Sunburn Archives - Page 7 of 38 - SaintPetersBlog

Sunburn for 01.27.17 – Lake O plan off to slow start; Trump policies impacting Fla.; Scott v. Corcoran again; Happy birthday, Laura Boehmer!

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

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


So far, 2017 has been unkind to proponents of buying land south of Lake Okeechobee. That’s the takeaway from two January Senate committee meetings that have been held on the issue.

In the titanic legislative battle pitting landowners, minority residents from the Glades and state and water management district officials against Senate President Joe Negron and environmental groups, the Senate committee looking into the issue has heard testimony largely in favor of sticking the historic Everglades restoration plans first started in 1999.

For the proponents of buying land, you might say things have not gone as planned. Outside of Everglades Foundation scientist Tom Van Lent, the committee has yet to hear from a credible third-party expert making the case for buying up more land. Instead, they have heard speakers such as South Florida Water Management District Director (SFWMD) Pete Antonacci, DEP Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Colonel Jennifer Reynolds acknowledge that the state has plenty of land to build the reservoir Negron is proposing.

Even some of Negron’s constituents aren’t having any of it. According to the Stuart News, earlier this week, minority residents from Pahokee expressed concern about his plans to buy 60,000 acres of farmland, which they say would devastate their community. On Wednesday, those residents were front and center in a meeting in Tallahassee. Representatives of the “Guardians of the Glades” included former Pahokee Deputy City Manager Tammy Jackson-Moore and pastor Robert Rease from Belle Glade.

Senate leadership has insisted the process will be driven by science. And it turns out that the science used by the Everglades Foundation may not be as solid as previously thought. Earlier this month, SFWMD Hydrology and Hydraulics Bureau Chief Akintunde O. Owosina wrote a scathing letter to Everglades Foundation scientist Van Lent, alleging that among other things, “the assumptions you made in the model input were obviously selected to reduce northern storage and create an outcome in favor of southern storage.” The letter set off several rounds of exchanges between the Everglades Foundation and the water management district – a sideshow environmental groups and Negron simply can’t afford.

In a statement released by the SFWMD, the district once again challenged Van Lent’s assertion that buying land is necessary for fixing the problems in the east and west coast estuaries. In response to Van Lent’s presentation, the district noted that its scientists found Van Lent’s claim that storage south of the lake is preferable to storage north of the lake “misleading” and “the product of an agenda-driven academic exercise.”

The district also provided a quote from University of Florida scientist Dr. Wendy Graham from her Jan. 11 appearance before Bradley’s committee indicating the benefits of storing land south of the lake versus north of the lake are about the same. According to Dr. Graham, “”If you want to protect the estuaries, it’s pretty equal north or south of the Lake.” Except the fact that according to Negron, storage south of the lake will cost more, requiring $2.4 billion for land AND a reservoir.

In an era where Republicans are leading the charge against “fake science,” will Senate Republicans have the courage to defend the plan under those circumstances?

ARM-TWISTING TIME: JOE NEGRON’S SUSPECT RESERVOIR BILL FILED via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – One day after Sen. Rob Bradley‘s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources heard stakeholders pour their hearts out over the potential good and bad of a 60,000-acre reservoir on private property in the middle of the Everglades Agricultural Area — a departure from the restoration plans already in place — Bradley filed Senate Bill 10, Water Resources … the No. 1 priority of Senate President Negron … I hope these folks won’t consider the bill a done deal, even though Negron holds a tight rein on his chamber … There’s a great deal of collateral damage to consider. For example, we haven’t yet heard from the Taxpayers Association in Palm Beach County, or anywhere in the Glades, which stand to lose a significant chunk of private property from their tax rolls. Senate Bill 10 authorizes bonding a portion of proceeds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, set aside by the voter-approved Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1, 2014), to purchase land and construct a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee “to reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.”

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IF YOU READ ONE THING – DOOMSDAY CLOCK MOVES CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT via Jonah Bromwich of the New York Times – On Thursday, the group of scientists who orchestrate the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic instrument informing the public when the earth is facing imminent disaster, moved its minute hand from three to two and a half minutes before the final hour. It was the closest the clock had been to midnight since 1953, the year after the United States and the Soviet Union conducted competing tests of the hydrogen bomb.

WHITE HOUSE ABRUPTLY HALTS OBAMACARE ADS via Paul Demko of POLITICO – The Trump administration has pulled the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial final days of the 2017 enrollment season … The decision sends the clearest signal yet that President Trump is determined to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare. Hours after being sworn in, Trump issued his first executive order allowing federal officials to start unwinding parts of the law.

WHITE HOUSE POSTPONES EXECUTIVE ACTION ON VOTER FRAUD INVESTIGATION via Madeline Conway of POLITICO – The White House said that Trump would sign an executive action to begin an investigation into voter fraud Friday or Saturday, postponing a move … Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters … Trump returned “a little late” from the Republican leadership retreat in Philadelphia and “got jammed up on some meetings that needed to occur,” prompting the delay. Earlier in the day, Spicer had said that Trump planned to sign the action around 4:30 p.m. If signed, the executive action is sure to prompt a rebuke from Democrats, who argued on Wednesday that such a probe is unnecessary and could be used to increase voter suppression going forward.

TRUMP TO VISIT MAR-A-LAGO NEXT WEEK, SOURCES SAY via Shannon Donnelly of the Palm Beach Post – The Red Cross Ball is famous for the attendance of Washington big-shots, but this year’s event is offering the biggest shot of all: The Prez … Trump will be in da house next weekend and will likely make an appearance at the 60th annual gala. This apparently came as a surprise to the organizers of the event. When told of reports that the Federal Aviation Administration was designating a presidential level no-fly zone around Mar-a-Lago, the organizer said “I’d be surprised if he showed up. The White House just sent us the tribute video he made for the ball because he probably wouldn’t be able to make it.” Then, the callback. “The president will be in town next weekend after all, as it turns out, and if he doesn’t stay for the entire event he will definitely stop in. So, you were right.”


IN ORLANDO, NANCY PELOSI SLAMS DONALD TRUMP ON MEXICO WALL ORDER via Joe Burbank of the Orlando Sentinel – The former U.S. House speaker, was in Orlando to administer a ceremonial Oath of Office to newly-elected, 10th District Congresswoman Val Demings … Pelosi and Demings met with Orlando media after the ceremony and responded to questions with a scathing assessment of President Trump’s executive order to build a wall on the Mexican border.

MIAMI-DADE MAYOR ORDERS JAILS TO COMPLY WITH DONALD TRUMP CRACKDOWN ON ‘SANCTUARY’ COUNTIES via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Fearing a loss of millions of dollars for defying immigration authorities, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez … ordered county jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests — effectively gutting the county’s position as a “sanctuary” for immigrants in the country illegally. Gimenez cited an executive order … by Trump that threatened to cut federal grants for any counties or cities that don’t cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 2013, Miami-Dade has refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are in the country illegally and wanted by ICE — not based on principle, but because the federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the county for the expense.

BOB BUCKHORN SAYS TAMPA IS NOT A SANCTUARY CITY, DOESN’T INTEND ON CALLING ICE ANYTIME SOON via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – At a news conference with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson … discussing their support for Trump’s call to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure in the U.S., Buckhorn backed away from any perception that Tampa is a sanctuary city. “We are not a sanctuary city, and that’s more of a semantic term than anything. There’s no legal definition to that,” he told reporters, before adding that the city has never engaged in helping to deport the undocumented. “We are not Customs; we are not I.C.E. We are not searching people who have chosen to live here and have not yet got citizenship,” the mayor replied. “That’s not something that we believe in, and not something that I support.”

ANDREW GILLUM ON IMMIGRATION ORDER: WRONG TO FORCE CHOICE BETWEEN ‘SECURITY AND COMPASSION’ via Lynn Hatter of WFSU – The definition of a sanctuary city is broad: but it usually applies to those with some sort of policy or law in place that governs interactions with federal immigration enforcement agencies. Tallahassee has no such language on its books, but officials say the city is also not going to go out of its way to enforce the immigration mandates coming out of President Donald Trump’s administration. A recent presidential executive order would restrict some federal funding to sanctuary cities … [Tallahassee Mayor] Gillum says the order criminalizes people based on their immigration status. “These are working people who pay taxes in our country,” Gillum writes. “They are attending public schools alongside our children and graduating as valedictorians and standout students. They are critical members of our local, state and national economy, and contribute to the culture of our society. A decision between security or compassionate immigration policy are false choices, we can have them both.”

FEDERAL HIRING FREEZE COULD HARM PANHANDLE ECONOMY via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News-Journal – Trump issued an executive order implementing a hiring freeze for federal civilian employees. The order exempts military personnel, but does not define “military personnel” as active duty service members only or as Defense Department civilian workers who support the military. “The main thing is that the order does exempt military personnel, but there is no definition of who that is,” said Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the Washington-based American Federation of Government Employees. “It is unclear if that is just uniform personnel or if it includes civilian workers.” Kauffman said his organization had received a lot of questions from federal workers wanting more details about the hiring freeze. AFGE has more than 670,000 members and is the largest union representing government workers, he said.

MOST FLA. AG GROUPS UNAFFECTED BY WITHDRAWAL FROM TPP; CATTLE INDUSTRY IS EXCEPTION via Kevin Bouffard of The Ledger – Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact drew muted reaction from Florida’s agriculture community. One notable exception was the Florida cattle industry, which like its national counterparts strongly supported the pact, known commonly as TPP, because of its potential to open protected Asian markets to U.S. beef. Representatives from growers of citrus, strawberries, tomatoes and ornamental plants said the TPP would not have significantly affected their commodities … Still, Trump’s action could have some lasting effects on future trade deals … But most of the benefits would have gone to farmers and ranchers in western states with easier shipping access to Asian markets.

GUS BILIRAKIS TO TRUMP: MAKE RIDGE ROAD A PRIORITY via CT Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times – Bilirakis released a letter to the president … citing Trump’s executive order to expedite environmental reviews of high priority infrastructure projects. The Ridge Road Extension meets that criteria, Bilirakis said, because of its importance as a planned evacuation route during tropical storm events. He noted Hurricane Hermine damaged more than 2,600 properties in Pasco County with damage estimates listed at $89 million. The multilane highway is projected to cost $102 million and would be elevated through portions of the 6,700-acre Serenova Preserve. The county has set aside more than $40 million to pay for the first phase of the road, from west Pasco to the Suncoast Parkway. The overall tab to the county for consultants and right of way is more than $17 million over the past two decades.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Marco Rubio will discuss an aggressive response to citrus greening, among other issues, at a roundtable with members of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association. Event begins approximately 11:30 a.m. EST at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, 2685 FL-29 in Immokalee. RSVP to

PORTS CANCEL SIGNING OF PACTS WITH CUBA AFTER RICK SCOTT THREATENS TO CUT FUNDING via Amy Sherman, Mimi Whitefield and Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – A high-level Cuban business delegation toured Port Everglades and met with port officials … the planned highlight — the signing of a cooperation pact — was canceled after Scott threatened to cut off state funding to any port that entered into an agreement with Cuba. The Port of Palm Beach also called off its plans to ink a Cuba deal …  Scott said Wednesday that he would ask Florida legislators to restrict funds for ports that “enter into any agreement with [the] Cuban dictatorship.” That risked $37 million over the next five years for Port Everglades, which is in Fort Lauderdale, and $920,000 over the same period for the Port of Palm Beach.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will continue his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Tax Cut Tour, which highlights his proposed $618 million in tax cuts, at a 1 p.m. news conference at Storm Smart, 6182 Idlewild St. in Fort Myers.

SCOTT GIVES SPEAKER CORCORAN AN EARFUL ON ETHICS REFORM via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – As the Florida House embarks on aggressive ethics reform mission that will target the Legislature and executive branch, House Speaker Corcoran asked Scott‘s office for suggestions … Corcoran got an earful of suggestions, at least one of which appears to be directed at Corcoran himself … including closing the loophole that allows legislators to fly on planes chartered by political parties and political committees; requiring legislators to disclose cases in which they are seeking state money for nonprofit groups; and prohibiting lawmakers from suing state agencies. Another Scott suggestion would prohibit legislators from working for law firms that lobby the Legislature — a proposed change that strikes at the very heart of how Florida’s “citizen Legislature” operates … change as a necessary safeguard “to ensure that all funding decisions are made free from any undue influence, whether real or perceived.”

RICHARD CORCORAN: SCOTT’S ETHICS PROPOSALS NOT PERSONAL via Florida Politics – “I read the letter,” Corcoran said in an afternoon media availability. “Clearly, they have somebody in mind, it seems like … it’s not me.”

… CORCORAN ALREADY VEXED BY SENATE GAMBLING PLAN via Florida Politics – House Speaker Corcoran is saving the profanities—for now. At a Thursday press availability, he was asked about comments by a lobbyist involved in this year’s gambling legislation, which the Senate has taken the lead on with an omnibus bill (SB 8). The person was overheard in a Capitol corridor saying he had spoken with the Speaker about the bill: “He’s not going for this free-for-all … He is going to let [the Senate] have their kitchen-sink charade for now.” “Those aren’t words that I would use,” Corcoran told reporters. “I probably would have used more profanity.” He quickly added with a smile: “I’m just kidding.”

RICHARD CORCORAN APPOINTS TWO LEGISLATORS TO INVESTIGATE ‘WATER WARS’ LEGAL BILLS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – [Corcoran] asked two legislators with finance backgrounds to investigate the $100 million in legal bills the state has received in the protracted lawsuit against Georgia over access to water in the Flint-Chathoochee-Apalachicola River basin … he has asked Rep. Bill Hager, an attorney expert witness in insurance matters and Rep. David Richardson, a forensic auditor, to look at the bills. He said he supported the litigation but “the question is: what is the fair market cost.” “I think you’re going to find really fast that defending the rights of Floridians, yes, it’s an absolutely worthy expense,” Corcoran told reporters. “Spending $100 million in legal fees, we are getting gouged and that needs to be fixed.”

KEITH PERRY FILES BILL TO CREATE 10-DAY BACK-TO-SCHOOL SALES TAX HOLIDAY via Florida Politics – Under the proposed legislation (SB 490), certain school supplies would be tax exempt from Aug. 4-14. The proposal would include clothing, backpack and sneakers that cost $100 or less; pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, calculators and lunchboxes that cost $15 or less; and laptops or desktop computers that cost $1,000 or less. Scott’s proposal includes a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, which he estimates would save Floridians $72 million.

THE TAX CUT THAT HISTORY SHOWS SCOTT IS MOST LIKELY TO GET FROM LEGISLATURE via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times –  The bulk of Scott‘s tax cut plan is aimed at business. Scott’s plan would cut a 6 percent sales tax that businesses pay on leasing property to 4.5 percent in 2018. That would cut taxes by $454 million for businesses, but lawmakers say economic forecast show that would lead to budget deficits without big cuts or more revenue elsewhere. The sales-tax-free shopping holiday would take $72 million out of the budget … The Legislature has refused to cut the tax on commercial leases twice in the last three years when Scott has made similar requests to cut the tax. Meanwhile, the back-to-school shopping tax has traditionally more acceptable to state lawmakers, though in various forms. Since 1998, the state has had a sales-tax-free shopping week in all but four years. It’s been as long as 10-days and as short as three.

SENATOR’S IRE, POLITICAL INTRIGUE SWIRL AROUND $500M S. FLORIDA COMMUTER RAIL CONTRACT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The public authority that oversees a South Florida commuter rail service is set to award a more than $500 million contract to a company whose bid was tens of millions of dollars higher than its competitors, each of whom was deemed ineligible for the same technical flaw. Officials from the rival bidders said the process raised red flags, and at least one prominent state senator is angered by the issue, which also comes steeped in lobbying and political intrigue. The winner of the South Florida Regional Transit Authority (SFRTA) contract operates Tri-Rail, a commuter rail service that runs on 70.9 miles of track between Jupiter and downtown Miami. The contract could be up a 10-year term. At its scheduled meeting … the board is set to consider an intent to award the contract to Herzog. But that won’t happen if state Sen. Jeff Brandes gets his way. “Obviously, any time there is a contract like this, I think there should be added scrutiny because of just some of the issues that surround it … We are going to pay special attention to it.”

VISIT FLORIDA DEFENDERS SWARM SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HEARING via Florida Politics – Tourism business owners flocked to a Senate committee room Thursday to plead the case for Visit Florida, the state’s embattled tourism promotions agency. Representing both large operations and independent hotels and restaurants, they urged members of the Appropriations Committee to let the agency continue to sell Florida to potential tourists in the United States and overseas. Sheldon Suga, a manager at Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, brought 1,000 letters from hotel housekeepers and desk clerks, charter boat captains, and other tourism employees. “Individuals who rely on tourism in this state,” he said. “They don’t have the ability to bring tourists to this state. Visit Florida does.”… Committee chairman Jack Latvala was openly sympathetic. “This is an issue that this committee will give a lot of attention to — the Legislature is going to give a lot of attention to,” Latvala said. “The tourism industry employees 1.2 million Floridian,” he said. “It’s an industry we cannot turn our back on. We can’t crawl in a hole and pull a blanket on top of us. We have to compete economically with other states that also advertise and offer things to folks to come to their states.”

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE LOOKS INTO STATE COURTS’ CASELOAD BACKLOGS – via Florida Politics – The percentage of the Florida Supreme Court’s caseload still pending after 180 days doubled after the U.S. Supreme Court upended the state’s death penalty system last year, a court representative told a House panel looking into court delays on Thursday. In Hurst v. Florida, the justices in Washington invalidated Florida’s death penalty because the law gave too much discretion to judges instead of juries in handing down death sentences. Death row inmates filed appeals en masse. The court in Tallahassee is still weighing a response. “That has completely held up the death penalty cases in Florida,” said John Tomasino, clerk of the Florida Supreme Court. The court has set a standard for deciding cases within 180 days. The House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee held hearings into how quickly  the high court and other appellate and trial courts are clearing their caseloads. Since 2006, the Florida Supreme Court has left between 1 percent and 4 percent of its cases lingering past that deadline. In 2015, the percentage was 3 percent. It swelled to 6 percent in 2016.

REPORT DECRIES POLITICAL INFLUENCE, LOW DIVERSITY IN FLORIDA JUDICIARY via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – A new report released by Progress Florida … is sharply critical of creeping political influence in the state’s judiciary, as well as its lack of ethnic and racial diversity … changes made in 2001 to the bodies that send the governor a list of judicial nominees from which to name an appointee, Judicial Nominating Commissions, undermines the merit selection process. It also says the changes subvert the 1970s reforms that were aimed at picking appellate judges based on who has the best qualifications rather than who best aligns with the governor politically. The report also criticizes the disproportionately low number of Hispanic and African-American judges, faulting Gov. Scott for doing nothing to help.


Travis Blanton, Jon Johnson, Dale Patchett, Johnson & Blanton: Hamilton County Development Authority; Marquis Software Development; Multitype Library Cooperatives

Ron Book, Kelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Florida Courthouse Therapy Dogs LLC.

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: Tech Care for Kids, Inc.

James Card, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Florida Association of Health Plans, Inc.; Henderson Behavioral Health

Christopher Carmody, GrayRobinson: STEPS, Inc.: Tech Care for Kids, Inc.

Christopher Dawson, Katie Flury, GrayRobinson: City of Orlando; STEPS, inc.; Tech Care for Kids

Angela Dzewiecki, Peebles & Smith, Inc.: Florida Acupuncture Association; Metroplan Orlando; ToHo Water Authority

Julie Fess: Sarasota Kennel Club

Martin FiorentinoJoseph MobleyMark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: YMCA of Florida’s First Coast

Fausto GomezManuel Reyes, Gomez Baker Associates: Miami Shores Villages

John Charles Gray, GrayRobinson: American Maglev Technology, Inc.; Metro Orlando Economic Development; Williams Acquisition Holding Company

Christopher Hagan, Akerman LLP: Florida Solar Energy Industries Association; Miami-Dade County

Mike Haridopolos, Mike Haridopolos: South Central Florida Express, Inc.; Southern Gardens Citrus Groves Corporation; Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery Corporation; Southern Gardens Citrus Processing Corporation; United States Sugar Corporation.

Michael HarrellJames Magill, Timothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida Sportsman’s Land Trust

Kari Hebrank, Wilson & Associates LLC: Florida Energy Pipeline Association; Florida Gas Transmission Company; Florida Home Builders Association

William Helmich, Helmich Consulting: OSCR

Larry Overton, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Florida Association of Health Plans, Inc.; Henderson Behavioral Health, Okeechobee County School District

Diana Padgett, Timmins Consulting: North Florida Community College Foundation

Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: No Casinos, Inc.

William Peebles, Pebbles & Smith: City of Mount Dora; City of Tampa; Florida Acupuncture Association; Monroe County Board of County Commissioners; Orlando Utilities Commission

Evan Power, Ramba Consulting: City of Daytona Beach; Florida Automobile Dealers Association; Florida Concrete & Products Association

Richard Reeves, GrayRobinson: Florida Distillers Guild

Robert Reyes, Capitol Group: Florida United Businesses Association; United Association Services, Inc. (d/b/a FUBA Workers’ Comp)

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Seavin, Inc.

David Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: Oakley Groves, Inc.

John Wayne Smith, Peebles & Smith: City of Mount Dora; City of Tampa; Monroe County Board of County Commissioners; Orlando Utilities Commission

Christopher Snow, Snow Strategies, Inc.: All Kids Care of Orange Park

Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: 3M Company

Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: Seavin, Inc.; STEPS, Inc.; Tech Care for Kids, Inc.

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Tech Care for Kids, Inc.

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BOG CHAIRMAN SAYS UNIVERSITIES MUST FOCUS ON PREPARING STUDENTS FOR JOBS, BOOST RESEARCH via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat – Florida’s public universities are showing progress but must continue their focus on graduating students prepared with skills for the job market, increasing research and ensuring access, Board of Governors Chairman Tom Kuntz said …  Kuntz said a major focus for this year will be strengthening ties between the universities and the business community to make sure students are majoring in areas that will lead to job growth in Florida. “First, aligning degrees to match high-skilled workforce needs is a high priority for our system,” Kuntz said. “Students should be graduating with degrees that provide them with the skills to engage in meaningful productive work. In looking at how we can improve on preparing students to enter the workforce, we’ve asked two questions: (1) are our students equipped with the skills they need to step into high-skilled jobs, and (2) are we offering degree programs that align with those needs?”

SUIT CLAIMS ELECTRONIC CRAPS MACHINES RIPPED PLAYERS OFF via Nick Sortal of the Miami Herald – Lawyers filed suit Jan. 20 against Interblock, which manufactures electronic table games worldwide. The suit also names the Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano Beach, where the games the complainants named in the suit are located. The suit claims the dice game takes too large of a commission on certain winnings. Live dice games and roulette are illegal in Florida, but in 2012 electronic versions of the games — with bouncing dice and spinning wheels — were declared legal … The casinos make money, naturally, when patrons lose a bet, but they also take a portion when patrons win. That’s the rub with the Interblock craps game. It advertises that it takes 5 percent of each dollar plunked down in a successful bet; but it actually takes 5 percent of a player’s winnings. In certain bets, that commission amounts to 10 percent, rather than 5 percent, the suit argues.

THIS IS WHAT MEDICAL MARIJUANA LOOKS LIKE IN TAMPA via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Trulieve opened its first medical marijuana treatment center in Tampa … the company’s third dispensary in the state. The treatment center is not what some would expect … medical marijuana products offered at Trulieve under state law are behind a locked door that only patients or their registered caregivers can access. The medical marijuana comes in a non-euphoric strain low in the high-inducing chemical THC and three strains of full-strength medical marijuana. None of those strains are available to smoke. They come in pills that can be taken orally, like an aspirin; as tinctures, which are also taken orally; and two types of inhalation devices that work similar to an e-cigarette. All are packaged in containers reminiscent of those a patient would receive at a pharmacy.

TRI-RAIL’S HALF-BILLION DOLLAR, SINGLE-PROPOSAL DEAL RAISES QUESTIONS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The South Florida Regional Transit Authority will consider awarding a deal to run the state’s largest public commuter railroad, Tri-Rail — worth up to $511 million — after tossing all competing bids, including some asking far less money. Some rejected bidders, including Tri-Rail’s current operator, Maryland’s Transdev Services, are fuming and challenging …Transdev went to court to block the award; initially getting a temporary restraining order. In depositions filed in the Transdev court case against the transit authority … the agency’s procurement director Christopher Bross testified that he had the power to accept the bid prices at face value, but chose instead to interpret that some bidders had included conditions on their pricing; so he disqualified them. Bross did so, he testified, without asking the bidders to clarify. Transdev argued in court that the bid price was, as the law required, clearly stated and not conditional, and would not have been changed as Bross had testified he assumed to be a prospect.

SPOTTED in the Vanity Fair article about legendary society columnist “Suzy:” Pepe Fanjul and wife Emilia.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our great friend, Laura Boehmer of Southern Strategy Group. Another SSG lobbyist celebrating today is Deno Hicks. Best wishes to our friend Cory Guzzo, too.

Sunburn for 01.26.17 – Donald Trump’s voter fraud whopper; Rick Scott sells his tax cuts; Bill Galvano’s grease; Meet Jayer Williamson

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

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

DONALD TRUMP ANNOUNCES ‘MAJOR’ VOTER FRAUD INVESTIGATION via Julie Pace and Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press –The investigation, he said, will look at those registered to vote in more than one state, “those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” Depending on results, Trump tweeted, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump has been fixated on his loss of the popular vote in the election and a concern that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media, aides and associates say. Secretaries of state across the country have dismissed Trump’s voter fraud claims as baseless.

TRUMP’S VOTER FRAUD CLAIMS UNDERMINE THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS AND HIS PRESIDENCY via Dan Balz of The Washington Post –There is no benign explanation for President Trump’s false assertion that millions of people voted illegally in the last election. It is either a deliberate attempt to undermine faith in the democratic process, an exhortation to those who favor new restrictions on access to the ballot box or the worrisome trait of someone with immense power willing to make wild statements without any credible evidence. By repeating as president what he had said as a candidate, for whatever purpose, Trump is striking at the foundation of a democratic society. This is yet another example of Trump being willing to cast doubt on information, individuals or institutions that he believes threaten his legitimacy, challenge his authority or question his actions — from attacks on “phony polls” or the “dishonest media” to assertions now of vast voter fraud … Trump is chipping away at a shared public confidence in a system that is fundamental to a representative government for no apparent reason other than that he’s bothered by the fact that, although duly elected and now in the White House, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.

MUST-READ – TRUMP’S VOTER FRAUD EXAMPLE? A TROUBLED TALE WITH BERNHARD LANGER via Glenn Thrush of The New York Times – Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception … kicked off the meeting by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the 3 million to 5 million ballots cast by “illegals.” … Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer” … [The] 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany — a winner of the Masters twice and of more than 100 events on major professional golf tours around the world — was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day … when an official informed Langer he would not be able to vote. Ahead of and behind Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Trump said — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from. The anecdote was greeted with silence. Just one problem: Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, is a German citizen with permanent residence status in the United States who is, by law, barred from voting, according to Langer’s daughter Christina.

AS TRUMP CLAIMS VOTER FRAUD, HIS SENIOR ADVISER REGISTERED TO VOTE IN TWO STATES via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – His campaign chief registered in both Florida and New York … The voter registration of Stephen Bannon drew a complaint during the campaign from a group that opposed Trump, but ultimately Florida election officials dropped the complaint. Bannon wasn’t the only person close to Trump who has been registered in two states at once … Trump’s daughter Tiffany was registered to vote in Pennsylvania and New York, while CNN reported that Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, is registered in New York and California. Bannon registered to vote in Miami but never voted there. In August, Bannon switched his voter registration to Sarasota County … Bannon didn’t vote in Sarasota County, either.

VOTER FRAUD? HARDLY ANY FOUND IN FLORIDA via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times – Aside from assurances from the mostly Republican elections officials in the state that fraud was exceedingly rare, there are the public records, which show scant evidence of the existence of voter fraud (typically, in the Trumpian sense, this is fraud where someone casts a ballot more than once or does so even though they aren’t eligible to vote). During the past two statewide elections, Floridians cast more than 20.7 million ballots. In that period, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement brought 13 voter fraud cases. Six ended in guilty pleas, including four convicted felons and one non-citizen who voted illegally and a worker for a political vendor who admitted filing phony voter registration forms. Two cases were settled before trial. The others are pending or charges were dropped.

DEMOCRATS DEMAND STATE INVESTIGATE DONALD TRUMP’S FRAUD ALLEGATIONS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon … said in a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner: “I believe that charges of election fraud by the President of the United States are far too serious to allow more time to elapse.” Citing a state law that gives Detzner authority to act on such allegations, Braynon wrote: “You now have a legal obligation to act.” Braynon added that “such reviews and purges in the past failed to turn up any evidence of widespread fraud,” and said that in some cases, people were falsely accused of fraud, including veterans. But Braynon said Detzner needs to reassure Floridians “that (Trump‘s) election to the presidency was beyond reproach.”

SEMINOLE ELECTIONS CHIEF MIKE ERTEL TAKES TO SOCIAL MEDIA TO DEFEND VOTING INTEGRITY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “President Trump has created quite the kerfuffle with today’s tweets concerning voter fraud,” Ertel wrote in his post. “To be clear: voter fraud is likely one of the least committed felonies in America, and barring systemwide collusion, it is simply not the case that ‘millions voted illegally.’ … However, there are always political operatives who attempt to manipulate the process throughout, and to pretend it doesn’t exist at all, is to either be putting your head in the sand or to exercise an extreme naïveté of the presence of dirty political tactics,” he continued. “There is good news: Florida’s system, while not perfect, is among the best at ensuring voter trust. We have hard-working, ethical supervisors of elections, and Seminole County is home to poll workers and staff who together constitute America’s Finest Elections Team.”

