul of the state’s IT services, which included replacing the agency, but late in the budget negotiations a deal to keep the agency while making changes emerged. Proviso language includes the appointment of a “chief data officer” by the state’s chief information officer.

— “The (budget deal) would eliminate a $1 million recurring appropriation to fund a program provided by Florida Psychological Associates, based in Fernandina Beach,” reports Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News. The business owners received state money with the help of their friend, state Sen. Aaron Bean and failed to meet goals outlined in its contract with Florida State University

– “’Corrected’ PECO list moves $2M between UF projects” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida

— “Late provision takes aim at embattled Miami housing developer via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

— The Pasco Sheriff’s Office says the House and Senate have agreed to fund the $4.3 million USF forensics center/body farm. Background on that issue here.

— “USF’s downtown Tampa medical school takes $2 million haircut in final budget offer” via Florida Politics


“One element of the workers’ compensation fix headed to Governor” via Florida Politics — It’s not the big banana, but a small piece of workers’ compensation reform is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. The bill is CS/CS/HB 1107, shielding personally identifying information about workers’ comp claimants under Florida’s public records laws. It passed the House on a 120-0 vote Wednesday, having cleared the Senate, 37-0, on Tuesday. The information at issue was shielded until 2003, when the Legislature allowed a public records exemption to lapse. Advocates of the exemption argued it allows trial attorneys to identify possible claimants, encouraging costly claims appeals.

— Just as sponsor Danny Burgess said, “I’m very hopeful and guardedly confident that we will have an agreement we can put before the membership of both the House and the Senate and that both houses can support” …  this popped

— “Amendment would move Senate’s fix closer to House language” via Florida Politics – The sponsor of the Senate workers’ compensation bill has edged toward the House position regarding the maximum attorney fees payable in claims litigation. Sen. Rob Bradley filed an amendment to his bill Wednesday trimming the maximum hourly fee to $200 — down from $250 in his original bill, but more than the $150 contemplated in the House. The amendment also would require the Department of Financial Services to engage an independent consultant to study the system for reimbursing medical providers through the workers’ compensation system. … The amendment is drawn to the House language, HB 7085. The Senate version has been awaiting action on the Senate’s special order calendar, but has not yet been debated.

Trial lawyers not happy, per Mark Touby, president of Florida Workers’ Advocates“On top of being potentially unconstitutional, the strike-all amendment would have a devastating and chilling effect on Florida’s businesses and the workers they employ. The amendment proposed by Sen. Bradley removes any element of competition from the ratemaking process and would severely limit an injured worker’s ability to achieve the goal of Florida’s workers’ compensation system: To help the injured worker get well quickly and return to their job. The only people smiling about this amendment are the insurance special interests who will continue to profit at the expense of businesses. It is our hope that Florida lawmakers will recognize the detrimental consequences this language would have on the workers’ comp system in Florida and vote no on this amendment.”

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the Assignment of Benefits issue, asking “Does Florida’s legislature exist to enrich plaintiffs attorneys or to serve the Sunshine State’s voters? We’re about to find out, courtesy of a renewed political effort to stop a trial-bar scheme that scores insurance paydays at the expense of Sunshine State homeowners.”


Pollution notice bill inspired by sinkhole passes Legislature” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – A bill requiring industry and government to notify the public quickly of any pollution problems has passed both houses of the Legislature and is headed for Gov. Scott … who called for the change in the law, will definitely sign it.

Bad condo boards, beware: Legislature passes new laws unanimously” via Brenda Medina of the Miami Herald – The Florida Senate gave unanimous and final approval to a bill that imposes criminal penalties on condominium violations such as electoral fraud, theft of funds and conflicts of interests — all significant problems in Miami-Dade County. The 37-0 vote on the bill, already endorsed by the House last week in another unanimous vote, now goes to Gov. Scott for his signature. Under the new law, fraud in the election of condo association directors, the falsification of signatures on ballots, the manipulation of condo records and the theft or disappearance of ballots will be considered serious violations that could be punished with prison terms. Condo associations with 150 or more units will publish financial reports on a webpage, accessible with passwords. Directors will be limited to eight years on the board of homeowner’s associations. But they will be able to continue in office if they win a super-majority of the votes from owners in subsequent elections. Directors are forbidden from receiving payments from the association or hiring their relatives.

Deceased FSU player’s brother says bill provides closure” via The Associated PressDevard Darling said his family can finally feel closure after the Florida Legislature passed a bill to compensate his parents $1.8 million for the death of his twin brother, Devaughn Darling, a Florida State football player who died during team drills. The bill’s passage comes more than 16 years after Devaughn Darling’s death. “It is something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” Devard Darling said. “My mom has wanted to see this all the way through. Finally, we can move on.” The House approved the bill 112-4, and it passed the Senate by a 34-2 vote … The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Scott.

Dems’ guarantee of swift vote on water bill killed Republicans’ last-minute gun bill” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – House Republicans quietly agreed to pull from the floor a gun bill not yet considered at all by the chamber, after trading with Democrats to ensure a priority of the Senate president — also not previously vetted by the House — would be voted out that same day. It’s a prime example of the type of deal-making and horse-trading that’s commonplace in the Florida Legislature during the final days of session. Had SB 616 been heard on the House floor Tuesday as planned, the Republican-led chamber likely would have easily approved it. But instead, Democrats were able to use the power of their 41-member caucus — something they can’t often do — to convince House Speaker Richard Corcoran not to hear the bill, after all.

Bryan Desloge: Bill Montford ‘sacrificed’ Leon County for pay raise” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – The Leon County Commissioner said Sen. Montford “sacrificed” when he voted to put a constitutional amendment cutting property taxes on the 2018 ballot. Montford suggests that the criticism is a bit hypocritical given Desloge’s support for home rule and complaints about the state preempting local control. “He sacrificed Leon County. Bill will get in-theory state pay raises – it has to run the gauntlet with the governor,” said Desloge. “But this is a body blow to the county. We’re left with two choices, cut services or raise taxes.” The House and Senate approved a resolution enabling voters to decide to add another $25,000 homestead exemption to the state constitution … The measure is a priority of Speaker Corcoran and is part of the budget agreement struck between legislative leaders. “I sacrificed no counties, including Leon County,” said Montford, moving back in his chair when told of Desloge’s criticism.

“Legislature agrees to pay millions for lost citrus” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Florida legislators have agreed to pay millions to homeowners in two counties whose healthy citrus trees were torn down in a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker. Republicans announced that as part of a secret budget deal they would set aside $37.4 million on behalf of homeowners in Broward and Lee counties. But the money won’t cover homeowners in Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties who have also sued the state over lost citrus trees. The Florida House initially proposed paying homeowners in Palm Beach County, but that county was dropped during closed-door negotiations. “We couldn’t afford to pay all three of them,” said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, House budget chairman.

“Legislature passes bill on compensating wrongfully imprisoned” via The Associated Press – A law that allows compensation to people wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Florida could be revised to make some felons eligible under a bill going to Gov. Scott. The House unanimously passed the bill … a week after the Senate did the same. It would change the so-called “clean hands” requirement of the compensation law. Florida now allows compensation up to $50,000 annually for people who are proven innocent of a crime for which they were imprisoned. But anyone who committed a felony before or after the wrongful incarceration isn’t eligible. Under the bill, a prior felony wouldn’t preclude someone from being compensated if they were imprisoned for an unrelated crime of which they were later proven innocent.

Solar backers support measure to carry out Florida voters-approved tax break” via the Orlando Sentinel – After the measure (SB 90) got unanimous support from the House, the Senate is expected to approve the bill, which outlines implementation of a constitutional amendment approved in August. If approved by the Senate, the bill would then go to Gov. Scott. The constitutional amendment, which received support from 72.6 percent of voters during the August primary elections, calls for extending a renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties. The tax break would be in place for 20 years and is an extension of a break already provided to residential properties. A selling point of the constitutional amendment was that it said all renewable-energy equipment would be exempt from state tangible personal property taxes. Some solar-energy backers initially were concerned about the House’s approach to carrying out the constitutional amendment and favored a proposal by Sen. Jeff Brandes. To bring the House and Senate bills closer together, Brandes added a provision that would allow local governments to tax up to 20 percent of the property attributable to a renewable energy source device. He said allowing governments to collect any amount of taxes could help rural counties pursue large solar farms.

Assignment editors: The National Day of Prayer Task Force will host its annual National Day of Prayer State Capitol Rally from 11:30 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. on the 22nd floor of the Capitol. Attendees are expected to include the Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, members of the Florida Cabinet, Speaker Corcoran, and other legislative leaders.

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Legislators are reviving a push to clear up the murky legal status of fantasy sports in the state, reports the Associated Press. The Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously for a bill that says fantasy sports are legal and not subject to regulation.

The move was a surprise. The provision was added at the last moment to a bill repealing the regulation of several different types of jobs in the state.

The legislation heads to the Florida House.

“Senate adds slot machine provision onto House bill” via Florida PoliticsThe Senate on Wednesday tacked language onto the professional deregulation bill that could lead to the expansion of certain kinds of slot machines. The provision came under the above-mentioned guise of trying to move fantasy sports into the non-gambling realm before the end of the Legislative Session. … (T)he second part of the amendment also authorizes certain veterans’ organizations to “conduct instant bingo.” The language includes an allowance for “electronic tickets in lieu of … instant bingo paper tickets.” And that refers to what are known as “Class II gambling” bingo-style slot machines.

— “Jackpot? Judge could reconsider ‘pre-reveal’ slot machine ruling” via Florida PoliticsA Tallahassee judge has agreed to hear arguments on why he should reconsider his ruling that stand-alone consoles known as “pre-reveal” games are not illegal slot machines. Judge John Cooper set a hearing for June 19 in the Leon County Courthouse, court dockets show, after the Seminole Tribe of Florida asked to intervene. The move also puts a hold on an appeal filed in the 1st District Court of Appeal by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates gambling. The Tribe will argue that Cooper’s decision “upends the Compact,” the 2010 agreement between the Tribe and the state for exclusive rights to offer certain gambling in return for a cut of the revenue. That could cost the state “multi-billions of dollars.”

— “The specter of a slot machine decision looms” via Florida Politics – Let’s repeat what we said Wednesday morning: “…wouldn’t it be deliciously funny, wouldn’t it be side-splittingly ironic, if the Supreme Court of Florida finally released its Gretna Racing decision on Thursday, the day it usually issues its opinions for the week? (OK, maybe not this week, but one veteran of The Process guesses at least ‘within the next few weeks.’) At issue in the Gretna case is the same issue that deep-sixed this year’s effort [to pass an omnibus gambling bill]: Whether counties that said ‘yes’ to slots in voter referendums should be constitutionally allowed to have them. If the court rules favorably, it could means expanding slot machines to all eight counties where voters passed slots referendums: Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington. That could result in the single biggest gambling expansion in the state, including the other counties that will hustle to run their own referendums.”


Gov. Scott made the first of 10 stops on his three-day “Fighting for Florida’s Future whirlwind tour of Florida at PowerGrid Engineering in Lake Mary and delivered much the same presentation he’s been making for a couple of months, pushing for support of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, and urging people to call lawmakers who oppose full funding for them.

In this tour he’s adding a push for money for refurbishment of the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee, but otherwise sticking to a script he used in numerous appearances around the state since March: crediting his economic development corporations with driving Florida’s growing economy, and warning of economic and tourism stagnation without them.

Governor Rick Scott visited CWU Inc. during his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour.

Yet as the Legislature struggled to complete its annual budget bill in time, Scott said he still wants and expects a budget this week.

And if he doesn’t get what he wants, $200 million for the dike, $100 million for Visit Florida and $85 million for Enterprise Florida?

“As Governor you have a lot of options. As you know, I have the option to veto the entire budget, and I can go through every line and try to veto that. So I have a lot of options. I’m going to go through and make sure we do the right thing for our families,” Scott said.

Tweet, tweet:

Speaker not particularly worried about a Scott veto“The governor has that right,” Corcoran said Wednesday. “Shoot, there’s only been two vetoes that I can recall in modern history. One was overridden overwhelmingly. The other one wasn’t overridden because the Republicans wouldn’t go along with the Democrats who were in charge.” His first example happened during the tumultuous term of Republican Gov. Claude Kirk, who served from 1967-71 and clashed often with the Legislature’s Democratic majority. The second instance took place in 1992 under Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Sen. Pres doesn’t want a wholesale veto either via Florida Politics – Faced with the prospect of a gubernatorial budget veto, Senate President Negron said Wednesday that he hopes it doesn’t come to that. “I hope the governor doesn’t veto the budget, because I think it’s a strong budget. He certainly has every right to look at particular items,” Negron told reporters following the day’s Senate session. … “The governor always has that option,” Negron said of a veto. “I don’t see anything unique about this budget that would make it more or less likely to be vetoed.”

Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reported early Wednesday that “Scott will sign the bill containing President Negron’s Everglades reservoir proposal,” per a spokesman for the Governor.

But “… this is only part of the solution,” Scott spokesman McKinley P. Lewis said via email Tuesday. “The Legislature should include $200 million in the budget to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike, a project which President Trump has already committed federal funding to.”

— Meanwhile, the Governor’s Office now has received nearly 500 emails asking Gov. Scott to veto a contentious bill that allows retailers to sell distilled spirits in the same store as other goods. A tally shows 491 emails urging a veto and none in support of the measure (SB 106), according to Lewis.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott continues his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour at 9 a.m. at Best Home Services, 1455 Rail Head Blvd. in Naples. From there, he’ll head Sarasota where he’ll hold an event at 11 a.m. at PropLogix, 1651 Whifield Ave in Sarasota. At 1:45 p.m., Scott will be at Boston Whaler, 100 Whaler Way in Edgewater; before heading to Jacksonville for a 4 p.m. event at Novolex, 400 Ellis Road N. He’ll end the day at 5:45 p.m. (CDT) at Sanders Beach-Corrine Jones Resource Center, 913 South I Street in Pensacola.


Today, I issued an executive order which allows the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding which will immediately be distributed to communities across the state to deal with the opioid epidemic. HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price awarded the Opioid State Targeted Response Grant to Florida and I want to thank the Trump Administration for their focus on this national epidemic. I have also directed State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip to declare a Public Health Emergency and issue a standing order for Naloxone in response to the opioid epidemic in Florida.

“Last month, I directed the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to meet with communities in Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval and Orange Counties to identify additional strategies to fight the rising opioid usage cases in Florida. They have gotten a lot of feedback this week and we will continue to look at additional ways we can fight this national epidemic which has taken the lives of many Floridians.

