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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.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO THINK…

… 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.

THE PRESIDENCY IS ABOUT TO CHANGE AS TRUMP REMAINS TRUMP

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.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE INAUGURATION:

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.

THE OFFICIAL SCHEDULE

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

***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.***

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.

NEW & RENEWED LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

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.

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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.

FLORIDA POLITICOS HEAD TO D.C.

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.

TWEET, TWEET:

HERE’S TODAY’S INAUGURATION SCHEDULE

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.

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

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.

***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.***

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 go90.com. 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.”

***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 www.sachsmedia.com to learn more.***

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.

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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.

(MOSTLY) QUIET IN FLORIDA AS PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION APPROACHES

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 FloridaPolitics.com 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.

TWEET, TWEET:

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.

NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @RepAlLawsonJr

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 www.sachsmedia.com 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 TheDestinLog.com – 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 LeadershipFlorida.org  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 LeadershipFlorida.org.

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.

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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.

PARTY TIME

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 SaintPetersBlog.com; FloridaPolitics.com; and Orlando-Rising.com 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 www.sachsmedia.com 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.

***On 3 Public Relations, an award-winning and woman-owned full-service PR and communications firm, is your one stop shop for coalition development, grassroots advocacy and corporate communications. It’s a new year, with new stories. Let us tell yours! #storytellingexperts***

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.

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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.

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

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 a.m.at 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 www.sachsmedia.com 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.

***On 3 Public Relations, an award-winning and woman-owned full-service PR and communications firm, is your one stop shop for coalition development, grassroots advocacy and corporate communications. It’s a new year, with new stories. Let us tell yours! #storytellingexperts***

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 DIGIDAY.com – 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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Sunburn for 1.10.17 – Steve Crisafulli’s 2018 plans; The latest from Ft. Lauderdale & Orlando shootings; Visit Florida intrigue; Gary Fineout to TX

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

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

FIRST ON FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM – STEVE CRISAFULLI SAYS NO TO 2018 BID

The Republican from Merritt Island, who was speaker 2014-16, was widely expected to mount a statewide bid for the cabinet post, but like his predecessor in the Speakership – Will Weatherford – family priorities won out.

“After much consideration and prayer, I have decided not to run for Commissioner of Agriculture in 2018,” said Crisafulli in a statement first provided to FloridaPolitics.com.

A telegenic politician whose family has deep roots to Florida’s agriculture community, Crisafulli was expected to easily win the Republican nomination to succeed Adam Putnam, who is term-limited.

He has raised more than $2 million for his political committees, Growing Florida’s Future and Growing Sustainable Florida.

With Crisafulli not running, the field for Ag. Commish – both figuratively and literally – is wide open.

State Rep. Matt Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, also has designs on the seat but said he would have deferred to Crisafulli had he decided to commit.

“I have nothing but respect and admiration for Steve and the thought he put into this decision,” said Caldwell, chair of the Government Accountability Committee. “My wife and I have talked about the possibility of my running and she is comfortable with that if that’s the decision I make.”

Caldwell added, however, he will be “focused on the (committee) responsibilities I have been charged with until after session. That said, I am seriously thinking about” the agriculture commissioner’s race.

As for Crisafulli’s future plans, he said he does not expect to land a job in the Donald Trump administration, as some have speculated.

“I plan to remain politically active, but after years of travel to fulfill my obligations to the House Republican Conference and as Speaker of the Florida House, there is nothing I want more than to spend time with my Kristen and our daughters as they finish out their final years of being at home before going off to college.”

>>>In addition to Caldwell, Sunburn hears that Rep. Halsey Beshears is very seriously considering running for Ag. Commissioner.

HAPPENING TODAY — CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS DUE — Political committees, parties and candidates for state office in 2018 and 2020 are required to turn in their campaign finance reports for activity through Dec. 31.