BUT, KEEP THIS IN MIND — TRUMP’S POLICIES POLLING WELL WITH VOTERS via Cameron Easley of Morning Consult – – A new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll provides the first, in-depth look at what voters overall thought about Trump‘s inauguration speech. Overall positive reactions: 49 percent of respondents thought the speech was good or excellent, compared to 39 percent who found it only fair or poor. Additionally, 55 percent of voters thought it was better than they expected it to be … Much more optimistic than pessimistic: 51 percent found the speech optimistic and 50 percent found it hopeful. Only 26 percent found it to be pessimistic. “America First” is a hit: 65 percent of voters reacted positively to the passage in which Trump said “it’s going to be America First.” 22 percent reacted negatively to this concept. Definitely not boring: only 21 percent of respondents found the speech boring, compared to 57 percent who didn’t. Voters want Trump to tweet less. They also want the media to cover his tweets less: 61 percent of voters say Trump uses Twitter too much. Even Trump voters agree – 44 percent think he tweets too much, compared to 38 percent who think he tweets the right amount or not enough. Additionally, 56 percent say news organizations cover Trump’s use of Twitter too much.

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BILL NELSON SOUNDS OFF ON WHAT HE CALLS DONALD TRUMP’S ‘ROCKY’ FIRST WEEK IN OFFICE via Florida Politics – [Nelson] spent considerable time discussing – and criticizing- some of the moves that the newly-inaugurated president has made in his first week in office. Nelson has voted against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Mike Pompeo for CIA Director, and he says he’ll oppose Rex Tillerson when the former ExxonMobil CEO’s name comes up for a confirmation vote for Secretary of State. When asked why … Nelson said just two words. “Vladimir Putin.” Regarding Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s choice as Treasury Secretary, Nelson said he has not made up his mind, even after speaking with him personally. Nelson also was dismissive of Trump’s call to begin plans to construct a border security fence on the Mexican border, saying that a “multiplicity of things” can be done to  protect our borders.

MARCO RUBIO ANNOUNCES APPROPRIATIONS ASSIGNMENTS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Rubio will serve on the  Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee … on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee … also gained a spot on the smallest of the Senate Appropriations subcommittees as he was named [to the] Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. With a seat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, it’s no surprise that Rubio ended up on the Senate State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee. Rubio will also serve on the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee … On all five of the subcommittees, Rubio will be the lowest ranked Republican in terms of seniority.


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DAYS UNTILRick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 8: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 15; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 17; Valentine’s Day – 19; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 40; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Skits – 47; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 99; FSU vs. Alabama – 219; Election Day 2017 – 284; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 322.

CHARCOAL — FIRST LEGAL CARGO FROM CUBA IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS — ARRIVES AT PORT EVERGLADES via Mimi Whitefield of the Miami Herald – The first Cuban exports since the embargo went into effect over a half-century ago arrived at Port Everglades as port officials prepared to receive a business delegation from Cuba later in the week. Two containers of artisanal charcoal made from Cuban Marabú, an invasive woody species from Africa that is considered a nuisance on the island, arrived at the Fort Lauderdale port aboard a Crowley Maritime ship called the K-Storm. The charcoal exports, which are produced by private worker-owned cooperatives, are legal under a rule change by the former Obama administration that allows the importation of some products produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

RICK SCOTT  WANTS FUNDS CUT FOR SOUTH FLORIDA PORTS THAT INK CUBA DEALS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — Over three posts on Twitter, the governor said he would ask state lawmakers to restrict dollars for ports that “enter into any agreement with [the] Cuban dictatorship” — as Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach plan to do Thursday and Friday, respectively. “We cannot condone Raul Castro’s oppressive behavior,” Scott tweeted in English and Spanish, using the preferred social media platform of his friend, Trump. “Serious security/human rights concerns.”

SCOTT’S TAX CUTS WILL FACE MAJOR CHALLENGE IN GOP LEGISLATURE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott began a two-day, six-TV market push … for $618 million in tax cuts, and some Republicans at the Capitol who would have to vote for it are not exactly on Scott’s bandwagon. In the House, even before Scott launched his annual tax-cut Speaker Richard Corcoran and his top advisers have called the state’s historic spending levels “unsustainable,” mostly because of a lack of discipline by Republicans themselves, and that cuts will be required to balance the budget in a year with almost no surplus after essential needs are funded. “Tax cuts are always possible,” said House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo. “But how much appetite do we have to be disciplined financially? We’ve been led by Republicans for the last 20 years and we spend like Democrats.” The bottom line: Scott’s tax cut proposals could face the same fate as last year.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will continue his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tax cut tour at 9:30 a.m. at Baron Sign Manufacturing, 900 W. 13th Street in Rivera Beach. Later in the day, he’s scheduled to appear at the Florida Real Estate Trends Economic Summit at the Renaissance SeaWorld Orlando, 6677 Sea Harbor Drive in Orlando.

CABINET TO APPOINT INTERIM DEP SECRETARY ON FEB. 1 via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott and the Florida Cabinet have set a conference call to appoint an interim secretary to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and talk about the process for selecting a permanent replacement. The Cabinet met … but because there was not enough time give proper public notice of the discussion, Scott said the Cabinet would have to hold a conference call to make the interim secretary selection. The next regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting is not until Feb. 7, which would have left DEP without a leader between [JonSteverson‘s resignation and the interim selection.

TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION WILL NOT RECOMMEND DOT SECRETARY REPLACEMENTS AT MEETING via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Transportation Committee will not be recommending a successor for Jim Boxold as secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation during its meeting Friday in Orlando. Boxold announce he will be leaving Feb. 3 for a position at the capitol city consulting lobbying firm. A commission spokesman said that the “process and timeline” for a replacement will be discussed, but no specific names. The nine-person board is responsible for selecting names to forward to Gov. Scott for final approval.

SENATE PANEL OKS GAMBLING OVERHAUL BILL, INCLUDING SEMINOLE PROVISIONS via Florida Politics The Florida Senate has seemingly fast-tracked the chamber’s gambling overhaul for this year, as its first panel gave unanimous thumbs up to the measure one hour into a meeting that had been scheduled to last four. The bill (SB 8) was cleared Wednesday by the Regulated Industries committee, which oversees gambling policy. It has only one more stop, Appropriations, before it can be heard on the floor. The 2017 Legislative Session begins March 7. The measure ensures “substantial positive impacts for many years,” said bill sponsor Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican expected to be Senate President in 2018-20. He cited a figure of $375 million in “net economic impact” to state coffers, which could use the extra cash in what may be a tight budget year … Though the Senate may be poised to finally pass gambling legislation after years of inaction, wild cards remain in the form of the House, which remains to averse to anything looking like gambling expansion, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: Legislative 101 – When a bill has just 1 more stop & it’s a month before session & a senator says he’s voting yes to move it along … it’s a sign it’s a top priority of legislative leaders that one shouldn’t try to stop in this chamber.

RED-LIGHT CAMERA BAN PASSES HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE via Florida Politics – This year’s effort to ban red-light cameras in Florida was approved by the Florida House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee after testimony that the records shows the cameras don’t appear to be reducing traffic accidents and their primary purpose seems to be revenue that’s not doing much to improve highway safety. House Bill 6007 is the house’s fifth attempt to ban the cameras since the Florida Legislature authorized them in 2010. Previous repeal attempts passed the house in 2011 and 2016, only to die in the Florida Senate.

UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGES PAINT DEPRESSING PICTURE OF DEALING WITH 10 PERCENT CUTS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Asked to prepare for 10 percent budget cuts, Florida’s state university and college leaders pledged to try to avoid affecting students but told the House Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations the impacts would still be profound. “The target reductions are set at 10 percent for each entity,” Subcommittee Chairman Larry Ahern said after spelling out the challenges faced by the larger House Appropriations Committee of possible 10 percent budget cuts this year to deal with a $1.7 billion shortfall. If the universities make their own proposed cuts, that would amount to $274 million out of the 12 state universities’ $2.74 billion in annual budgets … At some schools, that would mean slicing through administration and services ranging from computer support, to institutes and research, said Martha Saunders, newly-installed president of the University of West Florida, which could have to deal with a $10 million annual cut. Everything from mentoring programs to faculty recruitment would be at risk, she said.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DEBATE TURNS TO EMPLOYEES’ POINT OF VIEW via Florida Politics – Employee dissatisfaction with Florida’s workers’ compensation system emerged as an issue during a House committee hearing Wednesday, amid suggestions they deserve more choice over their treating physicians. Rep. George Moraitis Jr. recalled a meeting with firefighters who complained of their medical treatment under the system. “We really need to have a solution that helps the workers,” he said. “Yes, we need to limit attorney involvement, to not have the wrong incentives. But to sit here and say the program was working well, I definitely disagree with that.” Attorney involvement has been the focus of much of the debate since last year, when the Florida Supreme Court struck down statutory limits on attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases enacted in 2003. Those limits were intended to rein in litigation costs. … Following the hearing, Insurance & Banking Subcommittee chairman Danny Burgess noted a recent Office of Insurance Regulation survey in which nearly 66 percent of system stakeholders disagreed or strongly disagreed that the system strikes the right balance between workers and employers. “It raised a lot of questions. The purpose of the grand bargain is to get the workers better and get them back to work,” he said.

— “House bill would expand bank rights in foreclosure cases” via Florida Politics

— “’Patient Savings Act’ filed in Florida House” via Florida Politics

DEMS DEMAND RICHARD CORCORAN CANCEL SPEAKER WITH ‘ANTI-IMMIGRATION’ TIES via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Democrats have demanded the Florida House cancel a presentation by the leader of a think tank deemed by a group the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “anti-immigration” and affiliated with white nationalism. Democratic Leader Janet Cruz sent a letter to House Speaker Corcoran calling for the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee to rescind its invitation to Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He is set to speak as part of a panel on “security issues related to refugee resettlement” at the subcommittee’s 9 a.m. meeting. Since 1995, Krikorian has run the Center for Immigration Studies, whose website says the group backs “low-immigration, pro-immigrant” policies, has been called out repeatedly by the SPLC, which tracks hate groups.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Sachs Media Group, Florida’s dominant public affairs communications firm. Sachs Media thrives on high-stakes challenges in the relentless pursuit of excellent outcomes. To help you win in the corridors of power, let us score for you in the court of public opinion. Visit to learn more.***

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Children, Family & Seniors Subcommittee will hear presentations about refugee service and resettlement programs during its 9 a.m. meeting in 12 House Office building; while the House Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee is expected to get a presentation on post-secondary civics education during its meeting at 9 a.m. in Mashburn Hall. The House Tourism & Gaming Committee is set to discuss issues related to pari-mutuels during its meeting at 9 a.m. in 212 Knott. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will discuss a bill to repeal a decades-old law requiring liquor stores to be stand-alone facilities during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 412 Knott. At 1:30 p.m., the Senate Appropriations Committee will get receive presentations about tourism marketing and economic-incentive programs.

SENATE WILL HEAR TOBACCO APPELLATE BOND CAP REPEALER via Florida Politics – A Senate panel today will hear a bill that would repeal the cap on the amount of money tobacco companies have to put up as appellate bonds. Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, and Rep. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, have filed measures for their respective chambers for the 2017 Legislative Session. Giving this bill a committee hearing is the latest indication that this Legislature has a soft spot for trial lawyers. The Senate bill (SB 100) is teed up first in the Regulated Industries committee, which meets at 10 a.m.

JAYER WILLIAMSON: WIRED FOR PUBLIC SERVICE via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — Jayer Williamson wasn’t born an electrician, but he learned the trade fresh out of college. He wasn’t born a public servant, either, but even earlier in his life, he knew he wanted to be one. The year was 1984, and Jayer was just five years old. He’d just spent a long day with his grandfather, W.L. Butler, meeting with Representatives and Senators from across Florida, discussing issues important to their community. Butler himself had previously served as both a city councilman in Milton, and later as a Santa Rosa County commissioner, until 1980. As grandfather and grandson headed back home from Tallahassee, Butler turned to his tired grandson and asked if he enjoyed the day. Williamson will never forget his own reply to his grandfather: “I will be a member of the Florida House of Representatives.” The answer, he says, stuck with him in the back of his head. “Today I get to live it out. Not everyone has the opportunity to do something they wanted to do all their life,” Williamson says. … His first legislative session is already looming, and he’s starting to get the hang of things in Tallahassee, just as a he promised his grandfather 32 years earlier. He credits the legislative staffers for making the transition easier.

PERSONNEL NOTE: SEAN WHITE JOINS SENATE MAJORITY OFFICE via Florida Politics – White is the office’s newest legislative analyst. “Majority Leader Wilton Simpson worked with Sean while Simpson chaired Community Affairs and was very impressed,” spokeswoman Rachel Perrin Rogers said. “He’s excited about what Sean will bring to the Republican Caucus.” White also has worked for the House as a policy analyst, at the Public Service Commission and for Tallahassee’s Ausley & McMullen law firm. He was in the James Madison Institute’s Leaders Fellowship program, Class II, in 2015-16. He graduated from The University of Virginia in 2004, where he was on the “Dean’s List of Distinguished Students.”


Michael Corcoran, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Jeffrey Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Florida Development Finance Corporation; University of South Florida Foundation

Taylor Patrick Biehl, Capitol Alliance Group: Big Bend Advocacy Association

Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Insikit, Inc.

Ron BookKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases

Melanie Brown, Johnson & Blanton: Santa Rosa County

Matt Bryan, Smith Bryan & Myers: Children’s Campaign

Kevin Marino Cabrera, Edgar O. Castro, Southern Strategy Group: CloseWatch Technologies

Andreina Figueroa, ADF Consulting: Duke Energy

Katie Flury, GrayRobinson: SAS Institute; Woodward & Curran, Inc.

Katherine Holzer, Katherine Holzer: Safety Net Hospital Alliance

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: AT&T; Florida for Care; Florida Medical Association; Isle of Capri Casinos; IWP; Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Inc.; Smart Pharmacy; Walmart.

Trevor MaskKatie Webb, Colodny Fass: George Hackney Inc. d/b/a Trulieve

Jerry Lee McDaniel, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Delegation, Southeast U.S./Japan Association

George Meros, GrayRobinson: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Pete Mitchell, PJM Strategies: Safety Net Hospital Alliance

Joel Overton, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Henderson Behavior Health; MorseLife

Jerry Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Seven Seas Cruising Association

David Ramba, Ramba Consulting Group: Sarasota Kennel Club, Inc.; St. Petersburg Kennel Club, Inc. d/b/a Derby Lane

Donald Ray, Donald G. Ray & Associates: Florida Monument Builders Association

Marc Reichelderfer, Landmarc Strategies: GCCM, Inc.

Keith Teel, Covington & Burling: Altria Client Services LLC and its Affiliates; RAI Services Company

Ronald Watson, Watson Strategies: Disaster Solutions LLC; SLGT Inc.

HAPPENING TODAY – FLORIDA ACCESS TO JUSTICE PROJECT TO RELEASE REPORT LOOKING AT LACK OF DIVERSITY IN STATE COURT SYSTEM — The Florida Access to Justice Project is set to release a report today that looks both at the amount of special interest money and the lack of diversity in the state court system. The report is expected to provide nine key policy recommendations aimed at ensuring a more diverse and impartial Florida court going forward.

ATTORNEY: FLORIDA NEVER HELPED GIRL WHO LIVESTREAMED SUICIDE via The Associated Press – Nakia Venant had been in and out of foster care for more than seven years, and since April, had bounced between at least 10 homes and shelters, said Howard Talenfeld, who is Nakia’s mother’s attorney. Nakia was sexually abused by another foster child when she was 7, he said. Nakia killed herself early Sunday, several hours after she wrote on Facebook: “I Don’t Wanna Live No More,” adding three sad-faced emojis. “Nakia told the world, in the way she left this world, about the terrible failures in (Florida’s) foster care system,” Talenfeld told a news conference. Florida’s system of hiring private contractors to oversee foster care in much of the state has led to several suicides, accidental deaths and murders, Talenfeld said. “Tragically, we are here talking about another child among this horrific list, this horrific history of foster care privatization in Florida.”

STATE SAYS NO TO LIP BALM, SUNGLASSES IN PUBLIX LIQUOR STORES via Florida Politics – The Lakeland-based chain had sought permission from the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to add those items to those its sells in its separate stores that offer hard liquor. “It is self-evident that balloons are party-type supplies,” its request says, and gift cards, for example, “are a ubiquitous part of party attendance.” Nope, state regulators said earlier this month. Balloons and lip balm don’t rate, and Publix’s request was shot down. The state called Publix’s arguments that the items also qualify as party supplies “unpersuasive.”

FLORIDA’S HEALTH CARE TRANSPARENCY DATABASE TAKES SHAPE via Ryan Benk of Health News Florida – The Agency for Health Care Administration is paying a company called the Health Care Cost Institute $6.1 million over five years to build the online transparency tool, but they won’t be working from scratch. The plan is to meld the HCCI’s national average-price database, called Guroo, with an existing state website called the Florida Health Finder, which lists quality ratings and general pricing information about hospitals, nursing homes and other providers. Health Finder only includes a provider’s price tag, but not what an actual patient could expect to pay after insurance.

FLORIDA STATE WORKERS GETTING PREPAID TUITION SIGN-UP DISCOUNT via The Associated Press – State workers will get a $25 discount on the application fee if they enroll during this year’s open enrollment period. The application fee is normally $50. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is sending an email in January to state workers with promotional code activation instructions that allow state workers to receive the discount.

GENTING ASKS FAA TO RE-APPROVE TOWERS PLANNED FOR OLD MIAMI HERALD SITE via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald – Malaysian gambling giant Genting … says it won’t sell the land but is still far from being able to build the casino it wants. Genting asked the Federal Aviation Administration to re-approve plans to build three 649-foot towers … The FAA approved the towers in 2013, but that approval expired Jan. 10. Real estate blog the Next Miami first reported the news. The towers are not expected to rise anytime soon. Art Miami recently said it had struck a deal to set up its tent on the site for the next several years. Genting also wants to build a marina on the property, which it bought for $236 million in 2011.

EDITORIALMOSAIC REZONING REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL PHOSPHATE MINING MERITS APPROVAL via the Bradenton Herald – This is a case where we hope people can agree to disagree with civility after both sides present their points. The world’s largest manufacturer of phosphate-based fertilizers seeks approval of a zoning change to allow a 3,635-acre expansion of its Wingate Mine property. The Winding Creek neighborhood sits adjacent to the Wingate East site. One of its residents, Linda C. Eneix of Myakka City, wrote county commissioners to express support for Mosaic’s request: “Mosaic Phosphates has impressed me as one of the most caring, responsive and community supportive institutions imaginable in today’s commercial world.” At Mosaic’s New Wales fertilizer plant in Polk County in September, a sinkhole under a stack formed and 200 million gallons of that acidic wastewater drained into the Floridan aquifer … That and other spills give pause, but they are rare occurrences. Certainly, there is the potential for other accidents, but if that is the measure by which we judge projects, little would be accomplished. County commissioners should approve Mosaic’s request.

WHAT TAYLOR BIEHL IS READING – MCDONALD’S TO GIVE AWAY 10,000 BOTTLES OF SPECIAL SAUCE via The Associated Press – To get you to come into McDonald’s and buy new versions of its Big Mac, the chain is giving away 10,000 bottles of its trademark special sauce for people to use at home … to celebrate the introduction of the Mac Jr. and the Grand Mac, two different-sized variations of the classic sandwich … The bottles will be available at participating locations nationwide. Additional details on how and where customers can get their hands on a bottle are expected to be released.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to smart guys Jason Roth and Mark Sharpe.

Sunburn for 1.25.17 – Bob Buckhorn’s opening; Bush staffer to Trump admin; Rick Scott’s tax cuts; Whiskey & Wheaties return

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

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


Andrew Gillum has the personal story.

Gwen Graham has the pedigree.

John Morgan has the bravado.

Phillip Levine has the money.

All four of the rumored contenders for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor have at least one defining characteristic that will shape the narratives of any campaigns they launch.

But it’s Bob Buckhorn who has the strongest selling point: a record of success as the two-term mayor of Tampa.

The Tampa success story, which reached another crescendo during the city’s hosting of the 2017 College Football National Championship, is the kind of story every candidate wishes they could tell.

“This is the first major event that we’ve had with the Riverwalk completed, and it’s the final piece of the puzzle,” Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times. “For us to have that now as part of our appeal really, really makes a difference.” (Be sure to read Janelle Irwin posit on how the spotlight from the college football playoff could help Buckhorn in 2018).

Now, if he wants to become governor, all Bob Buckhorn has to do is convince the rest of Florida he can do for it what he’s done in Tampa.

And right now there is an opening for Buckhorn to get into the race and define himself.

Gillum, the charismatic African-American mayor of Tallahassee, is working to insert himself into the statewide discussion about gun safety. But his trial balloons seem to never get much altitude.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Levine released a video announcing he would not run for re-election as Miami Beach Mayor. It was the clearest indication to date that he intends for governor.

But the video did not generate much buzz. “If the point of the Mayor Levine video is that he is boring (and has a really big watch) then Mission Accomplished!” remarked Republican political consultant Tre Evers.

It’s a horrible vagary of life which has kept Graham from ramping up her 2018 bid: her husband has cancer.

“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,” Graham told Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press.

As for Morgan, he continues to bluster while positioning himself as a Democratic, Florida-sized version of Donald Trump.

“Most politicians go on a B.S. ‘listening tour,’ which is all a joke, I’m going to go on a speaking tour,” Trump recently told Orlando Politics publisher Doug Kaplan. “I have the luxury of telling you exactly what I think. By the time I get done telling everyone what I think, I may be dead by my own words.”

Not knowing what to make of Trump, while seeing Graham held up, and Gillum and Levine not generating much buzz, the time is right for Buckhorn to make his presence felt in the invisible primary of 2018. Maybe he picks a fight with the Legislature. Maybe Gillum starts raising real money for his political committee. Maybe he hires a couple of key staffers.

Something. Anything. Strike while the iron is hot and all that.

Otherwise, the window will close. Graham will lock up the critical establishment support. Levine will muscle his way through the race with his checkbook. And Morgan will take up all of the oxygen in the room.

This past weekend, I ran into Buckhorn at the Gasparilla Children’s Parade. Watching him interact with the crowd and toss beads to throngs of Tampanians and visitors lining Bayshore Boulevard, I was reminded that, among all of the possible candidates mentioned here AND Republicans who may enter the race, Buckhorn is the best retail politician (although there is something to be said for how Graham’s sense of empathy can be felt literally, almost like the heat from a candle).

Buckhorn gains strength from all of the gripping and grinning. He kisses babies. He never turns down a request for a picture. He’ll drink a beer (or two) with a group of parade-goers.

In other words, Buckhorn on the campaign trail would be a force to reckon with.

The only question now is when will he get on the field.

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‘DREAMERS’ IN FLORIDA GET SOME RELIEF AS DONALD TRUMP FOCUSES ON OTHER IMMIGRATION ISSUES via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Hundreds of thousands of immigrant “Dreamers” feel relief this week after the Trump administration indicated it will not try to deport them and instead seek a legislative solution. Sen. Marco Rubio was working on Dreamer legislation in 2012 but never got it rolling, and Obama stepped in with an executive order. That incensed conservatives and Trump had vowed to get rid of it, though now as president, he has backed down from an immediate threat. Aides say Trump’s focus is on deporting serious lawbreakers and building the wall. He wants Congress to take up legislation for Dreamers.

A NEW OATH OF CITIZENSHIP via Adam Goodman for the Tampa Bay Times – It only took 16 minutes of inaugural pageantry for the 45th American president to outline a newly aggressive, pro-America, pro-American “us versus them” doctrine that spared no nuance or feelings. The governing elite is out of sync and out of touch. The nation’s borders are intended, yet not defended. Working-class jobs are moving to foreign soil. Our leadership around the world has been compromised by a feckless fear about standing up and showing up. Predictably and summarily, the new president enraged the disenchanted who are still bemoaning the results of the campaign past and still defending eight years of national drift where “Yes, we can” yielded to “Nope, we won’t.”

A RESPONSE TO GOODMAN’S OP-ED: “Join the Mobile Infantry and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?” 🙂

REPORT: FORMER JEB BUSH STAFFER CONSIDERED FOR TOP EDUCATION POST via Breitbart: A report in Politico suggests the former Florida deputy education commissioner under Gov. Jeb Bush, Hanna Skandera, is being considered for education deputy secretary. Skandera was also a senior policy adviser and deputy chief of staff at the education department under former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who served under President George W. Bush.

NEW FLA. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHIEF APPOINTS STAFF; LONGTIME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STEPS DOWN via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The new leader of the Florida Democratic Party, Steven Bittel, oversaw the shakeup of the moribund organization as he appointed two loyalists to oversee his transition, while its longtime executive director called it quits. As part of his winning Democratic campaign, Bittel employed operatives Juan Peñalosaand Reggie Cardozo who were both named transition advisers … Outgoing Executive Director Scott Arceneaux will continue to serve until a replacement has been named. Bittel also announced a new director for his office, Tessa Bay. Bittel said he wanted “to hold the Trump administration accountable and prepare for 2018,” when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is up for re-election and faces the prospect of a potential challenge from Gov. Scott.

PROGRESSIVES LAUNCH AD URGING MARCO RUBIO, BILL NELSON TO VOTE AGAINST STEVEN MNUCHIN — A coalition of progressive organizations is hitting the airwaves to urge Sen. Bill Nelson and Sen. Rubio to vote against Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary. The Progressive Change Campaign, Allied Progress Action, and Demand Progress Action will air a TV spot Wednesday and Thursday in Florida, and several other states, targeting Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary. The ad is slated to air on MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, and in the Orlando and Tampa media markets. The 30-second spot features Lisa Fraser, a widow whose home was foreclosed on by a bank Mnuchin ran.  A former partner at Goldman Sachs, he has been criticized for aggressive foreclosure practices. “Steve Mnuchin ran the bank that committed fraud and took our home, and now Donald Trump has nominated him to run our economy as Treasury secretary,” she says in the ad. “We can’t let that happen.” The six figure ad buy will allow the coalition to expand into Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Delaware and Virginia. It continues to air in Arizona, Nevada and Iowa. “Mnuchin is the poster child for how Trump has betrayed America’s working families by turning over our economy to Goldman Sachs bankers and Wall Street billionaires,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “All Senators on the Finance Committee — Democratic and Republican — owe it to their constituents to vote no on Mnuchin.” Click the image below to watch the ad.

RUBIO, TIM KAINE TEAM UP AGAIN TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – … in pushing the “Combating European Anti-Semitism Act.” The proposal mirrors a bill from the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the U.S. House, including two congressional representatives from South Florida, to examine growing anti-Semitism in Europe that was brought out in October. Rubio and Kaine brought out the proposal in the middle of November, near the end of the 114th Congress. With a new Congress convening this month, Rubio and Kaine reintroduced the bill … The senators brought in almost 10 co-sponsors, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

BREAKING THIS MORNING – GOV. RICK SCOTT ASKING FOR $618 MIL IN TAX CUTS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – During stops in three Florida cities, Scott on Wednesday will tout a tax cut package he’s asking the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature to pass this spring.

Scott’s $618 million tax cut package includes a proposal to cut by 25 percent the sales taxes charged on commercial rents. Other tax cuts Scott is proposing include a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, as well as a three-day sales tax holiday for military veterans. He also wants to eliminate sales taxes charged on college textbooks.

Scott has routinely recommended tax cuts, but he has had trouble getting state legislators to go along with his complete tax cut package. Scott maintains the tax cuts will help businesses create jobs.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will kick off his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tax cut fly around to announce proposed tax cuts in his 2017-18 budget at 9 a.m. at About Floors N More, 10950 San Jose Blvd. in Jacksonville. He’ll then head to Beneficial Blends, 5505 Johns Road in Tampa at 12:15 p.m., before ending his day at 3:15 p.m. at ARC Electronics, 575 Ravenswood Road in Fort Lauderdale.

SCOTT NAMES RYAN MATTHEWS AS INTERIM DEP SECRETARY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Matthews, who joined DEP in 2015 as director of the Office of Water Policy, will replace secretary Jon Steverson, who told Scott … that he was resigning Feb. 3 to take a job with the Foley & Lardner law firm. Matthews was promoted in November to deputy secretary for regulatory affairs after the departure of Paula Cobb for a private sector job. He was associate legislative affairs director with the Florida League of Cities from 2011 to 2015 and previously served as political director of the Jeff Kottkamp for attorney general campaign in 2009 and 2010.

***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.***

LAWMAKERS GIVE $2.6 MILLION MORE FOR CONCEALED WEAPON SPIKE via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Lawmakers … approved a $2.6 million request by the state Department of Agriculture to handle a continued historic spike in concealed carry permit applications. The agency, which oversees the state’s concealed weapons permit program, expects 316,738 concealed weapons permit applications during this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The agency had originally budgeted to handle last year’s record-breaking 244,726 applications. By Oct. 16, roughly three months into the new fiscal year, it already had collected 105,594 applications, said Derek Buchanan, the agency’s policy and budget director. “What we’re seeing is the same historic high number of applications we saw last year,” Buchanan said.