“I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family because it impacted my own family growing up. The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help. Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic and Florida is going to do everything possible to help our communities.”

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— “As recently as last month, Scott declined to declare a public health energy to address the opioid epidemic,” Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

— In February, Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon called on the Governor to declare a state of emergency. “There is no family, no race, no ethnicity, no income level this epidemic cannot touch — and no effective state bulwark in place to stop it,” Braynon wrote in a letter.

“Senate sends amended version of opioid crackdown bill back to House” via Florida Politics – The Senate approved legislation Wednesday increasing penalties for trafficking in synthetic opioids including fentanyl. The vote was 37-0 to send the measure back to the House. HB 477  targets fentanyl and related substances that, when administered by themselves or in combination with other drugs, can prove deadly, for tougher sentencing. For example, it would add fentanyl and derivatives to the list of Schedule I drugs and provides that trafficking in them resulting in death constitutes murder.

— An amendment the Senate adopted Tuesday on a voice vote removes mandatory-minimum sentences from the bill, setting up a clash with the House. The Tampa Bay Times Jeremy Wallace explains: The Senate stripped out a provision that would required a mandatory minimum 3 year prison sentence for anyone charged with having 4 grams or the drug. A person caught with 14 grams would face 15 years in prison. And a person who is caught with 28 grams would face a minimum of 25 years in prison. … That provision remains in the House bill and … state Rep. Jim Boyd said he’s determined to keep that language in because the “dealers preying on addicts should be behind bars for a long time.”

This leaves the House – which doesn’t meet again until after 1 p.m. on Thursday – with options: pass Steube’s version without mandatory minimums and send it to the governor or re-add the mandatory minimum language and send it back to the Senate and force them to have to accept it.

— “Sober home bill not moving” via South Florida Sun-Sentinel A bill (that would) prevent sober homes — the halfway houses for people fresh out of rehab that have spread rapidly in South Florida — from making false statements in marketing themselves … passed the House a week ago, but the Senate version has languished since April 20, when it passed its last committee. “There’s still three days left in session,” said bill sponsor state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “I feel like it’s good legislation and it’s something that the entire South Florida community is crying for, so I have confidence in the process.”


Medical marijuana: The good, the bad and the ugly” via Barney Bishop for Sunshine State News – The good is that the House has passed a bill that can be compromised with the Senate bill so the Legislature can fulfill its obligation to reasonably implement Amendment 2. The bad is that the House has given in to the proponents, and has agreed to allowing up to 10 more growers by next year about this time. The ugly is that the House also agreed to allow an unlimited number of dispensaries for each of the current growers, and any new growers in the future. This doesn’t make any sense. The Senate has limited retail shops to three for each grower, and Sen. Rob Bradley has acknowledged in previous testimony in committee that three is probably too low — but it was acceptable as a number to start with.

Jamey Richardson: Proposed nursing home reimbursement plan will make Florida senior care even better” via Florida Politics – As the president of a multifacility company with arguably the highest quality rating in the State of Florida, I feel compelled to respond to the misguided comments about the proposed Prospective Payment System (PPS). The current proposal, for the first time in Florida Medicaid history, will create a true incentive for long-term care centers to provide higher quality care to our residents … at a time when our country is trying to simplify government programs, the current system is overly complicated and overly burdensome on state agencies. The PPS proposal for nursing home reimbursement is both complicated and challenging, and critics certainly don’t help the public understand it when they introduce false information to scare the Legislature away. Many of the opponents of PPS are content with the current system because they benefit from the inefficiencies of the system and have learned how to “game” the program. The bottom line is that this PPS plan will, for the first time ever, link the payment system to quality outcomes. How could anyone oppose paying for quality?

Please don’t go there, Adam Putnam” via Peter Schorsch Florida Politics – One minor way Putnam attempts to protect his right flank rings false. Putnam asked Twitter followers their thoughts on sanctuary cities in Florida. Perhaps Putnam’s tweet was an honest attempt to gauge his followers. What I fear is that this was more likely an attempt, albeit a small one, by Putnam to burnish his right-wing credentials with GOP voters … someone with Putnam’s agricultural background, it is hypocritical to cast doubt on sanctuary cities. Every farmer in Florida knows firsthand that the state’s bountiful crops wouldn’t be so bountiful were it not for the thousands of undocumented workers picking fruit and tending fields. While Putnam may not be my first choice for Florida governor, I would be satisfied seeing him in the Governor’s Mansion. But I don’t want to see him get there by leaning so far to the right that common-sense Republicanism gets lost in the shuffle.

Stock up on popcorn because the governor’s race is getting real via Joe Henderson for Florida Politics – If the last governor’s race was bland vs. bland, the one shaping up for 2018 should get voters worked up a lot more. This is getting real … Adam Putnam just made official what everyone already knew … He is smart, great on the stump, popular, well-known, and, as my wife noted this morning when his picture flashed on the TV, “He looks so young.” Gwen Graham officially joins the Democratic field … and that changes everything. The panhandle has been the exclusive property of Republicans in recent elections, but Graham puts it back in play for her party. Compared to Putnam, Graham is a fiery liberal. It’s too soon to predict an outcome, given variables that include President Trump’s popularity (or lack) on the next Election Day. Here is one safe prediction, though. Compared to recent governor’s races, this one is going to be entertaining. Better stock up on popcorn.


Beth Matuga exits Gwen Graham’s campaign – The Democratic operative who left the Florida Democratic Party’s Senate Victory arm to work for Graham, is no longer part of the north Florida Democrat’s gubernatorial efforts. “We are thankful for Beth’s role in helping set up Our Florida PC and wish her the best of luck in the future,” a spokesperson for Our Florida, Graham’s political committee, said Wednesday evening. Although Matuga had yet to take on a defined role with Graham’s campaign, she did leave her position with the FDP to work at some level for the former U.S. Representative.

Christian Ulvert announced he would not run for SD 40, but Alex Diaz de la Portilla has filed for the seat, per the Miami Dade Supervisor of Electoon.

Former DCF chief, AG candidate George Sheldon could be heading back to Florida” via Lynn Hatter of WFSUSheldon has reportedly been offered a job at a troubled Miami-based organization. Our Kids Miami has a five-year, billion-dollar contract with the state … It’s the organization contracted by the Florida Department of Children of Families for adoption and foster care services. Recently its top administers quit following the suicides of two girls in the agency’s care. The Chicago Tribune reports Sheldon is considering a job offer from Our Kids, in addition to another position in California. Sheldon previously led the Florida Department of Children and Families from 2008 to 2011.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

George Oscar Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: National Rental Home Council

Ron Book, Ronald L. Book PA: Solemia

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Pringle Lane Farm, LLC

Nicole Graganella, Colodny Fass: HCA Healthcare

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Elite DNA Therapy Services

Timothy Meenan, Meenan PA: Pringle Lane Farm, LLC

“Veteran journalist John Lucas joins The Capitolist” via Florida PoliticsLucas, a former Associated Press and Florida News Network broadcast reporter, has joined Brian Burgess’ Capitol-focused news site. Lucas has covered the Danny Rolling murder spree in Gainesville, the 1988 Republican National Convention, NASA’s return to flight after the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, and Hurricane Katrina. “I couldn’t be more excited about the scope of coverage we’ll be able to provide with him aboard,” Burgess said. Lucas also did communications stints in state government, including for Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Lucas joins Ann Howard, a former WCTV-TV reporter in Tallahassee and a past Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

“Governors Club Thursday lunch buffet menu” – It’s Italian Day again at the Governors Club with avocado & tomato salad; cilantro dressing; egg salad; Caesar salad – crouton, Parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing; crawfish bisque; chicken scarpareillo; penne pasta pesto; spaghetti Bolognese with meatballs; Italian style green beans; seafood crepes and Mornay sauce.


 What started as pun warmly shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away.

One of the earliest known records of “May the 4th” used in popular culture is in 1979, as described here by author Alan Arnold while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm: “Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

Once the Internet allowed Star Wars fans around the world to connect with one another, May the 4th soon became a grassroots tradition each year, with fans online and offline proclaiming it “Star Wars Day.”

Star Wars Day is a time to celebrate 40 years of the beloved sci-fi saga.

Here are six ways to celebrate #MayThe4th” via Brian Truitt of USA TODAY – Watch the movies. Or, more likely, watch them again … Binge out on various Star Wars animation. Six seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars are on Netflix … Let the blue milk flow. Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had blue milk on their breakfast table back on Tatooine, and you can enjoy it as well with these recipes … Read the further adventures of Han, Luke and Leia. Han Solo is always in trouble, even in the comics … Buy something fun and extremely nerdy. Lots of places discount their Star Wars merch May 4, and has a roundup of all the coolest stuff … Mark your calendars for Sept. 1. That’s the day when all the new action figures, Lego sets and other toys arrive for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Places will have their stuff on sale at 12:01 a.m.

Tune into TBS for a sure to be epic Star Wars marathon” via Josh Wilding of Wegotthiscovered.comTBS … will be broadcasting the prequel and original trilogies all in one go, an event which looks set to take upward of 16 hours. The perfect way to spend Star Wars Day, right? Kicking off at 6:40 a.m. with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and closing at 8:15 p.m. with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the movies will reportedly be presented with limited commercial interruption, something which is sure to come as a relief for those of you who don’t want to spend the day battling constant ad breaks.

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’Star Wars Day’ sales, deals and freebies aplenty” via Laura Woods of the Las Vegas Review-Journal –Amazon Video: Get the six-movie digital collection — including Episode I through Episode VI — for $79.99 on Barnes & Noble: Take 20 percent off one item — obviously, something from the “Star Wars” collection — with code C8EGU431TVN57 through May 14. Great American Ballpark: Take advantage of the “Star Wars” ticket package and get an exclusive Stormtrooper bobblehead with your ticket to the May 5 or May 6 game featuring the Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants. Shop and save on a variety of “Star Wars” merchandise with these offers from Sphero, Toys “R” Us and more. Toys “R” Us: All “Star Wars: Rogue One” figures, role play and vehicles are 25 percent off from now through May 20. Toys “R” Us is also offering a $10 savings on all LEGO Star Wars purchases of $50 or more from May 4 to May 6 (some exclusions apply). Plus, all stores will host a Nationwide LEGO Star Wars Building Event May 6 from noon to 2 p.m., where you can build and take home a Micro Princess Leia.

Star Wars Day parties in Tampa Bay” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times – And since May 4 falls on a Thursday, the Cantina will be open this weekend as well for both adults and kids. Marci Richter, a St. Petersburg claims examiner by day, Boba Fett bounty hunter at many a party, is organizing two parties this week with her partner Chris Spires, a software developer who is currently growing his hair shaggy for his Han Solo costume. They had been doing this for six years when they realized no one in the bay area was observing this special holiday. They draw at least 100 people to their annual parties at local clubs, which they do for the love of it. “We’re just big old Star Wars nerds,” Richter said. This year they are throwing an adults-only party at the C. 1949 Bar and Beer Garden in Tampa with a Star Wars burlesque show by Vita DeVoid, who combines cosplay with striptease, though no nudity. There’s also a costume contest, movies and a Jedi joke contest.

May the 4th be with you at Orlandoattractions” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – In honor of Star Wars Day, Disney is celebrating low key this year in preparation for the opening of its new Star Wars land in 2019 … This is the first year Disney has not posted a full schedule of events but Star Wars aficionados can visit Hollywood Studios to get their fix by riding the 3D adventure Star Tours, viewing the “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Show,” or having an up-close encounter with Kylo Ren or Chewbacca. An exclusive BB-8 pin will be released on Star Wars Day and sold at Disney stores for $8 with any purchase, rather than the regular price of $14.95. It’s not on the 4th, but LEGOLAND Florida Resort is holding a Star Wars Days celebration May 6-7 and May 13-14 … Featuring Star Wars scenes recreated with 1.5 million LEGO bricks and offer Star Wars building activities. There will be appearances by costumed Star Wars fans and a Star Wars themed costume parade for kids.

— “8 Star Wars cocktail recipes to make for May the Fourth” via Emily Young of the Tampa Bay Times

— Happy birthday on this Star Wars Day to our friend Dave Aronberg and Candice Ericks.

Sunburn for 5.3.17 – Snake eyes for gambling bill; Session heads to overtime; Lake O, homestead exemption head to Gov.; Gwen Graham hearts Florida; Consumer sentiment dips

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

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


With Tuesday’s death of this year’s gambling bill, reporters got to write the same story they did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.  

As this website once put it, an “effort to revisit the state’s gambling laws bloated and sank in the waning days of this year’s Legislative Session.”

It’s not the story that writes itself—it’s the story that’s already been written.

This year, a gambling bill tanked because the House and Senate wouldn’t compromise on expanding slots to referendum counties.

In years past, it’s been any one of a number of reasons, like a fight over destination casinos in South Florida.

And once again, by failing to act, lawmakers allow the very thing they proclaim to hate the most: Letting the courts make gambling policy.

They’ve just done it recently, allowing those “pre-reveal” slot machine-like entertainment devices.

So wouldn’t it be deliciously funny, wouldn’t it be side-splittingly ironic, if the Supreme Court of Florida finally released its Gretna Racing decision on Thursday, the day it usually issues its opinions for the week?

(OK, maybe not this week, but one veteran of The Process guesses at least “within the next few weeks.”)

Indeed, at issue in the Gretna case is the same issue that deep-sixed this year’s effort: Whether counties that said ‘yes’ to slots in voter referendums should be constitutionally allowed to have them.

If the court rules favorably, it could expand slot machines to all eight counties where voters passed slots referendums: Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington.

That could result in the single biggest gambling expansion in the state, including the other counties that will hustle to run their own referendums.

Here’s another thought: When legislators ignore a problem or fail to address it, it has a tendency to blow up in their faces. Recall the “Internet cafe” meltdown of 2013, for example.

And when will the Seminole Tribe finally get fed up and stop its “good faith” paying of gambling revenue share to the state? The Tribe wasn’t talking, but smart money says its leaders are approaching the boiling point.

We’re not gloating over the Legislature’s history of failure to make a dent in betting policy. We are boggling over what the next disaster will be because this current Capitol crew doesn’t know when to dig out its heels.

Jose Feliz Diaz: ‘We were too far apart’ from Senate via Florida Politics State Rep. Diaz, the House’s point man on gambling, said an impossibility of compromise over slot machines killed the 2017 gambling bill. “We were too far apart and the Senate wanted to bring it in for a landing during budget conference, and we were not going to be able to do that,” he told reporters after Tuesday’s House floor session. “The timing was off.” The sticking point was an offer to expand slot machines to pari-mutuels in counties that approved them in referendum votes. Such an expansion still needs legislative approval. The House opposed it; the Senate wanted it.