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

— THE GUNSHINE STATE —

AIRPORT SHOOTING SUSPECT GETS PUBLIC DEFENDER IN COURT via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press – … after telling a judge that he has no job and only $5 or $10 in the bank. Esteban Santiago, 26, spoke clearly during a brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Valle, who ordered him held until his next hearings … Santiago answered mostly yes or no to questions, and told the judge he understands the charges, which include committing violence against people at an international airport resulting in death, and two firearms offenses … He mentioned expenses including $560 in monthly rent, plus phone and other utility bills. He said he owns no property and doesn’t have a vehicle … Given his finances, the judge decided he’s eligible for government lawyers at taxpayer expense. Valle set a detention hearing for Jan. 17, followed by an arraignment for entering a plea for Jan. 23.

— “FBI agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein leads airport case” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press

BROWARD INVESTIGATING HOW TMZ OBTAINED VIDEO SHOWING GUNMAN FIRING FIRST SHOTS AT FORT LAUDERDALE AIRPORT via Larry Barszewski of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Airport officials, along with federal and local authorities, are investigating who had access to the footage and who allowed it to be taped without authorization, Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief told the Sun Sentinel. Sharief said the video does not appear to be the actual security footage but a cellphone video of that footage. The “footage was being played in a secure room for only people with certain security clearance,” Sharief said. She said she is concerned that whoever released the video did it to make money.

HERCULEAN BAGGAGE RETURN, GRIM SHOOTING SCENE CLEANUP COMPLICATE AIRPORT’S RETURN TO NORMAL via Arlene Satchell of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Besides luggage, cell phones, tablets, wallets, driver’s licenses and passports are among the loose items collected … They were all left behind as travelers fled for their lives Friday after Santiago allegedly fired shots into a crowded baggage claim area at the airport’s Terminal 2. To reunite the personal effects abandoned Friday across four terminals with their owners, the airport hired a baggage management company to catalog and process the items, he said. The massive cache of belongings is now housed in a secured hangar at the airport.

ORLANDO POLICE OFFICER SHOT, KILLED; SUSPECT STILL BEING SOUGHT via Rene Stutzman and Stephanie Allen of the Orlando Sentinel – By Monday evening, officers largely abandoned the apartment complex in northwest Orlando that was the focus of their search for much of the day, and suspect Markeith Loyd, 41, was still at large … Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot about 7:15 a.m. by a murder suspect after someone pointed him out at a Wal-Mart and she gave chase on foot, the agency reported. A sheriff’s deputy identified as Norman Lewis, 35, was later killed in a crash with a 78-year-old driver. He had been with the sheriff’s office since 2005. The manhunt prompted the lockdown of more than a dozen schools and snarled traffic for hours. A $60,000 reward is being offered for anyone who has information to help capture Loyd, 41, who was accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in December.

— “Slain Orlando police officer Debra Clayton called a hero” via David Harris of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Deputy Norman Lewis: Ex-UCF football player killed in Orlando manhunt” via Shannon Greene and Susan Jacobson of the Orlando Sentinel

JOHN MINA READY TO GO ‘TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH’ TO CATCH SHOOTING SUSPECT MARKEITH LOYD via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising – “It doesn’t matter where he goes,” [Orlando Police Chief]  Mina said. “We’ll track him to the ends of the Earth.” Mina said they were currently searching for Loyd in the Brookside Apartments area, located at 3997 Rosewood Way in Orlando. He advised anyone who didn’t absolutely need to be there to leave the area, as there was a high police presence there as of the late afternoon. He also disclosed more details about [Master Sgt. DebraClayton’s final hours … Clayton had been on patrol when she was approached early Monday morning by a civilian who tipped her off about Loyd’s presence in the area. As Loyd was wanted for the December killing of a pregnant woman, Clayton responded by going to the Wal-Mart at the corner of Princeton Street and John Young Parkway where Loyd had been reportedly seen. She saw him and a short foot chase ensued. It was when she yelled out “stop” that Loyd allegedly turned and fired at her. She was hit, but returned fire – although Mina said they don’t currently believe he was hit.