BILL TO BAN HYDRAULIC FRACKING ATTRACTS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT via Florida Politics – A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have endorsed proposed legislation to ban extraction of oil and gas via hydraulic fracturing in Florida. “This bill is concise and straightforward. It bans fracking of all types in Florida,” Senate sponsor Dana Young said Tuesday during a news conference outside the Senate chamber. “As a sixth generation Floridian and avid outdoorsman, I believe we must act quickly and decisively to to protect our fragile environment from incompatible practices.” Present at the news conference  to discuss Young’s SB 442 were Democratic Sens. Gary Farmer and Linda Stewart, and Republican Sens. Jack Latvia and Keith Perry; House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, and Democratic House member Mike Miller, who is expected to introduce a House companion bill this week. “Just this collection of folks, you can see that this is an issue that transcends politics,” Farmer said. We can all come together to protect something as critically important as our water supply.

JEFF BRANDES BILL WOULD LEGALIZE DELIVERY DRONES via Florida Politics – The legislation (SB 460), however, focuses on ground drones, or “personal delivery devices.” Such a unit is defined as a “motorized device for use primarily on sidewalks and crosswalks at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour, which weighs 50 pounds or less excluding cargo.” “With this legislation, Florida continues to lead in transportation policy,” said Brandes. His bill also requires drone operators to carry insurance coverage, among other things, and prohibits drones on the state’s shared-use nonmotorized trail network, or SUNtrails.

— “’Patient Savings Act’ filed in House” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “House bill would expand bank rights in foreclosure cases” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

COMMITTEE CHAIR WANTS ASSURANCES PIP REPEAL WOULD LOWER PREMIUMS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The chairwoman of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee foresees changes to Florida’s personal-injury protection, or PIP, mandate for auto insurance, but wants assurances reform will reduce premium costs. “I think that this is an issue that you will see some legislation that will come before this committee at a future date,” Anitere Flores said as the committee wrapped up testimony Tuesday from insurance regulators and interest groups. She urged committee members to “view it through the lens of how will this affect our consumers’ rates, and having some sort of assurances that anything we do as a Legislature to lower rates … that there will be some requirements that those rates actually be lowered.” The panel discussed abandoning PIP in favor of a system whereby people injured in auto accidents can sue to recover against bodily injury policies held by drivers found at fault. … If PIP were repealed, about 73.8 percent of PIP costs would be shifted to other types of auto coverage, said Sandra Starnes, director of property and casualty product review for the Office of Insurance Regulation. The rest of the losses would shift outside auto policies to private health insurers, health care providers, Medicare and Medicaid, and the injured persons.

HOUSE PANEL GETS UPDATE ON DENTAL CARVE OUT LAW via Florida Politics – A recent study by the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability into how effective managed care plans are at providing dental care appeared to be inconclusive … OPPAGA was tasked with looking into how effectively managed care plans are at providing dental care under a contentious 2016 law. The law, among other things, carved out dental care from the list of minimum benefits offered under the state’s Medicaid managed care plans. It required the Agency for Health Care Administration to implement a prepaid dental health program for children and adults beginning enrollment by March 1, 2019, unless the Legislature acts during the 2017 Legislative Session to require the statewide plans to cover it again. Mary Alice Nye, a staff director at OPPAGA, told the House Health & Human Services Committee her team could not come to a “definitive conclusion” about which was a more effective way to provide the service.

SENATE COMMUNITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE PASSES FLORIDA BUILDING CODE REFORM via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Every three years the Florida Building Commission votes on whether to automatically accept the entire international building code, or amend it with certain provisions of the international code … if passed, SB 7000 would require the commission to use the most recent published edition of the Florida Building Code as the foundation, and mandate the committee to review, rather than update, the Code every three years. The measure would also delete the provision specifying how long amendments or modifications to the foundation code would remain valid. The bill would also carry forward any changes to the state building code through the time the next edition is published.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Health Quality subcommittee will host a panel discussion on medical marijuana during its meeting at 9 a.m. in 212 Knott Building. The House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss top priority issues in agency budget requests during its meeting at 9 a.m. in Reed Hall; while the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss possible areas of budget reductions during its meeting at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall. The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will get an update on efforts to address the rape kit backlog during a meeting at 10 am. In 37 Senate Office Building. The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a workshop about teacher pay and compensation during its 10 a.m. meeting in 110 Senate Office Building. And at 2 p.m., the Senate Regulated Industries will meet to discuss a comprehensive gambling bill in 412 Knott.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Anitere Flores and members of the Floridians for Fair Business Practices coalition will advocate for the repeal of the alcohol separation law during a press conference at 11 a.m. in front of Senate Chambers on the fourth floor of the Florida Capitol.

WHY I HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT TEARING DOWN THE WALL BETWEEN THE WHISKEY AND THE WHEATIES via Peter Schorsch – First, the leading force behind this issue is Wal-Mart. On issue after issue, Wal-Mart is less a partner and more a threat to local communities … What Wal-Mart is about (and will always be) is its bottom line … 2016 statistics from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which show “big grocery retailers like Wal-Mart, Publix and Target had a perfect record in 2016 when it comes to preventing alcohol sales to minors: none were cited by DBPR for violating state liquor control laws, while smaller liquor stores were cited five times over the past 12 months.” … But let’s put aside statistics for a moment, and return to why I’m leaning more and more on the wall … allowing liquor to be sold alongside candy bars and cough drops. It’s certainly convenient. But it’s not what I want for my 4-year-old daughter. I don’t want to explain to her what Fireball or Jameson (or any other liquor) is. Those are adult products, and they’re probably best behind a wall, where little eyes and little fingers do not wander. Please forgive me for changing my mind because I’m a parent. In columns on other issues I’ve written, fatherhood has changed my politics.

STUDY SHOWS RESEARCH NOT ON OPTOMETRISTS’ SIDE IN EYEBALL WARS via Florida Politics – As Florida’s “Eyeball Wars” start up again, research in the Journal of the American Medical Association gives new insight on what is at stake in the struggle between ophthalmologists and optometrists. In October 2016, a team of medical professionals … issued a report examining the difference in treatment outcomes between optometrists and ophthalmologists in Oklahoma. Since 1998, both types of practitioners in Oklahoma have been allowed surgical privileges to perform laser trabeculoplasty (LTP). After accounting for potentially “confounding factors,” the report finds that eyes receiving LTP by optometrists had a 189 percent greater hazard for a follow-up procedure in the same eye, as opposed to those LTPs by an ophthalmologist. In conclusion, the study offers an ominous warning: “Health policymakers should be cautious about approving laser privileges for optometrists practicing in other states until the reasons for these differences are better understood.”

CIRCUS MAGIC? AFTER LAYOFFS, RINGLING COMPANY VIES FOR MILLIONS IN JOB CREATION via Jeremy Wallace and Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times – The parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey can still collect up to $3.7 million from state and local government for job creation even after announcing one of the state’s largest layoffs since 2015. Feld Entertainment’s “The Greatest Show on Earth” will take a final bow in May that will cost 462 people — including dozens of Floridians — their jobs. Out of the nearly 200 companies that have announced layoffs in Florida the past two years, Feld’s will be the sixth largest. Despite the cutback, Feld will continue to collect millions for job creation because the company classifies 400 of the lost jobs as “based on the road.”

BRAVES, SARASOTA USING ‘PITFALL’ EXEMPTION TO DENY RECORDS REQUEST via Noah Pransky of 10 News – The Braves are seeking state, county, and city of North Port dollars to help fund a new $80 million complex that would play host to the team’s spring training and Florida operations for the next 30 years. … (W)hen 10 Investigates requested the public records that had been prepared to this point, county spokesperson Jason Bartolone responded that the Braves “have asserted confidentiality rights” under Florida State Statute 288.075, which aims to protect proprietary business information and trade secrets in public-private economic development deals. FSS 288.075 is one of the same exemptions used by rapper Pitbull and public agency Visit Florida to deny 10Investigates’ 2015 public records request into the artist’s taxpayer-funded tourism contract. … The statute suggests confidentiality only for proprietary information where “the disclosure of the information would cause harm to the business operations of the corporation.”  Using such an exemption to withhold drafts of a contract, which will later become public, may not fit the description of “trade secrets” that would cause harm to the Braves’ business operations.

RESTORING POWER TO 200K CUSTOMERS? NO PROBLEM FOR FPL — Tornadoes ripped through parts of Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties Monday, knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of customers in the region — 200,000 customers, according to Florida Power & Light. And while that left a helluva lot of folks inconvenienced, FPL staff essentially said “no sweat” when it came to restoring power. In fact, about 24 hours after the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Miami Springs, the utility company posted on Twitter and Facebook it had completed its restoration efforts. “We appreciate our customers’ patience as our crews restored powers to ~200,000 homes and biz within 24 hours of severe storms and tornadoes.” By comparison, 30,000 Tallahassee utility customers were without power when a massive storm knocked out three of the city’s 25 substations on Sunday. The Tallahassee Democrat reported 98 percent recovery was expected by midnight Monday, potentially leaving customers without power into Tuesday.

VOLUSIA SHERIFF SETS EXAMPLE BY DEMANDING TICKET AFTER CAUGHT SPEEDING via The Associated Press – Sheriff Mike Chitwood … wanted “to set an example” for his agency. The new sheriff was clocked going 78 mph in a 55-mph zone … He was stopped a day after Volusia County settled a lawsuit for a deputy-related crash … Chitwood says the sergeant stopped him and they talked briefly before going their separate ways. But Chitwood says he later realized he was wrong, called the sergeant and asked him to write the ticket. He’s already paid the $281 citation.

TRULIEVE TO OPEN MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY IN TAMPA via Florida Politics – The medical marijuana dispensing organization will open its third dispensary Thursday in Tampa. The company currently has dispensaries in Tallahassee and Clearwater. Trulieve is one of seven dispensing organizations currently authorized by the Department of Health to grow and distribute medical marijuana … the new dispensary will have both low-THC and high-THC medical cannabis available in a several forms, including oral capsules and vaporizers. In addition to dispensaries, Trulieve also offers a statewide delivery service.

THE WORST THING YOU’LL READ TODAY – GIRL IN FOSTER CARE HANGS HERSELF WHILE STREAMING IT LIVE – THIS TIME IN MIAMI via Carol Marbin Miller and Audra Burch of the Miami Herald – For two hours, Nakia Venant broadcast from the bathroom of her Miami Gardens foster home, eventually fashioning a homemade noose from her scarf. The live feed ended abruptly. Nakia, a petite 14-year-old with long hair and a sweet smile, killed herself overnight Sunday while live-streaming the event. Administrators with the Florida Department of Children & Families would offer little detail Tuesday about Nakia’s death, other than to confirm that both child welfare administrators and the Miami Gardens Police Department were investigating the suicide death of “a child … in the care of a foster family.”

WHERE HAVE WE HEARD THIS BEFORE: “We are absolutely horrified and devastated by the news of this young girl’s death,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. “We will do everything we can to support this family and all those who cared for her as they begin to heal from this tragedy. We will conduct a comprehensive, multidisciplinary special review to examine this child’s history and the circumstances related to serving the child.”

 ***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Sachs Media Group, Florida’s dominant public affairs communications firm. Sachs Media thrives on high-stakes challenges in the relentless pursuit of excellent outcomes. To help you win in the corridors of power, let us score for you in the court of public opinion. Visit to learn more.***


Robert Beck, Adams St. Advocates: Seminole County Sheriff’s Office

Louis Betz, Louis Betz & Associates: 3 Bees Corp; Costa Creative, LLC.; Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, LLC.

Marsha Bowen, Robert M. Levy & Associates: Florida Nurses Association; Village of Palmetto Bay

Robert Boyd, Kristin Crawford Whitaker, Sachs Sax Caplan: Mental Health Association of Central Florida

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: Florida’s Vision Quest; Volusia County Government

Bryan Cherry, Adams St. Advocates: 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Jose Diaz, Robert Levy & Associates: Village of Palmetto Bay

Candice Ericks, Ericks Advocacy Group: Waste Connections of Florida

Katie Flury, GrayRobinson: Canaveral Port Authority; National Association of Industrial & Office Properties; Sodexo, Inc.

Adam Giery, Startegos Public Affairs: Project Lead the Way

Lisa Henning, Timmins Consulting: National Association of College Stores; North Florida Community College Foundation

Max Herle, THG Consulting: Florida Independent Spirits Association

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Diageo, Inc.

Nick IarossiAndrew Ketchel, Christopher , Capital City Consulting: OBS Real Estate Holdings, LLC DBA Ocala Gainesville Poker and Jai Alai

Ty Jackson, GaryRobinson: Allergan USA, Inc.

Brian Jogerst, BH & Associates: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Martin Christopher Lyon, Lewis Longman & Walker: American Civil Liberties Union of Florida; Southern Poverty Law Center

Trevor Mask, Colodny Fass: Edison Insurance Company; Florida Peninsula Insurance Company; Florida Peninsula Insurance Group; Southern Fidelity Property & Casualty, Inc.

Frank MayernickTracy Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: Florida Medical Association

Seth McKeel, Southern Strategy Group: Palm Beach State College Foundation

George Meros, Jr., GrayRobinson: Crossroads Treatment Centers

Sue Mullins, Ramba Consulting Group: Benderson Development

Evan Power, Ramba Consulting Group: Florida Water Quality Association; International Code Council

Adrien Rivard, Harrison Rivard Duncan & Buzzett: Eastern Shipbuilding Group; Hospital Corporation of American; Southwest Airlines

Carl Roth, Dean Mead: Palm Beach Aggregates

Ryder Rudd, Advantage Consulting Team: Florida Association of Health Underwriters

Nancy Black Stewart, Nancy Black Stewart PA: Eckerd Kids

Margaret Timmins, Timmins Consulting: Florida School Health Association; North Florida Community College Foundation

Katie Webb, Colodny Fass: Edison Insurance Company; Florida Peninsula Insurance Company; Florida Peninsula Insurance Group; Guy Carpenter & Company

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

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH MENU has a Pacific Northwest flavor: Washington State salmon bisque; Washington trio apple salad; spinach pear salad; seasonal green salad; Oregon herb rubbed tri-tip beef; California drunken chicken; potatoes & wild mushroom au gratin; lime asparagus; broccoli & cauliflower au beurre; finished with peach cobbler.

FSU ALUMNI MAKE HISTORY WITH 8 OSCAR NOMINATIONS FOR ‘MOONLIGHT’ via David Heller of the Florida State University News – The acclaimed film, “Moonlight,” from Florida State University graduate Barry Jenkinsand his crew of FSU Film School alumni, has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture … Jenkins, who wrote the screenplay and directed “Moonlight,” was nominated in the Directing category. He shares a nomination for Adapted Screenplay with Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” which was the basis for the film. “Moonlight” earned nominations for: Directing — Jenkins (FSU ‘03); Best Picture — Adele Romanski (FSU ‘04), Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner; Supporting Actress — Naomie Harris; Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali; Cinematography — James Laxton (FSU ‘03); Film Editing — Nat Sanders (FSU ’02) and Joi McMillon (FSU ‘03); Adapted Screenplay — Jenkins and McCraney; Original Score — Nicholas Britell.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to two great Floridians, Sen. Aaron Bean and raconteur/lobbyist Gus Corbella

Sunburn for 01.24.17 – A future Ag. Commish? Scott polls vs. Corcoran; A spine for ‘Little Marco’; Tampon taxes and fracking bans

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

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

BREAKING: NEWBORN  ELIZABETH ANN BLACK TO RUN FOR AG. COMMISSIONER IN 2050 – Metz Husband & Daughton lobbyist Greg Black and wife Melanie Black celebrated the birth of their first daughter, Elizabeth Ann Sunday — one day after her father’s birthday. This pre-Session bundle of joy is a wonderful present for the Black family and grandfather Robert Coker. Considering her family’s background, which stretches deep into Florida’s political and agricultural community, young Elizabeth Ann has decided to announce that, after careful thought and consideration, she will be a candidate for Agricultural Commissioner in 2050. Congrats to the couple and the future Commissioner!


The battle over economic incentives rages on, and now the pollsters are getting involved.

According to a poll released Monday, 59 percent of Floridians said they favored using “tax dollars and other incentives to attract business to Florida.” The survey found 34 percent of respondents said they opposed using taxpayer money for incentives, while 7 percent either didn’t know or refused to answer.

The poll of 1,000 likely Florida voters was conducted by OnMessage Inc. for Let’s Get to Work, the political committee that backed Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial bids. So it’s unsurprising the questions — and in turn, the responses — have a pro-Scott slant. But the fact that Scott’s fight over economic incentive money with House Speaker Richard Corcoran is front and center, might be.

Respondents were asked to select a statement that came closest to their opinion of the Carrier manufacturing deal negotiated by then President-elect Donald Trump. According to the survey, 55 percent agreed with the statement that said, in part, “this is exactly the kind of thing we need our government to be doing, making it easier to grow jobs and stay in America.”

The rest of the respondents? Well, according to the polling memo, 37 percent of respondents agreed with a statement that read: “Others, like Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, say that it is wrong for government to provide this kind of assistance to businesses, and they call it corporate welfare.”

Corcoran has been an outspoken opponent of economic incentive dollars, particularly when it comes to Enterprise Florida. The House blocked a $250 million proposal for incentives for the agency in 2016, and is gearing up to block Scott’s $85 million proposal this year.

Scott has remained optimistic that his proposal will make it through the Legislature, saying in September he “couldn’t imagine anyone is going to vote against it.”

And Scott didn’t just use the poll to troll Corcoran over economic incentives, he also took aim at him over Visit Florida. Corcoran has had Visit Florida in his sights since a controversy involving the state’s tourism agency and Miami rapper Pitbull.

“We can continue to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize corporations receiving lucrative contracts and generous incentives, or we can spend our money on programs and policies that will improve the lives of everyday Floridians,” wrote Corcoran in a December op-ed about Visit Florida. “For me and many of my colleagues in the Florida House of Representatives, that’s an easy choice to understand.”

But according to the Let’s Get to Work poll, Floridians do not want to the Legislature to end funding for Visit Florida. The survey found 59 percent of Floridians said they opposed a proposal to end the state’s tourism agency; while 33 percent said they would support it.

That’s got to be good news for Scott, who has toured the state touting tourism numbers and singing the praises of the organization in recent years.

Here’s one more piece of good news for Scott, who is widely believed to be considering a 2018 U.S. Senate bid: 54 percent of Floridians say they approve of the job he’s doing as governor.

And just might be a number Corcoran might be interested in if he decides to run for Scott’s seat in 2018.

CORCORAN FIRES BACK: “I have great respect for Governor Scott and all he’s done to cut taxes and regulations to improve the business climate in Florida.  But our policies in the House will be driven by principal not by polling. And one of our fundamental principles as conservatives is that government should not pick winners and losers in the market.”

CORCORAN: HOUSE WON’T OK LEGAL MONEY FOR DEP via Florida Politics – The House Speaker late Monday said his chamber won’t agree to hand over any more money for the Department of Environmental Protection to pay its legal bills until the agency gives a full accounting of what’s already been spent. Corcoran was reacting to the DEP’s request to the Joint Legislative Budget Commission for an additional $13 million to pay outside legal counsel in an ongoing court fight between Georgia and Florida over water use. The commission is scheduled to take up the request Tuesday. Coincidentally, DEP Secretary Jon Steverson resigned Friday and is going to work for one of the law firms, Foley & Lardner, that’s representing the state in the matter. Steverson is an attorney. “We won’t approve the money until an audit is done and we will pass legislation barring the revolving door from agency head to lobbyist/lawyer,” Corcoran said in a statement.

MORE ON THIS … LEGISLATORS QUESTION $98 MILLION LEGAL BILL, THEN HEAD OF AGENCY RESIGNS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Since 2001, the state has been billed $97.8 million on the water wars … and has spent $71.9 million to date. Nearly $54.4 million of it was spent in the last two years after Florida asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and the court appointed a special master to resolve the dispute. Rep. Carlos Trujillo … the House Appropriations chairman who is himself a civil litigation attorney, said the numbers “struck me as excessive — as if the supervisors of the project lost control of the costs.” He asked Steverson to justify the expenses, asked for a detailed breakdown, including the names and hours of each attorney, as well as the cost of expert witnesses, and suggested the item may not be approved.

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DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 10: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 17; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 19; Valentine’s Day – 21; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 42; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 49; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 101; Election Day 2017 – 286.

RICK SCOTT: DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENCY WILL BE ‘REALLY GOOD FOR OUR STATE’ via Florida Politics – “I think it’s going to be really good for our state,” said Scott after a jobs announcement in Naples … “I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure this is the state that everyone wants to live in, make sure you can get a good job, get your kids a good education and be safe.” An ardent supporter of the new president, Scott said he thinks Trump “is going to do what we’ve done” when it comes to jobs and the economy. He said he looks forward to working with the Trump administration to “repeal and replace Obamacare.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will appear at a groundbreaking of the Four Star Firefighters new service operations with a ceremony beginning 1 p.m. at 1800 Brickyard Road E. in Midway. The site entrance is directly across from Anderson Columbia. Shuttles will provide transportation from the parking area to the groundbreaking site.

MARCO RUBIO VOTES FOR REX TILLERSON FOR SECRETARY OF STATE DESPITE RESERVATIONS via Ledyard King of USA Today – Rubio‘s vote for Tillerson turned out to be the deciding ballot on the Foreign Relations Committee, which voted 11-10 along party lines to send Trump‘s choice for secretary of state to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation. Rubio had expressed deep misgivings about Tillerson’s ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, with whom he had cultivated and long and friendly relationship through his business dealings. He was concerned the former oilman “would pursue a foreign policy of deal-making at the expense of traditional alliances and at the expense of the defense of human rights and of democracy.” But Rubio said he voted for Tillerson out of deference to the new president and because filling the post is vital to advance America’s interests around the world.

TRUMP WAS RIGHT ABOUT ‘LITTLE MARCO’ ALL ALONG via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – By announcing he will vote to approve Tillerson for Secretary of State, the fittingly titled junior U.S. Senator from Florida proved he is compromised and cut down to size. As they say out West, he is all hat and no cattle … Rubio confirmed that all that bluster he directed at Tillerson about the human rights violations in Russia was just for show. Tillerson, of course, had extensive business dealings with Russia and Putin. In the hearing, Rubio pointedly asked Tillerson if Putin should be considered a war criminal. It was a tough question and made for a dandy sound bite, but the real bite would have been if Rubio had stood on principle instead of politics and voted not to confirm. Instead, he caved.


BILL NELSON TO OPPOSE REX TILLERSON, JEFF SESSIONS BUT BACK OTHERS via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Nelson said he’ll support Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary and Elaine Chao as transportation secretary.

NELSON: TRUMP FREEZE COULD HURT HURRICANE RESPONSE via James Rosen of the Miami Herald –Nelson expressed concern Trump’s federal hiring freeze will harm the government’s hurricane preparedness and response. “The National Weather Service’s around-the-clock forecasts save lives in Florida and around the nation,” Nelson said. “Failure to fill vital vacancies within the agency means those hands won’t be around when the monster storm hits. Not only would that be irresponsible, but it could put people’s lives at risk.”

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: WOMEN’S MARCH MOVEMENT IS A ‘SLEEPING GIANT’ via CBS Miami – Wasserman Schultz called the movement a sleeping giant. “I think what we have to make sure we do is that, that was not just a one-day event and I fully expect that it won’t be” … The congresswoman views it as an opportunity for the group to rally and have a strong voice in politics. “You have an opportunity to take the network of the millions of women who are connected via social media and the emails that have been collected all across this country,” she said. “The Women’s March on Washington has already begun 10 actions over the first 100 days and have now encouraged and sent an email to all of the marchers that they should contact their Senators, that they should talk about the issues that matter to them in that contact. They should express their strong opinion in opposition to Senators voting to confirm his nominees and that we’re not going away.” She says it’s a moment for the other side to listen closely.

CARLOS CURBELO, TED DEUTCH EXPAND CLIMATE SOLUTIONS CAUCUS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Curbelo and Deutch announced that five congressional freshmen — including Florida Republican Brian Mast — joined the caucus, bringing the membership up to 20 representatives, split evenly with 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. “We have a lot of work to do on this issue, and communities like mine in South Florida are counting on us to come together and have productive discussions about what we can do to mitigate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient,” Curbelo said. “Our bipartisan caucus is starting off the new Congress by expanding our membership and showing our colleagues that Republicans and Democrats can put partisan politics aside to work on climate change,” said Deutch. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehinten, a frequent ally of Deutch, is also a member.

DAVID JOLLY HIRES CHARLIE CRIST STAFFER FOR 2018 via Roll Call – (I)n a sign that the Florida Republican may be gearing up for a rematch in the 13th District, Jolly has hired a Crist staffer as a senior adviser for the 2018 cycle. Vito Sheeley worked as campaign outreach director for Crist’s congressional campaign and district director for the congressman for the 115th Congress, which has only been in session for about three weeks.

TWEET, TWEET: @MDixon55: Was odd announcement on its face. His camp saying being paid through “non-candidate committee” but will not give any other details … Say odd because it’s a former member who in the same breath says he needs staff, but also not committing to run in 18. Was just an odd look

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA’S NEW CHIEF DEFENDS THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM via Florida Politics – The new head of Enterprise Florida Inc. defended the organization Monday against complaints that it doesn’t raise enough private-sector money, saying a required one-to-one match of public and private dollars applies only to operating expenses. Chris Hart, who became president and CEO just weeks ago, cited the statute that created the economic development organization in 1996 during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism. “We do meet our private sector match,” Hart said. “That one-to-one match that’s been required since 1996 is met, as you look at the statutory guidelines.” The match does not apply to economic incentives paid to lure out-of-state businesses to Florida, Hart said — only to the organization’s core functions — international trade and development, including promoting the state as a place to do business; business development; and marketing. … Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez cited news reports suggesting that the taxpayers pick up as much as 90 percent of the Enterprise Florida budget. “This is the first time I’m hearing that economic-development incentives are not operating costs,” he said. “It seems like a new argument.” “There have been a lot of misperceptions, misconceptions,“ Hart said.

BILL GALVANO’S HIGHER-ED REFORM BILLS SAIL THROUGH SENATE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – Senate Bills 2 and 4, both introduced by Galvano, drew some concerns about how they might affect nontraditional and working students but little opposition, as Galvano assured committee members he shared and would be addressing those concerns. “The thrust of this bill is not to somehow put additional pressure on a student, or mess with the opportunities they have by putting additional requirements on what the students achieve,” Galvano … said of SB 2, which took up the bulk of the committee’s discussion and drew the most concern. The companion measure, SB 4, would create a program for universities to identify, hire and retain star faculty members, and establishes programs to improve quality and prominence of graduate programs including those for medicine, law and business. It drew little discussion before being approved.

BILL TO EXPAND JUVENILE CIVIL CITATIONS RAISES QUESTIONS ON OFFICER DISCRETION via Florida Politics – Miami Republican Senator Anitere Flores’ bill (SB 196) would mandate law enforcement officers to offer a civil citation for youths admitting to one of 11 separate misdemeanors … Flores introduce the bill to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice … Although each person in the seven-member committee indicated general support for the bill, some resistance came from St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, who said that while 94 percent of Pinellas County Sheriff Deputies did write up civil citations, 6 percent believed placing the juvenile under arrest was the best thing to do. “Why shouldn’t they be allowed to exercise their discretion?” he asked. Barney Bishop, with the Florida Smart Justice Alliance … said he had several issues with the bill as currently written. Like Brandes, Bishop said law enforcement should not be mandated to issue civil citations; he instead suggested incentivizing police chiefs and sheriffs to create department policies to encourage the maximum use of civil citations. The bill passed out of committee by a 5-2 vote. Brandes and Orange Park Republican Rob Bradley opposed it.

TAMPON TAX EXEMPTION CLEARS SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – “I think this is Sen. [KathleenPassidomo’s first bill” as a member of the committee, Sen. Jack Latvala said of his colleague, a Naples Republican elected to the Senate last year following service in the House. “What an interesting bill this is!” He asked what SB 176 — her tampon tax exemption — would cost state government. About $15 million annually, Passidomo said. Latvala: “Does the committee attorney, can they offer an opinion as to whether there’s any conflicts of interest from any members of the committee voting on this? We can’t vote on things where we have a personal financial impact.” Passidomo, cracking up laughing: “I can answer that for me. It wouldn’t affect me at all.” “I believe we’ve exhausted those questions,” chairman Bill Montford said at that point. The committee voted, 8-0, in favor of the bill.

DANA YOUNG FILES BILL TO BAN FRACKING ‘FULFILLING MY CONTRACT WITH VOTERS’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald –  Young … wants the state to ban “advanced well stimulation treatment,” specifically hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing which use high pressure techniques to inject water into rock formations to extract oil and gas. … Young … said her views changed “as the fracking issue became front and center” in the campaign. “I learned more and it became an important issue, not only for my region but for our whole state,” she said. “I’m fulfilling my contract with the voters to get it passed.”

JARED MOSKOWITZ FILES RESOLUTION CONDEMNING U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL ISRAELI SETTLEMENT VOTE via Florida Politics – Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, filed a resolution (HR 281) last week objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. “The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final-status issues or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement,” reads the proposed House resolution. “The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution undermines the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct, bilateral negotiations.” Moskowitz’s proposal will likely find bipartisan support in the Florida House.

BOB ROMMEL FILES BILL TO SHIELD COLLEGE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCHES FROM SUNSHINE LAWS via Florida Politics – House Bill 351, introduced by the Naples Republican, would create exemptions in Florida’s open records and open meetings laws. The proposal seeks to keep secret “personal identifying information” of applicants for president, provost, or dean of a state university or a Florida College System college. It would waive any public meeting requirements for meetings held by public bodies meeting to identify or vet such candidates, including interviews. Ultimately, in Rommel’s bill, the names of the finalists would be released before taking a final vote on the hire. But there is no clear definition of how those finalists would be determined.