Lawyer: Seminole Tribe ‘will react accordingly’ to bill’s death” via Florida PoliticsThe Seminole Tribe of Florida “will react accordingly” to the demise of a gambling bill this Legislative Session, the Tribe’s top outside lawyer said Tuesday. Chief negotiators for the House and Senate said earlier Tuesday they wouldn’t resolve their differences over the legislation before the scheduled end of the 2017 Legislative Session on Friday. When asked whether the Tribe plans to stop paying the state, attorney Barry Richard of the Greenberg Traurig law firm said, “I can’t answer that question,” adding such a decision requires a vote by the Tribal Council. Gary Bitner, the Tribe’s spokesman, declined comment.

Bill’s death leaves fantasy sports in limbo via Florida Politics – The death of gambling legislation this year throws into doubt whether lawmakers can act on daily fantasy sports. A provision for it was in the Senate’s gambling bill, and a separate bill (HB 149) to declare fantasy sports play as games of skill, and therefore not gambling, had been filed in the House by Sanford Republican Jason Brodeur. When asked Tuesday if his bill was dead, Brodeur said, “Not as long as we are still in session.” But Rep. Diaz said he thought although Brodeur’s bill could be amended onto another bill in the House, because its companion wasn’t heard at all in the Senate, “I think it’s in trouble.”

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Siren: A final budget deal was reached late Tuesday night, according to a senior legislator close to the negotiations.

Legislature won’t finish it’s work on time” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Legislators won’t be able to wrap up their work on time. Bogged down in a dispute over money for hospitals and nursing homes, top Republicans were unable to reach an agreement on a new $83 billion state budget by the Tuesday deadline. Legislators can extend the session by a supermajority vote in both chambers, or legislative leaders can announce a special session.

— “You know the timetable as well as I do, with the 72-hour requirement.” Senate President Joe Negron said late Tuesday. “We will definitely not complete the budget work prior to the end of Friday.”

“Why the budget is in a stalemate? Hospital cuts” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – While the House and Senate came to an agreement last week that would cut $650 million from hospitals’ payments through Medicaid, they still haven’t agreed on how to put those cuts — or a potential $1.5 billion boon in Low Income Pool funds approved by the federal government — into effect. “The health care budget is the biggest one left, some issues tied to that,” Speaker Corcoran said. “LIP, hospital cuts, all of those things.” House and Senate budget negotiators have not met publicly about the health care budget since Saturday afternoon, while they have moved closer toward agreement in other areas of the budget. At that weekend meeting, neither chamber ceded ground on the formula to use to determine the cuts.

Ace health care reporter Christine Sexton offers an example of how the differences between the House and Senate play out: “…how the cuts are applied is a $40 million plus issue to Miami’s Jackson Memorial. The Senate plan would reduce Medicaid payments to Jackson by $85.6 million compared to $40 million under the House proposal. Cuts to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in the Senate is more than double the cuts in the House, $39.3 million versus 18.7 million, respectively.”

— “Key senator says money will be in budget for land conservation” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida Rob Bradley said he’s confident that a 2017-18 state budget will include money for the Florida Forever conservation lands program. “This is going to be a budget that those who care about the environment are going to be very proud of,” Bradley told reporters. He is chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. He said the budget would include spending Florida Forever, for Florida Keys wastewater projects, his proposed projects along the St. Johns River and President Negron‘s proposed Everglades reservoir. The Senate’s proposed budget had $15.2 million for the Florida Forever projects at the Department of Environmental Protection and $5.4 million for the Florida Communities Trust local parks grant program.

This quote has come back to bite Richard Corcoran, who otherwise is dominating Session: “I know all of you wrote that it was going to be a train-wreck, we’re going to go into 18 special sessions, we’re never going to get done, but now that we have come together, we’ve worked out our differences and now we’re having a conference, I think it’s going to be a spectacular session. There’ll be no crashes, despite your reporting, and I think it’s going to be a good day for the state of Florida.”


“Lake O Reservoir proposal heads to Governor” via Ana Ceballos of the Associated Press – The House and Senate both passed the measure (SB 10) on Tuesday, sending it to Gov. Scott. The bill had previously gone through some Senate-approved changes in the House. Some of those changes included reducing the state’s annual debt service from $100 million to $64 million. In an effort to minimize impacts on agricultural workers, the measure also prohibits the state from taking private property to build the reservoir. The sugar and agricultural industries have welcomed this change.

Water full of algae laps along the Sewell’s Point shore on the St. Lucie River under an Ocean Boulevard bridge. Photo credit: AP.

More details on the plan via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald: The plan will create at least 240,000 acre feet of storage — about 78 billion gallons — south of the lake by converting 14,000 acres of state land now used as a shallow reservoir to build a deep-water reservoir. The measure will set in motion negotiations for the state to purchase land for the project from willing sellers, while prohibiting the use of eminent domain to force the sale. Beginning in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the state will use $34 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire land or negotiate leases in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Another $30 million from the LATF will be used for the C51 reservoir project. In 2018-19, and every year thereafter, $100 million from the LATF will be used for the project.

— Everglades Foundation hails passage via CEO Erik Eikenberg: “Today is a momentous event. The many voices that came to the table this session – anglers, realtors, business and community leaders, and people who want the best for their state – were heard with the final bipartisan passage of SB 10, a positive and science-based step toward the restoration of America’s Everglades.”

— Even U.S. Sugar is happy via spox Judy Sanchez: “Senate Bill 10 has been greatly improved, takes essentially no privately owned farmland, and even removes the threat of eminent domain. The House deserves credit for quickly passing legislation that can provide some protection for our water resources while also protecting our farming communities and vital food production. U.S. Sugar always supports solutions that are based on science, which, in this case shows the source of the water significantly impacting the coastal estuaries flows from north of Lake Okeechobee, not the south. Obviously, you’re going to have to build some solutions north of the lake to finally fix the discharge problem. We look forward to working with legislators in the future to get that done.”

Bruce Ritchie reports that a veto of the Lake O. plan is “unlikely.”

Homestead exemption ready for voters – The House on Tuesday voted 83-35 to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would allow homeowners to shield an additional $25,000 of the value of their home from most property taxes. The additional exemption would not apply to taxes charged by school districts. The Senate approved the measure (HB 7105) earlier this week. If 60 percent of voters say yes, the amendment would take effect in 2019.

Speaker Corcoran very proud of this effort: “Today’s vote is a big win for all Floridians. If passed by the voters, this additional exemption will be one of, if not the largest, tax cut in the history of Florida at $645 million. An additional $25,000 exemption means real money in the pockets of Florida families. For just the third time in state history the people will see real tax relief in homeownership. The average family will save enough to purchase clothes or school supplies for their children or grandchildren, catch up on bills or make another car payment, pay for healthcare or childcare, and so much more. Real savings, real money, and real relief. Today’s massive tax cut proves, once again, the Florida House will continue to fight for, and stand with, every day Floridians.”

Tweet, tweet:

@NickensFL: Big loss for businesses, renters, second-home owners and local governments. Expect local tax increases and program cuts.

@Stipanovich: The latest and one of the most egregious examples of the legislature’s utter disdain for local officials and the voters who elect them


“House beats back shroud over Florida’s open meeting law” via Florida Politics A change that critics said will neuter the state’s Sunshine Laws by allowing any two elected officials of a local governing body to meet without notice in private failed in the House on Tuesday. The bill (HB 843), filed by Naples Republican Byron Donalds, received a vote of 68-48—less than the two-thirds required to change the state’s open meetings law … It would have let two members of a board of five or more members to “discuss public business” without it being an official public meeting.

Tweet, tweet:

“Senate passes compensation for deceased FSU player’s family” via The Associated Press – A bill to compensate the family of a freshman Florida State football player who died after a workout 16 years ago is heading to the desk of Gov. Scott. The Florida Senate voted 34-2 for a claims bill (HB 6515) paying $1.8 million to the family of Devaughn Darling. Florida State agreed to settle the case in 2004 after a lawsuit alleging negligence by trainers in Darling’s death. But state law prohibits the university from paying more than $200,000 without legislative authorization. Darling, who had the sickle-cell trait, died after doing indoor drills during off-season training in February of 2001. The trait can make people vulnerable to illness from exertion.

“TBARTA bill one step closer to going to Rick Scott’s desk” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – One more vote in the House, and the bill goes to Gov. Scott’s desk. Sponsored in the House by Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, HB 1243 would downsize TBARTA from seven counties to five (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee and Hernando), and change the TBARTA’s focus to transit (and not simply transportation). Two weeks ago, an amendment filed by Tampa Bay-area Republicans Tom Lee and Jeff Brandes made it much harder for the region to push for light-rail, but Senate sponsor Jack Latvala was able to make changes to that amendment last week, which appeared to have satisfied supporters of the bill. There was little discussion about the bill on the House floor. The bill now goes to the full House for a third and final reading. The Senate bill passed last week.

House approves computer coding bill” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – HB 265 would instruct the Articulation Coordinating Committee to identify high school courses that could satisfy university admission requirements for math and science and require the education commissioner to establish academic standards for computer science, was passed unanimously. A similar bill (SB 104) stalled in committee, but the House bill will now head to the Senate.

House passes Florida Forever bill” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – HB 7119 reorganizes the Florida Forever land conservation program but its fate, along with the entire environment budget, remains unclear. The bill would restructure the Florida Forever funding formula to provide 40 percent for conservation easements at the state agriculture department, 35 percent to the Department of Environmental Protection for the priority acquisition list and 25 percent to the Florida Communities Trust grant program … in addition, Rep. Matt Caldwell filed an amendment that would provide $57 million annually for three years to Florida Forever — starting in fiscal year 2018-19 — and increasing amounts after that.

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“Must-pass workers’ compensation, AOB reform languishing in Legislature” via Florida Politics – With House and Senate leaders caught up with budget negotiations ahead of Friday’sdeadline for adjournment, advocates for legislative fixes for assignment of benefits and workers’ compensation reform confronted this possibility: Their must-pass legislation might not pass. There’s a workers’ compensation bill on the Senate calendar, but it differs in significant respects from the version the House adopted, and it was unclear whether those differences could be reconciled in the time left. Meanwhile, the House has adopted assignment of benefits, or AOB, reforms. But Senate version languished in the Rules Committee. “The problem we have right now is a bandwidth issue, with leaders being so involved in these (budget) numbers that they can’t really focus on these policies or strategies, or how we would do it — which bill, this and that,” said Sen. Gary Farmer … sponsor of the Senate AOB bill.

Senate expected to take up marijuana bill today – The Senate will likely take up the House’s version of the medical marijuana implementing bill (HB 1397) when it meets to begin discussion on implementing the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment. The upper chamber is currently slated to discuss its version of the bill (SB 406) when it convenes for session at 10 a.m. today, but records show the House bill has been received by the Senate. Amended Tuesday, the House bill, among other things, quickens the pace by which the state issues licenses for medical marijuana treatment centers. The bill calls on the DOH to issue 10more licenses “as soon as practicable, but no later than July 1, 2018.” The measure does not, however, include caps on the number of retail locations growers can have, something the Senate bill includes. House Majority Ray Rodrigues told members Tuesday that “95 percent” of the changed adopted had been negotiated with the Senate. Sen. Rob Bradley, the Senate sponsor, said he would let the process work when asked by reporters about whether the Senate would hold the line on caps


Scott announced his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” campaign, taking him on a whirlwind tour of home cities of lawmakers who might feel pressure to support full funding for Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida. And now, with the Legislature hammering out the final details of a budget that dismisses some of Scott’s priorities, the governor is adding a third priority to his tour’s message: $200 million to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. “There are still a few days left of the Regular Session which means that there is still time for the politicians to do the right thing and fund priorities to protect our environment and keep our economy growing,” Scott stated in a news release … On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Scott plans stops in Tampa, Orlando, Palm Beach, Miami, Pensacola, Panama City, Naples, Sarasota, Jacksonville, and the Space Coast.

The details: Gov. Scott kicks off his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour at 9 a.m. at Power Grid Engineering, 100 Colonial Center Pkwy Suite 400 in Lake Mary. From there, he’ll head to Tampa for an event at 11:15 a.m. at CWU, 5402 W Laurel St. Unit 1B. Scott will then make his way to Riviera Beach for an event at 2:30 p.m. at RGF Environmental Group, 1101 West 13th Street. He’ll end the day at 4:45 p.m. at Rick Case Kia – Sunrise, 14500 W Sunrise Blvd. in Sunrise.

This is also on the road, so watch out: ‘Flu bug’ raises awareness about proposal to allow pharmacists to test for flu — Don’t be alarmed, this bug won’t give you the flu. Instead, the purple and pink VW bug parked outside the Governor’s Inn is meant to raise awareness about a proposal to allow Florida pharmacists to test customers for the flu. A bill (SB 1180), sponsored by Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, would have allowed pharmacists to test and treat Floridians for the flu. Under the proposal, pharmacists who were trained and certified to give a flu shot would have been authorized to give tests and provide an anti-viral medication, like Tamiflu, to patients.

The bill, which was backed by the Florida Pharmacy Association, did not receive a hearing in the Senate; however, a House bill (HB 7011) was amended to allow pharmacists to order tests. That bill is on the House’s second reading calendar. “It creates a conversation and debate about why wouldn’t we want to support a pretty simple concept,” said Claudia Davant, the association’s long-time lobbyist. “It’s all about access to care.”


“Jason Pye, Sal Nuzzo: Mandatory minimum reform needed in overdose epidemic” for Florida Politics – Facing yet another drug overdose epidemic, the Florida Legislature has an opportunity to move the needle in the right policy direction — finally … the heat is on to include policies that have failed Florida – every single time they’ve been tried. Current law already provides harsh mandatory sentences for trafficking in heroin laced with fentanyl. This should trouble anyone who believes mandatory minimums will deter fentanyl trafficking. If that’s true, what are they waiting on? The truth is mandatory minimums don’t reduce drug trafficking. Mandatory minimums have also failed to reduce drug abuse. In fact, since adopting mandatory minimums to reduce overdose deaths, Florida’s overall drug-induced death rate has increased nearly 150 percent. Incarcerating thousands of low-level addicts who don’t pose a risk to public safety is expensive. One such reform – a practical, reasonable and moderate one – would give judges, under compelling circumstances, a degree of flexibility to sentence drug offenders appropriately.