— “Sheriff suggests no-gun list for mentally ill” via Wayne Roustan, Sally Kestin and Larry Barszewski of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

— “Rick Scott ‘heartbroken’ over deaths of officer, deputy” via the Orlando Sentinel

— “Marco Rubio mourns Orlando officers killed, calls for law enforcement respect ‘every day’” via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising

FACEBOOK POST OF THE DAY via Michelle Todd Schorsch: “When I read about the killing of a police officer in Orlando and the death of another who was trying to catch the shooter this morning, I was, of course, outraged and upset. Then my Tri Delta pledge sister posted asking if anyone had heard from her friend Norm Lewis who works that area. Then hours later she posted that Big Norm was a victim of today’s tragedy, and I can’t stop thinking about it … About the man who as a young man was someone a lot of UCF girls counted on to help keep them safe. About a man a year younger than me who isn’t going home tonight. About a man who died as a result of another senseless act of gun violence. So much tragedy. Rest In Peace Big Norm.”

ORLANDO EYE GLOWS BLUE FOR FALLEN OFFICERS via Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel – The 400-foot observation wheel on International Drive often changes colors to reflect holidays, tragedies and other big events. Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot about 7:15 a.m. Monday by a murder suspect after someone pointed him out at a Wal-Mart and she gave chase on foot … A little while later, a sheriff’s deputy identified as Norman Lewis, 35, was later killed in a crash with a 78-year-old driver … Police are offering a $60,000 reward for anyone helping them capture the shooting suspect, Markeith Loyd, 41, who was accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in December.

SHERIFF HELPS FLORIDA UNIVERSITY SIDESTEP STATEWIDE FIREARM BAN AND ARM FACULTY, STAFF ANYWAY via Michael Dorstewitz of BizPac Review – Southeastern University is teaming up with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to launch Florida’s first “Sentinel Program,” designed to beef up campus security and safety … Under the program, select faculty and staff members will be given professional and comprehensive training in law enforcement. It’s the first program in the United States that will appoint those who successfully complete the training as special deputies. It will also allow those who complete the program to carry concealed firearms, all of which would appear to violate state law. Florida statute 790.06(12) expressly prohibits students and faculty from carrying weapons on campus unless “the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile.”

THERE ARE 45 STATES THAT ALLOW OPEN CARRY FOR FIREARMS, FORMER NRA PRESIDENT SAYS via Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact – Marion Hammer, currently executive director of United Sportsmen of Florida, responded to criticism of SB 300 and its companion in the House, HB 163. In a column posted on the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website … Hammer pointed out how many states allow open carry. “Forty-five (45) states allow open carry of firearms,” she wrote. “Varying restrictions on open carry in some states does not alter the fact that 45 states allow open carry.” … Groups both for and against stricter gun laws told us there are five states that have laws banning open carry for handguns: California, Florida, Illinois, New York and South Carolina. It’s worth remembering, however, that the laws in some open-carry states are not as permissive as Hammer makes it seem. Several states have restrictions on the open carry of certain types of firearms, and in some places the rules are stricter than others. We rate Hammer’s statement Mostly True.

— “Mayor Andrew Gillum’s attack on the NRA unwise” via Marion Hammer for the Tallahassee Democrat

— “Don’t allow guns in Florida airports” via Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Toughen laws involving guns, mentally disturbed” via the Tampa Bay Times

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence will hold a news conference. to unveil proposed gun-safety legislation. And address concerns about allowing open carry in more public places, including airports, at at 12:45 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Capitol Rotunda. Sen. Gary Farmer is scheduled to attend to discuss the proposed legislation.

***On 3 Public Relations, an award-winning and woman-owned full-service PR and communications firm, is your one stop shop for coalition development, grassroots advocacy and corporate communications. It’s a new year, with new stories. Let us tell yours! #storytellingexperts***

DENNIS ROSS CONTINUES MOVING UP THE CONGRESSIONAL LADDER via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Ross was tapped as vice chairman of the U.S. Housing and Insurance (H&I) Subcommittee which is under the umbrella of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee (FSC). Ross has been on both the committee and the subcommittee … the subcommittee “has primary jurisdiction over insurance generally including the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), public and private housing, urban development, the Rural Housing Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Government Sponsored Enterprises, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Federal Housing Administration.” Ross noted that his perch on the H&I Subcommittee has allowed him to lead the charge in bringing in more private sector solutions to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Development and working on flood insurance issues.