— “Bill would make it illegal for people to block emergency scenes gathering personal property” via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics

— “Computer coding bill gets House companion” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Legislature mulls closing FRS defined benefit plan to new cities” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Michael Grant files bill to prohibit annual contract guarantees for school teachers” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Senate companion filed for controversial kratom ban bill” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Senate to consider public school ‘religious liberties’ bill” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

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

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The Senate Banking and Insurance committee will discuss motor vehicle insurance during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee is scheduled to take a bill sponsored by Sen. Latvala to create a presumption about firefighters who develop certain types of cancer during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 401 Office Building. Meanwhile, the House and Health Services Committee will get a report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability about Medicaid dental services during a meeting at noon in Morris Hall. The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will discuss two bills that could place additional restrictions on former lawmakers who become lobbyists after leaving office during a 2:30 p.m. meeting in 404 House Office Building. At 5 p.m., the joint legislative budget commission will take up issues related to state agencies during a meeting in 212 Knott.

SENATE PANEL TO HEAR BILL ALLOWING DONORS TO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER TO STAY ANONYMOUS – The Senate Community Affairs committee will discuss a bill (SB 7002) that would allow donors to publicly owned performing arts center to remain anonymous. State lawmakers in 2012 passed legislation allowing donors to these organizations to remain anonymous, exempting their information from public record laws. The proposed committee bill would extend that public record exemption beyond the five-year period outlined in state law. The Senate Community Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. in 301 Senate Office Building.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Anitere Flores, and Reps. Larry Ahern and Ross Spano will discuss civil citation legislation during a press conference at noon outside the Senate Chamber on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

FACING RARE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT PROBE, JUDGE ABRUPTLY RESIGNS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Duval Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey III, the subject of an investigation over allegations that he made sexist and racially insensitive comments from the bench, abruptly resigned his Jacksonville-area judgeship on the eve of the start of a highly unusual impeachment investigation by the Legislature. Hulsey, 66, was already the focus of a probe by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for having allegedly called a female staff attorney a “bitch” and a “c—” and for saying blacks should “get back on a ship and go back to Africa.”… According to the formal complaint …  he tried to influence what his judicial assistant would tell the JQC in its investigation. In all, Hulsey was accused of 18 separate violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and a violation of state election law, for claiming to have a number of endorsements without securing those endorsements in writing. Hulsey has disputed the allegations in filings with the Florida Supreme Court.

NORTHEAST FLORIDA LEGISLATORS TAKE DIFFERENT APPROACHES IN FIGHT FOR WATER MONEY via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – State Rep. Jay Fant and Sen. Rob Bradley both want Northeast Florida to receive a larger portion of water conservation money when the state budget is drafted later this year. But their approaches are very different. Fant … teamed up with a group that is doing more than demanding that more money is allocated for projects in North and Central Florida. The organization, called Stand Up for North Florida, is also attacking a $2.4 billion plan to clean up Lake Okeechobee in South Florida that is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron’s district. Bradley supports Negron’s plan and is the point person on making sure it gets funding as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for environmental projects. At the same time, the Fleming Island Republican filed a bill to require $35 million be set aside for projects that benefit the St. Johns River and its tributaries or areas near Keystone Heights Lake.

— “Negron’s plan to buy Everglades land is big government at its worst” via Leslie Dougher

FANDUEL CALLS ON FLORIDA FANS TO SUPPORT FANTASY SPORTS via Florida Politics – FanDuel, the national fantasy sports website, has sent a “call to action” email to its Florida users, asking them to contact lawmakers in support of their hobby … “A new bill has been introduced that would update Florida’s laws to recognize what we all know to be true—that fantasy sports are games of skill and should be kept legal for all eligible Floridians to enjoy,” (the email) says. A Senate committee on Wednesday is set to discuss a major gambling overhaul bill (SB 8) that, among other things, would expressly legalize fantasy sports play.



On and off: Charles Smith, previously district secretary for Broward County Republican Rep. George Moraitis, is now his legislative assistant.

On: Dennis Ragosta is the new district secretary for Ocala Republican Rep. Charlie Stone.

On: Mikhail Scott has become the legislative assistant for Miami-Dade Democratic Rep. Kionne McGhee.

On: Nancy Bowers a new district secretary for The Villages Republican Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.

On: Rebecca Zizzo is district secretary for House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

On: Jack Harrington is the new legislative assistant for Miami-Dade Republican Rep. Michael Bileca.

Off: Janine Kiray is no longer legislative assistant to Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.

Off: Constance Baker has stepped down as district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels.

On: Leota Wilkinson is district secretary for Palatka Republican Rep. Bobby Payne.

Off and on: John Love is no longer House administrative assistant for the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining. Lisa Larson has replaced Love.

On and off: Lindsey Locke is the new House administrative assistant for the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight. Locke replaced Michelle McCloskey.

On and off: Patricia Gosney is the new legislative assistant in the Tallahassee office of Broward Democratic Sen. Lauren BookJoel Ramos has stepped down.

APPOINTEDBerny Jacques to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board.

GOVERNOR’S CLUB TUESDAY BUFFET MENU – Tuesday’s buffet offers a Southern theme with chicken noodle soup; spinach salad; seasonal green salad; tiger slaw; fried chicken; fried catfish & hushpuppies; scalloped potatoes; butter beans & ham; corn choux; and a chef’s choice dessert.

SEMINOLES JUMP TO NO. 6 IN AP TOP 25; GATORS 25th via Bob Sparks of – For the first time since 1993, the Florida State Seminoles are the sixth-ranked team in The Associated Press Top 25 men’s basketball poll. The Florida Gators managed to stay in the top 25 despite two losses last week. Coach Leonard Hamilton’s 18-2 team vaulted four spots to claim the highest rank for any ACC team and their highest ranking in 24 years. Despite not losing, North Carolina remained in the ninth spot, watching the Seminoles leap over them. The Tar Heels beat the Seminoles in Chapel Hill January 14, Florida State’s only loss in their last 15 games. The Gators, meanwhile, fell from No. 19 to No. 25 after losses to No. 23 South Carolina on the road and to unranked Vanderbilt at home. Many felt the Vanderbilt loss would take them out of the rankings, but they barely hung on.

FSU STUDENT SEEKING HELP AFTER AIRLINE COMPLETELY TRASHED HER CELLO via the Violin Channel – A Florida State University music student has this week set up a Go Fund Me page in an effort to replace her cello – which was destroyed into pieces on a Jan. 9 United Airlines commute from Sacramento to Tallahassee … Carrie Miller is seeking $10,000 to replace the wrecked instrument. “United Airlines did not allow me to gate check my cello … there were no extra seats on the plane so I could not buy a seat for my cello … I couldn’t cancel my flight and was forced to check it through normal baggage procedures” … “When I got back to Tallahassee, my instrument was completely broken … not just parts of it … the whole instrument was in pieces as well as the case … this incident has been incredibly traumatic …” Carrie’s carbon fibre cello bow was also destroyed.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII NOW HAS A TITLE — THE LAST JEDI via Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly – When cameras started rolling last year on the eighth film in the Skywalker family story, writer-director Rian Johnson used the tongue-in-cheek working title “Space Bear,” and numerous rumors (most of them false) about the possible real title have circulated ever since. The title was announced Monday without any further explanation from Lucasfilm. There’s not much to analyze except that the second film in the trilogies (remember, casual fans, Rogue One is a stand-alone) usually tilts the balance of power toward the villains.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Scott Keeler of the Tampa Bay Times and Dana Cashin Loncar of Consensus Communications.

Sunburn for 01.23.17 – Jim Boxold, Jon Steverson out; Trump’s first 60 hours; Women’s march! Missile fired off Florida coast? Jack Latvala raising $$$

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

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


In case you missed it Friday night, broke news about two major departures from the Rick Scott administration:

JIM BOXOLD TO STEP DOWN AS DOT HEAD FOR LOBBYING JOB Full story here – Boxold, who was appointed in December 2014 to succeed Ananth Prasad, is leaving to join the governmental affairs firm Capital City Consulting

JON STEVERSON RESIGNS AS DEP SECRETARY Full story here – Steverson is set to join the legal-lobbying firm Foley & Lardner … Steverson, whose last day will be Feb. 3, did not mention reasons for his leaving in the letter.

Breaking the news about Boxold and Steverson follows first reporting the departures of the heads of Visit Florida, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and two top officials at the Department of Economic Opportunity. In addition to these policy stories, was also where you first read Gwen Graham saying she wanted to run for Governor, about Will Weatherford not wanting to run for Governor (shared with the Tampa Bay Times), the “Draft John Morgan” effort, Steve Crisafulli‘s decision not to run in 2018, as well as Denise Grimsley‘s interest in running for Ag. Commissioner.

THE FIRST 60 HOURS – America is getting what it ordered on Election Day. If anyone was expecting an evolution from Donald Trump the candidate to Donald Trump the president, never mind.

Since Trump took the oath of office, he uploaded a number of policy papers on the economy, foreign policy and law enforcement; canceled a reduction in the Federal Housing Administration’s annual fee for most borrowers; signed an executive order his spokesman said directed federal agencies to “ease the burdens” of the Affordable Care Act as the administration works toward a “repeal and replace” of the health-care law; ordered a freeze on all pending regulations until his administration can review them; visited the Central Intelligence Agency on a mission to reassure the intelligence community that they have his full support; lashed out at his critics, boasted of his appearances on magazine covers and exaggerated about the size of the crowd at his inauguration; hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama; placed his first calls to the leaders of Canada and Mexico; decided against sending a U.S. delegation to Kazakhstan for talks on the war in Syria; laid the groundwork for a trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. that would take effect after Britain leaves the European Union; acknowledged the Women’s Marches demonstrations on Twitter, writing, “Why didn’t these people vote?”; is expected to announce a federal workforce freeze and the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which bans foreign NGOs from promoting or paying for abortions; began discussing plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; planned to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement when he meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nietospoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and invited him to the United States in February.

HOW TRUMP’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS COMPARES TO HIS PREDECESSORS, CHARTED via Christopher Ingram of The Washington Post – The address started off in relatively positive territory  — “We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.” But it dips quickly toward the negative as the new president describes the problems he hopes to address: “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation … American carnage.” … spending the first half of his speech on the negative, Trump makes a positive promise: “America will start winning again, winning like never before.” From there the speech hovers mostly in neutral territory, until the sentiment rises at the end: “We will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again.” Sentiment analysis is a tricky business — almost as much art as science. There are a lot of different ways to go about it. Still, for all its faults, the technique is useful for generating a visual, thumbnail sketch of the structure of a text.

TRUMP HAD BIGGEST INAUGURAL CROWD EVER? METRICS DON’T SHOW IT via Linda Qiu of PolitiFact – At the first news conference of the new administration, White House press secretary Sean Spicer blasted the media … “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” Spicer said … “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.” To support his claim, Spicer offered a few pieces of misleading or inaccurate evidence … [He] suggested 720,000 attended Trump’s inauguration, while organizers said they expected 700,000 to 900,000, and Trump himself estimated 1.5 million. All those figures are less than the 1.8 million people who attended Obama’s 2009 inaugural. We rate Spicer’s claim Pants on Fire.

TRUMP INAUGURATION BIG ON SOCIAL MEDIA – Facebook reports 60 million U.S. users engaged Friday with 208 million likes, posts, comments and shares related to Inauguration Day events.

FLORIDA POLS USE TWITTER TO PRAISE TWITTER-LOVING TRUMP via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Gov. Scott … sent several tweets through the morning … “The @realDonaldTrump and @mike_pence administration will be great for our state and country. I look forward to continuing to work with them.” House Speaker Richard Corcoran … was “Excited by @realDonaldTrump promise to return power from DC to the people. FL House is ready 2 work with the new Pres to make it a reality.” State Rep. José Félix Díaz … posted a tweet and picture of himself and former state representative and now congressman Matt Gaetz. “It’s kind of cool when one of your close friends becomes a member of Congress @mattgaetz #TrumpInauguration #FloridaHouse.” Pam Bondi … posted several pictures of herself in Washington and is tagged with Greenberg Traurig insurance lobbyist Fred Karlinsky.

HISPANIC FORMER TRUMP CRITIC SIGNS ON TO HIS ADMINISTRATION via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Trump appointed one of South Florida’s most respected Spanish-language media figures, Helen Aguirre Ferré, to be his special assistant and director of media affairs. Aguirre Ferré had served as the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic communications director since June, when her predecessor reportedly left due to discomfort with Trump’s immigration rhetoric and proposals. Before that, Aguirre Ferré had cross words for Trump when she worked as a top consultant and Spanish-language surrogate for one of Trump’s GOP rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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THOUSANDS GATHER IN FLORIDA PROTEST OVER TRUMP AGENDA via the Associated Press – Thousands of people gathered in downtown Miami and other Florida cities to protest parts of President Trump’s agenda, joining tens of thousands in cities across the U.S. and around the world. The 10,000-seat amphitheater in Miami was filled to capacity Saturday as long lines of people tried to get in. Other large protests were held in West Palm Beach, St. Petersburg and Pensacola.

— “Florida woman at D.C. anti-Trump march: ‘I feel like my innocence was taken away’ on election Day” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

— “Women’s March surpassed 20,000 protesters, making it largest in St. Petersburg history” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times

— “More than 14,000 join Women’s March on Tallahassee” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat

— “Naples-area residents take part in Women’s March on Washington” via Annika Hammerschlag of the Naples Daily News

— “Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy rally with supporters at breakfast before women’s March on Washington” via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer

IN CENTER OF WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON, A ST. PETERSBURG ORGANIZER via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Lisa Perry spent so much time volunteering at Hillary Clinton‘s St. Petersburg campaign office that she felt her daughters, 5 and 3, had sacrificed for the cause, too. She wound up leading three busloads of activists from Pinellas to Washington, D.C., for what turned into a historically massive rally Saturday in the nation’s capital that triggered rallies in St. Petersburg, across the country and across the world, drawing millions. “It’s not a protest against the fact that he was elected, and it’s not a protest against the inauguration,” Perry said. “What it is is us saying he is now the president of the United States and he represents all of us and so much of his administration’s agenda threatens the fabric of what holds this nation together and what makes us great. We’re saying we’re here, and we’re not going to let you take away our rights.”

FLORIDA HAS SEEN A LEADER LIKE TRUMP BEFORE: CHARLIE CRIST via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Our Republican governor-turned-Democratic-congressman is far sunnier and more gentlemanly than our in-your-face president. Crist would rather disarm a critic with courtesy and conviviality, while Trump tends to go for nasty personal attacks. That aside, they have much more in common than striking hair and mysteriously hued skin. Both men fundamentally are populists, rather than partisans. They are less interested in the details of policymaking and governing than the perceptions of Joe Sixpack. Crist never cared if Tallahassee insiders thought he was a shallow panderer on issues from health care coverage to power company bills. What mattered to him was what average Floridians thought, and that’s where he aimed his comments and priorities … Crist’s one term as governor offers a cautionary lesson for our new president. Hubris and narcissism can be politically fatal.

WITH REPUBLICANS IN POWER, BILL NELSON PART OF LAST LINE OF DEFENSE FOR DEMOCRATS via Ledyard King of USA Today – Nelson’s perch on key panels means he’ll be at the negotiating table when Republicans decide they need Democratic help to pass bills. He’s the senior Democrat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which will help craft the infrastructure bill Trump wants … He’s a top senator on the Armed Services Committee … And he was just named to a subcommittee that will examine cyber security in the wake of Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. He’s a member of the Finance Committee that will handle the tax reform legislation the new president wants to push through, as well as the funding mechanisms for whatever new health care initiative Republicans are hoping to replace Obama’s law with this year. “They can repeal the Affordable Care Act with 51 votes but they can’t replace it,” Nelson said. “It is going to take people of good will talking together and putting aside the political posturing to get something done as complicated as this is.”

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Sachs Media Group, Florida’s dominant public affairs communications firm. Sachs Media thrives on high-stakes challenges in the relentless pursuit of excellent outcomes. To help you win in the corridors of power, let us score for you in the court of public opinion. Visit to learn more.***

DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 11: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 18; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 20; Valentine’s Day – 22; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 43; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 50; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 102; Election Day 2017 – 287.

MISSILE FAILURE OFF FLORIDA? BRITISH LEADER WON’T SAY via The Associated Press – Britain’s prime minister refused to say whether she knew about an unarmed missile that reportedly failed when it was test-fired off the coast of Florida last year. Theresa May told BBC she has total confidence in Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrence system, but didn’t confirm or deny a newspaper report about the alleged failure of a ballistic missile designed to carry nuclear warheads … top government officials decided to keep the failure of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile out of the public eye because of an upcoming debate the next month in Parliament over whether to refurbish the aging Trident, the cornerstone of Britain’s nuclear deterrent system. “I have absolute faith in our Trident missiles,” May said when asked if she had known about a possible missile failure when she spoke to Parliament in July. “When I made that speech in the House of Commons, what we were talking about was whether or not we should renew our Trident, whether or not we should have Trident missiles.”

​ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job creation during a press conference at 9 a.m. at Best Home Services, 1455 Rail Head Blvd. in Naples.​

EFI CHIEF TO ADDRESS SENATE PANEL — Chris Hart, the recently named president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, is scheduled to address the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee at 4 p.m. The committee is expected to discuss issues being pushed by the economic development group, including $85 million for economic incentives. Hart will face a friendlier crowd in the Senate, which has supported economic incentives in the past. The Florida House is already gearing up for a fight, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran vowing to block the proposal. The committee meets at 4 p.m. in the Toni Jennings Committee Room, 110 Senate Office Building.

CAREERSOURCE FLORIDA NARROWS IN ON NEW PRESIDENT via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –CareerSource Florida, the corporation that serves as the state’s workforce preparation and placement agency, interviewed three finalists to replace Chris Hart as president, including the agency’s current vice president of policy, Michelle Dennard … Dennard, Mikkel Dixon, the executive director of Florida Career College in Margate; and Kyla Gutierrez-Guyette, the project director of ResCare Workforce Services in Orlando; all were interviewed by a committee of the CareerSource board of directors … The committee members will submit their scoresheets to the agency’s chairman Britt Sikes … and he will recommend the selection to Gov. Scott.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Several North Florida lawmakers — including former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, state Rep. Brad Drake, and state Rep. Jay Fant — will hold a press conference at 2:15 p.m. on the fourth floor rotunda, outside the House Chamber to announce the formation of Stand Up for North Florida, a group created to make the case for equitable distribution of state conservation dollars.

JOE NEGRON’S LAKE OKEECHOBEE PLAN BAD FOR US, HIS PAHOKEE CONSTITUENTS SAY via Isadora Rangel of TCPalm – Pahokee residents are speaking out against Negron’s plan during a state Senate hearing in Tallahassee. Residents and community leaders from Pahokee, Belle Glade and South Bay have formed a group called Guardians of the Glades to protest the plan. The group says Negron’s push to buy 60,000 acres south of the lake could take agricultural land out of production and kill jobs that are vital in impoverished Glades communities. The sugar industry, the largest landowner south of the lake, has come out in strong opposition to the proposal. Another group called Glades Lives Matter, led by a former Hendry County commissioner, also has emerged in opposition to Negron.

TRAVIS HUTSON TALKS ‘THE PROCESS’ AND REGULATED INDUSTRIES via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – The ongoing Cold War between Senate and House leadership looms over the session at large. Hutson isn’t as pessimistic as some media covering it … “Who knows what’s going to happen? There’s no guarantees in Tallahassee,” Hutson said. “The process has always been, the initial offers made from either side and we go through conferencing to kind of balance out those budgets through subcommittees,” Hutson added. “All I see that the speaker’s really doing is to ask his House members to start that process a little sooner. The House will put up their bills. The Senate, when we go into conferencing, will put up our stuff. And we’ll negotiate the budget. That’s how I anticipate it [working],” Hutson observed.


TOM LEE AGAIN FACES DECISION ABOUT WHICH OFFICE TO SEEK via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – Lee, once R-Brandon but now R-Thonotosassa, is again facing a decision about his political future and one that could create substantial local political complications — whether to run for state chief financial officer in 2018, and if not, whether to stay in the state Senate or come home and seek a Hillsborough County commissioner’s seat. CFO would be Lee’s most ambitious choice, and one he has long wanted. If he decides against CFO, he’ll face a decision whether to run for a full Senate term — probably an easy win — or seek a county commission seat. If Lee chose the district race, it could pit him in a primary against Commissioner Ken Hagan, who faces a term limit in his countywide seat and has been mulling either the Tampa mayor’s race or jumping to a district seat.

DAVID SIMMONS WEIGHING FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL, CONGRESSIONAL RUNS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –  While giving his blessing to state Rep. Jason Brodeur to run for his current post … Simmons says he’s weighing his options to go after the Florida attorney general’s post, Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat … or staying full-time with his growing law firm … Attorney General Bondi is widely reported to be in the running for a position in the Trump administration. If Bondi leaves, Gov. Scott would be appointing a successor. If she stays, she’ll be term-limited out in 2018, the same year that U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy comes up for her first re-election bid in CD 7, a seat Republicans had held for generations before her arrival. Simmons said it was premature to say if he has spoken to Scott about the prospect of being appointed as attorney general. One way or the other, Simmons, a Longwood Republican, leaves by 2020, when he term-limits out.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSTomorrowJan. 24, state Sen. Dana Young will file legislation seeking a statewide ban on fracking. Media event begins 9 a.m. in front of the Senate Chamber, Fourth Floor Rotunda of the Florida Capitol.

HE QUESTION CONFRONTING RICHARD CORCORAN: WILL HE STICK BY HIS PRINCIPLES OR WILL HE P*SSY OUT? via Florida Politics – We will know which direction the 2017 Legislative Session is headed by the first day. That’s because that’s the deadline Corcoran has set for the filing of individual member projects … the House has moved to a system that requires members to file an individual bill for each budget request … members must also file all requests by the bill filing deadline at the beginning of session. In Corcoran‘s Florida House, there will be no putting spending projects in the budget during the appropriations process. So, what happens if the Senate does not abide by the House’s rules? If they’re not filed — and there’s really no indication that the Senate is in a hurry to give in to Corcoran’s way of doing business — the question to Corcoran will be: Are you sticking by your principles? Or are you going to p*ssy out?

SURPRISE TO CENTRAL FLORIDA EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY: TOM GOODSON WANTS IT IN BREVARD via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Goodson filed House Bill 299, which would expand the authority’s realm from its current Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties base, eastward into the Space Coast county. The bill includes the addition of a board member appointed by the Brevard County Board of Commissioners chairman, and opens another spot for a possible gubernatorial appointment of a Brevard resident. Expressway authority spokesman Brian Hutchings said he is not aware of any plans for the expressway authority to extend its toll-road network into Brevard County. And he said he could find no one on the authority who is aware of why Goodson would introduce a bill to expand the authority there.

EDITORIAL: OPEN THE UBER FRONTIER via the Tallahassee Democrat – In the taxicab versus Uber battle … some advocates would have us believe there are only two options: Either force transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to abide by the same regulations that have saddled taxi companies for decades or ban app-based car services altogether. We’re happy to see the Legislature pursuing a third option – common-sense regulation. Bills filed in both the House and Senate would pre-empt cities’ efforts to set their own requirements for transportation network companies. In addition to providing uniformity, the bills require background checks for drivers and set minimum standards for insurance coverage … This frontier calls for a different approach to regulating transportation. We’re happy to see the Legislature pursuing a modern solution.

GOOD READ – ORLANDO IS BUILDING THE TRAIN STATION, NOT SURE WHEN OR IF TRAINS WILL ARRIVE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – By the end of this year Orlando’s gleaming new $211 million train station should be virtually finished at Orlando International Airport, but it may be many years before trains start rolling in – if at all. The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is building a train station based on a vision of the future in which planes, trains, cars and buses all come together at what would be Florida’s tourism hub … Brightline, formerly known as All Aboard Florida, just unveiled its first train set in West Palm Beach, with assurances that it and 15 others should start rolling, full of passengers, between there and Fort Lauderdale and Miami, by year’s end. The stations there are nearly done. The tracks are nearly all ready. Brightline secured $600 million in financing for it all. Yet Brightline’s track from Palm Beach to Orlando is snarled in opposition and litigation … no specific timetables are being offered for the Brightline trains, not even ballparks, not even to GOAA officials.

IF YOU READ ONE THING – TURNING PLANTS INTO PILLS: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MIAMI’S LONE MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROWER via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – In full operation for only four months, Modern Health Concepts remains cagey about its business operations. Details about the number of patients served by the company, the amount of medicine it produces, and the size of its cultivation facility are kept private by the Florida Department of Health and remain confidential under company policy. In order to gain access to the company’s Redland greenhouse, the Miami Herald agreed not to disclose its specific location. But following the November passage of a constitutional amendment that should soon expand Florida’s nascent medical marijuana industry, the Costa Nursery Farms affiliate is beginning to open up. This week, the company gave the Herald exclusive access to its cultivation and processing facilities for a behind-the-scenes look at how its medicine is produced, from plant to pill. “This isn’t something in the backyard or something in a garage. This is all done in a lab. It’s very clinical,” said Richard Young, the company’s CEO. “Our goal is to eliminate preconceptions.”

STUDY: DCF UNDERPERFORMING FLORIDA’S FOSTER CHILDREN via The Associated Press – The Department of Health and Human Services found DCF underperforming in critical areas during an analysis of 80 cases from April 1 to Sept. 30 … in more than half of the cases, child welfare agencies removed children from homes without providing appropriate services and were lax in follow up safety plans. The study found DCF needs improvement in 11 of 14 categories.

THE WORST THING YOU’LL READ TODAY – YEARS LATER, A CHILD WITNESS FILLS IN DISTURBING DETAILS IN INFAMOUS MIAMI ABUSE CASE via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald – Six years ago, 10-year-old twins were discovered in horrifying condition in a pickup truck parked along Interstate 95 — the body of Nubia Barahona … badly beaten, soaked in chemicals and decomposing inside a garbage bag in the truck bed; her brother Victor was in the cab, badly burned by chemicals. Their adopted father, an exterminator named Jorge Barahona, was passed out nearby. The appalling case rocked Florida’s child welfare agency, which had received numerous abuse complaints against Barahona and his wife, Carmen, but repeatedly left the children in the couple’s custody … new and disturbing statement from the couple’s own granddaughter … she was so terrified of her own family that she waited for years to tell her story. That girl, identified as A.P. … chronicled a tormented existence for the twins, who were among four adopted children living in the household, two boys and two girls. Sometimes, the twins were made to stand for hours, even days, inside a tall green trash can, or tied up inside a bathtub, naked and whimpering. To eat, they shared a bowl of milk and bread. A.P. recalled once asking her grandmother, Carmen Barahona, about the meal: “That’s what they deserved,” the woman replied.

THIS PRISON IS BY FAR THE DEADLIEST IN FLORIDA via Julie Brown of the Miami Herald – In 2016, 13 inmates died at Dade Correctional, including four from hanging. That’s twice as many deaths as any other state prison, except for Charlotte Correctional (which tallied 7) and prison hospitals and compounds catering to the sick or elderly. Three of those who apparently killed themselves were 30 or younger, two of them men with mental illnesses. Another inmate was killed by his cellmate and seven died of various medical ailments, ranging from heart disease to lymphoma. They are among the record number of inmates who died in Florida state prisons in 2016. After initially telling the Herald it counted 366 in-custody deaths, the Department of Corrections reduced that to 356, saying the 10 others died while not under the department’s supervision. That could mean, for example, they died after transfer to a county jail to face new charges. Either number is uncharted territory for a system that has seen the number of deaths climb from 191 in 2000 — rising far faster than the inmate population.

MARK PUENTE GETS RESULTS – PINELLAS COUNTY CONSTRUCTION LICENSING BOARD PLAYS FAST AND LOOSE WITH DISCIPLINARY PROCESS via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board doesn’t report to anyone, not to the local county commission like every other similar board in the state, and not even to the Florida Legislature which created it … The lack of oversight contributes to a fast and loose approach to how it handles complaints against contractors … Take a hearing to rule on a homeowner’s dispute with contractor Tom Tafelski, also the vice chair of the licensing board. His fellow board members joked about judging one of their own. “I’ll recuse myself…,” Tafelski said last year. “I won’t vote.” The room erupted with laughter. “This is great,” Tafelski said. “I love it.” It took just three minutes for them to dismiss the complaint.


Joshua Aubuchon, Holland & Knight: North Springs Improvement District

 Oscar Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: G.L. Homes of Florida Corporation

Dean CannonJason Unger, GrayRobinson: ChildNet, Inc.

Brittany DoverGrary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Ducks Unliminted, Inc.

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith: Florida Association of Counties

Julie Fess, GrayRobinson: Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce

Rob Fields, One Eighty Consulting: TmaxSoft

Thomas Griffin, Smith Bryan & Myers: Florida Hospital Association; Osceola Legislative Effort; Florida Harbor Pilots Association; Intuition, LLC.

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Florida Harbor Pilots Association; Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association; JM Family Enterprises, Inc.

Nick Iarossi, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Lost Tree Village Property Owners Association

Seth McKeel, Southern Strategy Group: Tampa Bay Partnership; The Gasparilla Inn & Club

Corinne Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Broward County Public Schools

Jim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: JM Family Enterprises, Inc.

Andrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: Columbia County Board of County Commissioners

Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Peoples Gas System, Inc.; TECO Energy, Inc.; The Gasparilla Inn & Club; Florida Drycleaners Coalition

Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: ChildNet, Inc.; JP Morgan Chase Holdings LLC.

Will McKinley, PooleMcKinley: Cambridge International Examinations

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

ON INAUGURATION DAY, ‘HOUSE OF CARDS’ ANNOUNCES MAY RETURN via The Associated Press –The show’s Twitter account posted a video on Inauguration Day featuring an upside-down U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Capitol. The video ends with the date May 30. An upside-down flag is a signal of distress. The upcoming season will be the first under new co-showrunners Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese. Former showrunner Beau Willimon stepped away from the role after last season.