“Medical marijuana: OK, it is time to drop caps on dispensaries” for Florida Politics – As competing bills to implement Amendment 2 get bogged down mid-Session, the hot-button flashpoints began: The number of new medical marijuana licensees, as well as the process to award those highly-valued “Willy Wonka” golden tickets … caps on dispensaries means less access, fewer available products and fewer licensees. But when it comes to cost, less is more — medical weed prices would skyrocket, that is. To be clear, pro-Amendment 2 folks are really not looking for limited access and higher prices — it seems obvious they were pushing this notion simply to upset the game. But now the dust has settled, and the Senate bill still has caps in it. With only three full days left, it may just be time to back off. Caps on dispensaries — at any number — helps nobody. What it does is hurts those who took a chance, making an investment in medical cannabis. It also hurts those who live in rural (and even some suburban) areas. Also, dispensary caps hurt patients — particularly those who are very sick or need to travel. And, most of all, it hurts the 71 percent who supported medical marijuana for severely ill patients. It’s time to drop the caps and move on.


“Daughter of ex-Florida governor seeks his same seat” via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press – Graham made her announcement in Miami-Dade County, where she lived until she moved into the governor’s mansion at age 15 when her father, Bob Graham, took office.

“I’m so proud of Dad, but I stand on my own two feet. I’ve certainly learned from him, but I would never expect anyone to support me simply because I am Dad’s daughter,” Graham told The Associated Press before her announcement.

“I will be a governor that does focus on what he focused on, which is making the right decisions for Florida again.”

“At announcement, Graham promises a love for Florida” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Standing before Miami Carrol City High School, where she said she spent a “workday” Monday, Graham spent much of her speech blasting the past 20 years of education reform efforts in Tallahassee as degrading students, turning over the schools to what she called the “education industry” intent on making money off high-stakes student tests.

“And as governor, I will not just criticize this culture of teaching to the tests, I will end it,” she said, even if she needs to use a line-veto to do so.

Graham also vowed to commit to technical and career-based training for students beginning in middle school; investing in roads, bridges and mass transit; and pushing to diversify the economy away from tourism and agriculture, and toward new economies, technology, robotics, health care and solar energy, with a new focus on entrepreneurs and home businesses.

“Out of the gate, Emily’s List backing Graham” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “Gwen Graham doesn’t need to tell Floridians that she’s a champion for women and families in her state — her record proves that beyond a doubt,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock stated in a news release. “While serving in one of the most divisive Congresses in memory, Gwen fought to ensure Florida’s veterans received the health care they deserved, to end gender discrimination in pay, and for affordable college education for Floridians and all Americans.”

“Republicans quickly attack Graham as non-achieving, non-transparent” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Republicans wasted little time … In separate releases, the Republican Party of Florida said she lacks accomplishments to run on; the Republican Governors Association said the former congresswoman did not release her congressional records before leaving office at the end of December. The pair of responses may indicate a level of concern the Republicans could have for a Graham candidacy, as neither party organization quickly attacked the announced candidacies of the other two Democrats running for governor. Graham’s campaign dismissed the charges as typical partisan responses: “These predictable, partisan attacks are about as standardized and one-dimensional as the high-stakes tests Florida Republicans keep heaping on our schools and kids. Let’s focus on Florida — that’s certainly what Gwen Graham is doing.”

Assignment editorsGraham will join ESA Renewables for a Workday monitoring and installing solar panels. Event and interview opportunities with Graham as she installs solar panels at the home of an Orange County Solar Co-Pp member in Orlando at 2 p.m. All press interested in attending are asked to please RSVP to Matt Harringer at


Consumer confidence in Florida dropped in the last month, but researchers say Floridians seem more optimistic than they were a year ago.

The monthly University of Florida consumer survey released Tuesday measured confidence at 95.7, which is 3.5 points lower than it was in March. The lowest index possible is a 2, and the highest is 150.

Hector Sandoval of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research said that while the numbers have shifted somewhat that the perceptions are relatively stable reflecting “favorable economic conditions in the state.

Sandoval said the decline in the April numbers was due to “unfavorable expectations” about the economy in the future. He noted, however, that those with incomes over $50,000 have favorable perceptions.

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“Rick Scott appointed water management official resigns after inappropriate Facebook post” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In his resignation letter, John Browning officially said he was leaving the St. Johns River Water Management District because of the workload. He had served on the board since Scott appointed him in late 2015. “I understand the important job water management does; however, I did not realize the amount of time and commitment it required,” he wrote … The letter makes no mention of a Facebook post he wrote in November when he commented on a man who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent and was wearing a red and white headscarf. “Ever want to get off a plane when loading,” read the post, which showed a picture of the man.

“Back to business as usual for Erik Fresen” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald – … speaking at an education event in Miami less than a week after pleading guilty to failing to file a tax return for 2011. The former House education budget chair was a panelist at an event organized by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on education options in the downtown area. Fresen advocated for charter schools and discussed the need to better promote the strength of Miami-Dade schools to business interests and families in the downtown area. Fresen … has ties to the charter school industry. He has worked as a land-use consultant for Miami architecture firm Civica, which has done work for charter school management company Academica, whose founder is Fresen’s brother-in-law. One topic Fresen did not discuss at Monday’s event: his tax troubles.

State Supreme Court publicly reprimands North Florida judge via Florida Politics – Calling it a “sad occasion, sad for you, sad for us,” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga on Tuesday publicly dressed down 3rd Circuit Judge Andrew Decker for alleged attorney-ethical lapses before his election as judge in 2012. He also made false statements during his campaign, the court found. “No one can undo what you have done,” Labarga told Decker in open court. “This is not a task I enjoy; indeed, I hate it.” The court also ordered him suspended for six months without pay. Decker was used a case study by a House ethics panel this Legislative Session as it looked into exercising its constitutionally-granted impeachment power. Labarga said Decker showed a “baffling inability” to understand what he’d done wrong, adding that the reprimand would be the court’s “last admonition” to him.

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

Assignment editors: The Constitution Revision Commission continues its statewide listening tour with a public hearing at 4 p.m. (central time) at the Amelia Center Auditorium at Gulf Coast State College, 5320 West Highway 98 in Panama City.

Governors Club Wednesday lunch buffet menu –  With only days left in the 2017 Regular Session, the Governors Club Wednesday lunch buffet features three bean & pepper salad; macaroni & ham salad; mixed green salad; three assorted dressings; New England clam chowder; honey baked ham; roasted sweet potatoes; pan-blackened redfish; red beans & Rice; green beans almandine; black beans & blue sugar flank steak.

Happening today – FAPL hosts May Madness social — The Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists will host a May Madness Social with live music and networking at 5:30 p.m. at Southern Public House, 224 E. College Ave.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Jodi Brock Davidson, Colodny Fass: Broward Teachers Union

Jeffrey Greene, Jeff Greene & Associates: Green Roads West, LLC

Will McKinley, PooleMcKinley: NIC, Inc.; Sunshine State Towing Association

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Column Technologies, Inc.

Happy birthday to one of the nicest guys in The Process and a great dad, Donovan Brown. Also celebrating today is Gershom Faulkner (now in U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist‘s office) and Mr. Janet Zink, Tom Scherberger.

Sunburn for 5.2.17 – Gwen Graham’s ready to launch; Adam Putnam, Matt Caldwell make 2018 plans official; Joe Negron optimistic on budget

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

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


Graham is ready to make it official.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee is expected to announce her 2018 gubernatorial bid on Tuesday. The announcement will make Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, the third Democrat to enter the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Her entry has long-been expected. When she announced she wouldn’t run for re-election in 2016, she told supporters in a video announcement that she was “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Since then she has dropped plenty of hints about her plan, even saying she would be poised to run a 67-county strategy. And she’s been slowly building the framework, traveling the state meeting with Democratic clubs and chatting with voters about their priorities.

Then-Congresswoman Gwen Graham spent one of her “work days” last year at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City.

In February, she launched Our Florida, a state political committee expected to fund her 2018 gubernatorial run, and transferred $250,000 from her congressional coffers to the state committee. The committee is chaired by Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney with Tripp Scott who served as special counsel to her father.

The committee had about $186,903 cash on hand at the end of March, state records show.

Her federal campaign coffers aren’t completely empty. According to federal campaign finance records, Graham had about $1 million left in her federal account at the end of the first quarter.

The Democratic field is becoming more crowded by the minute. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King have already announced their runs, while Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando attorney John Morgan are still considering a run.

State records show Gillum has raised $569,940 for his political committee, Forward Florida, since February 2016. The political committee had more than $105,000 cash on hand at the end March.

Gillum raised $241,736 in March for his official campaign, state records show.

King, who filed to run in March, brought in nearly $1.2 million in March. However, that sum includes $1 million King gave his own campaign.

State records show Levine put $2 million of his own money into his political committee, All About Florida, in March.

LOOK FOR EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, to be an early endorser of Graham’s campaign.

GRAHAM’S POLITICS MOLDED BY FATHER, FLORIDA LIFE via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsGraham is a woman who grew up in politics, daughter of legendary Democrat Bob Graham who served as governor when she was in junior high and high school, and as U.S. Senator through much of her adulthood. It’s as close to Florida gets to a Democratic royal family: Her grandfather was a state senator; her uncle, publisher of The Washington Post. The Grahams have been established in South Florida for generations, though she has spent most of her life in Tallahassee. From her father, she shares moderate positions on many economic issues and deeply-held liberal viewpoints on Florida’s environment and justice, and a strong alliance with organized labor. The National Journal rated her the most independent member of the Florida delegation.

Her voting record in Congress showed that mix of moderate economic and foreign affairs politics. And she cast some votes progressive Democrats hold against her, supporting new leadership against U.S. House Speaker. Nancy Pelosi, and for the Keystone XL Pipeline, keeping the military prison open at Guantánamo Bay, and for an attempt to suspend debt relief to Iran. But on other issues such as her efforts to help restore Apalachicola Bay and the Everglades, to support veterans seeking jobs, women’s rights, children’s issues, she’s been reliable for Democrats. Consequently, only a handful of the strongest right-wing or left-wing groups scored her exceptionally well or horribly bad on their respective political agendas, while others often crossed over to give her at least a little, but restrained love.


— Orlando Sentinel – Graham’s daughter steps into politics“Her grandfather once ran for governor. She was 13 when her father told her that he was going to run for governor. She graduated from high school in Tallahassee and raised her own children there. She considered running for School Board recently … She may not be forever 39, but a new political generation of Grahams is born.”

— New York Times, In Florida, a chance for Democrats to win one back – “Graham, a self-described ‘glass half-full’ person and mother of two sons and a daughter, said she decided to run last year after she got fed up with Congress’s inability to function. She contrasted that with what she described as her father’s ability to find common ground with Republicans and not demonize his opponents.”

— POLITICO’s profile: Gwen Graham – “Graham knows a thing or two about politics … Echoing the typical mantra of congressional challengers, she is calling Washington dysfunctional and pledging to be an outsider and agent of change … while this is Graham’s first run for office, she’s no stranger to the campaign trail.”

— Tallahassee Democrat, Gwendrew: Is 2018 the year of the Tallahassee governor? – “Voters have a chance to make history with either of the two Tallahassee hopefuls. If Graham were elected, she’d become Florida’s first female governor. If Gillum were elected, he’d become the state’s first African-American governor. If either were elected, they’d be the first person from Tallahassee to take up residence in the Governor’s Mansion since LeRoy Collins more than a half-century ago.”

— Tampa Bay Times, Gwen Graham’s husband has cancer, delaying her decision on governor’s race“Every part of me wants to run for governor, that’s what I feel passionate about, that’s what I know I need to do for the state of Florida, but things happen in life that could take me off that path. I hope not.”

HOW CONSERVATIVE WAS GRAHAM IN CONGRESS? NOT VERY ACCORDING TO A LEADING CONSERVATIVE GROUP via Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze – The American Conservative Union (ACU) … used the Americans for Conservative Action (ACA) to rate individual legislative voting record. The assumption to this point has been that Graham represents the establishment mainstream position, while Gillum represents an establishment, progressive position. Potential candidate John Morgan represents an insurgent progressive position while \King, an announced candidate doesn’t register ideologically. Graham voted with the “conservative” position just twice in 24 scored votes – granted those two (the closing of Guantanamo and the Iran Nuclear Deal) were high-profile pieces of legislation where opposition had ramifications for the ability of the United States to engage in productive diplomacy abroad. But on domestic issues, Graham’s score was perfect from a liberal perspective based on the ACU’s votes. This is something to ponder no doubt, but inconclusive until we see the 2016 scores.

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PUTNAM ENTERS 2018 GOVERNOR’S RACE AS ODDS-ON FAVORITE TO WIN GOP NOMINATION via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home,” Putnam, 42, said in a written statement. “It’s our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms.” With more than $4 million in his political committee account, statewide name ID among Republicans and longtime Florida roots, Putnam is the odds-on favorite to become his party’s nominee in the eyes of Tallahassee insiders and Republican Party activists. The expectation of Putnam’s candidacy has kept other top-name Republicans from seeking the seat that Gov. Scott is leaving due to term limits.

AMANDA BEVIS MOVES TO CAMPAIGN: An email announcing Putnam’s candidacy on Monday came from Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida confirmed that Bevis, who has been a Deputy Chief of Staff in Putnam’s Ag. Commissioner office, has transitioned to the campaign. Bevis is also the wife of Associated Industries of Florida honcho Brewster Bevis and the mother of two adorable young boys.

Adam Putnam, seen here with the flag of Florida behind him, brings name ID and government experience to the race — which in the Age of Trump could come back to bite him.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “The paperwork is in…” via Putnam campaign consultant, Justin Hollis. Really, “the paperwork is in…,” that’s how you tell supporters you’re running for Florida governor? Why not “Please clap!”


ANDREW GILLUM LAYS OUT THE WELCOME MAT via Geoff Burgan, Communciations Director, Gillum for Governor: “The Gillum for Governor campaign welcomes two former Members of Congress to this race – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham. We’re excited to offer our different approach to solving the challenges Florida faces on healthcare, the economy, public education, protecting our environment, and commonsense gun safety reforms. At this critical time, Florida needs a new, fresh direction and we look forward to debating the best way to achieve that. In fact, we’re especially excited to contrast our ideas with Mr. Putnam, who is essentially running to continue Governor Rick Scott’s seven years of failed policies that have hurt Florida families and created an economy that has left too many behind.”



MATT CALDWELL FILES TO RUN FOR AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida PoliticsCaldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, had long been expected to enter the race … he had “every intention of filing to run in August.” But with the 2017 Legislative Session nearing an end and a special session becoming more unlikely, Caldwell decided to pull the trigger sooner, so he can start focusing on the statewide campaign. “We’re just going to get out of session and start focusing on grassroots,” said Caldwell.