SPOTTED at Nancy and Robert Watkins Children’s Gasparilla Parade party: Former Gov. Bob Martinez, former Speaker Will Weatherford, Sens. Jeff Brandes and Dana Young, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Slater Bayliss, Carrie and Bob Henriquez, Merritt and Rick Lindstorm, Seth McKeel, Commissioner Sandy Murman, Anthony Pedicini, Mark Proctor, Sydney Ridley, Gina and Chris Spencer, Drew Weatherford, J.D. White.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my former man-crush, Jon Costello. It just hasn’t been the same since I found out he was cheating on my with Brian Burgess. Belated wishes to the great Don Gaetz, Greg Black, Tim Center, and Georgia McKeown.

Sunburn for 01.20.17 – Inauguration Day

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

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


… there’s never been a starker contrast between two presidents as there is Barack Obama and Donald Trump, remember that John Adams was so contemptuous of Thomas Jefferson that he left the White House in the middle of the night on March 4, 1801, refusing to attend the inaugural ceremony of the man who had vanquished him (h/t Larry Sabato). Democrat Samuel Tilden, who handily won the reported popular vote in 1876, was urged to lead an army into Washington to stop the “corrupt” handover of power by Congress to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. The long Herbert HooverFDR transition was a disaster that inflicted additional pain (such as loads of failed banks) on a suffering nation.

By these standards, Obama-to-Trump has been relatively smooth. In these hyper-partisan times, one is grateful for any hint of civility. Under difficult circumstances, both Obama and Trump have listened to the better angels of their nature. It may be too much to hope that this initial precedent will apply to the many battles on the horizon, but to the extent it can, we’ll all be better off.


Donald Trump enters the White House on Friday just as he entered the race for president: defiant, unfiltered, unbound by tradition and utterly confident in his chosen course.

In the 10 weeks since his surprise election as the nation’s 45th president, Trump has violated decades of established diplomatic protocol, sent shockwaves through business boardrooms, tested long-standing ethics rules and continued his combative style of replying to any slight with a personal attack — on Twitter and in person.

Past presidents have described walking into the Oval Office for the first time as a humbling experience, one that in an instant makes clear the weight of their new role as caretaker of American democracy. Trump spent much of his transition making clear he sees things differently: Rather than change for the office, he argues, the office will change for him.

 “They say it’s not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business,” Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis in December. That was after he negotiated a deal with an air conditioning company to keep jobs in the state, a move many economists derided as unworkable national economic policy.

“I think it’s very presidential,” he declared. “And if it’s not presidential, that’s OK. That’s OK. Because I actually like doing it.”

Even before he takes the oath of office, Trump has changed the very nature of presidency, breaking conventions and upending expectations for the leader of the free world.

Advisers who’ve spoken with Trump say the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star is aware of the historic nature of his new job. He’s told friends that he’s drawn to the ambition of Ronald Reagan, a Republican, and John F. Kennedy, a Democrat. He’s thinking of spending his first night in the White House sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, according to some who dined with him recently in Florida.

But Trump also views himself as a kind of “sui generis” president, beholden to no one for his success and modeling himself after no leader who’s come before. Trump has said he’s read no biographies of former presidents. When asked to name his personal heroes in a recent interview, he mentioned his father before replying that he didn’t “like the concept of heroes.”

“I don’t think Trump has a great sense of the history of the White House. When you don’t know your history, it’s hard to fully respect the traditions,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who recently dined with Trump and other guests at his South Florida club. “This is not somebody who brags about how many history biographies he’s read.”

“He’s somebody who brags about it as this is a big event and he’s the maestro,” he said.

That’s a shift that thrills his supporters, who elected Trump to shake up what they see as an unresponsive and corrupt federal government in the “swamp” of Washington.

Since winning the election, Trump has attacked Hollywood celebrities, civil rights icons and political rivals alike. He’s moved markets by going after some companies, while praising others.

He’s questioned the legitimacy of American institutions — appearing to trust the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the intelligence agencies he’ll soon oversee, engaging in personal fights with journalists as he assails the free press and questioning the results of the election, even though it put him in office.

And he’s lambasted the leaders of longstanding allied nations as he questions the post-World War II international order that won the Cold War and maintained peace in Europe for generations.

For Trump supporters, that no-holds-barred style is the very reason he won their votes. But for others in the country, it’s a type of leadership they’ve seen before and fear will spread.

There are signs that Trump’s actions are already changing the traditions of government in Washington, freeing lawmakers and other officials from long-respected practices of federal politics.

More than 50 House Democrats plan to boycott Trump’s inauguration ceremony, an unprecedented break with the bipartisan tradition of celebrating the peaceful transfer of power. While many Democrats were furious with the outcome of the 2000 election in which Republican George W. Bush defeated Al Gore after recounts and a Supreme Court ruling, they generally attended Bush’s inauguration ceremony.

“I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate,” tweeted Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman who’s bidding to head the Democratic National Committee.

Those who know Trump say the billionaire mogul delights in confounding establishment expectations, even as he craves approval from powerbrokers in New York and Washington.

“He was born with a chip on his shoulder, and he is very much the guy from Queens who looked across at Manhattan and envied but also to some degree hated the elites who occupied Manhattan,” said Michael D’Antonio, author of “Never Enough,” a Trump biography. “The way that he wants to disrupt institutions reflects this idea that the institutions haven’t embraced him.”

That’s a style that may work better for a CEO of a family corporation — who has little oversight from corporate boards or shareholders — than a president constrained by a system of checks and balances. Former Cabinet officials say the layers of government bureaucracy, myriad regulations and intricacies of Congress will challenge Trump’s style.

President Barack Obama, who’s offered Trump advice both publicly and privately, said he’s urged the president-elect to hold onto some of the traditions of the office.

“The one thing I’ve said to him directly, and I would advise my Republican friends in Congress and supporters around the country, is just make sure that as we go forward certain norms, certain institutional traditions don’t get eroded, because there’s a reason they’re in place,” said Obama, in a recent interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

But Trump’s supporters say it’s the institutions and Washington — and not the next president — that must change.

“Trump believes that he has a better understanding of how things work in the modern world than all of these so-called critics,” said Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser and former Republican House speaker, who has spoken with the president-elect about his presidency. “That’s who he is.


IN DC FOR INAUGURATION? Here’s everything you need to know — including parade and protest maps, concert schedules and events, courtesy of CNN’s Eli Watkins and Sophie Tatum.

SPOTTED: Ben Carson with Kelly Mallette, the right hand of lobbyist Ron Book.


Morning – Trump, Pence and their families are expected to attend services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, just steps from the White House. Afterward, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome Trump and his wife Melania to the White House for morning tea. The two couples will then travel together to the Capitol by motorcade.

9:30 a.m. – Inauguration ceremony begins on the west front of the Capitol with musical performances. Attendees will include members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, diplomats and the public. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will attend, as will Trump’s election opponent Hillary Clinton. Former president George H.W. Bush is in frail health and will not be present. Sixteen-year-old soprano Jackie Evancho will sing the national anthem. The Rockettes dance troupe will also be performing, at a time yet to be announced.

11:30 a.m. – Opening remarks. Religious leaders will offer the invocation and readings. Pence will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Noon – Trump will recite the oath of office, administered by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He will use president Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration Bible, as well as the Bible that Trump’s mother gave to him at his Sunday school graduation in 1955. Afterward, Trump will deliver his inaugural address.

12:30 p.m. – Ceremony ends. Afterward, in keeping with tradition, Trump and Pence will attend the Congressional Lunch in the Capitol.

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Inaugural parade. The newly minted president and vice-president make their way 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, trailed by some 8,000 parade participants. They will include members of all US military branches, as well as high school and university marching bands, equestrian corps, first responders, veteran groups and even a tractor brigade.

7 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Trump, Pence and their wives will make appearances at three official inaugural balls, two of which will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the other at the National Building Museum. A number of semi-official and unofficial balls also will take place throughout the city.

THE TRUMP INAUGURATION IS SHAPING UP TO BE WASHINGTON’S SMALLEST PARTY IN YEARS via Maura Judkis of The Washington Post – Every four years, the city comes alive with a flurry of unofficial celebrations, ranging from chummy state-society affairs to exclusive corporate shindigs to cash-bar mixers open to anyone … although it’s hard to predict the size of the crowds that will greet [Trump] at his public events this week, it seems increasingly clear that the after-hours revelry will be markedly muted. Not only is Trump hosting only three official balls — far fewer than his predecessors at their first inaugurals — but the spillover festivities appear smaller and fewer. Several of the city’s great halls are going unrented. Far fewer big-name celebrities are headed to town. And while many events are reportedly sold out, others are still looking to fill their rooms.

THE FORECAST WON’T BUDGE — RAIN SEEMS INEVITABLE FOR TRUMP’S INAUGURATION via Angela Fritz of The Washington Post – If you’re heading downtown for the swearing-in ceremony or the parade, the Capital Weather Gang suggests wearing warm clothes, a waterproof outer layer, and a poncho rather than an umbrella – the latter are prohibited by the Secret Service and will generally be more of a nuisance on the crowded National Mall. (Saturday will be 10 degrees warmer and there’s less chance of a drizzle.)

WILL DONALD AND MELANIA DANCE? PLUS, FIVE OTHER BIG INAUGURATION QUESTIONS. via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post – 1. Will the president and first lady dance at their inaugural balls? If they do, what song will they dance to? 2. Will the inauguration incorporate poetry? 3. How will the inaugural festivities incorporate Marla Maples and Ivana Trump? What about Tiffany Trump and Barron Trump? 4. What tone will the clergy giving invocations set for the day? 5. How will Trump interact with the former presidents and their wives — and Hillary Clinton, his general-election opponent — during the weekend? 6. What is Trump going to say in his address, and will it differ from the tone he set during the election?

— “I love Toby Keith. His decision to play Trump’s inauguration won’t change that.” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post

AL LAWSON SAYS ATTENDING TRUMP INAUGURATION IS HIS DUTY via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Lawson said members of Congress have customarily attended the ceremony regardless of whether they support the man taking the oath of office. “It’s not so much for anyone personally, it’s for the presidency of the United States of America,” Lawson said. “And I think that’s far bigger than anybody; bigger than Trump.” Lawson, the freshman Democrat whose district includes parts of Jacksonville, is not alone in his thinking. Most members of Congress are attending Trump’s inauguration, including other Florida Democrats like Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Val Demings and Rep. and former governor Charlie Crist.

GREAT READ – IN DONATED SHOES AND SUIT, A TRUMP SUPPORTER COMES TO WASHINGTON via Justin Jouvenal of The Washington Post – Shane Bouvet pointed to the towering grain silos near his parents’ home in this “little speck in America” and explained how he used to climb them to peer beyond the town’s tight confines. Bouvet, 24, knew then he wanted a life outside, but the prospects for the former night watchman and single father living paycheck to paycheck seemed dim before he improbably rose from delivering signs for Trump’s campaign to becoming its volunteer social media coordinator in Illinois. His work earned him an invitation to an inaugural ball near Washington … Bouvet piled into a car with friends … and began the drive to Washington to stay at a Days Inn in Arlington: “This is pretty much the biggest thing I’ve done in my life,” Bouvet said. “I don’t get out much.”

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GEORGE W. BUSH’S LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA IN 2009: THE COUNTRY IS ‘PULLING FOR YOU’ via Madeline Conway of POLITICO – “Very few have had the honor of knowing the responsibility you now feel,” Bush wrote to Obama on his inauguration day in a handwritten note on White House letterhead … “Very few know the excitement of the moment and the challenges you will face.” “There will be trying moments,” he continued. “The critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.”

OBAMA’S ELECTORAL LEGACY: AFTER 8 YEARS, WE GET A DONALD TRUMP via Darryl Paulson for Florida Politics – Whatever Obama may have achieved in public policy, it is that policy which is in great part responsible for setting “the post-World War II record for losses by the White House party” … However important the Obama policies may have been, it is fair to argue that those policies contained the seeds of Democratic losses. Politics is a strange beast. Six months ago, almost everyone believed the Republican Party was on its last legs, and the Trump nomination would doom them forever. Today the Republicans control all three branches of the federal government, and it appears that the Democrats are on life support. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

OBAMA COMMUTES 330 DRUG SENTENCES ON LAST DAY AS PRESIDENT via Josh Lederman of The Associated Press – With his final offer of clemency, Obama brought his total number of commutations granted to 1,715, more than any other president in U.S. history, the White House said. During his presidency, Obama ordered free 568 inmates who had been sentenced to life in prison. “He wanted to do it. He wanted the opportunity to look at as many as he could to provide relief,” Neil Eggleston, Obama’s White House counsel, said in an interview in his West Wing office. “He saw the injustice of the sentences that were imposed in many situations, and he has a strong view that people deserve a second chance.” For Obama, it was the last time he planned to exercise his presidential powers in any significant way. At noon Friday, Obama will stand with President-elect Donald Trump as his successor is sworn in and Obama’s chapter in history comes to an end.

‘HE HAS THIS DEEP FEAR THAT HE IS NOT A LEGITIMATE PRESIDENT’ via Michael Kruse of POLITICO – A group of Trump biographers offer predictions for how he will run the country … Tim O’Brien: “The whole thing has been a vanity show from the second he ran to the Republican Convention. I think we can expect to see the same on Inauguration Day. He’s been unable to find a clean division between his own emotional needs and his own insecurities and simply being a healthy, strategically committed leader who wants to parse through good policy options.” Michael D’Antonio: “[One] thing I think that we have overlooked as we see Trump trying to delegitimize others is what I suspect is a feeling he has inside that nothing he’s ever achieved himself has ever been legitimate. And even his election was with almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. So, he has this deep fear that he is himself not a legitimate president, and I think that’s why he goes to such great lengths to delegitimize even the intelligence community.” Gwenda Blair: “When he’s awake at night, I don’t think it’s because he’s awed or concerned about the responsibilities on his shoulders. It’s because there’s somebody he wants to get even with and how are you going to do it.”

TRUMP’S ‘BEACHHEAD’ TEAMS PRIMED TO GRAB AGENCIES’ REINS AT NOON FRIDAY via Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook via POLITICO – At 12:01 p.m. Friday … Trump’s aides will deploy a team of temporary political appointees into federal agencies to begin laying the groundwork for the president-elect’s agenda while his nominees await Senate confirmation … While the transition team has been building the so-called beachhead teams for months, they are taking on outsize importance because few of Trump’s nominees will be confirmed by the time he’s sworn in.

TRUMP ON SUPREME COURT PICK: ‘I THINK IN MY MIND I KNOW WHO IT IS’ via Ariane de Vogue of CNN – “I think in my mind I know who it is,” he said at a leadership luncheon at his hotel in downtown Washington … “I think you’re going to be very, very excited.” Trump said he would be submitting a name from a list of 20 that he put out during the campaign. “I put out the list of 20, all highly responsible and highly talented, very talented judges … Replacing somebody that was somebody I had great respect for as an intellect, Justice (AntoninScalia,” Trump said.

@POTUS GETS A FRESH START WITH DONALD TRUMP INAUGURATION via Florida Politics — POLITICO Morning Tech reported … a plan is in place to transition all of President Barack Obama’s tweets from the @POTUS account to @POTUS 44, an “archived Obama-era version of the account. The account will retain all of the current followers, while also attaching those same followers to the account that gets handed over to President-elect Donald Trump. The White House issued a memo … outlining how it would transition the president’s social media presence. According to the memo, @POTUS will be made available to Trump and maintain its more than 11 million followers, “but start with no tweets on timeline.” The White House said the social media accounts of @WhiteHouse@FLOTUS@PressSec and @VP. On Instagram and Facebook, the memo explained, the incoming White House gains access to the “White House username, URL, and retain the followers, but will start with no content on the timeline.”

FIRST DAY GOAL? MAKE WHITE HOUSE FEEL LIKE HOME FOR TRUMP via Darlene Superville of The Associated Press – Trump and his wife, Melania, can thank the nearly 100 butlers, maids, plumbers, electricians and other staffers who maintain the private living areas of the White House. The crew will have just the hours between Trump’s swearing-in and the end of the inaugural parade to remove all traces of President Barack Obama and his family and make the Trumps feel at home. “I’ve called it, for years, organized chaos,” says Gary Walters, a former White House chief usher who oversaw the move in-move out process for four presidents. The “chaos” breaks out moments after the outgoing president and the president-elect depart the White House for the oath-taking ceremony at the Capitol. Moving trucks for each family are positioned nearby and are directed through tight security to the White House when they get the all-clear. Residence staff members are broken up into groups and given specific assignments. Some will pack the Obama family’s remaining items, and another group will carry them out to the truck. Other staffers will bring the Trumps’ things into the White House while still others unpack and put them in their designated places.

IVANKA TRUMP SAYS SHE WILL NOT BE FILLING IN AS FIRST LADY IN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION via Lauren Effron and John Santucci of ABC News – Speculation that Ivanka Trump will fill in for incoming first lady Melania Trump started swirling after Trump transition sources said Melania Trump was not expected to move to Washington, D.C., until the spring, after her and Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron, finishes the school year. But Donald Trump’s elder daughter said those speculations were “an inappropriate observation.” … “There is one first lady, and she’ll do remarkable things.”

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DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 14: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 21; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 23; Valentine’s Day – 25; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 46; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 53; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 105; Election Day 2017 – 290.

BILL NELSON NAMED TOP DEMOCRAT ON NEW SENATE CYBERSECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – U.S. Sen. John McCain  the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed … the ranking Democrat on it, announced Nelson’s new assignment … U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds … will chair the new subcommittee. Nelson stressed the importance of his new task, with his office pointing toward “Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election” and insisting “the new subcommittee will hold the administration accountable if they fail to adequately respond to a future attack.” Florida’s senior also played up his new assignment. “You can’t just sit on your hands and do nothing,” Nelson said. “If we’re going to deter our enemies from attacking us, we have to make it painfully obvious that the consequences are going to be so severe that they won’t want to do it in the first place.”

RICK SCOTT: RESULTS, NOT RATINGS, WILL MATTER FOR TRUMP via Susan Page of USA Today – “Ever since he won, there’s been a lot of politics,” Scott told Capital Download … “People ought to get past that. Whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, whoever the president is, I would like that president to be successful. So I think we’ve got to unify behind the president.” Scott said what will matter in the end isn’t Trump’s current ratings — which are dismal by historic standards — but whether he delivers on what he promised during the campaign. “I think it matters if he does what he says he’s going to do,” he said. “I think he’s got to be very focused on getting results.”

SCOTT SUGGESTS ANOTHER OUTSIDER WITH BUSINESS BACKGROUND COULD PLAY WELL AS HIS REPLACEMENT via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Asked if another outsider candidate with a business background would be a good replacement as governor, Scott chose his words carefully, but made a case for someone in his mold. “I would like whoever the next governor is to really continue to focus on making sure we have the best economy. I’d like somebody who is going to focus on job creation,” he said.

LISA CARLTON, SEN. GREG STEUBE WEIGH RUN FOR AG COMMISSIONER via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Carlton, an attorney and fourth-generation rancher and citrus grower who co-owns and helps run a 12,000-acre Sarasota ranch with her family, is distantly related to [SteveCrisafulli and was not interested in challenging him for the job. But she started exploring a campaign when he bowed out. Steube‘s interest in the commissioner job may come as more of a surprise to outside observers. He’s a lawyer who does not come from a family with ties to the agriculture industry and was not known for agriculture issues during his six years in the House. Steube’s interest in the commissioner job may come as more of a surprise to outside observers. He’s a lawyer who does not come from a family with ties to the agriculture industry and was not known for agriculture issues during his six years in the House.

WANT A CHANCE TO SHAPE FLORIDA’S FUTURE? APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – [Today]  is the last day to apply to be a member of what might be one of the most influential groups assembled in Florida in two decades — the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission. The unique panel has the power to put proposals directly on the 2018 midterm ballot to reform and update the state’s constitution, and shape Florida’s future. The list of applicants is long, and many have been carefully recruited by Gov. Scott, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and Florida’s top two legislative leaders. Those four men will make the appointments. Scott will appoint 15 members, including its chair. House Speaker Richard Corcoran …  Senate President Joe Negron … each have nine appointees. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga will appoint three members. Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, is automatically a member. As of Thursday, there were 258 applicants for the 37-member commission, and the list of applicants is chock full of current and former elected officials, and dozens of high-profile attorneys.

STATE APPEALS FEDERAL RULING ON SEMINOLE TRIBE BLACKJACK via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The 7-page “notice of appeal” to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed by Jason Maine, general counsel to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling. The filing did not preview any arguments the state intends to make to get the decision reversed. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in November had ruled that regulators working under Gov. Scott allowed select Florida dog and horse tracks to offer card games that were too like ones that were supposed to be exclusive to Tribe-owned casinos for a five-year period. The judge decided the Tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030. The state wanted Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games because a blackjack provision in an agreement between the state and tribe expired in 2015.

SENATOR BEHIND GAMBLING EXPANSION WORKED FOR RESORT OWNERS via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – State Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican and attorney, has acknowledged that he did legal work for Turnberry Associates on a “commercial transaction” as recently as three years ago. Turnberry Associates is a real-estate development company that owns the famous Fontainebleau Hotel. In the past several years, the hotel has showered top politicians in the state and the Republican Party with more than $2 million in campaign contributions, including money that went to a political committee controlled by Galvano. Galvano last week released a major gambling bill that covers everything from legalizing fantasy sports to allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer craps and roulette at its casinos. The legislation, which will have its first hearing next week, also would allow the addition of slot machines in Miami-Dade County. Galvano said he has no plans to work again for Turnberry and he insisted his past work for them was not influencing how he crafted the bill.

COURT OVERTURNS THREE DEATH SENTENCES, INCLUDING COP KILLER’S via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Lancelot Uriley Armstrong was convicted of killing John Greeney, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy and Air Force veteran, during a 1990 armed robbery at a Church’s Fried Chicken in Fort Lauderdale. The jury voted 9-3 to sentence him to death and gave another man involved in the armed robbery a life sentence. Now, Armstrong, as well as Donald Otis Williams, convicted of kidnapping and murdering an 81-year-old woman in 2010, and William M. Kopsho, sentenced for killing his wife in 2000 after learning she was having an affair, will have new sentencing hearings. It’s possible they could still be sentenced to death, but they could also see their sentences commuted to life in prison.

STATE WON’T HAVE TO PAY PLANNED PARENTHOOD’S LEGAL TAB via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The health care organization had sought to punish the Agency for Health Care Administration by making it pay the group’s attorney fees after filing “administrative complaints … alleging violations of (its) license to perform abortions.” The state eventually “voluntarily dismissed the complaints,” according to the opinion. But an administrative law judge still ordered an evidentiary hearing on the fees question. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said that judge overstepped his bounds, “depart(ing) from the essential requirements of the law.” Citing case law, Judges Brad ThomasT. Kent Wetherell II and M. Kemmerly Thomas said he didn’t have authority to order a hearing “because the case was voluntarily dismissed” and thus Planned Parenthood can’t be considered a “prevailing party.”

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AUDIT SLAMS SECURITY, OTHER LAPSES AT STATE TECH AGENCY via Florida Politics – The report by Florida Auditor General Sherrill F. Norman’s office … lays out a laundry list of security and other problems at the relatively new agency. Among the many audit findings are that “access privileges for some AST users … did not restrict (them) to only those functions appropriate and necessary for assigned job duties or functions.” Gee, no security problem there. Also, some “accounts remained active when no longer needed and some … inappropriately allowed interactive logon, increasing the risk that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of AST data and IT resources may be compromised.” I’m no expert, but that sounds downright dangerous.

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS REWRITING HISTORY, FRAUDULENTLY MANIPULATING DATA TO SELL LAND PLAN via J.P. Sasser for Florida Politics – It’s incredible how foggy some people’s memories are when it comes to past efforts to restore the Everglades, buy farmland and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Time and again, environmental extremists are quick to blame the sugar industry for every ill in the region, past, present and future, without any regard to science or the truth. And speaking of the truth and science, recently, they were caught by the South Florida Water Management District manipulating data to show a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is preferable to one to the north. The real science shows it is not … Floridians should be skeptical of this plan for a variety of reasons. Why is more land needed when plenty of land has already been taken? Recent revelations about the Everglades Foundation’s fraudulent manipulation of the modeling used to calculate their reservoir is another cause for concern. The Everglades Foundation’s fraud was called into question by a South Florida Water Management District scientist in a recent journal article where they were peddling more lies.

ALIMONY REFORM BILL FILED FOR 2017 via Florida Politics – Rep. Colleen Burton will try again to overhaul the state’s alimony law, filing a bill on Wednesday. The Lakeland Republican still aims to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed, after last year’s measure was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. The latest bill (HB 283), however, does not contain child custody provisions that garnered Scott’s disfavor in 2016. He disapproved of that legislation because it had the potential to put the “wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time-sharing,” his veto letter said. Family-law related bills have had trouble getting Scott’s signature even as lawmakers have tried for years to change the way Florida’s courts award alimony.

BILL WOULD FORCE CASE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS ON SUPREME COURT via Florida Politics – A bill filed in the Florida House would force the state Supreme Court to produce a yearly report on how many cases it’s finishing with opinions. It seems to go against the court’s official Latin motto, “Sat Cito Si Recte,” translated as “Soon enough if done correctly,” or even “Justice takes time.” … “The phrase indicates the importance of taking the time necessary to achieve true justice,” the court’s website says. Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters declined comment on the bill. The legislation (HB 301), filed by new Republican state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, would require the court to tally in detail “each case on the court’s docket … for which a decision or disposition has not been rendered within 180 days.” It then requires a “detailed explanation of the court’s failure to render a decision or disposition” in pending cases older than six months.

HOPING TO CURB POLLUTION, RANDY FINE BILL WOULD REQUIRE INSPECTION OF SEPTIC TANKS via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The Indian River Lagoon was revealed last year to have been polluted by human waste leaking from faulty septic tanks. The number of septic tanks in the area is unknown, but estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands combined in the five counties around the lagoon. Fine says he ran on four issues — solving the Indian River Lagoon problem, improving education, reforming the welfare state, and making Florida the best place in America to start, build and grow a business. This bill, called HB 285, would at least get started on the first one. “There is no question that leaky septic tanks are contributing to water quality challenges across our state, including in our beloved Indian River Lagoon,” he said. “This measure would begin to tackle this issue by ensuring that septic tanks are inspected as part of the suite of inspections that regularly take place during a home sale so that buyers are fully informed about the properties they are considering buying.”

SENATE BILL SEEKS TO REFINE MISSION OF FLORIDA COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times – Filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill … the bill adds another plank to the Florida Senate’s ambitious higher education agenda for the coming Legislative session. The bill would underscore the role of community colleges: providing a lower-level education and awarding associate degrees and certificates that either transfer to universities or prepare students for the workforce. Expanding bachelor’s degree programs would be discouraged via a cap on upper-level student enrollment. Current programs would not change, and current bachelor students wouldn’t be affected. The bill would expand “2+2 partnerships,” the method through which state college students filter into state universities after completing certain requirements. Every state college would have to quickly implement at least one pathway agreement, which ideally get students to graduation day on a compressed timeline while saving money.

— “Kim Daniels files ‘religious liberties’ bill for public schools” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

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COURT QUESTIONS INSURANCE OFFICE’S CLAIM TO STATE FARM SALES INFORMATION via Michael Moline of FLORIDA POLITICS – A state appeal court panel appeared skeptical Thursday of the Office of Insurance Regulation’s arguments that trade-secrets protections don’t exempt State Farm Florida from having to turn over business information for public scrutiny. The judges wondered whether the plain language of the trade-secret exemption in Florida’s public records law doesn’t protect the information at issue — data about policies sold, not renewed or cancelled every month in every county. Elenita Gomez, a litigator in the insurance office, insisted that State Farm turned over the information regularly since 1999. It balked in 2014, when it began reselling property insurance in Florida following a hiatus. “What has changed to suddenly make a routine submission a trade secret, when it has never been a trade secret before?” … State Farm’s position would harm the state by denying regulators, the public and elected leaders access to complete data about the insurance market, Gomez said. … “Suppose you had an ice cream company and you came out with a new flavor every year, and you always made it public, you put it on the Internet, you said, ‘Look, we want everyone to have our recipe and have the opportunity to make this,” Judge Allen Windsor asked. “And one year you decide, ‘We have some new flavors and we’re going to protect these.’ You wouldn’t say that, by virtue of giving up the original recipes, that a new recipe wouldn’t be a valid trade secret,’ would you?”

FORMER FHCA PRESIDENT NAMED QA DIRECTOR via Florida Politics – Tampa’s Deborah Franklin, formerly president of the Florida Health Care Association, now will be its Senior Director of Quality Affairs, the organization announced Thursday. In her new role, Franklin’s focus will be to “pioneer initiatives and education programs that further FHCA’s pursuit of high-quality, person-centered care,” a press release said. “We are thrilled to have someone of Deborah’s skill and experience behind our ongoing efforts to ensure our profession’s highest standards,” FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed said. FHCA advocates for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and others who care for the elderly and people with disabilities, especially regarding getting paid by Medicaid.


Rafael Arza, Mountain Moving Strategies: City of Doral

Rana Brown, Ronald L. Book PA: City of Sunrise; Village of Palmetto Bay

Matt Bryan, Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions, Inc.

David Daniel, Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions, Inc.; Ringling College of Art & Design

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith: City of Archer; City of Gainesville; City of Kissimmee

Thomas Griffin, Smith Bryan & Myers: Florida Association of Counties; International Council of Shopping Centers; Motorola Solutions; Professional Insurance Agents of Florida; Ringling College of Art & Design; UAS Association of Florida; University of Florida Foundation

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates; Florida Rural Economic Development Association

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: International Council of Shopping Centers; Motorola Solutions; Oracle America; Osceola Legislative Effort; Professional Insurance Agents of Florida; University of Florida Foundation.

Ashley KalifehRon LaFace, Capital City Consulting: School Board of Collier County

Seth McKeel, Southern Strategy Group: Peace River Center

Corinne Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Data Recognition Corp.

Jim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions; Professional Insurance Agents of Florida, Inc.; UAS Association of Florida, Inc.

Manuel Prieguez, Prieguez Solutions: ALF Holdings, Inc.; Dosal Tobacco Corporation; Fair Havens Center; Southwest Florida Enterprises

Ken Pruitt, The P5 Group: Palm Beach Aggregates, LLC

Mark Timothy Pruitt, The P5 Group: Alzheimer’s Community Care

Andrea Reilly Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions, Inc.; Stellar Partners

Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting: Advancement Via Individual Determination

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: City of Key West; Weyerheuser Compan and its Affilates

Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: CGI Technologies & Solutions; Southern Gardens Citrus Groves Corp.; Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery Corp.; Southern Gardens Citrus Processing Corp.

JEFFREY ROSEN URGES LAW STUDENTS TO CHANNEL THEIR INNER LOUIS BRANDEIS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – In a post-truth world, beset by fake news, in which people segregate into information bubbles impenetrable to unfriendly ideas, constitutional scholar Jeffrey Rosen finds inspiration in Louis Brandeis, the late justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Addressing students Thursday at the Florida State University College of Law, Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, called Brandeis “the greatest prophet of free speech and privacy” of the 20th Century. “Brandeis has faith that people, self-governing citizens, will take the time to educate themselves and develop their faculties of reason, and deliberate together and converge on some sort of common understanding of the facts and the truth,” he said. Rosen was in Tallahassee to present the keynote address to the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner, but dropped by to chat with the students first. … Brandeis is “very keen on the idea of using our leisure time to educate ourselves about facts,” and prepare ourselves for the duties of citizenship, Rosen said. “Is this too idealistic in this post-truth society?” Rosen wondered — one marked by Twitter mobs and social media distractions? “Speaking for myself, after a long day it may be more fun to watch cat videos than read industrial reports,” he said. “But Brandeis thinks it’s important. And it is important. Because we can’t be fully engaged citizens unless we do this.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, the great Jen Lux. Also celebrating today are Jim HorneChris O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times and Rick Oppenheim.

Sunburn for 1.19.17 – D.C. SPOTTEDs galore, Rick Scott’s assist; Drop the Suit wins; Doug Izzo exits DEO

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

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


Watching wall-to-wall inauguration coverage this week? Be on the lookout for Floridians.

The Sunshine State will be well represented at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday. So who’s going? Well, the better question might just be who isn’t?

Gov. Rick Scott will be there. An ardent supporter of the New York Republican, Scott was the chairman of the super PAC that backed Trump’s presidential bid. He traveled to D.C. on Tuesday, and hosted the Florida Sunshine Ball with his wife, First Lady Ann Scott on Wednesday evening. That is, of course, after meeting with congressional leaders and the Trump transition team.

Susie Wiles, the Jacksonville political guru who helped lead Trump’s Florida campaign, traveled to D.C. on Wednesday. She’ll be on hand for all of the festivities; as will lobbyist Brian Ballard, the chairman of Trump’s Florida finance committee.

And it should come as no surprise that state Rep. Joe Gruters and his wife, Sydney, will be there. Gruters was one of the first big name Floridians to back Trump, and never wavered in his support throughout the campaign. The couple is heading there Thursday, and will be at attend the swearing in. Gruters made sure to pack his dancing shoes so he can boogie down at the Liberty Ball.

Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli — joined by fundraisers Trey McCarley and Kris Money —will be there. Crisafulli was another top Trump supporter, who played a key role in getting him to the Space Coast for rallies throughout the campaign. He won’t be the only Florida Speaker in attendance. House Speaker Richard Corcoran will be there, even though he was a slow to warm to Trump. And look for Senate President Joe Negron, who as Republican elector helped Trump officially clinch the presidency, in the crowd.

You’ll likely see Capital City Consulting pros Nick Iarossi and Scott Ross, along with their wives Debbie and Ashley, dancing the night away at one of the parties this week.

Meanwhile, Jim Smith and Monte Stevens with Southern Strategy Group will be enjoying the festivities in between work. They’re in town with Ambrosia Treatment Centers in hopes of raising awareness about the need to make top-notch care available to as many people who need it as possible.

And you can bet Hayden Dempsey, Fred Karlinsky, Meredith O’Rourke, David and Melissa Ramba, Michael Fischer, Andy Gonzalez, Evan Power, Bill Helmich, Todd Lewis, Robert Hawken, Richard DNapoli, and Carey Baker will all land on a “spotted” list this week.

Even Rep. Charlie Crist, the state’s former Republican governor, will be on hand. The St. Petersburg Democrat said last week that he was looking forward to attending the event. And he won’t be the only Florida Democrat in attendance: Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz are all planning to be there.

With all that firepower in Washington, D.C., there’s just one question we have: Exactly who is running the state this week?

SPOTTED at Vice President-elect Mike Pence‘s dinner: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate President Joe Negron, Brian Ballard.

SPOTTED at Wednesday’s Sunshine Ball hosted by Gov. Scott: U.S. Reps Matt Gaetz, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Florida lawmakers Joe Abruzzo (!) Jose Felix Diaz, Byron Donalds, Blaise Ingoglia, David Santiago, Kelli Stargel, Jackie Toledo, Carlos Trujilloformer Speaker Crisafulli.

MORE SPOTTEDs from the Sunshine Ball: Bettina Inclan-Agen, Debbie and Sebastian Aleksander, Adam Babington, Slater Bayliss, Matt Bogdanoff, Steve Cona, Jon Costello, Angela and Hayden Dempsey, Brittany Dover, Carol Dover, J.C. Flores, Chris Finkbeiner, Erin Gaetz, Adam and Jillian Hasner, Chip LaMarca, Jesse Panuccio, Casey Reed, Jay Revell, Ashley and Scott Ross, former Sen. Maria Sachs, Chester Spellman, Ryan Smith, Christian Zieger, George and Donna Zoley.

PINELLAS FRIENDS SPOTTED IN D.C.: Jay Beyrouti, Erica and Nick DiCeglie.



10:35 a.m. – Performances begin at Lincoln Memorial. “Voices of the People,” the first act of a day-long public concert, will feature groups such as the DC Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, the Republican Hindu Coalition, high school marching bands, choirs and baton twirlers.

3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Trump and Vice President-elect Pence participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the nation’s veterans.

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Trump will deliver remarks during the second act of the concert at Lincoln Memorial, dubbed the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.” The event, broadcast live nationally, will be headlined by country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood and feature a fireworks finale.

Trump is expected to spend Thursday night at Blair House, the presidential guest residence across the street from the White House.

WHAT’S SELLING AT THE INAUGURATION: SOCKS, MUGS AND TRUMP-SCENTED CANDLES via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post – There are Trump-shaped cookie cutters, “Drain the swamp” sweatshirts and candles meant to smell like the president-elect — a combination of “all of the classiest smells,” according to the product’s description. Keep searching among the Trump-inspired flasks, paperweights and peppermints and you’ll find coffee mugs that say “Build that wall” and a penny stamped with “Trump” selling for $2.75. Online shops, street vendors and high-end boutiques around town are preparing for Friday’s inauguration with equal parts sincerity and snark as they try to cash in on fans and foes of the next president … on District streets, vendors said they just haven’t seen as much demand this year for Trump-related mugs, T-shirts, shot glasses and key chains as they as they did ahead of previous inaugurations. In a town where 91 percent of residents voted for Hillary Clinton, they say it has been difficult to sell Trump-related merchandise.

HOW DONALD TRUMP CAME UP WITH ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’ via Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post – It happened on Nov. 7, 2012, the day after Mitt Romney lost what had been presumed to be a winnable race against President Obama. Republicans were spiraling into an identity crisis, one that had some wondering whether a GOP president would ever sit in the Oval Office again. But on the 26th floor of a golden Manhattan tower that bears his name, Trump was coming to the conclusion that his own moment was at hand. And in typical fashion, the first thing he thought about was how to brand it. One after another, phrases popped into his head. “We Will Make America Great.” That one did not have the right ring. Then, “Make America Great.” But that sounded like a slight to the country. And then, it hit him: “Make America Great Again.” … “I said, ‘That is so good.’ I wrote it down.”

TRUMP DUBS MAR-A-LAGO THE NEW ‘WINTER WHITE HOUSE’ via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – … in a Twitter message that includes a picture of him at the estate penning the first speech he’ll give as president of the United States in 48 hours. “Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago,” Trump wrote. “Looking forward to Friday.” … Trump couldn’t have picked a more historic spot in Florida for a Winter White House than Mar-a-Lago, a stunning Mediterranean-style estate was completed in 1927 by Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, who willed the property to the federal government in 1973 for use as a presidential retreat. Unwilling to pay for the upkeep, the federal government returned the property to the Post Foundation less than a decade later and Trump ultimately purchased it in 1985.

— “Florida man charged with making online threat against Donald Trump” via The Associated Press

THIS NEW SPECIES OF MOTH HAS ‘YELLOWISH-WHITE SCALES’ ON ITS HEAD. IT IS NAMED FOR TRUMP. via Sarah Larimer of The Washington Post – In an article published in the journal ZooKeys … “The new species is named in honor of Donald J. Trump, to be installed as the 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017 …The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales on the frons (head) of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle.” We’re talking about Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, a new species of moth named for the president-elect. The moth is a small guy, with a wingspan of less than one centimeter … It has orange-yellow and brown wings, and sports bright yellow scales on its head.

TRUMP WAX FIGURE DEBUTS BEFORE INAUGURATION via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Madame Tussauds locations in Orlando, Washington, D.C., New York, and London unveiled wax figures of Trump ahead of Friday’s inauguration. A team of 20 artists worked around the clock for six months to create the wax figures. It took five weeks just to fashion Trump’s famous hairstyle with each individual hair inserted by hand. “Mr. Trump was the most-searched person globally on Google in 2016 so the pressure was on to perfect his iconic features in time for inauguration,” said Therese Alvich, general manager of Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C. … Dressed in a patriotic dark blue suit, red tie and Made in America flag lapel pin, Trump will replace Obama in a White House Oval Office set.

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DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 15: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 22; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 24; Valentine’s Day – 26; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 47; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 54; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 106; Election Day 2017 – 291.

OBAMA: WET FOOT, DRY FOOT ‘WAS A CARRYOVER OF AN OLD WAY OF THINKING’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – At his final White House news conference … Obama made his first remarks about ending the special immigration policy for Cubans last week: We underwent a monumental shift in our policy toward Cuba. My view was, after 50 years of the policy not working, it made sense for us to try to reopen diplomatic relations to engage the Cuban government, to be honest with them about the strong disagreements we have around political repression and treatment of dissenters and freedom of the press and freedom of religion. But to make progress for the Cuban people, our best shot was to suddenly have the Cuban people interacting with Americans, and seeing the incredible  success of the Cuban-American community, and engaging in commerce and business and trade, and that it was through that process of opening up these bilateral relations that you would see over time serious and significant improvement.

RICK SCOTT SAYS HE’S HELPING TRUMP CRAFT REPLACEMENT HEALTH CARE PLAN via James Rosen of the Miami Herald – Scott said he’s talking with Trump every week or two while working closely with Rep. Tom Price, the president-elect’s choice to run the government agency that oversees Medicaid, Medicare and the landmark 2010 health-insurance law. Mirroring previous comments by Trump himself, Scott indicated that the two men are not looking to repeal the entire law, unlike some fellow Republican members of Congress. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time already with Congressman Price, who I’ve known for a long time, to try to come up with a plan to repeal what doesn’t work and to replace it with something that’s going to drive down costs and improve access,” Scott told reporters in Washington.

SCOTT ON PAM BONDI: ‘I HOPE SHE STAYS IN FLORIDA’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – If Attorney General Bondi is preparing to take a job in the Trump administration, Scott gave not an inch in acknowledging the task of appointing a replacement. “She’s been a good partner in our governor and cabinet meetings,” Scott said. “I hope she doesn’t leave. I hope she stays in Florida.” But if she does leave, do you have plans in place? “I’ll worry about that when it happens,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t leave.”

JOHN RUTHERFORD REMAINS IN THE HOSPITAL via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Rutherford, who collapsed last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, did not suffer heart issues as was feared, he nonetheless is still hospitalized recovering from a severe allergic reaction. “Congressman Rutherford is much improved and thanks everyone for their continued well wishes and prayers of support. His doctors are pleased with his recovery, but continue to keep him in the hospital to eliminate all inflammation caused by the allergic reaction he experienced. Doctors are expected to release him sometime over the next several days,” Chief of Staff Kelly Simpson said.

DANIEL WEBSTER: CONGRESS WILL NOT PULL RUG OUT ON HEALTH CARE COVERAGE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In his newsletter to constituents of Florida’s 11th Congressional District … Webster pressed his assurances that the Affordable Care Act could be replaced. He also made clear the laundry list of concerns that he and many other Republicans have been trying to raise for seven years, with a survey for his constituents, seeking responses. “The House is working on a plan to provide Americans with the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a price they can afford. We do not intend to pull the rug of coverage and care out from underneath anyone,” Webster insisted.

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MEGYN KELLY-PRODUCED COMEDY ‘EMBEDS’ SHOW MAYHEM ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL IN FIRST TRAILER via Shirley Li of Entertainment Weekly — Reality may be stranger than fiction when it comes to the current political landscape, but Megyn Kelly — who announced her departure from Fox News for NBC — is taking it one step further as an executive producer for Embeds, a political comedy following young journalists on the presidential campaign trail. In the …  trailer for the six-episode, half-hour series … characters fight over sound bites, grow together and apart, and make a mess while trying to cover their candidate’s race toward the White House. Executive produced by Kelly, Michael De Luca (Fifty Shades Darker), and Scott Conroy, a former embed himself with co-creator Peter Hamby, the series is inspired by Conroy and Hamby’s experiences as journalists for CBS News and CNN on the road with Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin’s presidential campaigns. The series from Complex Network’s Seriously.TV will premiered Wednesday on Click on the image below to watch the trailer.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be in Florida City to visit the incident response center conducting surveillance and response related to the recent case of New World screwworm in Homestead. He’ll hold a news conference at 10 a.m. at the Home 2 Suites, 77 NE 3rd Street to discuss screwworm in Florida.

EXCLUSIVE – DENISE GRIMSLEY EYEING AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER RUN IN 2018 via Florida Politics – The Sebring Republican is considering a 2018 run for Agriculture Commissioner. A registered nurse and hospital administrator, Grimsley said in an interview via text message that agriculture has always played a big role in her life. “It’s a big decision and one I’ve been discussed with both my family and my employer,” she said. “Agriculture has always been a big part of my life and having someone hold the office who brings the unique qualification of hands on farming and ranching is important to me.”

SUPREME COURT THROWS OUT SCHOOL VOUCHERS CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The decision comes as a major setback to vouchers opponents, including the Florida Education Association (FEA), the statewide teachers’ union, but was applauded by school choice advocates. The court denied a request to review the case, but did not comment on its merits. “No motion for rehearing will be entertained by the Court,” its 2-paragraph order said. “Who is allowed to challenge the constitutionality of the tax credit vouchers?” FEA President Joanne McCall said in a statement. “This ruling, and the decisions by the lower court, don’t answer that question.” McCall is the lead plaintiff in the case.

BONDI MOVES AGAINST TOBACCO COMPANIES FOR MISSED PAYMENTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Bondi filed an enforcement motion in Palm Beach County circuit court against ITG Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR). The attorney general said in a statement that R.J. Reynolds “recently sold three of its most iconic cigarette brands – Winston, Kool and Salem – along with a legacy Lorillard Tobacco Company brand, Maverick, to ITG for $7 billion.” But neither company included the sale into consideration when making their payments to the state under the settlement, she said. Bondi says they’re now “liable for millions of dollars of missed payments to Florida,” and her motion seeks a court order “requiring payment to Florida for the past and future sales of these cigarettes.”

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FLORIDA GOP LAWMAKERS HOSTING ANNUAL ‘MARDI GRAS’ FUNDRAISER WEEKEND BEFORE START OF SESSION via Florida Politics – Ever wanted to ask Senate President Joe Negron what he’d do to earn some Mardi Gras beads? Well, you’ll have the chance to do just that if you take part in a “Mardi Gras Celebration” at Universal Studios in Orlando where Negron, Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate Presidents-to-be Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson and House Speakers-to-be Jose Oliva and Chris Sprowls and other legislative leaders will come together for a fundraiser the weekend before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session … on March 4-5, the Republican lawmakers will take part in a full schedule of activities, including VIP tours. There will be a lunch and dinner, followed by a VIP viewing of a Mardi Gras Celebration Parade & Concert. Funds raised at the event will benefit House Majority 2018, one of the campaign arms of the Republican Party of Florida.

COME FOR THE MOVIE, STAY FOR THE BLOOPER REEL – House Speaker Richard Corcoran might have a future in the pictures. Days after the Land O’Lakes Republican released a 90-second video featuring an endless stream of House members talking about how they’re “one House,” Corcoran released a second video featuring the outtakes (which everyone knows is the best part of any feature film). The 2-minute video features shots of members flubbing their lines, poking a little fun at the crew, wacky green screen action, and even Rep. Jose Felix Diaz spitting some rhymes. “I am thankful to all who participated in our  ”One House” project.  Because, as the video says, “all of them, are all of us,” elected officials also make mistakes,” said Corcoran in his email to colleagues sharing the video. I hope you enjoy this video, share this video, participate in the next video, and most importantly, always remain honored, again – even when we disagree – to serve together.”

— “Jack Latvala says he’ll support legislation banning fracking again in 2017 Session” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Kathleen Peters asks state for millions to help solve sewage problems in St. Pete, St. Pete Beach” via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics

— “Bill banning ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBT teens returns to the Florida House” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

ST. JOHNS DELEGATION HEARS COUNTY WISHLIST via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – On Wednesday, the St. Johns County Commission presented its ambitious legislative action plan to the county’s legislative delegation … Transportation asks are significant, including $95 million for the proposed State Road 313 (SR 313) Extension/Bypass from State Road 207 (SR 207) to State Road 16 (SR 16) … $90 million for the proposed County Road 2209 (CR 2209) from County Road 210 to SR 16 … the county commission wants a total of $31 million for septic tank removal in West Augustine, stormwater remediation in Davis Shores, and the elimination of sanitary sewer overflows in St. Augustine … The county also wants access improvements to the beaches, especially toward the South Ponte Vedra Beach area, along State Road A1A.

NRA WANTS TO STOP UNIFORMED SHERIFFS FROM FIGHTING ITS AGENDA via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – What truly rankles [National Rifle Association lobbyist MarionHammer is the spectacle of sheriffs traveling to Tallahassee at taxpayer expense, armed and in uniform, to battle elements of the NRA’s agenda such as open carry or campus carry legislation. Hammer said a sheriff who wants to lobby for stricter gun laws should be required to take a day off from work, switch to street clothes and travel to Tallahassee at personal expense … She said she has found a House sponsor for a bill to address the issue, but no such proposal has surfaced yet, and the idea will face resistance because the timing seems all wrong … An obvious target of Hammer’s wrath is Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who again this session will be the Florida Sheriffs Association’s point man on legislative issues and who has never backed away from a fight with Hammer.

COUNCIL SEES BREAKDOWN OF TRUST WITH OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Proposed reforms to Florida’s continuing care retirement community regulations ran into heavy flak during an advisory council meeting Wednesday, with the body’s president lamenting a breakdown of trust in the Office of Insurance Regulation. Joel Anderson, chairman of the Governor’s Continuing Care Advisory Council, complained that office staff unexpectedly unloaded a 61-page rewrite of the statute governing the facilities, also known as CCRCs. … “I promise you that these proposed changes to the law would cause an immediate impact on good-performing CCRCs with proven track records, and also lead to severe consequences for the future of Florida’s CCRCs,” he said. As an executive at the Village on the Isle retirement community in Venice, he impresses on his colleagues the importance of “trust, rapport, and credibility with each other,” he said. “These core beliefs apply to us as well, and I am concerned that they do not exist in today’s working relationship with the office and the council and for the Florida CCRCs.” … Following hours of testimony and debate, the council voted to encourage the office to continue to investigate increased oversight of ownership changes in financially troubled communities. But the members turned thumbs-down on proposals to tighten minimum liquidity reserves and other proposed regulations. They wanted emergency repairs where necessary this year, and time to draft broader reforms for the 2018 legislative session. … Rich Robleto, deputy commissioner for life and health, replied that staff members were trying to solve a serious threat to senior citizens who place their trust in an insurance product. “That trust relies in part on the understanding that the office oversees the CCRC industry, and they expect that the office can intervene when the CCRC’s ability to meet its promises is in jeopardy,” Robleto said.

FDLE OPENS INQUIRY INTO FORMER HILLSBOROUGH PTC CHIEF’S HANDLING OF PUBLIC RECORDS via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – The new inquiry is expected to focus on whether public records were illegally deleted from Kyle Cockream‘s agency cellphone. A forensic investigator reported recently that the phone Cockream used for almost a year had recently been reset, a process that wipes it clean. FDLE officials said they had received information about the case from the PTC. “We’re looking at the new information,” said spokeswoman Jessica Carey. Cockream’s phone was handed to a forensic investigator in November to extract public records, including text messages, requested in June by a Sarasota law firm. The firm sued the PTC in September for not fully complying with the request. At a hearing last week, a judge gave Cockream five days to provide the investigator access to an online account that backs up phone records to see if he can retrieve missing data.

FIRST ON FLAPOL – PERSONNEL NOTE: DEAN IZZO DEPARTS DEO FOR CAPITAL CITY CONSULTING via Florida Politics –  Izzo, who also has been chief financial officer and chief information officer for DEO, begins Jan. 30. He had been with the agency since its creation in 2011. “Dean will be a true asset to our current and future clients seeking partnership with the state and we are excited for him to join our growing team,” said Nick Iarossi, a partner at the firm.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Jayer Williamson.

Sunburn for 1.18.17 – Florida goes to the Inauguration; Matt Gaetz wins skydiving case; DOH releases pot rules; Jon Costello’s new colleagues

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

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


If you think it’s slow this week, you aren’t alone.

The Florida House and Senate committee rooms are dark, with lawmakers taking a bye week from committee weeks. Cabinet aides are meeting today, but the agenda for the upcoming Cabinet meeting is, well, light. And there may be far less fanfare surrounding this month’s jobs announcement, scheduled for Friday morning.

Chalk it up to a short week or the calm before the 2017 legislative storm. Well, that and the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States on Friday.

Dozens of Florida Republicans are packing their winter coats and ball gowns, and heading to Washington, D.C. for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. There they’ll enjoy the festivities, schmooze with their colleagues from across the nation, and celebrate the start of the Trump era.

Looking for a Sunshine State bigwig? Odds are you’ll find them tonight at the Florida Sunshine Ball, hosted by Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

It won’t be all tuxedoes and dance shoes for Scott, though. The Naples Republican (and rumored 2018 U.S. Senate hopeful) is expected to meet with congressional leaders and incoming members of the Trump administration earlier in the day.

Other to-dos this week include the First Coast Inaugural Celebration Ball hosted by the Republican Party of Duval County.

But Tallahassee won’t be moving at a turtle’s pace for too long. Starting Monday, we’re back to jam-packed schedule of bill filings, committee meetings and budget hearings. So enjoy the calm before the legislative storm clouds roll in.

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POLL: DONALD TRUMP WILL TAKE OFFICE AS LEAST POPULAR PRESIDENT IN AT LEAST FOUR DECADES via Dan Balz and Scott Clement of The Washington Post – … but a majority of Americans nevertheless express optimism that he will be able to fulfill campaign pledges to boost the economy and deal with threats of terrorism, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll … On the eve of his inauguration, 44 percent of Americans say they believe Trump is qualified to serve as president, compared with 52 percent who say he is not. The good news for Trump is that the 52 percent figure is the lowest since he became a candidate. Over 8 in 10 Republicans say he is qualified, and about the same percentage of Democrats say he is not. Independents are almost evenly divided on the question. Trump will enter the Oval Office … with his image upside down. Just 40 percent say they have a favorable impression of him, and 54 percent view him unfavorably — with 41 percent saying they have a strongly unfavorable impression of him. That’s starkly different from current views of President Obama, whose favorable rating is at 61 percent.

SURPRISINGLY, TRUMP INAUGURATION SHAPES UP TO BE A RELATIVELY LOW-KEY AFFAIR via John Wagner and Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post – In a word, the 45th president’s inaugural activities will be “workmanlike” … a pop-up staff of about 350 people scrambling to put together the proceedings from the second floor of a nondescript government building just south of the Mall. The notion of a relatively low-key inaugural bereft of many ­A-list entertainers may come as a surprise, given the president-elect’s flair for showmanship and his credentials as a reality TV star … Trump settled on a less flashy approach, however, including keeping the ticket prices for the inaugural balls at $50 apiece so that working-class Americans who helped fuel Trump’s victory can take part.

— “No stars? No problem! Meet Trump’s determined inaugural spokesman” via Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast

— “Scalper taking loss on tickets to Trump inauguration as secondary market interest on the mogul’s swear-in wanes” via Adam Edelman of the New York Daily News

— “Even a Bruce Springsteen cover band is canceling its inauguration gig” via Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post

THE ALT-RIGHT COMES TO WASHINGTON via Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO Magazine – A new generation of nationalists see a chance to ride Trump‘s coattails into the capital. But first they need to do some serious re-branding … Milo Yiannopoulos … [has been] asked to host “DeploraBall,” an unofficial celebration planned for the presidential inauguration weekend … His vision for the event: As guests entered the National Press Club, shirtless Mexican laborers would be building a physical wall around them. Instead of doves, Yiannopoulos would release 500 live frogs in honor of Pepe, the cartoon mascot of pro-Trump internet trolls. The room would be lined with oil portraits in gilt frames, each depicting a celebrity who had vowed to leave the country in the event of Trump’s election. At the end of the night, the portraits would be thrown into a bonfire and burned. Yiannopoulos would send a bill for the party to the Mexican Embassy. The party is unlikely to proceed in exactly that way, or really anything like it. But the ball is real — a month ahead of the inauguration, the organizers had already booked the room and sold all 1,000 tickets—and it marks a kind of gala debut of a new clique in Washington.

RICK SCOTT, PARTY HOST, SAYS TRUMP PRESIDENCY ‘A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR FLORIDA’ via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Scott is marking Trump’s inauguration by hosting a “Florida Sunshine Ball” in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night and an inaugural parade-watching party at a restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue Friday. Florida first lady Ann Scott is hosting a Thursday tea on Capitol Hill. “I’m going to celebrate a new opportunity for Florida,” Scott says.

TRUMP INAUGURATION A SPECIAL MOMENT FOR BRIAN BALLARD — This isn’t Brian Ballard’s first inauguration, but it might end up being one of the most memorable. Ballard, the president of Ballard Partners, is one of several Floridians expected to attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration this week. And while his schedule is flush with lunches and galas, Ballard said he’s most looking forward to the moment Trump takes the oath of office. “The swearing-in, for me, is going to be the cool part. It’s almost hard to comprehend and put into words. It’s going to be a hugely impactful moment,” said Ballard. “Seeing him take the oath and the government becoming Trump government, which is hard to fathom even for me. It’s going to be so exciting and emotional.” For Ballard, that moment will also mark the culmination of months of work behind the scenes to help send Trump to the White House.

A top Republican fundraiser, Ballard served as finance chairman for Trump’s campaign in Florida. Days after Trump won the presidency, he was selected to serve as one of finance vice chairs on the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “This is unique because of the president-elect and our relationship,” said Ballard. “You think of people who get sworn in as president as (someone) who is bigger than life, not someone you know very, very well. Knowing someone and seeing him take the oath of office, I’ll never experience (that again).”

— “Alcee Hastings boycotts Trump’s inauguration” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

— “Charlie Crist looking forward to attending Trump inauguration” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— Cubs manager Joe Maddon says people should respect the presidency” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Miami congresswoman to Trump: ‘please do not tweet anymore’” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

TWEET, TWEET: @TreyRadel: Reality: many in Congress don’t attend inauguration of opposite party. But usually they don’t put out press releases calling it a “boycott.”

SUSIE WILES, ARCHITECT OF TRUMP’S FLORIDA WIN, HEADS TO D.C. FOR INAUGURATION via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Through March 2016, Wiles was the sole high-profile Jacksonville Republican on the Trump train … Wiles tells that she is “headed up to DC again Wednesday for events Wednesday night [through] the ball Friday night. Packed full schedule but all fun. It seems as if it will be nice weather! Many Florida folks will be at various events and I look forward to celebrating with everyone.”

VAL DEMINGS AND STEPHANIE MURPHY TO HOST WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON BREAKFAST via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – Demings and Murphy are two of the featured hosts for a Women’s March on Washington pre-breakfast before the event that could gather up to 200,000 people, the day after Trump is sworn into office. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel round up the four-person hosting committee that will welcome fellow Floridians to the Library of Congress James Madison Building. There are also sister marches and events taking place all over the country.