MIAMI GOP SEEKS UNICORN CANDIDATE TO SAVE DEM-TRENDING ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN SEAT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaLehtinen’s surprise announcement that she’s quitting Congress has left the GOP with a needle-in-the-haystack problem: finding a socially moderate Republican in a party where they’re in short supply. And even if Republicans find the right candidate for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat next year, there’s no guarantee he or she will run … On the Republican side, few generated buzz among GOP insiders like former Miami-Dade school board member Raquel Regalado, a social moderate like the retiring congresswoman. Many of the other big name Miami Republicans considering a bid — Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, state Rep. Jeanette Núñez and state Sen. Anitere Flores — are more conservative than Regalado. And they all sound slightly less enthusiastic than she when it comes musing about a potential bid so early. On Sunday, Florida Democratic insiders quickly began talking up the chances of state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who has a record of winning tough races. Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez — who had been courted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and met with its political director recently in Miami — as well as University of Miami academic adviser Michael A. Hepburn and businessman Scott Fuhrman, who lost to Ros-Lehtinen last year.

RENE GARCIA ‘SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING’ RUNNING TO REPLACE ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN IN CONGRESS via Kevin Derby and Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State NewsGarcia kept the door open to running, saying he was taking a look at the job after Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not run again in 2018. Garcia said he would make a final decision after the Legislature adjourns at the end of the week. The South Florida Republican interned in Ros-Lehtinen’s office from 1993-1997. The experience … greatly shaped how he legislates and runs his own office in Tallahassee. “I’m waiting for this session to be over with, but I interned at Ileana’s office for quite some time,” Garcia said. “I modeled my office exactly after hers. She has done an excellent job in constituent services and has been a true voice for so many. To follow in her footsteps would be an honor for me but, to this point, I have to wait until session is over with to make a decision.

DCCC PUTS VERN BUCHANAN AND MARIO DIAZ-BALART NEAR THE TOP OF ITS ‘2018 RETIREMENT WATCH LIST’ via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Sarasota’s Buchanan and Miami-Dade’s Diaz Balart are listed second and third, respectively. “Given the negative national environment for the Republican Party, the DCCC knows that there are more retirements to come, particularly in districts that tend to vote for Democrats in other elected positions,” says Tyler Law, national press secretary at the DCCC. While Buchanan barely survived to win his very first run for his seat in 2006 against Democrat Christine Jennings, he has not since faced a serious challenge. He crushed Democrat Jan Schneider last fall, winning by almost 20 percentage points. In response to the DCCC, Buchanan spokesperson Gretchen Anderson quipped, “Good to see they still have a sense of humor over there.”

DAISY BAEZ FILES TO RUN TO REPLACE FRANK ARTILES IN SD 40 via Florida Politics — Baez, who was elected to the Florida House in November, filed her paperwork to run for Senate District 40, her campaign announced Monday. Baez will likely compete in a special election for the newly vacated seat. “I’m running for State Senate which is where I believe the most good can be accomplished on behalf of Floridians,” she said in a statement. “The people of Miami-Dade deserve to have high quality public schools for their children, good-paying jobs that provide economic security for working families, and access to quality, affordable healthcare. I look forward to continuing my steadfast advocacy on behalf of Florida families in the State Senate.”

THIRD REPUBLICAN FILES FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 51 via Orlando Rising – Republican Tim Tumulty announced he would run again for House District 51, where he unsuccessfully challenged Republican Rep. Tom Goodson last year. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to develop a deep understanding of our community,” said Tumulty. “As the former Mayor of Cocoa Beach, I saw firsthand how the decisions made in Tallahassee have a direct impact on our community and our way of life.” Goodson switched to the reliably Republican HD 51 from HD 50 last year after former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli termed out of the Legislature. He beat Tumulty with 61.7 percent of the vote in the August 2016 Republican Primary. Goodson is now termed out, making way for Tumulty and a pair of other Republicans to duke it out for the Space Coast seat. So far, Thomas O’Neill and Taylor Sirois are the only other candidates to enter the race.

LEGISLATIVE HOPEFULS FILE — Dozens of candidates have already thrown their hat in the race for House and Senate races in 2018. Democrat Preston Bartholomew Anderson is challenging Republican Rep. Jayer Williamson in House District 3. Republican Brigittee Smith is challenging Republican Rep. Charlie Stone in House District 22. Libertarian Joseph Hannoush filed to run in House District 25, challenging Republican Rep. Thomas Leek. Democrat Tryan Rayaad Basil filed to run against Republicans William McBride and Rep. David Santiago in House District 27. Democrat Lee Vernon Mangold have filed to run in House District 28. Democrat Paul Chandler and Republican Bobby Olszewski have filed to run in House District 44; both are vying to replace Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, who is not running again. Republicans Thomas Patrick O’Neill, Tyler Isaac Sirois, and Tim Tumulty have filed to run in House District 41. Democrat Carlos Frontela has filed to replace House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz in House District 62. Democrat Stephanie April Myers has joined the House District 93 race. Republicans Luis M. Rolle and Anthoy Rodriguez have filed to run in House District 118.

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JOE NEGRON SEES ‘GOOD PROGRESS’ TOWARD BUDGET DEAL AS SESSION ENTERS FINAL WEEK via Florida Politics – Senate President Joe Negron held out hope Monday evening that he and House Speaker Richard Corcoran could resolve lingering disagreements about the state budget in time to present a bill Tuesday and adjourn as scheduled on Friday. “I know there was some real good progress made today on a number of issues, particularly in the environmental budget. If we work diligently through the rest of the afternoon and evening, I’m still optimistic that we can get it done,” Negron told reporters following Monday’s floor session. “I think it’s more important to get it done right than to get it done quickly,” he said. “But my goal is to be able to have a budget on the desk sometime tomorrow.”

NEGRON: LAWMAKERS ‘GETTING CLOSE’ TO AGREEMENT ON GAMBLING via Florida Politics Senate President Negron on Monday said lawmakers are “getting close” to a deal on a gambling overhaul bill for the year. The same day, however, a House Democrat who’s on the Conference Committee on Gaming tweeted “Nope” about the same thing … When asked how close, Negron said, “I don’t want to give you odds,” smiling. The 2017 Legislative Session is scheduled to end on Friday … Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat on the conference committee, (was) asked specifically whether there was any chance of a bill this year (and) said “no,” adding that “obviously the Senate President may know things I do not.”

NEGRON’S TOP PRIORITY HEADED TO HOUSE FLOOR — One day after the Senate OK’d a top priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran it appears Senate President Joe Negron’s top priority will get a hearing in the House. The House placed a bill (SB 10) that would build a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee on the Special Order calendar Tuesday. The decision comes one day after the Senate approved a joint resolution to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow voters to decide whether to increase the homestead tax exemption.

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION EXPANSION WINS SUPERMAJORITY VOTE IN SENATE via Florida Politics – The Senate approved a proposed ballot measure Monday to raise the value of Florida’s homestead exemption, improving chances that separate legislation to expand gambling would survive the Legislative Session. The vote was 28-10, within the required three-fifths majority. House leaders, who have been reluctant to open Florida to additional gambling options, have made approval of legislation to do that contingent on passage of the homestead exemption increase. Several senators referred to those stakes, but sponsor Tom Lee maintained that the resolution was about keeping people in their homes. “Let’s respect property rights. Let’s give the people the opportunity to make this decision,” Lee said. “They will make the right call.”

NOT THE SMOOTHEST QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If you give red meat to animals, they will take it.” — Ft. Lauderdale Democrat Perry Thurston on how voters would say ‘yes’ to a homestead exemption amendment without understanding the brunt the initiative could bring with it.

TAX BREAKS CLEAR SENATE APPROPRIATIONS AS SESSION ENTERS FINAL SCHEDULED WEEK via Florida Politics – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved some $75 million in tax breaks Monday, including repeal of Florida’s tampon tax, considered central to passing an $83 billion budget and ending the Legislative Session on time Friday. The committee also approved across-the-board pay raises for state workers, with extra money for high-risk employees, plus an option to participate in a defined-contribution retirement plan instead of a traditional pension. … The House approved some $300 million in tax breaks and holidays, but would go along with the Senate version, Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala said. “I believe that’s an agreed-upon bill,” he said. “I think all together that’s $75 or $80 million.”
He’s not himself when he’s hungry: Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala makes a point with a Snickers bar in response to a question from AP reporter Gary Fineout on Monday.

ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES SAYS TAX CUTS WILL HELP STATE FLOURISH via CEO and President Tom Feeney: “AIF supports reducing taxes, such as the business rent tax, to attract new businesses to the Sunshine State. With Florida being the only state in the nation to charge taxes on the lease of commercial property, AIF supports a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of the business rent tax to the benefit of Florida small and large businesses.”

RETAILERS UPSET DISASTER PREPAREDNESS TAX CUT IN JEOPARDY via FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley: “The entire State of Florida was affected by hurricanes in 2016. This Tax Holiday provides an extra incentive to consumers to ensure that Floridians are prepared and protected from dangerous storms. Proper preparation saves money and lives. We strongly encourage legislative leaders to reconsider this decision and include the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in their final tax package.”

CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS FACING CUTS via FACH president Daniel Armstrong: “Florida’s children’s hospitals and their parent facilities simply cannot sustain Medicaid rate cuts of this magnitude. Across Florida, hundreds of thousands of children and their parents depend on the highly specialized and advanced medical treatment provided by our hospitals every day.”

$1.5 BILLION TRIUMPH BILL PASSES SENATE via John Henderson of the Northwest Florida Daily News – The Senate vote was 35-0. The final House vote on the bill is scheduled … and state Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Jay Trumbull … said they expect it to pass that chamber, as well. “It is great news,” Trumbull said. The bill frees up money BP has agreed to pay out for economic restoration of the eight most affected counties — Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla — from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The state has the first payment — $300 million — in its coffers, waiting to be released to the Panhandle counties. Another $1.2 billion is proposed to be paid out through yearly installment through 2033.

PANHANDLE LEADERS GRATEFUL via Florida’s Great Northwest CEO Kim Wilmes: “After years of economic harm and months of legislative discussions, the Florida Senate has delivered good news to the communities of Northwest Florida. After collaborating positively with the House, the Senate has approved a Triumph Gulf Coast process that will transform the economy of the counties that were so devastated by the BP oil spill, pointing the way to a much brighter economic future for the region.”

USF COULD LAND ANOTHER $14M FROM STATE FOR DOWNTOWN PROJECT via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – While much of the state budget for next year remains unresolved, House and Senate leaders are closing in on a plan to give at least $14 million for the new downtown Tampa medical education and research center that the University of South Florida is expected to begin construction on this fall. USF had sought almost $17 million, but if it gets at least the $14 million, the project will remain on track, said Lara Wade-Martinez, director of media affairs at USF. The plan is for a building on Channelside Drive that would give USF a downtown presence and generate $73 million annually in local economic activity, according to USF officials. The total price tag on the project is nearly $153 million. Already the state has already given about $79 million to the project, including $22.5 million last year.

AFTER RESIGNATION, MOST OF ARTILES’ PENDING BILLS WERE WITHDRAWN via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – After Artiles abruptly resigned from the Senate in the wake of scandal, his 36 bills fell to his co-sponsors for them to handle, if they chose to. Only five senators did that — salvaging only 11 of those bills. Among the rest, 20 of Artiles’ pending bills were pulled Monday from getting any further consideration, including one of his top priorities — a measure that would require Miami-Dade residents to elect a county sheriff, a job Artiles was said to have had his eye on. Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Senate rules dictate that after Artiles resigned, “a co-sponsor has seven days to transfer the bill to his or her name. If the bills are not transferred, they are withdrawn from consideration.”

SENATE GUN BILL GOES STRAIGHT TO HOUSE FLOOR — AFTER ZERO CONSIDERATION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Lawmakers in the House will take up SB 616 — a Senate-approved proposal that would allow concealed weapons permit-holders to store their guns with security while visiting state courthouses. The Rules & Policy Committee, chaired by future House speaker and Miami Lakes Republican Rep. Jose Oliva, put the bill on the daily floor calendar after senators passed it on … And at least one House member already sought to use the bill as a vehicle for other changes in Florida’s gun laws. Because the bill did not have a House companion, it’s brand-new to lawmakers in that chamber, and they won’t have a chance to first vet it in a policy committee. The scheduling move is highly unusual and also deprives members of the public a chance to address their representatives at a public meeting before the floor vote.

SENATE ADDS CIVIL CITATIONS, PASSES SUPREME COURT REPORTING BILL via Florida Politics The Senate on Monday passed the House’s Supreme Court reporting bill, but after Sen. Anitere Flores had tacked on as an amendment her plan to expand the use of juvenile civil citations. Without debate, senators passed the measure (HB 301) on a 35-1 vote. Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, was the lone ‘no’ vote. Because of the change, the bill will return to the House … “I’m pleased to hear about the Senate’s support for timely justice for Floridians,” (House sponsor Frank) White said later Monday afternoon. “I hope to have the opportunity to discuss Sen. Flores’ civil citations language with my House colleagues on the floor this week.”

SHOULD ZIP CODES DETERMINE JUVENILE ARREST RECORDS? THE SENATE DOESN’T THINK SO via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – When a juvenile gets caught shoplifting or trespassing or smoking marijuana in Florida, what happens next depends on their ZIP code. In some parts of the state, the child is automatically put into a program that diverts first-time offenders from arrest so that they can avoid a criminal record that could follow them the rest of their lives. In other areas, however, they face arrest — and a record. “We don’t think that’s fair,” said Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, pastor of the First United Church of Tampa and an activist in Hillsborough County. “We don’t think that’s equal justice.” … the Florida Senate voted 35-1 to require law enforcement agencies to use pre-arrest diversion programs instead of arresting first-time offenders younger than 18 accused of low-level crimes, including underage drinking, disorderly conduct, theft and battery other than domestic violence.

GREYHOUND STEROID BAN DIES IN SENATE via Florida PoliticsA bipartisan bill banning the use of steroids on greyhound racing dogs is likely dead for the 2017 Legislative Session. The last committee of reference for the Senate bill (SB 512) had been Appropriations, which did not hear it Monday at its last meeting. The House version (HB 743) passed earlier this month on an 84-32 vote. “We had the votes to pass it,” said Senate bill sponsor Dana Young. The Senate bill cleared two previous committees on 8-2 and 9-2 margins. “Unfortunately, we were not able to get it on the last agenda.”