PARTY LINES: WHY SOME TALLAHASSEEANS CHOSE TRUMP via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – The precinct at the Fort Braden Community Center went big for Trump. “It’s kind of country people like, you know, working people,” said Gene Pfund, 69, who’s owned a tree service on Highway 20 for about 15 years. “No movie stars. Not a lot of minorities. I think that was Hillary’s problem — all her attention was (on) minorities and with celebrities. And people didn’t care about that.” Woodville is a town of full of auto shops and other small, independent businesses, a seafood restaurant, a huge Baptist church, a lumber yard and one school that serves grades kindergarten through eighth. Almost 60 percent of this mostly white, working class community of fewer than 3,000 voted for Donald Trump, even though 50 percent of the registered voters are registered Democrats. Not so much because he’s the best man for the job, residents said. But because he represents something different, something outside the normal channels of political power … the recurring theme among the Trump supporters willing to talk was they viewed the election not so much as a contest between a Democrat and a Republican, but more as a chance to reject the established political culture.

PALM BEACH FASHION DESIGNER’S DRESS TO DEBUT AT FLORIDA SUNSHINE BALL via Michelle Quesada of WPTV – In a competition hosted by Lilyana LoVela, producer of the Palm Beach International Fashion Week and Palm Beach Swim Week fashion shows, local designer Karen Williams Nottage‘s dress was picked to be worn by the wife of a local congressional district chairman at the Florida Sunshine Ball … The local designer has her own line, Legacy K Inc. Stylistic Divas, and says her inspiration for the gown came from a Disney-themed TV show series. “It’s Italian lace, and it’s black and white and it’s to die for. It has a very nice peek-a-boo front and a very low-cut sheer back,” said Nottage. “That whole silhouette came to light and I just started drawing and I said this is what I wanted to create.”

— “Hair stylist to Marla Maples: No free services in exchange for Inauguration Day ‘exposure’” via Emily Heil of The Washington Post

MARCO RUBIO CHALLENGED TRUMP’S NOMINEE. BUT WILL HE DEFY TRUMP? via Matt Flegenheimerjan of The New York Times – He glared at Rex Tillerson, the nominee for secretary of state, from behind his committee nameplate, his boyish face just a pinch more weathered than it used to be … With that exchange and two others later in Tillerson’s rocky nine-hour confirmation hearing last week … Rubio has earned the brightest spotlight. When Trump chose Tillerson, Rubio expressed immediate reservations, citing the nominee’s close ties to Russia while at Exxon Mobil. Aides said he read every speech Tillerson had given over the past decade in preparation for the hearing. In a week when some Democrats’ hopes of embarrassing Trump’s prospective cabinet mostly failed to materialize, several conceded it was Rubio who drew the most blood. The damage was not lost on Republicans. Long before the hearing, Tillerson supporters had moved to persuade Rubio, including through a conversation with former Vice President Dick Cheney.

— “Rubio calls Obama’s decision on Chelsea Manning ‘shameful’ ” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

FLORIDA SCIENTISTS PEN LETTER TO WILBUR ROSS — CALLING HIM TO DEFEND FLORIDA’S COASTLINE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – A group of Florida scientists have an urgent message for Ross: Support science and defend Florida’s coastline, as it could save your own home. Ross, Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Commerce, has owned a $22 million, 15,500-square-foot Palm Beach mansion on the Intracoastal Waterway since 2008. “In your new role as the Secretary of Commerce, you have a unique ability to influence multiple sectors of our economy,” goes the letter, signed by 13 officials, including 11 professors from Florida universities. “You will direct scientific research both within government, and at universities through NOAA. You can also work with businesses, engineers, and industries to develop solutions to address climate and energy challenges.” The letter is signed by some of the same 25 scientists who penned a similar letter to Trump October, shortly before his upset victory in November, urging him to act on climate change. They did not receive a response. Nor did they hear anything back from the president-elect after following up with a letter signed by approximately 10 university professors, as well as a physical oceanographer from NOAA in late December.

RICHARD CORCORAN, HOUSE LEADERS ADD NAMES TO LIST OF BETSY DEVOS SUPPORTERS via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Corcoran was joined by state Reps. Jose Oliva and Jose Felix Diaz in expressing support for DeVos and other state-level leaders nationwide in the letter. “As one of the most critical issues impacting the future of our nation, we must have a Secretary of Education committed to the needs of all of our nation’s children,” the letter reads. “Betsy DeVos has made it her life’s mission to find, support and push for education solutions in her home state of Michigan and across the country. She is an advocate and ally for all children, and we write to you today to express our support for her nomination to this important position as her confirmation hearing approaches.” The leaders said DeVos’ commitment to promoting school choice is one of the primary reasons they supported her nomination.

— “Betsy DeVos will deliver on school reform” via Jeb Bush for USA Today

— “Debbie Wasserman Schultz says Betsy DeVos will take U.S. schools down a path of failure ‘Florida knows all too well’” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

OBAMA WILL BE MOVED OUT IN JUST 5 HOURS – When Trump walks into the White House for the first time as president on Jan. 20, his suits will be hanging in his closet, his personal photos will be displayed on perfectly placed tables, and his toothbrush will be near his favorite brand of toothpaste in his bathroom, USA Today reports. And nothing can be touched until the Obamas pull out of the White House driveway for the inauguration ceremony that same day.


THE OBAMA ERA: A LOOK BACK via The New York Times — Throughout two terms, President Obama and his administration brought sweeping changes to the nation. His legacy has affected every American, as well as the lives of those around the world. In a series of six articles, reporters with the New York Times reflect on those accomplishments. From brokering climate change agreements to restructuring the nation’s health care system, from writing marriage equality into law to questioning police response tactics in the face of racial tensions, to managing the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan — eight years later, the America he leaves us is a different place.

DUH – JEB BUSH UNLIKELY TO RUN FOR OFFICE AGAIN via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Bush, who is spending two weeks at a Texas A&M University teaching a course on the role of governors, said he’s focused on building up his business again and working with the foundation he created to push for changes in education policy. “I unraveled everything I was doing to prepare for this – you don’t do that lightly,” said Bush. “I just think this was my chance. The conditions of this election weren’t tailor made for me and I lost. But I’m not in therapy. I’m not in the fetal position. Life goes on.” Bush … is also dismissive of a return to the governor’s mansion. Under Florida’s Constitution Bush could run again for that office. “It’s the best job in the world, but look, I’m not inclined to do it,” Bush said. “I can’t be unemployed forever.”

BOB GRAHAM: DAUGHTER GWEN GRAHAM HASN’T TOLD HIM HER PLANS YET via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Bob Graham said he’s waiting to hear what his daughter … Gwen Graham will decide about running for governor. The younger Graham has been talking about it for months … But she also said she would not make that decision until after she left office as a member of the U.S. Congress. She’s also dealing with the health of her husband Steve Hurm, who is being treated for prostate cancer. Her last day in Congress was last week. “She’s only been out of office for a few days. And she’s thinking about what to do. She’ll let her friends, and I hope parents, know when she makes the decision,” the former senator … “She hasn’t closed the book yet.”

MATT GAETZ WINS APPEAL FOR NORTHWEST FLORIDA SKYDIVING BUSINESS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Gaetz, an attorney who now represents northwest Florida’s 1st Congressional District, won an appeal that should allow a Walton County couple to continue operating a skydiving business on their 290-acre farm near Paxton. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal issued its unanimous decision Tuesday for James and Melanie Nipper. He “had a distinguished career as a U.S. Army Paratrooper and member of the elite Golden Knights parachute team from 1981-1997;” she “was an Army pilot,” the opinion said. They have since retired from the military. … Judges Timothy D. Osterhaus, Brad Thomas and Stephanie W. Ray said the county “did not show a clear legal right” to ban the Nippers from running a skydiving operation.


AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK TOUTS GOP HEALTH PLAN IN MIAMI AREA — The American Action Network, the sister organization of the Congressional Leadership Fund, recently launched a six-figure TV and digital ad campaign in Florida’s 26th Congressional District are part of a nationwide push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The 30-second spot features the findings of a nationwide poll conducted by the organization, which found two-thirds of respondents said they supported “replacing Obamacare with a plan featuring the broad principles of a House Republican plan.” The organization is expected to be at the forefront of the debate on repealing and replacing Obamacare, according to a spokeswoman for the American Action Network. “Americans deserve to know that Speaker (Paul) Ryan and House Republicans are offering a better way forward with a plan to replace Obamacare,” said AAN spokeswoman Ruth Guerra. “It’s clear that Americans support the House Republican plan and a fair transition period to get there. The American people want to see Congress deliver a patient-centered health care system with lower costs.” Click the image below to watch the ad.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor Rotunda in the Cannon House Office Building, 27 Independence Ave. SE in Washington, D.C. Scott is scheduled to meet with members of President-elect Trump’s administration and congressional leaders.

SCOTT TO HOST JOBS SUMMIT IN ORLANDO via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Scott is scheduled to host a jobs summit Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando … The event … appears to be like an education summit the Naples Republican hosted in 2016 … the event will bring together “Florida’s top business leaders, economic developers, educators and community leaders” to discuss ways to “shape the future of Florida’s economy to create good, high-paying jobs for all Florida families.” The summit comes just one month before the start of the annual 60-day Legislative Session, where economic development and job growth is expected to take center stage.

BRIAN BURGESS: ADAM HOLLINGSWORTH APPOINTMENT COULD BE BLIP ON RICK SCOTT’S LEGACY via Peter Schorsch – As his second term in office winds down, Scott should be considering his legacy as Florida governor, particularly if he wants to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. It’s that same legacy that makes Scott’s recent decision “bizarre,” at least in the eyes of The Capitolist’s Brian Burgess … [referring] to Adam Hollingsworth, Scott’s former Chief of Staff, who the governor named this week to the University of North Florida board of trustees … the appointment “predictably created a wave of justifiable outrage,” one which could needlessly jeopardize both the reputation of Florida’s University System and Scott’s legacy. Hollingsworth’s earlier admission of academic fraud – lying about a public relations degree from the University of Alabama in 1990 – makes him, in the view of many (including United Faculty of Florida UNF Chapter President John White), ineligible for a position in academia. Hopefully, this will remain just a minor blip on Scott’s legacy, which Burgess is ardently defending.

PUBLIC SUPPORT MIGHT HAVE TEMPERED PAM BONDI’S OPPOSITION TO MARIJUANA via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News – In 2014, Bondi went all-out trying to keep John Morgan‘s medical marijuana initiative off Florida’s ballot. It didn’t work, Floridians voted on the initiative anyway … By 2016 Bondi had thought it through. She could have done it again — hard-charged after the amendment, working to kill it before the ballots were printed. But this time, with public support of the initiative polling north of 70 percent, “Bondi announced that while she was personally opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, she would not be doing anything to oppose it, either in her official role as attorney general or as a citizen.” And apart from some obligatory statements opposing the initiative, she didn’t. When the amendment passed with 71.3 percent of the vote, we never heard a peep out of AG Bondi … national polling puts support for legalizing marijuana at 60 percent. That’s straight-up marijuana. Support for medical marijuana is off the charts.

DOH BEGINS AMENDMENT 2 RULE-MAKING via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The Florida Department of Health released the preliminary text of proposed rule development. The release comes ahead of five public hearings schedule for early next month, giving Floridians a chance to weigh in on the agency’s rules and regulations governing the state’s medical marijuana program. Under the proposed rule, only patients with one of 10 specific medical conditions, like HIV/AIDs or cancer, are eligible for medical marijuana. The rule does allow for use, as long as the Florida Board of Medicine identifies which debilitating conditions it can be used for. That’s contrary to the ballot language, which allowed physicians to order medical marijuana for a patient for if they believe “the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” It also states all medical marijuana treatment centers, which under new rules would be the same as a dispensing organization, must go through the same “approval and selection process” outlined in existing law. Those organizations are also “subject to the same limitations and operational requirements” currently outlined in state law. … “The legislature has demonstrated a willingness and desire to implement this amendment in a reasonable manner that respects the plain language of the constitution, and reflects the mandate of the electorate,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the United for Care campaign. “Why DOH would choose to engage in a policymaking exercise which ignores both the law and the role of the legislature in implementing the law is a mystery. Perhaps the actions of DOH shouldn’t surprise, given their history of incompetence in the administration of Florida’s medical marijuana laws.”

RECENT MASS SHOOTINGS SPARK FRESH DEBATE OVER FLORIDA GUN LAWS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – What gun rights supporters want: Both the Fort Lauderdale shooting and the Pulse nightclub massacre … are examples of why restrictions on permitted gun-owners don’t help prevent tragedy — and why Florida’s gun laws should be opened up to afford more freedom for people to defend themselves. What gun safety advocates want: Ban assault rifles … Require background checks for all gun purchases … Tighten a law mandating that loaded guns be kept in locked storage when they are near children 16 and younger. Block people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns … How the NRA and Republicans control the debate in Florida: The Republicans’ dominance of state politics … has helped the NRA tighten its grip on a Legislature where the organization’s A-plus rating is coveted by candidates … What gun law changes are on the table this year: Allow for the open carrying of handguns … lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns in passenger terminals and non-“sterile” areas of airports … lift a current ban and allow concealed weapons permit-holders to carry guns on public college and university campuses. tighten language in an existing law that requires guns to be locked in a gun safe or have a trigger lock when around children age 16 or younger … prohibit concealed-weapons permit holders from carrying in performing arts centers or theaters … ban in Florida many specific assault-style firearms …  shift the burden of proof in a criminal case where a defendant claims immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law by requiring the prosecutor, not the defendant, to prove at a pre-trial hearing why the defendant shouldn’t be granted immunity from prosecution.

MURDER CASE AT MICCOSUKEE CASINO A TEST FOR TRIBAL POLICE, STATE PROSECUTORS via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald – The case of Fernando Duarte, a former U.S. Army Ranger shot to death on Christmas night in the parking lot of the tribe’s West Miami-Dade casino, is the first homicide on the agency’s books. His death, and the arrest of two non-Indian men suspected of his murder, shapes up as a test case for a tribal police force that has historically had strained relations with state prosecutors. The case could revive thorny and unresolved questions over jurisdiction of the sovereign lands of a Native American people — just who should be investigating violent crimes and enforcing the law? Miami-Dade’s state attorney is satisfied, for now. Miccosukee detectives recently met with prosecutors, turning over witness statements and surveillance video collected that night. Those are routine, but essential pieces of evidence that have proven difficult to obtain from tribal police in some past cases … “Historically, we have not had a typical law-enforcement working partnership,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “I hope this is a turn in the right direction.”

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Sachs Media Group, Florida’s dominant public affairs communications firm. Sachs Media thrives on high-stakes challenges in the relentless pursuit of excellent outcomes. To help you win in the corridors of power, let us score for you in the court of public opinion. Visit to learn more.***

FIRST DCA REJECTS CHALLENGE TO EVIDENCE STANDARD IN WORKERS’ COMP CASE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – An intermediate state appeals court refused to let a workers’ compensation claimant introduce a second medical opinion, in a case testing an evidence code provision the Legislature adopted in 2013. Baricko v. Barnett Transportation Inc. turned on the applicability of the Daubert evidentiary standard. The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in September about whether it should embrace the standard, but has yet to rule. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected an attack on Daubert filed on behalf of David Baricko, a truck driver seeking to introduce evidence that sitting for long periods caused his embolism. Michael Winer … argued that a judge of compensation claims had impermissibly applied Daubert in advance of its approval by the state high court. The appellate panel did not explain its thinking, but Judge Kent Wetherell II said in a concurring opinion that the appeal was “frivolous.” The first DCA had ruled in 2014 that Daubert applies in workers’ compensation cases, he wrote.

WHO KNOWS BEST, PARENTS OR TEACHERS’ UNION? via Peter Schorsch – Florida Teachers’ Union President Joanne McCall said … “We believe that those closest to the students should be making the decisions about what is best for the students they serve.” It’s a shame that McCall doesn’t always follow the belief she articulates. She and her union have sued to shut down the state’s tax credit scholarship program and evict nearly 100,000 poor, mostly minority children from schools that fit them better than their assigned district schools. To McCall’s point, I would ask her this: Who is closer to a student than his or her parent? Why don’t you believe these poor parents should be making the decision about what school is best for their children? Finally, why do you persist in this misguided lawsuit whose aim is to keep kids away from the best educational opportunities available to them?

WHAT CORY TILLEY IS READING – SELLING LIQUOR INSIDE CAVERNOUS SUPER RETAIL STORES?! ARE YOU DRUNK? via Ron Littlepage of the Florida Times-Union –As they have in the past, major retailers like Wal-Mart are pouring money into efforts to take down the wall. That’s a requirement … that liquor stores have one entrance and a wall separating them from other stores … There are good reasons for the wall. Wal-Mart already has problems with shoplifting, fighting and other issues that cost taxpayer dollars by diverting police officers from their regular duties — because Wal-Mart doesn’t spend enough on in-store security. Now mix in shelves of liquor with the groceries, household goods, clothes, kids’ toys, hardware, etc. And, of course, the shelves that hold the guns and ammunition that are available in the average Wal-Mart. What could possibly go wrong?

HOUSE WON’T CONSIDER USING BP MONEY FOR TOURIST INCENTIVES via Jim Turner for – Rep. Jay Trumbull … expects his Select Committee on Triumph Gulf Coast will instead look at designating the money for infrastructure and education projects that help entire communities. “We are not going to be focused on direct economic incentives. That’s not what we think is the best use of the dollars,” Trumbull said … “But we do believe that there are many opportunities to spend the money in ways that don’t have to be direct incentives.”

— “Bill would subject police, corrections officers to psychological screening” via Florida Politics

SPOTTED: State Rep. Amber Mariano on The Today Show talking about her support of President-elect Donald Trump and her House District 36 election.

HAPPENING TODAY – LEGISLATIVE DELEGATIONS HOLD MEETINGS – The Levy, Union, Bradford, St. Johns, and Pasco legislative delegations will meet ahead of the 2017 Legislative Session. The Levy County legislative delegation will meet at 10 a.m. at the Dogan Cobb Municipal Building, 660 East Hathaway Avenue in Bronson. The Pasco County legislative meets at 1 p.m. at Sunlake High School, 3023 Sunlake Blvd. in Land O’Lakes. The Union County legislative delegation will meet at 2 p.m. in the County Commission Chamber at the Courthouse, 55 W. Main Street in Lake Butler. The Bradford County legislative delegation meets at 4 p.m. in the County Commission Chambers at the Bradford County Courthouse, 945 N. Temple Ave. in Starke; the St. Johns County legislative delegation meets at 4 p.m. at the St. Johns County Commission Chamber Auditorium, 500 San Sebastian View in St. Augustine.

NORTH FLORIDA WATER MANAGERS OK FIRST-EVER LONG-TERM USAGE, SUPPLY PLAN via Susan Washington of Florida Politics – The first-ever long-range plan for water use in a vast, North Florida region — home to around 1.5 million people in 14 counties stretching over more than 8,000 square miles — was approved … in a joint meeting of the governing boards of two water management districts … Suwannee River Water Management District, whose governing board — along with that of the SJRWMD — approved the water plan for a region of Florida that includes more than 140 springs. The two-hour-long meeting was the second occasion that the two boards had convened together … districts had determined that groundwater alone cannot supply an expected 21 percent increase in water use in the region over a planning period that extends to 2035 “without causing unacceptable impacts to water resources.” The possibility of drought would increase water demand further for the region, which extends, in the north, from the Georgia border with the Florida counties of Hamilton, Columbia, Baker and Nassau south as far as Gilchrist, Alachua, Putnam and Flagler counties and including, as well, Florida’s Atlantic coast north of Daytona Beach.

PASS THE POPCORN: SON OF ‘SFWMD VS. EVERGLADES FOUNDATION 2’ NOW PLAYING via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – Now the stars of the show — the environmental organization looking to reconfigure a part of Everglades restoration and the state authority committed to keeping restoration on track — have given us another snarky sequel. If you’ve been following the south-versus-north reservoirs saga, you know what I’m talking about. This is the latest: [Everglades Foundation] issued what it called “Statement Regarding the SFWMD’s Response to The Everglades Foundation Letter.” Basically, it challenges SFWMD to “sit down and openly discuss the serious challenges facing this state and how we can solve them together.” As you might imagine, EF’s statement didn’t sit well with the District … SFWMD issued a short, if not sweet, retort. Its headline: “Statement on Everglades Foundation Response” … In other words, we’re open, you’re not. Nothing’s stopping you from participating.

— “Chuck O’Neal to try again at black bear protection bill with Linda Stewart” via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics

STEPHEN JAMES JOINS FLORIDA DEP AS WATER POLICY HEAD — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced that James has been named the director of the Office of Water Policy. James, according to the DEP, will be responsible for overseeing and implementing the statewide water policy with water management districts and other agencies. “Stephen will be an excellent addition to the department as the director of Water Policy,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson in a statement. “His background in environmental and water policy, combined with his experience working with local governments, the legislature and the public and private sectors, will be of great benefit as we continue to partner with the water management districts, municipalities and other stakeholders on the state’s important water matters.” Prior to joining the DEP, James served as the senior associate director of public policy and legislative staff attorney for the Florida Association of Counties, where he focused on environmental and agricultural issues. James previously practiced environmental and land-use laws for several law firms in Miami and Seattle. James received his bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and his law degree from the University of Miami.

KEN REECY NAMED INTERIM HEAD OF FLORIDA HOUSING via Florida Politics – Reecy has been named Interim Executive Director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) …  currently serves as the agency’s Multifamily Program Director. “Ken has extensive experience and is committed to helping Florida families secure safe, affordable housing in communities all across our state,” Cissy Proctor said in a statement. “He has a strong understanding of the unique programs used to meet different needs for affordable housing in Florida and is a respected leader at the agency” … “A national search for a permanent Executive Director is underway.”

— “Nursing home care in Florida has come a long way in the last 30 years” via Steve Bahmer for Florida Politics

LARRY ROBINSON A GOOD CHOICE FOR FAMU, TALLAHASSEE via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics – Florida A&M is again in need of another president … Based upon recent history, the university does not need a national search. Someone who can do the job is already in it. On three occasions FAMU has turned to Robinson to bridge the gap between a departed president and that person’s successor. He has the support of the presidents of the capital city’s other educational institutions. At a recent Martin Luther King Jr. tribute, Florida State University President John Thrasher threw his support behind Robinson. Robinson was a humble, soft-spoken, advocate for his university. It did not take long to ascertain this was not only a brilliant man, but one who possessed the ability to connect with people. Robinson is on a one-year contract as interim president. However, like sports coaches, contracts are torn up and extended when one does a good job. Why not do the same for someone who has done so much for the university? Why not bring it up at the next board of trustees meeting?

CONNECT FLORIDA DAY AT THE CAPITOL REGISTRATION IS OPEN via  In less than a month, over 150 of Florida’s top emerging leaders will gather in Tallahassee for the Fifth Annual Connect Day at the Capitol. This event will sell out, so register now. Connect Day at the Capitol, which will take place Thursday, Feb. 9 – Friday, Feb. 10, is a unique opportunity for Florida’s under-40 professionals to learn more about Connect Florida and interact with high-profile speakers on issues affecting Florida across different industries, sectors and communities. Participants do not need to be an official Connect Florida member to attend. To view the agenda and register, visit

RUTLEDGE ECENIA ADDS MIXON & ASSOCIATES LOBBYISTS – Mixon & Associates lobbyists Corinne Mixon and Jessica Janasiewicz are joining the Rutledge Ecenia law firm’s lobbying team. Also coming to the firm on a contract basis is Mixon & Associates’ Juhan and Pat Mixon, and Jim Hamilton, the firms said in a joint announcement. Full story here.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to two of Sunburn’s favorites, Erin Daly Ballas and Caitlin Murray. More belated wishes to Brian Goldmeier and AARP’s Jeff Johnson. Celebrating today are Brody Enwright and No Casinos’ Sara Johnson.

Sunburn for 1.13.17 – Party boss votes; Rubio vs. Rex; Phil Levine angles; Early signs of Latvala magic; Happy 25, GT!

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

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


Orlando is the place to be for Florida political junkies this weekend, when both the Democratic and Republican state parties vote on their leaders for the 2018 election cycle.

With a limited amount of time to campaign, the Democratic race has verged into self-parody, with two of the five candidates traveling far afield to make themselves eligible under the FDP’s arcane bylaw rules when it comes to running for office. And a third candidate in the race is now the subject to a lawsuit based on the way that he became eligible for the position.

Party members will gather at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, where the action begins today with current chair Allison Tant having to preside over complaints about two of the five candidates running to succeed her.

One complaint will deal with the party mechanics that allowed Coconut Grover real estate developer and major Democratic fundraiser Stephen Bittel to be eligible to run for the state party chair position.

Bittel was not involved at all with the Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee until about a month ago, when he was sworn in as a precinct captain at a late night reorganization meeting. That event itself is the source of a formal complaint, with critics charging that it is against party rules for precinct captains to be appointed at executive committee meetings.

Bittel foes believe that the fix was definitely in when longtime Miami-Dade County committeeman Bret Berlin resigned from his seat shortly afterwards, allowing Bittel the opportunity to compete for the chair position, which he ultimately won, easily defeating former state Senator Dwight Bullard.

The fashion that allowed Tampa’s Alan Clendenin to run is the cause of a second complaint. After losing his race for state committeeman in Hillsborough County on December 5, Clendenin, who lost a bitterly fought contest against Tant for party chair in 2013, then literally moved to a trailer in Bradford County, which had an opening for a committeeman. His new residency is being formally challenged.

Clendenin’s journey laid the template for Bullard to follow, where he has temporarily moved from Miami-Dade to Gadsden County to also become a committeeman and eligible in Saturday’s election.

The candidates have been traveling around the state to make their case. Bittel has been considered the solid favorite of the establishment, and that remains the case now that he’s been endorsed by Senator Bill Nelson. But he is opposed by some Democrats who say his establishment support makes this a Florida version of the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders contest.

Less visible in the press have been the two female candidates in the race – Duval County state committeewoman Lisa King and Osceola County DEC Chair Leah Carius.

Meanwhile, GOP activists will gather at the nearby Rosen Centre early tomorrow to decide on whether to maintain the status quo and stay with incumbent Blaise Ingoglia, or go for Sarasota County state committeeman Christian Ziegler, who has been embraced by the Breitbart/Donald Trump crowd.

Ziegler says that Ingoglia, the 46-year-old New York City native who runs two businesses and serves in the Florida House representing Hernando County, is spread far too thin for what should be a full-time job.

Ingoglia refutes that criticism, and though he’s never been embraced by Gov. Rick Scott (which has definitely hurt the RPOF’s fundraising), he does have the support of most of the GOP establishment in Tallahassee and (including Senator Marco Rubio).

Ingoglia and his supporters chant out, “Scoreboard” to any other criticisms, pointing out that the state went red in the presidential election for the first time since 2004. Ingoglia says his next goal if re-elected is to have Republicans surpass Democrats in voter registration, where today the Dems hold a more than 300,000 voter advantage, though that’s better than the 500,000 edge they enjoyed two years ago.

— “It’s a four-against-one race for Florida Democratic Party chair” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

OP-ED: STEPHEN BITTEL ONLY CHOICE TO LEAD FLORIDA DEMS OUT OF DESOLATION, IRRELEVANCY via Ben Pollara for Florida Politics – Bittel is unequivocally the best candidate for the job and the only candidate capable of effecting the sort of change in the FDP that is so desperately needed. I don’t have a negative thing to say about any of the candidates. These people are my friends, and they are good people. But being a good person, and a good Democrat, with good intentions and good plans, simply isn’t enough to make someone the right person for this job … Bittel is a committed, lifelong Democrat. He’s a man of extraordinary compassion, who cares deeply about what is just and right. He’s hugely generous to the people, candidates, causes and charities that he believes in. He’s someone who knows how to hire and manage smart people, and how to run a large organization. Stephen Bittel is not the best choice to lead the Florida Democratic Party out of the desolation and marginalization that plagues us. Stephen Bittel is the only choice.

— “Does Bill Nelson tip the scales in Stephen Bittel’s favor?” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze

— “Lisa King is the best choice for Florida Democratic Party chair” via Dave Trotter of The Political Hurricane

— “Leah Carius seeking to be the local-control candidate for state Democrats” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

PARTY OFFICIALS: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH—NO MORE MUDSLINGING IN FLORIDA GOP CHAIR RACE via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News –  Joe Gruters … Working as the Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, is not only torn by party commitments, but has a friendship that goes back a decade to take into consideration. It’s been two months since Ziegler announced he would make a run for the top spot at the party, but those months haven’t been easy. Mud-slinging has become commonplace in the race for party chair. It’s gotten so bad, other party officials are stepping in to say they’re upset over how it’s going. Gruters is one of them. “I am disheartened at the negative campaigning that has been interjected into the Chairman’s race,” he wrote in an email going around the group to help [BlaiseIngoglia’s re-election campaign. “Christian Ziegler has been one of my close friends and a local ally for the last 10 years,” Gruters wrote. “But, the people supporting his campaign for Chairman of the Party are pushing a false narrative on Christian’s behalf.”

— “RPOF Firefight: Gruters rebukes insurgent Ziegler campaign as Breitbart News blasts Ingoglia, Corcoran” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sunburn will be taking Monday, Jan. 16 off in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our team will still be working so check;; and for updates throughout the day.

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BARACK OBAMA MAKING CHANGES TO CUBAN IMMIGRATION POLICY via Alicia Caldwell, Julie Pace and Matthew Lee of The Associated Press – Obama is ending a longstanding immigration policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident … The repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy is effective immediately … The decision follows months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S. … Cubans gave no assurances about treatment of those sent back to the country, but said political asylum remains an option for those concerned about persecution if they return. President-elect Donald Trump has taken a tougher line on U.S. relations with Cuba and could undo the change once he takes office.