HOUSE, SENATE APPROVE CAMERON MAYHEW ACT — The Senate voted 28-6 on Monday to approve a bill (HB 1239) that would stiffen penalties for drivers who fail to stop for school buses and cause serious bodily injury or death. The bill — named after Cameron Mayhew, a Fort Myers High School sophomore who died in June 2016 after being struck by a driver who didn’t stop for a school bus — heads to the governor, after the House voted unanimously to approve the bill last week. “No parent should have to endure the loss of a child, especially in such a heartbreaking manner as the Mayhew family lost Cameron,” said Rep. Dane Eagle, who sponsored the bill in the House. “In this case, it is clear our laws were insufficient to appropriately address the circumstances of this tragic incident. I am hopeful the stiffer penalties provided in this legislation, and by making them mandatory, we can prevent this from happening again.”

Two victims of cystic fibrosis, Taylor Chesney, left, of Tallahassee and Brian Callanan, founder and executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation, from Miami, both pose for photos during the Light Up CF event by the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation at the Florida Capitol.

AFTER YEARS OF WORK, ESTOPPEL BILL HEADS TO GOVERNOR via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The House passed the Senate’s bill (SB 398) on a 117-0 vote, sending it to Gov. Scott … Estoppel letters, or estoppel certificates, are an obscure part of some real estate closings. They’re legal documents sent by a homeowner’s association, detailing any amount owed to the association. Usually, that’s unpaid fines or association fees left by owners who defaulted on their mortgage. Title agents and Realtors have wanted to shift the cost of preparing such letters from themselves back to the associations … preparing estoppel letters takes time and research, costing anywhere from $15 to $400. Among other things, the bill going would allow an association “to charge a maximum fee of $250 for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate, if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association (and) an additional maximum fee of $150, if there is a delinquent amount owed to the association.”

RICK SCOTT SIGNS TWO BILLS, INCLUDING ONE TO HELP FOSTER KIDS GET LICENSES via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post – Senate Bill 60, known as the “Keys to Independence Act,” cements a pilot program Scott signed into law three years ago and expands it to children in settings outside foster homes, including children living with relatives or non-relative caregivers … Under the law, which went into effect with Scott’s signature, teens in foster care in Florida could be eligible for help from the state to pay for a driver education course “for up to six months after the date the child reaches permanency status or six months after the date the child turns 18 years of age” … The program also could pay for “the costs of licensure and costs incidental to licensure” for children in foster care who are able to show that those costs are preventing them from staying employed or attending school. Scott also signed SB 7004, retains the public record exemptions for biomedical and cancer research programs within the Department of Health.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:  Gov. Scott will highlight job growth during a press conference at 10 a.m. at SunteckTTS, 4500 Salisbury Road in Jacksonville. Scott will then head to Clearwater to announce jobs at 2:30 p.m. at Vology, 15950 Bay Vista Drive.

HAPPENING TODAY – AGENCIES HOLD WORKSHOPS TO DISCUSS OPIOID CRISIS — The Department of Children and Families, Department of Health, and the Department of Law Enforcement will hold workshops to discuss the opioid crisis. The agencies will hold a workshop at 9 a.m. in the Longboat Key Room of the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd in Palmetto. A second workshop is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Orange County Board of County Commission Chambers, 201 South Rosalind Ave. in Orlando.

*** 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.***

JOE HENDERSON: HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION INCREASE WOULD BE GREAT POLITICS, LOUSY GOVERNING via Florida Politics – If the measure gets past the legislative hoops and on the 2018 ballot as a constitutional amendment, I imagine it would easily break the 60 percent threshold required for passage … Homeowners would have more cash. And local governments, where the real heavy-lifting is done to provide needed services to the home folks, would have a meltdown. One estimate said it could reduce property tax proceeds by about $700 million overall. Bigger cities would likely be affected more. Something would have to give. In Hillsborough County, property taxes help pay for things like public libraries, water management, special lighting districts, stormwater drainage and basic services like firefighters. Tallahassee responds with something that, if passed, could make it harder for local leaders to provide the services people expect. But hey, Republicans would celebrate the fact that they cut taxes. It’s great politics, but lousy governing.

MARTIN DYCKMAN: ELIAN GONZALEZ, A PAINFUL CHAPTER IN CUBAN-AMERICAN HISTORY via Florida Politics – Some things in life ought to be above politics, none more so than a parent’s relationship to a child. How this truth was sorely tested in Florida not so long ago is the subject of a new documentary that we should all want to see. CNN reportedly will air it sometime after it begins to appear in theaters later this month. As described in the Miami Herald, it relates the “painful chapter in Cuban-American history” that began early on Thanksgiving morning 1999 when two South Florida fishermen found 5-year Elian Gonzalez tied to an inner tube in the ocean. His mother and 10 others who were trying to flee Cuba had drowned two days before when their boat swamped. His father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was still in Cuba, where Elian had frequently stayed with him after his parents’ divorce. He had not consented to his ex-wife removing the boy from the island. Relatives in Miami took custody of the child and refused the demands of his father and the Cuban government to send him home, turning a human saga of death and survival into an international incident.

TYLER TECH’S TROUBLES IN SOUTH FLORIDA RAISE SEVERAL RED FLAGS via Peter Schorsch for Florida Politics – Tyler Technologies has had a bumpy road in various South Florida cities. Last year alone, both the Village of Key Biscayne and the City of Hollywood terminated contracts with Tyler Tech. In Key Biscayne, officials tried to work with the company to get its online permitting software to function properly. After three years, they eventually gave up. Now, the City of Miami Beach is experiencing the same problems. Residents, contractors, and even city officials complained that the functionality they expected is simply not there. On April 26, the Miami Beach Commission decided to set up a task force to compile a list of all the unresolved issues they are experiencing. That way, the can present they findings to Tyler Technologies, and demand an explanation on how they intend to fix all these problems. Having two (and possibly three) contracts terminated for inefficiency over the last year — and in the same region — should probably disqualify a company from being awarded another multimillion-dollar contract to provide the same services. It behooves governments to do their homework before spending millions of taxpayer dollars and awarding future contracts to Tyler Technologies, in light of its negative track record in South Florida and across the U.S.

CHARITY HEAD SAYS SHE GAVE CORRINE BROWN’S STAFF BANK ACCESS via Jason Dearen of The Associated Press – The head of a purported charity for poor children that federal prosecutors say former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown used as a personal slush fund testified that she gave the congresswoman’s chief of staff unfettered access to the organization’s bank accounts. Former One Door for Education Foundation President Carla Wiley has pleaded guilty to fraud for using the charity’s money for her own personal expenses amounting to about $140,000. After reaching a plea agreement, she testified at Brown’s federal fraud trial in Jacksonville. Wiley said she started One Door to help fund education for the poorest children, but that it instead turned into a money source for Brown’s events. Prosecutors say Brown and her chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, financed lavish trips and other personal expenses with funds donated to One Door. Brown, who has pleaded not guilty, has defended herself saying Simmons spent the money without her knowledge. Simmons has also pleaded guilty, and is expected to testify against Brown. Wiley said shortly after starting her charity it had fundraising problems, so she closed its bank account. She reopened it after she met Simmons.

COURT SETS ORAL ARGUMENT IN FSU ‘GAME DAY’ GUIDE CASE via Florida Politics – A firearms-rights organization appealing a trial judge’s ruling involving a Florida State University game day guide will get its day in appellate court. The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee set oral argument in the case for June 13, dockets show. Florida Carry appealed a lower court decision last year. The university had printed and distributed a college football pamphlet to be distributed before games, It said campus visitors were not allowed to store guns in cars parked in university lots. But that violates a court decision that said another school in Florida was wrong to ban guns in cars on campus. FSU changed the information in the guide to comport with the ruling and a circuit judge dismissed the case as moot.

AS ORANGE COUNTY MAYOR’S RACE AWAITS MAJOR CANDIDATES, CAN RICH CROTTY RUN AGAIN? via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising Crotty, who served two-plus terms leading the county’s administration over the past decade, is considering running again. No major candidates have entered the race yet. The Orange County Charter has untested language about whether someone can run for a third term as mayor, and no one has ever tried. Current Orange County Attorney Jeffrey Newton, and the lawyer who wrote that language in the late 1980s, Linda Weinberg, both said they believe the door is open to a third term because it is nonconsecutive. Others who might not want to see Crotty in the race, might challenge that, arguing that the language seems to limit the mayor to two full terms. “The county mayor shall be elected for a term of four years and shall be limited to two full consecutive terms,” is how the Orange County Charter states it. That is distinctly different from the language written on the term limits of county commissioners, and commissioners have run for three nonconsecutive terms

MIKE DEW NOW VYING FOR TOP SPOT AT DEP’T OF TRANSPORTATION via Florida Politics Dew, the Florida Department of Transportation‘s chief of staff, now has applied to be Secretary of the department, according to a list of applicants released Monday. As of Monday’s deadline, 125 people had applied for the open position, created when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm. Dew applied Monday morning … The Florida Transportation Commission, the department’s advisory board, will interview some applicants and nominate three candidates for Gov. Scott’s consideration.

PERSONNEL NOTE: AMANDA BOWEN NAMED VP AT NDS & ASSOCIATES via Florida Politics – nancy d. Stephens & Associates (NDS), an association management company based in Tallahassee, named Bowen vice-president. She joined the company in 2015 as communications director. She was given more responsibility, including executive director of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists and Manufacturers Association of Florida. With her new title will come a leadership role, assisting with client relations and business growth, in addition to her current roles. “She has the perfect skill sets and demeanor to help our clients achieve their goals in the most professional way and help our company grow in the coming decades,” said Stephens, president of the firm.

APPOINTED: Charlotte Heston and Ashley Coone to the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland, Inc.

APPOINTED: Robert Colen to Early Learning Coalition of Marion County, Inc.

APPOINTED: Robert Arthur and Carol Stephenson as Judges of Compensation Claims.


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

Brian Ballard, Ana Cruz,  Ballard Partners: BioSpine Institute

David Bishop, Solaris Consulting: Jackson County Board of County Commissioners; Jackson County School Board

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: Bayfield Mitigation LLC

Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: Gentry & Associates LLC

Brett Heuchan, The Labrador Company: Tarpon Towers II, LLC

Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: Transamerica Life Insurance Company

Liz Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Promise Healthcare, Inc

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

Mike Rogers, Southern Advocacy Group: Florida Green Building Coalition; Florida Home Partnership; Florida Weatherization Network; St. Johns Housing Partnership, Inc

Timothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Marsy’s Law for All


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

On and off: Charlotte Jones has replaced Roshanda Jackson as district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels.

On: Joshua Winograd is a new legislative assistant for Delray Beach Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Karol Molinares is no longer Slosberg’s legislative assistant.

Off: Alison Roldan is no longer a district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

Off: Rachel Wise is no longer a district secretary for Jonesville Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons.

Off: Beau Giles is no longer legislative assistant for Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young.

Off and on: Lydia Claire Brooks is no longer a legislative assistant for Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley, who now has three district secretaries: Jessica LambShane Roerk, and Mark Hodges.

Off: Skylar Swanson is no longer district secretary for Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry.

On: Nancy Bernier has become legislative assistant for Indialantic Republican Rep. Thad Altman.

On and off: GeeDee Kerr replaced Tyler Teresa as Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters’ district secretary.

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

Off: Nicole Pontello is no longer district secretary for palm coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner.

On and off: Robert Moore has replaced Elizabeth Casimir as district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams.

TALLAHASSEE SEEKS TO END ‘ROAM TOWING,’ OKS OVERNIGHT TOWING BANS via Florida Politics – Tallahassee city officials are considering overnight towing bans, targeting tow trucks drivers praying on bar-goers who leave cars behind when they are too drunk to drive … the push to prevent so-called “roam towing” is an idea gaining support in Florida’s Capitol. After a WTSP series examining the benefits of overnight towing bans in the Tampa Bay region, the Tallahassee City Commission unanimously enacted similar consumer protections. While the overnight towing ban in Tallahassee is like the Tampa ordinance, its grace period is shorter. Tampa prevents tow truck drivers from taking cars before noon outside establishments serving alcohol. Tallahassee’s ordinance allows property owners to remove individual vehicles before that, if necessary, as long as property managers are on the scene to give the order. Tow truck drivers cannot make the call on their own overnight.

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – The Governors club kicks off final week of Session with an All-American menu including traditional potato salad; spinach salad – onion, mushroom, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, raisin, Parmesan cheese, peppercorn ranch dressing; mixed green salad, three assorted dressings, potato leek soup, fried chicken, chicken gravy, mashed potatoes, seafood Creole, steamed rice and grilled lime asparagus.

***Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) reduce prescription drug costs and protect Florida consumers, employers, unions, and government programs from high drug prices. PBMs will save Floridians $43.4 billion over the next decade. Learn more at***

GET EXCITED FOR JEB+MARLINS — Southpaw Content, founded by Erin Gaetz, released a hype video Monday on Twitter to get folks excited about rumors that has former Gov. Jeb Bush(and retired Yankees legend Derek Jeter) are in talks to buy the Miami Marlins. The 27-second video features footage of the Marlins on the field and Bush on the campaign trial. “You could say we’re excited for @JebBush + @Marlins #LetsGoFish,” the company tweeted out Monday. Gaetz, the daughter of former Senate President Don Gaetz and sister of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, is an alumna of Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. She said in an email the video was a “passion project born out of pure fandom. No one paid for it.” Click the image below to see the video.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of Pinellas’ best, Brian Aungst, Jr., (one of these days we’ll all talk you into running for office.) Celebrating today is Keaton Alexander and, my paisan, Adam Giery.

Sunburn for 5.1.17 – Ros-Lehtinen’s domino; Budget notes galore; FPL f’d on fracking bill; Sharon Day’s new job

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

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

Before we dive into the still-up-in-the-air state of budget negotiations, we have to acknowledge the domino which fell in South Florida Sunday…

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN TO RETIRE FROM CONGRESS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami HeraldRos-Lehtinen, the dean of the Florida legislative delegation and the first Cuban American elected to Congress, is retiring at the end of her term next year, saying it’s time to move on after more than 35 years in elected office. “It’s been such a delight and a high honor to serve our community for so many years and help constituents every day of the week,” the Miami Republican told the Miami Herald … “We just said, ‘It’s time to take a new step.’” Ros-Lehtinen, 64, was elected November to Florida’s redrawn 27th District, a stretch of Southeast Miami-Dade County that leans so Democratic that Hillary Clinton won it over Donald Trump by 20 percentage points. It was Clinton’s biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country.

WHY I’M RETIRING FROM CONGRESS. A MESSAGE FROM ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN on Florida Politics – After more than three-quarters of my adult life in elected public service more than 38 years by the next election — I am confident that my constituents would extend my term of service further should I seek to do so. But, we must recall that to everything there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven. The most difficult challenge is not to simply keep winning elections; but rather the more difficult challenge is to not let the ability to win define my seasons. This is a personal decision based on personal considerations; I will not allow my season in elected office be extended beyond my personal view of its season, simply because I have a continuing ability to win. We all know, or should know, that winning isn’t everything. My seasons are defined, instead, by seeking out new challenges, being there as our grandchildren grow up, interacting with and influencing public issues in new and exciting ways.

TWEET, TWEET: @KKondik: RATINGS CHANGE: FL-27 goes from Likely R all the way to Leans D now that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is retiring


In: Scott Fuhrman, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Michael Hepburn

Mentioned: Bruno Barreiro, Jose Felix Diaz, Rene Garcia, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Jimmy Morales, David Richardson, Jose Javier Rodriguez, Ken Russell, Marc Sarnoff

SUNBURN FACT OF LIFE: With CD 27 open in 2018 and a special election for SD 40 to occur later this year, it’s the Christmas season for South Florida politician consultants.

***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. #NeverStopReaching***


The fate of this year’s gambling bill is being held hostage to passage of a homestead exemption increase, sources told Sunday night.

Publicly, lawmakers have been saying that progress on omnibus gambling legislation was taking a backseat to the 2017-18 state budget talks.

The Conference Committee on Gaming hasn’t met since last Thursday. The Senate is largely for some expansion of gambling in the state; the House wants to hold the line.

Behind the scenes, however, House leadership made a conscious decision to put gambling on hold until the Senate moved on the House’s priority bill, an increase in the state’s homestead exemption that would effectively result in a property tax reduction.

Even if passed, the measure creates a constitutional amendment that still has to be approved by 60 percent of voters on the 2018 statewide ballot.

It’s on the Senate floor for a vote Monday afternoon.

“Everyone is on pins and needles on lots of issues waiting for that vote,” said one veteran lobbyist. “Everything melts down if the Senate doesn’t pass it.”

But the measure is bitterly opposed by many Democrats and local governments, who say cutting taxes means less money to fund critical local services like police and fire. It wouldn’t affect taxes to fund local public schools.

But House Speaker Richard Corcoran and his lieutenants made clear that the gambling bill “and a whole lot of other stuff” will suffocate and die without passage of the exemption measure.

“Session comes to a halt without the homestead bill,” one consultant said.

Signals from the Senate of how badly it wants a gambling bill this year have been mixed.

Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican and likely Senate President for 2018-10, has long been the chamber’s point man on gambling.

At the first conference meeting, Galvano said he did not “want to raise anybody’s expectations,” at the same time adding that “inaction (on gambling) is not an option.”

Neither he nor state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican and Galvano’s House counterpart in the Gaming conference, responded to a request for comment.

The night before the Monday vote, a gambling lobbyist sent a text, saying things were “scary … I’m nervous.”


It was a roller-coaster ride of a budget conference this weekend, culminating with AP reporter Gary Fineout doing his best impression of running hurdles to get to House budget chair Carlos Trujillo.

And more unanswered questions percolated earlier Sunday.

Will further budget negotiations, which needs to be hammered out by Tuesday to be voted on Friday, be open to the public (and reporters and lobbyists)?

“You would have to ask the presiding officers,” Trujillo said Sunday night.

Um, ‘k. So much for the most transformative and transparent Legislative Session ever.

Perhaps Speaker Corcoran will lock Senate President Negron in a cigar smoke-filled room to get what he wants.

(We kid. But Corcoran does like a good cigar.)

Still, what about a multiplicity of other issues going into the last week of the 2017 Legislative Session?

On environmental funding, Trujillo said Sunday, “There’s still a lot of work to be done … We were struggling through it in the subcommittees.” There was some breakthrough with the Senate accepting the House’s offer on water projects.

But that left, well, pretty much the rest of the agriculture and natural resources budget up to the leaders of each chamber. “We’ve spent two days on what in essence is a fool’s errand,” Sen. Rob Bradley said in disgust the day before.

And Rep. Jamie Grant slogged into one budget conference this weekend with a dejected look. “I’m just trying to keep AOB from blowing up,” he said. His assignment of benefits bill passed the House but faces a rocky road in the Senate.

It would tighten requirements for contractors to report claims to insurance companies and establish a graduated scale for determining whether contractors holding these agreements qualify to recover litigation expenses from carriers.

Monday’s schedule holds a three-hour Senate Appropriations meeting in the morning and a five-hour floor session in the afternoon. Welcome to Day 55.


HOSPITALITY MONEY STILL IN PLAY, CONTRA REPORTING – We don’t want to quibble with our friend Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, but his reporting that “House and Senate budget writers have agreed not to move a marketing program from Visit Florida to the state’s top regulatory agency” is not accurate. According to Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, this is one of the issues that is being bumped to legislative leaders. See video of those comments here. We’re not saying that the $1 million for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association for a “coordinated marketing, media and events program to promote the Florida hospitality industry” will make it into the budget, but the issue is not closed out.

LEGISLATORS AGREE TO SMALL BOOST FOR SCHOOLS via The Associated Press – House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to increase regular public school spending by $241 million. That amounts to about a 1.2 percent increase in money for each student. Republicans have defended the small increase by pointing out that they are setting aside money in other education programs, such as one aimed at helping students in failing schools, or giving bonuses to select teachers. House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negronreached a sweeping budget deal behind closed doors that includes spending $200 million on “Schools of Hope.” That’s Corcoran’s ambitious plan to shift students from chronically failing schools to charter schools run by private organizations.

AFTER OUTCRY, LAWMAKERS SCRAP PLANS TO FULLY SLASH GRANT AID TO ‘MOONLIGHT’ ALUMNI’S SCHOOL via Kristen Clark and Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald – After continued budget talks, House and Senate leaders agreed late in the day to give $500,000 to New World School of the Arts in the 2017-18 budget. That would still represent a cut of $150,000 in funding from this year — about a 23 percent deduction — but it’s drastically more than what could have happened: Losing the grant entirely. Lawmakers said the school failed to tell the Legislature how the grant dollars were spent, which was why the House and Senate both originally proposed eliminating the grant. Later, the Senate — through an amendment by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores — proposed giving New World $20,000, resuscitating the project for budget negotiations. Threats to the school’s state grant funding sparked public outcry when news of the Legislature’s plans spread Friday. But House and Senate chairmen in charge of K-12 public school spending said Saturday morning those complaints had little to do with their change of heart.

CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW PANEL MONEY BECOMES A ‘BUMP ISSUE’ via Florida PoliticsThe House and Senate is seemingly at odds over whether to pay for the Constitution Revision Commission. A Sunday spreadsheet that came out of the first 2017-18 state budget conference chairs meeting of the day had a line item for the commission, which meets every 20 years to review and revise the state’s governing document … The spreadsheet shows that the Senate offered to fund the commission with $2 million; the House offers nothing … “We are continuing to watch this and support what the governor included in his budget,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.

DURING BUDGET TALKS HOUSE, SENATE AGREE TO ADD MEDICAL MARIJUANA STAFF — The Office of Compassionate Use will get nine more positions under a budget agreement reached over the weekend. House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to fully fund the Department of Health’s request for $785,000 to add more personnel. The request would provide funding for three environmental specialists, four government operations consultants, a senior attorney and an administrative assistant. The Health Care Appropriations conference committee could not, however, reach an agreement on how much to set aside to fund the agency’s request for increased litigation costs. The House funded the entirety of the $2.8 million request, while the Senate’s offer was $800,00. The question of litigation funding was “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

BUDGET CHAIRMEN SAY THEY ARE CLOSE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS BUDGET via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The main budget chairs both said they were very close to an agreement on the government operations segment of the budget at their final meeting Sunday afternoon. The House made an offer on the budget spreadsheet that includes funding line-items for the Agency for State Technology, while the Senate made an offer on language for technology reorganization.

HOUSE ACCEPTS SENATE’S HIGHER ED BUMP OFFER WITH OPERATIONAL SUPPORT FOR COLLEGES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Rep. Trujillo Sunday afternoon accepted the “bump” offer on college and university project funding presented by Sen. Latvala. The offer included operational support for several state colleges Latvala earlier Sunday identified as “sticking points” in negotiations. Latvala Saturday made an offer for capital outlay funding for universities and colleges that was not agreed upon by the budget chairs. That list will now go to Senate President Negron and House Speaker Corcoran.

— “UCF clinic for PTSD cut as lawmakers close in on budget” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

LORANNE AUSLEY BLASTS RICHARD CORCORAN FOR ‘EMPTY PROMISES’ ON BUDGET TRANSPARENCY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – She’s joining Gov. Scott and some news media in criticizing the budget process and budget agreements being struck behind closed doors by Corcoran and Senate President Negron. During the environmental conference subcommittee meeting, Ausley … asked for an explanation of the differences between the House and Senate budget offers. But she was told by state Sen. Rob Bradley, who was the subcommittee chairman, that an explanation would be provided at the next meeting, which has not been scheduled. The House and Senate agreed during the meetings to provide no funding to the Florida Forever conservation lands program. Ausley, who served in the House from 2000 to 2008, told reporters afterward that the lack of explanation during the meeting was different from when she previously was a legislator. And she later issued a statement quoting Corcoran as saying, “No longer will we have to tolerate last-minute appropriations being stuck into our budget with little or no public scrutiny.”


CORCORAN’S LATE-NIGHT TWEET ABOUT SCHOOL RECESS BILL POINTS FINGER AT RICK SCOTT via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald Corcoran offered a curious statement shortly after midnight Saturday: It’s not lawmakers who have a “problem with recess” — it’s Gov. Scott. Corcoran made the remark in a tweet with no additional explanation, and he wouldn’t explain himself … “Recess moms” were immediately perplexed by Corcoran’s mystery tweet, which was in direct response to a question from a parent advocating for daily school recess. Scott has not declared a public position on the recess bill, nor as he done so on most other bills pending before the Legislature. “I have no idea what that tweet means,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz told the Herald/Times Saturday morning. “We have continued to say that we will review it if it passes.”

CORCORAN PULLS PLUG ON FPL FRACKING BILL FOR SESSION via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “After thorough vetting and discussion, we just had  too many reservations about the issue and the potential consequences,” Corcoran said in an email. “In addition, the notion that Florida ratepayers would pay for out-of-state energy production was not in the best interests of the people of Florida.”

MIAMI FIRM INVOLVED IN ANTI-HAZING PROGRAM DID NOT DETAIL USE OF $1 MILLION FROM STATE via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Records provided by Educational Management Services of Miami show the company’s use of more than $645,000, including payments to lobbying firms, airfare for trips around the state and a stay at an Orlando resort hotel. Educational Management Services was created by Fausto Gomez, a lobbyist, and is run by his wife, Alina Gomez, out of the Miami office that also is used by the lobbying firm … Fausto Gomez resigned from the company in February …  The EMS documents were provided in response to a demand by House Speaker Corcoran, who sought details about how the taxpayer money was spent after lawmakers placed it inside Florida Polytechnic University’s budget. Corcoran asked the university and the company to submit invoices, emails, contracts and audits. Lawmakers gave the anti-hazing program $3 million. In 2015, FPU received a $1.5 million line-item clearly outlined in the state budget. The next year, lawmakers added another $1.5 million inside the university’s budget without identifying it specifically but informed FPU that the program should receive the hidden money tacked on to its budget.

A SENATOR SAID A FLORIDA SLAVERY MEMORIAL WOULD ‘CELEBRATE DEFEAT.’ LAWMAKERS ARE FURIOUS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – House Democrats and members of the legislative black caucus are offended and irate after a conservative Senate committee chairman said the reason he didn’t hear a bill to create the first slavery memorial in Florida was because he didn’t want to “celebrate defeat” … “I would rather celebrate overcoming the heartbreak of slavery. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to child abuse; I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to sexual abuse,” Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley [said] … “I have a discomfort about memorializing slavery. … I would like to take it in a more positive direction than a memorial to slavery.” His comments came as the House voted unanimously that day — with roaring applause — to build the Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee. Despite the House support, the proposal stalled in the Senate because Baxley had what another senator described as a “philosophical objection” to the concept. Baxley — the chairman of the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee who is known for his conservative positions and supporting symbols of the Confederacy — never scheduled a hearing because he said a memorial recognizing slavery would be too negative.

HOUSE VOTES TO PUNISH ‘SANCTUARY CITY’ OFFICIALS via The Associated Press – The House approved a strict ban on so-called sanctuary cities that punishes local officials who resist federal efforts to deport immigrants living in the country illegally. Republican lawmakers supported the proposed legislation, which passed on a 76-41 party-line vote, over the objections of Democrats who called the bill an “anti-immigrant” effort beset by constitutional hurdles … Under the proposed ban (HB 697), local officials would be fined up to $5,000 for each day the “sanctuary city” policy remains in effect. Also, any county elected official, such as a sheriff, would face suspension or potential removal from office for supporting such policies. Under the bill, it would be a violation to not honor a federal immigration request, which entails local jails holding detainees past their scheduled release to give immigration authorities more time to pick them up and deport them. Opponents argue this could open the state up to litigation.

SENATE COMMITTEE STYMIES BILL TO LIMIT JOB GUARANTEES TO HIGHLY-RATED FLORIDA TEACHERS ON ANNUAL CONTRACT via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – A bill to bar Florida school districts from guaranteeing teachers on annual contract an additional year of employment if they earn a strong evaluation unexpectedly stumbled Friday in its final committee before full Senate consideration. The Senate Rules Committee voted 6-6 against the measure, casting doubt on SB 856 as it otherwise appeared headed to approval. The Florida House adopted a companion measure (HB 373) three weeks ago. Proponents cast the initiative as a simple clarification to 2011 law, in which the Legislature said any teacher hired after July 1 of that year could receive only a one-year contract. That ended the practice of professional services contracts, which some likened to tenured job protection. Dozens of districts negotiated around the rule by agreeing to extend by one year the employment of any annual contract teacher who gets a rating of “effective” or better, and has no disciplinary issues.

BILL SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS HEADING TO GOVERNOR via The Associated Press – The House voted 118-0 to pass SB 118 … sponsored by Republican Sen. Greg Steube, sets up a process where certain records are sealed once the opportunity for appeals has expired. Automatic administrative sealing of records of adults and minors charged with felonies or misdemeanors can occur if a prosecutor or state attorney decline to file charges, all charges were dismissed before trial or the person charged was acquitted or found not guilty. The First Amendment Foundation opposed the bill and said it would apply to cases like Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman. It passed the Senate 34-0.