OBAMA NAMES FLORIDA SUPPORTER, ANDREW EINSTEIN, TO HOLOCAUST COUNCIL via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Obama named Coral Springs trial lawyer Andrew Weinstein, a top Democratic fundraiser, a member of U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, a position he will continue to hold after Donald Trump becomes president on Jan. 20.

MARCO RUBIO QUICKLY KEEPS PROMISE TO STAND UP TO DONALD TRUMP IN U.S. SENATE via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – Rubio promised during his campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate that he would stand up to Trump when necessary. “Necessary” didn’t take long to arrive. It came during a confirmation hearing for Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State. Rubio responded with what I thought was his finest hour as the junior senator from Florida. He showed plenty of backbone, conviction and passion in relentlessly hammering Tillerson about his stance (or non-stance) on Russia’s appalling human rights record. It was a bold gambit, but it’s one I believe Rubio made on principle. In so doing he risks the wrath of the incoming president, not to mention his own Republican Party. That showed a truckload of gumption.

WILL RUBIO BACK DOWN? via POLITICO – The Florida senator produced quite a fireworks show this week with his grilling of a seemingly rattled Tillerson at his confirmation hearing for secretary of state. But opposing Tillerson on the Senate floor — and antagonizing Trump, whom Rubio was dismissing as a “con man” around this time a year ago, before eventually endorsing him — is another thing entirely. Intentionally or not, Rubio is out on a limb after demanding denunciations of Russia and other authoritarian countries that Tillerson refused to offer. GOP leaders believe the former ExxonMobil CEO remains a solid bet for confirmation with or without Rubio’s support, but the Florida senator is being watched especially closely because he’s seen as a proxy for other GOP hawks.”

FLORIDA INSIDER POLL: RICHARD CORCORAN IS TOAST AGAINST ADAM PUTNAM IN GOV PRIMARY via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — House Speaker Richard Corcoran has been on a roll lately, generating headlines about his standing up for taxpayers and transparency against the lobbying corps and even Gov. Rick Scott on “picking winners and losers” through economic incentive programs. One can imagine a compelling message along those lines in a 2018 gubernatorial campaign. But a new Florida Insider Poll finds Florida’s political elites highly skeptical about Corcoran’s ability to win the GOP nomination against likely candidate Adam Putnam, the state agriculture commissioner. Among 180 political professionals, lobbyists, fundraisers, activists, and academics participating in our latest unscientific Florida Insider Poll, only 10 percent predicted Corcoran would win the nomination, while 70 percent said Putnam, and 20 percent selected the “Someone else” option. … On Scott’s next step, the conventional wisdom among Florida’s most savvy politicos is nearly unanimous: A whopping 95 percent expect him to run against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.

TWEET, TWEET: @BillHelmich: #TBT More than 85 percent of the Florida Insiders surveyed predicted Bush would win the Florida primary.

PHILIP LEVINE ANNOUNCES FINAL TERM AS MIAMI BEACH MAYOR, TO LAUNCH STATEWIDE LISTENING TOUR via Florida Politics – In a video “state of the city” address … Levine talked about how he “rolled up his sleeves and got to work” on such issues as sea level rise, traffic congestion, the Zika virus and lower property taxes. With that, Levine adds that this will be his last term as mayor. “Now I look forward to ways of how best to serve my community and my state,” he says in the nearly three-minute video. “How to make Florida a 21st-century leader in the world economy” … many insiders speculate Levine — as a popular South Florida municipal leader — would possibly seek higher office. Levine adviser Christian Ulvert says: “Over the coming months, Mayor Levine will travel across Florida to listen to Floridians on how best to serve the state he loves. He will be making a final decision on his plans for continued public service in the spring.”

CHARLIE CRIST TO HOLD FIRST ST. PETERSBURG FUNDRAISER OF 2017 SATURDAY via Florida Politics — The afternoon reception, scheduled Saturday from 5:30 – 7 p.m., will be at the home of the Pinellas County Democrat’s sister, Dr. Elizabeth Crist Hyden in St. Petersburg. Supporters of the freshman St. Petersburg Democrat include Palm Harbor Attorney Fran Haasch as honorary chair, with a tentative host committee including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick KrisemanJanette and Tom CareyGordon CherneckySusan and Bob ChurutiAubrey DicusWatson HaynesPaul JalloKatharine and Joe SaundersKent Whittemore and Emory Wood. A spot on the guest list will cost $500; $2,700 to be a host. Co-hosting the event will set supporters back $1,000.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Sachs Media Group, Florida’s dominant public affairs communications firm. Sachs Media thrives on high-stakes challenges in the relentless pursuit of excellent outcomes. To help you win in the corridors of power, let us score for you in the court of public opinion. Visit to learn more.***

JACK LATVALA TO HOUSE: THE SENATE MAKES ITS OWN RULES via Florida Politics – “We have our own rules in the Senate. We are going to abide by our own rules,” Latvala told reporters … “I think it would be unfortunate if we got to a position where, because the House is trying to force their rules on the whole process, that we get into some kind of government shutdown or something like that … The way to avoid that is to have conversation and negotiation early on in the process. Next month, you’ll see us take some steps to try to bring that about.” Under rules approved when Richard Corcoran assumed the speakership, members must file a specific bill describing each project they hope to insert into the state budget. The idea is to get away from secretive logrolling late during sessions. Corcoran has suggested that senators seeking projects find a House co-sponsor, to remain within the spirit of the House’s drive for transparency. Latvala … wasn’t having it.

SENATE BILL SEEKS EXPEDITED HEARINGS FOR DISTRICT MAP CHANGES via Florida Politics – A bill filed in the Florida Senate would fast-track court rulings in challenges to electoral district boundaries, while requiring current boundaries to be used if the ruling isn’t rendered in a timely fashion. Senate Bill 352, filed Travis Hutson, seeks to resolve uncertainty among candidates and voters alike … Challenges to boundaries in legislative races must be given an expedited hearing … If a ruling is not rendered by the 71st day before the primary election in multi-county district races, the election must proceed according to extant boundaries, with any changes taking effect for the next election cycle. This would not apply to state attorney or public defender races, where the lines are not controversial; rather, to State Senate and State House races.

SENATORS FILE LEGISLATION TO KEEP BP OIL SPILL MONEY IN NORTH FLORIDA via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Three North Florida senators filed SB 364 to ensure funds money from the settlement of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill goes to the region’s eight disproportionately affected counties. Under current law, the affected counties are to receive 75 percent of all economic damage settlement funds received by the state. SB 364 clarifies that funds are to be directly appropriated to Triumph Gulf Coast Inc. no later than 30 days after they are received by the state, they said. The eight Florida counties disproportionately affected by the Deepwater Horizon Spill include: Bay County, Escambia County, Franklin County, Gulf County, Okaloosa County, Santa Rosa County, Walton County and Wakulla County.

HOUSE EDUCATION BUDGET KEEPS CONTROVERSIAL PROGRAMS AS ‘HIGH PRIORITY’ via Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Following directions to propose millions of dollars in education spending cuts, Florida House PreK-12 Appropriations chairman Rep. Manny Diaz told his committee members Thursday that no program should be considered sacred. … He cautioned members, however, that the base budget “drivers” would remain essentially off limits, making the cutting exercise more difficult. On that “high priority” list — right alongside increased per-student funds and the voluntary prekindergarten program — were Florida’s Best and Brightest teacher bonus, which to date has been annual budget proviso language rather than statute, and money for district-wide mandatory K-8 student uniforms, placed into law a year ago.

HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE SUBCOMMITTEE TAKES UP JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS via Florida Politics – … and also reviewed how quickly the courts are clearing their caseloads. Judicial term limits failed in the Legislature last year, but House Speaker Richard Corcoran has declared the issue an important priority. Heather Fitzenhagen, chairwoman of the Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee, said she has not yet taken a position. She rejected a suggestion that House Republicans want to publish the Florida Supreme Court for rulings striking down GOP priority legislation. “Absolutely not. What we’re trying to do is the people’s business and making sure that all of our branches of government are functioning at the best possible efficiency, and that we’re getting things done in the best manner possible. That justice is served in a timely manner.”

FLORIDA CHAMBER HEAD STILL BULLISH ON INCENTIVES (WITH AN EXPLANATION) via Florida Politics – The head of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Thursday defended the state’s handout of economic incentives, but said they were only ever meant to stoke job creation in a targeted way. “In very, very limited cases, incentives are in play,” said Mark Wilson, the organization’s president and CEO. “We shouldn’t be using incentives for every job we create. In fact, they should rarely be used.”

— “Senate bill would hike penalties for felon movers” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Larry Ahern files bill requiring civil citations for some juvenile offenders” via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics

— “Bill would ban unrestrained dogs in pickup truck beds” via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post

— “Ratings agency warns in brief against ‘dramatic expansion’ of Sunshine Law” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

FLORIDA PAID PRIVATE PRISON OPERATOR $16 MILLION TOO MUCH, LEGISLATOR’S AUDIT SAYS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Rep. David Richardson, a Democrat and retired forensic auditor, investigated seven years of state payments to Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), now known as CoreCivic of Tennessee, and concluded the pricing scheme approved by the Florida Department of Corrections resulted in at least $16 million in overcharges over the past seven years and was either the result of massive government ineptitude or a calculated fraud against taxpayers. Richardson, who has been on a one-man crusade to bring accountability to Florida’s troubled prison system, delivered a copy of his two-inch briefing book and a summary of his report to Florida’s Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel. He asked Miguel to conduct an investigation into potential criminal violations surrounding the Lake City Correctional Facility contract, as well as the six other Florida prisons operated by other vendors. This is the only prison CoreCivic now operates.

CASE DISMISSED: DAN RAULERSON TO REMAIN IN HOUSE via Florida Politics – Circuit Judge Charles W. Dodson dismissed the case brought by Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Raulerson last year for the House District 58 seat. Dodson ruled he did not have jurisdiction to decide the matter and threw out the suit “with prejudice,” meaning Vazquez can’t refile it. Raulerson’s lawyer … argued that the judge couldn’t decide the case because the House of Representatives is the sole judge of its membership under the state constitution. Dodson dismissed the case against Raulerson … as well as the other defendants: Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer; Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections officer; and Kristi Reid Bronson, records bureau chief for the Division of Elections.

DRUNK TEEN IN WAL-MART SHOWS WHY WE NEED WALL BETWEEN LIQUOR, GROCERY STORES via Peter Schorsch – Walls are there for a reason. Consider the case of Lake Mary teen Shellby Conder. After drinking five beers in a Villages Wal-Mart, Conder was arrested last week for assaulting a Sumter County EMT while being handcuffed … the 18-year-old allegedly told a Wal-Mart manager she was drunk after drinking almost a six pack from the beer aisle; she then asked for a ride home. When deputies arrived, Conder resisted and began kicking. After paramedics called to the scene tried to evaluate her, the police report says Conder grabbed one by the groin … If a wall of separation can prevent something like that from happening across Florida, it may be good to continue keeping whiskey and Wheaties apart.

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RICK SCOTT HELPS GREENBURG TRAURIG MARK A MILESTONE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times  – It began on a Saturday afternoon in 1967 at a delicatessen in Miami Beach. At Wolfie’s, legend has it. Three South Florida lawyers – Mel Greenberg, Larry Hoffman and Bob Traurig – met and formed the law and lobbying firm known today as Greenberg Traurig, which claims to have about 2,000 lawyers in 38 cities in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. To mark the firm’s first 50 years, Greenberg invited a few hundred friends to the Governor’s Club for a reception Thursday (ed. note: it was Wednesday) night. … Gov. Scott stopped by to say a few words and naturally talked about those 2,000 jobs. “You probably knew what I ran on in 2010. I ran on jobs,” Scott said to laughter. “I think, what, you have 2,000 lawyers now? Congratulations on all the jobs. I love jobs.”

CITRUS CROP PRODUCTION TRENDING DOWN AGAIN SLIGHTLY via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The latest estimates show “a slight decrease” in Florida orange production to 71 million boxes for the 2016-17 season, according to the Florida Department of Citrus. The department on Thursday shared the results of the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast, the first in 2017. The state’s citrus industry has been hurt by the citrus greening epidemic … “Despite the decrease, (the) crop size projection remains above the 70 million boxes the USDA initially estimated in October,” its press release says.

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE via Adam Putnam‘s office – “Officials to Release Sterile Flies in Homestead in Precautionary Move”

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Gomes talks with Rep. Al Lawson Jr. about his plan to tackle student loan debt. Plus Rep. Darren Soto discusses President-elect Donald Trump’s influence in Congress. Gomes tours some of the capitol office buildings with former congressional candidate Annette Taddeo and her daughter Sofia. Gomes also takes a closer look at Gov. Scott‘s decision to address the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport with Trump instead of President Obama.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the hardest working volunteer of them all, Chester Spellman. Also celebrating today is Francisco Gonzalez and Marco Pena. Early birthday wishes to Speaker-to-be Chris Sprowls, Floridian Partners’ Jorge Chamizo, and Steve Hurm.

Sunburn for 1.11.17 – Andrew Gillum plays coy; Heads roll at Visit Florida; Fireworks and gaming bills filed; Katie Edwards loves Clemson

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

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

NEXTGEN CLIMATE RUNNING AD IN FLORIDA AGAINST REX TILLERSON’S NOMINATION via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The ad, “Protect America,” comes as Trump has been criticized for dismissing intelligence reports that found Russia conducted a campaign of cyber-attacks to interfere with U.S. elections, and previously suggested that he would lift sanctions against Russia. “Donald Trump has made his values clear — instead of working to support the American people, he’s nominating corporate and Wall Street insiders,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “Rex Tillerson has shown he puts corporate interests over American interests. The Senate must protect the public by rejecting his nomination.” Steyer is also blasting Tillerson on the environmental front, claiming that under his leadership, ExxonMobil had “one of the worst environmental records,” and is currently under investigation for lying about the dangers of climate change.

CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA BACKS BLAISE INGOGLIA FOR RPOF CHAIR via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – “During the last three years I have traveled tens of thousands of miles across our wonderful state and had the pleasure of spending time with so many dedicated members of our party,” Lopez-Cantera said. “More times, and in more counties than I can remember, our Chairman Blaise Ingoglia was there too. As a former State Committeeman for Miami-Dade I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a Chairman who travels the state spending time at local REC events all the while seeking input on building up our local parties, meeting with grassroots leaders and then putting those ideas into action.” CLC said he “couldn’t recall” a time during his 20 years involved in the RPOF in which a chairman had been so heavily involved in the process and in committing to turning the state red.

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN BECAUSE IT’S SO STUPID: “How the Breitbart/Trump wing of GOP and the world’s ugliest shirt are teaming up to unseat Fla. GOP Chairman” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

ANDREW GILLUM COY ON GOVERNOR’S RUN via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat – Downplaying talk of a potential 2018 gubernatorial run, Tallahassee Mayor Gillum said a lawsuit fighting the preemption of the state to set gun local laws would be a bad platform to make such an announcement … on the steps of the 1st District Court of Appeals, Gillum said the lawsuit, filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and Florida Open Carry, was “insider baseball” not a ploy to succeed Gov. Scott.

“I’ve heard that bandied about,” Gillum said to reporters of the chatter. “The truth is that if I were running for governor, this would be a bad strategy for a launch.” The lawsuit, which names Gillum, former Mayor John Marks and City Commissioners Nancy Miller and Gil Ziffer, is over the city commission’s refusal to repeal a ban on gunfire in a city park set forth in municipal ordinances approved in 1957 and 1988.

TOP OP-EDGET RID OF THE STATE DEMS’ STALE, ELITIST LEADERSHIP PROCESS via Joshua Karp in the Miami Herald — Given the stakes, Florida Democrats should be passionately engaged in the election to pick their party’s next leader. But most of Florida’s nearly 5 million registered Democrats have no idea an election is happening. … Having helped set strategy for Florida Democrats during the past four years, I know the impact an energetic party chair can have. The current chair, my former boss Allison Tant, raised the bar for the job, traveling and fundraising tirelessly in support of Democratic candidates. But the election to replace Tant should embarrass every Democrat. The convoluted system governing Florida Democrats eliminates good candidates, encourages ridiculous loopholes and suppresses minority voices. … It is time for the Florida Democratic Party to reject the kingmakers, and throw the doors of this process open to a diverse group of Democrats.

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RICK SCOTT PROPOSES FREEZING FEES, BRIGHT FUTURES EXTENSION via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Seeking to keep higher-education costs low and help more students graduate on time, Scott will outline an ambitious legislative agenda to cap student fees, eliminate sales taxes on textbook purchases and extend the Bright Futures scholarships to summer classes. “Florida students should have every opportunity to earn a degree in four years without graduating with mountains of debt,” Scott said in a statement. “While we have fought to make higher education more affordable by holding the line on undergraduate tuition, there is much more that can be done to help students.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight his proposed higher education legislative and budget proposals during a press conference at 9 Hashrocket, 320 1st Street N. #711 in Jacksonville Beach.

WILL SECCOMBE OUT AS VISIT FLORIDA CEO, KEN LAWSON NAMED AS REPLACEMENT via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Even as board members praised Seccombe for his work in helping set state tourism records four years in a row, they voted 26-0 to fire him, a move they said will hopefully save the agency as the Florida Legislature threatens deep budget cuts. The board then, in a voice vote, approved as an immediate replacement Lawson, the former secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. While Lawson has no experience in tourism marketing, board members said he was a perfect fit because Gov. Scott already endorsed the move and that Lawson has experience in Tallahassee as a former agency head. “He knows the process,” Visit Florida chairman William Talbert III told board members.

WHY YOU READ SUNBURN: “Could Ken Lawson next be tapped to lead Visit Florida” via Peter Schorsch LAST WEEK.

SHOCKING – NATIONAL TRAVEL ASSOCIATION WARNS AGAINST CUTTING VISIT FLORIDA BUDGET via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida is making a huge mistake if it starts to slash its tourism marketing budget because of reactions to a few controversial deals, the head of the U.S. Travel Association says. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the association, told Visit Florida board members in Orlando that other states that have cut marketing budgets have paid the price and lost market share and revenues. “It takes a long time to come back,” Dow said just moments before the board of directors voted to terminate Seccombe‘s contract with hopes it will help stop state legislators from slashing Visit Florida’s funding. Dow said Pennsylvania is a prime example of a state that cut its budgets for tourism and has lost $600 million in state and local tax revenues generated by tourists. “You cut dollars, you lose share,” he said.

AUDIT UNCOVERS FLAWS IN STATE’S ACCOUNTING SYSTEM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – An audit has found security flaws in the Department of Financial Services‘ antiquated FLAIR accounting system …  (FLAIR stands for “Florida Accounting Information Resource Subsystem.”) The department is run by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Among those, “access privileges for some FLAIR and network users did not … restrict users to only those functions necessary for assigned job duties,” it said. Also, the department’s “procedures and processes for conducting periodic reviews of user access privileges need improvement,” and other “security controls … need improvement to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of Department data and IT resources,” the audit report said. Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr has previously said the department must process nearly $90 billion in payments every year, and FLAIR is no longer meeting that need.

CARLOS TRUJILLO CONTINUES PUSH FOR BELT TIGHTENING IN FIRST HOUSE BUDGET MEETING  via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Miami Republican said that revenues coming into the state are not the problem, but rather cost drivers like health care that are quickly spiking and the Legislature approving a large amount of reoccurring spending in recent years as the economy improved. One of the biggest discussions in the formative weeks of the 2017 session – what Trujillo called a “buzzword” – is projects, or spending in the budget plan that members fight for in their home districts. Trujillo said they will get additional scrutiny from all members of the chamber. Trujillo presented the committee with two budget cutting scenarios, one that slices $1 billion in revenue, and another that would take $2.2 billion off the state budget’s top line. The larger budget cutting exercise would cut the health care area of the budget by $573 million, the largest individual cut.

CONTRACTORS MOUNT DEFENSE OF ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS AGREEMENTS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Home repair contractors lashed out against calls for a crackdown on assignment of benefits agreements during testimony before a key Senate committee … insisting such contracts protect homeowners and reputable remediation businesses. They argued instead for increased regulation of their industry, to put fly-by-night contractors out of business. “Would you please regulate us?” said Dave DeBlander of ProClean Restoration and Cleaning in Pensacola. “Regulate us like mold (remediation) is regulated. Get rid of those bad companies there in South Florida. Don’t ruin it for the whole state by messing with the AOB. The AOB protects the homeowner, and we can fix it just with that regulation.” The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has declared assignment of benefits reform its No. 1 priority in the Legislature this year.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Sachs Media Group, Florida’s dominant public affairs communications firm. They thrive on high-stakes challenges in the relentless pursuit of excellent outcomes. To help you win in the corridors of power, let them score for you in the court of public opinion. Visit to learn more.***

JOE NEGRON WILL RENEW PUSH TO END INSURANCE INDUSTRY’S JOBS CREDIT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Negron … will renew his effort to eliminate an industry sacred cow: a 15 percent tax credit on the salaries insurance companies pay to full-time employees in Florida. With Negron as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate four years ago voted to repeal the 30-year-old tax break and redirect the proceeds to lower car registration fees, which a few years earlier had risen dramatically to close a budget gap in 2009. The insurance industry, a major donor to the Republican Party, said the repeal of the 1987 tax credit would drive jobs out of state. The House flatly rejected the Senate’s idea and kept the tax credit on the books, where Negron is again targeting it for elimination. The Senate estimates that wiping out the tax credit is worth about $300 million a year in tax savings. “I think there’s a better way to deploy $300 million than to hand-pick one industry to subside their labor costs,” Negron told the Times/Herald.

FANTASY SPORTS BILL FILED AGAIN IN LEGISLATURE via Florida Politics – A bill to exempt fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation has again been filed in the Florida Legislature. State Rep. Jason Brodeur … filed (HB 149) …  The bill would clarify that fantasy contests “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and are not games of chance – and thus potentially illegal gambling. The legislation specifically includes games based on “athletes in the case of sports events.” It doesn’t yet have a Senate companion. It would exempt “fantasy contests” from regulation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees gambling in the state.

SENATE READIES THIS YEAR’S GAMBLING BILL via Florida Politics – “Based on conservations with Sen. (BillGalvano, President (JoeNegron anticipates having a bill ready to be heard during the second committee week in January,” Katie Betta said in an email. “Based on that timetable, President Negron felt that it would be more productive to cancel the workshop scheduled for this week and instead schedule a hearing when the bill is available later this month.” Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has been hammering out a deal with state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the Miami-Dade Republican who’s the House’s point man on gambling. House Speaker Corcoran has said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass … it’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”

WHAT ALLISON CARVAJAL IS READING – GREG STEUBE FILES FIREWORKS LEGALIZATION BILL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Steube’s bill would repeal the prohibition on selling fireworks to the general public. It also would remove requirements for testing and approval of sparklers and relieve those who make and sell sparklers from having to register with the state. Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here. Retail sales are allowed only because of a 60-year-old loophole in the law, the only known one of its kind in the country. It allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will discuss several issues, including the death-penalty sentencing system, during a meeting at 9 a.m. in 404 House Office Building; while the House Health Quality Subcommittee will hear presentations about medical marijuana during its 9 a.m. meeting in Mashburn Hall. Also at 9 a.m., the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will get an overview of its base budget during a meeting in Reed Hall. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will receive a presentation on Lake Okeechobee discharges during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 301 Senate Office Building. The Senate Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to discuss future transportation funding trends during its 10 a.m. meeting in 110 Senate Office building. The House Careers & Competition Subcommittee will discuss economic incentive programs during a meeting at 1 p.m. in 212 Knott; while the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will get an overview of its base budget during a 1 p.m. meeting in Morris Hall. Also happening at 1 p.m.: The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will get a report on red light cameras during its meeting in Reed Hall. The House will continue a jam-packed day at 3:30 p.m. with a House Health Innovation Subcommittee panel discussion about the certificate of need program in Mashburn Hall. The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a panel discussion about “assignment of benefits” during a 3:30 p.m. meeting in 404 House Office Building; while the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will get an overview of its base budget during a meeting at the same time in Morris Hall. The House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee will receive an overview of the role of the federal and state government in environmental regulation during a 3:30 p.m. meeting in 12 House Office Building.

HAPPENING TODAY – FLORIDA RECYCLING​ DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. on the Plaza Level of the Florida Capitol to present the “Recycling Recognition Awards” to Desoto Trail Elementary School, Northrop Grumman, and Skanska. He’ll be joined by Kim Brunson, recycling and waste Manager at Publix Super Markets and the chair of the Florida Recycling Partnership. The Florida Recycling Partnership and other non-profit organizations will have displays focused on recycling set up on the Plaza Level from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

GOVERNOR’S CLUB WEDNESDAY BUFFET MENU – Wednesday’s menu offers a Pacific Northwest flair: Washington State Salmon bisque; Washington trio apple salad; spinach pear salad; seasonal green salad; Oregon herb-rubbed tri-tip beef; California drunken chicken; potatoes & wild mushroom au gratin; lime asparagus; broccoli & cauliflower au beurre, and finishing with peach cobbler.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Chris Sprowls will hold a joint press conference to discuss the introduction of ridesharing legislation at 1 p.m. on the 4th Floor Capitol Rotunda in front of the Senate Chamber.

FIRST IN SUNBURN – RIDE-SHARE LEGISLATION TO FOCUS ON RIDER SAFETY, CONSUMER PROTECTIONS — Expected to be filed today, the legislation will focus on three main components: riders’ safety, minimum insurance standards and consumer protections. The legislation is expected to include language requiring transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft, to conduct criminal background checks, disqualify drivers in the national sex offender registry, create zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies, and require TNCs to obtain and review driving record reports. The legislation is also expected to include language requiring a TNC to purchase primary insurance coverage and clarify responsibilities among insurers. When it comes to consumer protections, the bills are expected to include provisions requiring TNCs to provide riders with an electronic receipt that includes origin of trip, the total time of trip, the distance of trip, and the fare paid. It also will codify rules requiring TNCs to adopt nondiscrimination policies.

RICHARD CORCORAN SHOULD TELL LOBBYISTS FOR HILLSBOROUGH PTC THEY’RE NOT WELCOME via Florida Politics – If Corcoran truly believes local governments using taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyists is a “disgrace,” he can do more than require those who represent public entities or tax-supported entities to disclose their contracts. He could tell these lobbyists they’re not welcome in the Florida House if they’re there on behalf of a city or county or sheriff or college or school district or airport or seaport, etc. Of course, he’s not ready to do that … But Corcoran could make an example out of one or two of the local entities who truly should not be using taxpayer dollars to lobby the Legislature. In fact, he could start with giving the hand to those who represent the embattled Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission. The commission pays $120,000 annually to Corcoran & Johnston to represent it before the Legislature. Michael Corcoran, one of the principals of the firm, is the brother of Speaker Corcoran … even though the PTC has escaped a criminal investigation into how its executive director conspired with taxi cab companies to issue tickets Uber and Lyft drivers operating outside of PTC regulations governing for-hire transportation, the commission’s days are numbered. Still, Corcoran should make an example of it.

MORNING MUST-READ – SOUTH FLORIDA WATER MANAGERS CRITICIZE GROUP’S EVERGLADES RESERVOIR REPORT via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The South Florida Water Management District is challenging an environmental group’s study that supports building an Everglades water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Senate President Joe Negron has proposed that the state and federal governments split the $2.4 billion cost of a reservoir to divert Lake Okeechobee discharges to coastal estuaries. But in a Jan. 9 letter, the district’s Alkintunde O. Owsina, bureau chief of hydrology and hydraulics, said that plan laid out by the foundation report is misleading and is based on “irresponsible science” … “Releasing a report in this form is a misrepresentation of facts,” Owsina wrote. The letter comes in advance of a hearing [today] before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources on harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges and Everglades restoration.

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CLEMSON GRAD KATIE EDWARDS CONGRATULATES ALMA MATER ON 2017 WIN — Rep. Edwards congratulated Clemson University for its win over the University of Alabama in the 2017 College Football National Championship in Tampa on Monday. The victory marked Clemson’s first football national championship since 1981. “Congratulations to Head Coach Dabo Swinney, the student athletes on the team, and the entire Clemson University family on last night’s rousing victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship game,” she said in a statement. “After 36 years, I couldn’t be more excited that the Tigers have reclaimed their rightful place on top of the college football world. I also want to congratulate Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the city of Tampa for putting on an incredibly successful week of celebrations that showcased Florida’s place as a leader for tourism and special events nationwide. Solid Orange!” Edwards graduated from Clemson University in 2002 with a bachelors’ in agriculture and applied economics.

WHAT JIM ROSICA IS READING – ‘YOU MIGHT AS WELL GET GOING’: LATE NEWSROOM START TIMES HAVE GONE THE WAY OF DRINK CARTS AND PRIVATE OFFICES via Lucia Moses of – Staffers of The Boston Globe learned last week that as part of a newsroom reinvention, most of them would be expected to start work at 9 a.m. The memo from editor Brian McGrory read, in part: “We’ll be looking, soon, to get much of the room started earlier in the day, and impose rolling deadlines on enterprise stories through the day, to assure that we have a flow of fresh stories when people are most likely to read them. Still too many stories are posted on the site in the evening, because we’ve followed old-school print deadlines. That’s got to stop … Foreign as this might seem, it is very doable.” The need for the reassurance shows how, however far they’ve come, traditional newsrooms are still adapting to meet the demands of the web without neglecting a print product that in all likelihood is still the revenue driver of the organization. Born-digital media outlets never had to think about the constraints of print. “Welcome to the modern era, Boston Globe,” chortled Nicholas Carlson, editor-in-chief of Insider, Business Insider’s general-news spinoff.

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