POLICE LINEUP STANDARDS BILL HEADED TO GOV. SCOTT via The Associated Press – The House voted 117-1 for a bill (SB 312) that would require law enforcement agencies to use the lineup standards to avoid eyewitness mistakes that could lead to wrongful convictions. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement encouraged agencies to adopt the standards, but agencies aren’t required to do so. The current guidelines suggest lineups be conducted by an administrator who does not know the suspect in order to ensure impartiality. Also, witnesses should be told that suspects may or may not be in a photo or in-person lineup and that they are not required to make an identification.

LEGISLATURE APPROVES WIRELESS DEREGULATION BILL via Florida Politics – The Legislature last week sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott to free the proliferation of 5G wireless technology from local government interference. The bill (HB 687) says local governments “may not prohibit, regulate, or charge for the collocation of small wireless facilities in the public rights-of-way,” except as otherwise specified. The measure was supported by telecommunications concerns. Others, including the Florida League of Cities, raised concerns about taking away control from municipalities. It would apply to antennas “inside an enclosure of no more than 6 cubic feet,” a staff analysis said.

HOUSE VOTES TO STRIP AWAY LOCAL REGULATIONS OF VACATION RENTAL HOMES via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The House approved House Bill 425 63-56, essentially re-instituting a 2011 ban on cities or counties imposing any ordinances that would treat vacation rental homes any differently from any other house, condominium unit or apartment in their communities. The vote came after more than an hour of passionate debate between those who, like the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike La Rosa, believe that the heart of the matter is property rights, a person’s freedom to make money off his property; and those who, like Rep. Sam Killebrew, believe it’s a matter of home rule, for cities and counties to decide what is best for their communities. “I think we’ve heard enough of hypothetical circumstances, of ridiculous ordinances. I just want to close with a very simple question, a very simple thought: Is it possible to have too much freedom?” La Rosa inquired in closing. “Is this a referendum on that freedom? If it is, then I’m OK with that.” The companion measure, Senate Bill 188, has cleared all its committees.

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HAPPENING TODAY – SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MEETS — The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the House’s nearly $300 million tax cut proposal when it meets at 8 a.m. in 412 Knott. The proposal, among other things, creates a sales tax exemption for diapers and feminine hygiene products; provides an annual sales tax holiday for veterans; creates a 10-day back to school sales take holiday; and reduces the sales tax on commercial real estate. The committee is also expected to consider a bill aimed at making changes to the state employee health insurance plan.

​ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend Fleet Week at Port Everglades at 8:45 a.m. at Port Everglades Berth 21, 1833 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: At 10:45 a.m., First Lady Ann Scott will kick off the Seventh Annual Summer Literacy Adventure at the Florida Governor’s Mansion, 700 N. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will hold the first in a series of workshops about opioid use in the state. Workshops begin 3 p.m. at the West Palm Beach Police Department, 600 Banyan Blvd. in West Palm Beach.


AS EYEBALL WARS PEAK, OPTOMETRISTS SEEK DESPERATE, LAST-MINUTE BUZZER BEATER via Peter Schorsch for Florida Politics – Last week, HB 1037 stalled in the House Health and Human Services Committee after it had appeared there were not enough votes to pass. The companion bill, SB 1168, has never been heard in the Senate. Now, lobbyists for optometrists – numbering an even dozen – may be looking to get the controversial bill passed by attaching it to some sort of health care legislative train. HB 1037 met with widespread condemnation by more than two dozen high-profile health organizations, as well as receiving somewhat tepid support in the House – struggling with slim margins in each committee stop – taking the shot may not be worth the risk. This bill should rightfully face death in committee – as it should be for something so unpopular – instead of making a part of a larger health care train, only to have the whole thing die in the Senate anyway. The clock is ticking, why waste everyone’s time? Best to pick another battle, one with a better chance of success. Hopefully, as sine die approaches, so will the end of this horrible, dangerous train wreck of an idea.

MARTIN DYCKMAN: FLORIDA NEEDS ANSWERS ON DEATH PENALTY DISCRETION via Florida Politics – The courtroom at the Florida Supreme Court seats 164, which may not be enough for all the attorneys, organizations and individuals who have intervened in the unprecedented case of Aramis Ayala v. Rick Scott. Despite the extraordinary interest, this case is not going to decide whether the death penalty is as error-prone, financially wasteful and as altogether counter-productive as Ayala correctly insists. Florida needs answers to those questions, but capital punishment is one of those issues where precious few politicians care to be confused by facts. It’s one of the most significant arguments the court will ever hear. Florida prosecutors make perhaps tens of thousands of judgment calls every year: What crime to charge? What crime not to charge? What plea to accept? They have even more power than the judges in deciding who goes to prison and for how long. Should a governor be able to supersede one of those decisions simply because he doesn’t agree with it? Carried to an extreme, that makes him a dictator.

PAUL DAVIDSON: FLORIDA SENATE NEEDS TO ACT ON AUTO INSURANCE REFORM via Florida Politics – One year ago, I was riding my bicycle down A1A. Out of nowhere, a woman driving a 1988 LTD hit me going 45 miles per hour. The force of the collision sent me flying 60 feet … The driver who hit me carried the mandated minimum $10,000 in bare-bones PIP insurance. Unlike 48 other states, Florida has no requirement for drivers to carry bodily injury coverage. What did that mean for me, the victim? It meant I had to figure out how to pay the $350,000 health care bill created by an accident I didn’t cause … What upsets me is there were no consequences for the woman who hit me. It’s as if carrying bare-bones PIP insurance provides a free pass for irresponsible drivers who hurt other people. It’s really a policy change that’s needed to help people like us who could become victims of Florida’s outdated PIP insurance system and have to pay dearly because of the irresponsibility of others. Lawmakers have an opportunity to change this by passing legislation to repeal PIP and replace it with a requirement that drivers carry bodily injury insurance at $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident. The Florida House has already passed a good proposal to make this happen. The ball is now in the Florida Senate’s court.

PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS WINS THE DAY IN HOUSE SHORT-TERM RENTALS DEBATE via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – In the end, in a House of Representatives where Republicans dominate, private property rights were always going to win. But the vote that passed HB 425 was close … 63-56, and will stop local governments from cracking down on short-term vacation rentals because they don’t like them. The win was a victory for online companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, which contract with homeowners to rent out their vacant homes in mostly resort locales. Under HB 425, only cities with vacation rental ordinances on the books before 2011 would be allowed to keep them. Bill sponsor Rep. Mike LaRosa pressed his conservative advantage: “Is it possible to have too much freedom?” he asked. “And is this a referendum on that freedom? If it is, I’m OK with that.” He said local governments shouldn’t be punishing the responsible majority of property owners for the potential wrongs of a few.

DARRYL PAULSON: GROVELAND — FLORIDA’S LEGACY OF HATE via Florida Politics – On July 16, 1949, seventeen-year-old Norma Padgett claimed that her husband Willie was assaulted and she was raped by four black males near Groveland, Florida. Groveland is located in Lake County in central Florida. The Padgett’s told Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall that they had left a dance and their car stalled. The four blacks — Walter Irvin, Sam Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — supposedly offered to help, but then assaulted Willie Padgett and kidnapped and raped his wife, Norma. In Groveland, there were doubts that Norma Padgett had been raped. Only 17, she had fled to her parents after several beatings by her husband, Willie. On the morning after the rape, Norma was seen outside a restaurant near Groveland. The restaurant owner’s son drove her into town and said she did not seem upset and never mentioned being raped. In April 1950, the St. Petersburg Times published an investigative report concluding that it was physically impossible for Greenlee to have been at the crime scene … The U. S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in 1950 … Four innocent black men suffered grievously for a crime they never committed. Thomas was killed by a vigilante posse, and Shepherd was killed by Sheriff McCall. Greenlee also spent a decade in prison, and Irvin also spent two decades in prison for a crime they did not commit. On April 27, the Florida Senate passed a resolution apologizing to the families of the four black men who the Senate said were “victims of racial hatred.” I am sure they are comforted in their graves.

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SHARON DAY SAYS DONALD TRUMP OFFERED HER A JOB IN WHITE HOUSE, MUM ON DETAILS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Republican Party of Florida National Committeewoman Day, who has been with the Florida GOP since 2004, said she would provide more information about the job “at a later date.” … “I have been offered a position within the White House administration,” Day told the audience at the RPOF spring quarterly meeting at the Tampa DoubleTree Hotel. Although she was not at liberty to divulge any details about the position, Day did elaborate, quipping: “We have gone through more vetting, and they know more about me than I know about me.” Day recently stepped down from her role as co-chair of the Republican National Committee, a position she had held since 2011. She’s served on the Executive Committee of the Broward County Republican Party since 1994, and in 1996 was elected as state committeewoman for the county party.

ADAM PUTNAM PROMISES AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM THROUGH FOCUS ON FLORIDA TO RPOF IN TAMPA via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State NewsPutnam hasn’t said he’s running for governor — yet — but he continued to stoke the fire of his rumored gubernatorial bid to a group of Republican Party faithful … Florida, Putnam said, was the apple of conservatives’ eyes, with a Republican governor, Cabinet and GOP-controlled state legislature. “We are the envy of the nation for conservative values and a conservative approach to governing the third largest state in the nation,” he said. Around the room, orange and green koozies emblazoned with Putnam’s political committee name and the signature Florida orange filled the tables. Despite Florida’s successes, Putnam said there was no room to let up. “Complacency is not a part of our vocabulary,” he told the crowd. “Candidates matter. Values matter. Grassroots is king.”

BUDGET GROUP DEMANDS ACTION ON ANDREW GILLUM’S EMAILS via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – A conservative budget watchdog group has asked City Manager Rick Fernandez to take disciplinary action over Mayor Gillum’s use of city staff and city resources for campaign and political activities. Recent published reports “clearly and unambiguously show that the Mayor’s office staff has violated many provisions” of the city’s personnel policy, J. Russell Price of Budget Hawks said in an email to Fernandez and forwarded to Gillum and the four city commissioners. “Unfortunately, the office has become an entity that more resembles a political sweatshop narrowly focused on promoting the Mayor’s personal political ambitions,” Price said. Budget Hawks is a group of fiscally conservative residents who have fought against city budget and tax increases.

DAVID RIVERA IS HANGING OUT IN FRANK ARTILES’ OLD SENATE OFFICE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Former U.S. Rep. Rivera appears to be testing out the digs of a state legislative office that he might seek to occupy one day soon. Rivera, a Republican, was seen casually hanging out in the Capitol office of former Sen. Artiles — socializing and bantering with a handful of people who appeared to be Artiles’ remaining legislative staff and others. One of Artiles’ legislative aides, Alina Garcia, used to work for Rivera when he was a state House member from 2000-2008. Rivera’s name has been floated as a potential candidate to fill Artiles’ vacant seat, representing District 40 in Miami-Dade County.

FORMER CIRCUS PERFORMER CHALLENGING VERN BUCHANAN via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-TribuneCalen Cristiani can do some remarkable things on a trampoline … It was a tough life, though, and Cristiani gave it up a few years ago after nearly two decades of touring with his family’s circus act. Now he’s hoping to have a second act in a profession where his skills as a showman could come in handy. Cristiani, a 27-year-old Manatee County Democrat, is challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan … in Florida’s 16th Congressional District … This is Cristiani’s first run for public office, but he has some campaign experience; he volunteered for former President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 during a break between circus tours. Addressing economic inequality is Cristiani’s central concern. He supports progressive economic policies, such as a $15 minimum wage and free tuition at public colleges and universities.

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DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY IS MONDAY via FloridaPolitics: The department seeks a replacement for former Secretary Jim Boxold, who resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm. Among those who previously submitted applications is Richard Biter, one of two unsuccessful finalists for the top job at Enterprise Florida. He’s also a former assistant secretary of the department, and has been an administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Florida Transportation Commission, the department’s advisory board, will interview applicants and nominate three candidates for Gov. Scott’s consideration.


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TOASTING RICK WATSON — The Construction Coalition will host a cocktails to honor Watson, the long-time lobbyist for Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Governor’s Club. Watson, who first came to Tallahassee as a lobbyist in 1983 for what he “thought would be two months,” is retiring from lobbying at the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. “It’s been a great run and I’ve enjoyed working with you in the process,” he said in an email. Watson won’t be retiring completely, though. Gov. Rick Scottrecently appointed him as the Franklin County Tax Collector, and Watson has said he plans to run for the post in 2018.

— ETC. —

FLORIDA STATE RB DALVIN COOK ENTICES VIKES TO ‘TAKE A SWING’ via Dave Campbell of The Associated Press – The Vikings traded up seven spots to the 41st overall pick Friday night and snagged Cook, the Florida State star whose stellar college career came with off-the-field questions. They sent one of their fourth-round selections to Cincinnati to move ahead in the second round and get Cook, Adrian Peterson‘s long-term replacement. “He was just too talented of a player not to take a swing,” general manager Rick Spielman said … The 5-foot-11, 213-pound Cook was an All-American last season as a junior and totaled 38 touchdowns over the last two years for the Seminoles. He averaged more than 138 yards rushing per game over his final two seasons. “You’ve got to accept things as a man, and I just was waiting my turn,” Cook said.

WALT DISNEY WORLD PLANS TO DEPLOY DRIVERLESS SHUTTLES IN FLORIDA via Russ Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times – The company is in late-stage negotiation with at least two manufacturers of autonomous shuttles – Local Motors, based in Phoenixand Navya, based in Paris …  the company plans a pilot program later this year to transport employees in the electric-drive robot vehicles. If that goes well, they said, the shuttles would begin transporting park visitors sometime next year. Currently, there are no plans for driverless shuttles at Disneyland in Anaheim … The reason is unclear, but Florida puts few restrictions on driverless vehicle deployment, while California is overhauling regulations that have been criticized by industry as unnecessarily heavy handed.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Rep. Don Hahnfeldt and Sen. Gary Farmer. Celebrating today is Stephen Lawson and Sarah Rumpf.

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

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

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


Gov. Scott did not look like he was negotiating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Miller and Demotech president Joe Petrelli have strongly denied it.

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

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

But he acknowledged his hand in posting the fliers.

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

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


Erin Daly Ballas, Public Affairs Consultants: CR833 LLC

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

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

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

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

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

Brecht Heuchan, The Labrador Company: Tarpon Towers II

Doug Holder, The Legis Group: Benderson Development

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Jose Bermudez, Nicholas Matthews, Becker & Poliakoff: The Society for Clinical and Medical Hair Removal

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: ToHo Water Authority

Mike Haridopolos: Trava LLC

Kirk Pepper, GrayRobinson: City of Orlando

Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: Benderson Development


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

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

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our beloved Papa Ben.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then came the word — no conference tonight.

It was that kind of day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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