VERN BUCHANAN PROMISES TO INVESTIGATE IRS, FIGHT FRAUD IN NEW CONGRESSIONAL ROLE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Buchanan is set to play a major role on investigating the IRS, health care, Social Security and Medicare as he will take over the U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee. U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady … named Buchanan as chairman of the subcommittee … Buchanan gives up the gavel on the U.S. House Human Resources Subcommittee. “I look forward to chairing this important watchdog panel that will monitor government’s largest federal agencies and programs,” Buchanan said … “I intend to make sure these programs are accountable and working for the people.”

SPOTTED in The Washington Post’s list of “11 Democratic women who could run for president in 2020:” Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat and former Orlando police chief, in the No. 10 spot.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make a higher education announcement at 10:15 a.m. at USAA, 17200 Commerce Park Blvd. in Tampa. Media interested in attending should contact Keith O’Malley at 623-451-7388.

LIKE PITBULL DEAL, TERMINATING FLORIDA TOURISM CHIEF WILL BE PRICY via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – If Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe is fired “without cause” … his contract calls for him to collect his base salary for 18 months, which would amount to at least $439,000. That money would be paid in a lump sum within 35 days of his termination. He would also collect a yet-to-be determined sum equal to 18 months of the monthly premiums paid by Visit Florida for his health benefits. Seccombe is barely holding onto his job after Gov. Scott last month called for his resignation amid growing political ire over a mostly secret contract with Pitbull that paid the entertainer $1 million to promote Florida in music videos and on social media. Firing Seccombe with cause would avoid the payouts, but the agency would have to prove Seccombe did not perform his duties, despite record tourism, or was part of serious misconduct.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Visit Florida Board of Directors will meet at 9 a.m. at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Drive in Lake Buena Vista.

STATE POISED TO ALLOW AQUIFER PUMPING NEAR SILVER SPRINGS via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel – The irrigation permit was scheduled for a final vote of approval … but a coalition of environmental groups filed legal action … meaning the matter will go to a state hearing judge for further action. In 2014, the St. Johns River Water Management District said an irrigation permit sought by Sleepy Creek to pump 1.1 million gallons a day from the aquifer would harm “the ecology of Silver Springs and the Silver River.” Near Ocala, the springs is one Florida’s original tourist attractions and is now a state park. But recently revamped analysis, according to the district, shows that Sleepy Creek can temporarily boost pumping by 1.2 million gallons a day, which would be in addition to other water rights the ranch holds.

STATE WILDLIFE OFFICIALS RECOMMEND LEAVING BOAT ANCHORING REGULATION WITH THE STATE via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Boats that anchor in waterways near homes have generated complaints about waste disposal, privacy and noise. But the Legislature has prohibited cities and counties from regulating where boats can anchor other than within designated mooring areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which conducted a seven-year pilot program on boat mooring, is recommending that the state maintain sole authority for regulating boat anchoring. And the agency suggested that, if local regulations are allowed, only counties should be allowed to enact ordinances. But the commission did not make recommendations on several issues, including inoperable vessels being used as residences, the lack of sewage pump out services in many areas and possible minimum setback requirements from shorelines and private docks for anchoring. Reaction to the recommendations were mixed.

CHALLENGE TO BOBBY POWELL’S ELECTION IS OVER via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – A Florida Senate committee appointed to review a challenge to West Palm Beach Democratic state Sen. Powell’s election has been dissolved after Powell’s Republican rival, Ron Berman, withdrew his contest of the result. Powell defeated Berman with 54.1 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 election for the northern Palm Beach County District 30 seat. But Berman filed a notice of contest Nov. 21 because Ruben Anderson, a Democrat who never made the primary ballot because of a bounced qualifying check, had filed a lawsuit seeking a new Democratic primary that included him on the ballot. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis dismissed Anderson’s suit in December, saying he did not have jurisdiction to decide whether Powell should be seated and that it was up to the Senate to decide.

BILL FORMULATED BY JOE GRUTERS WOULD RESTRICT ABORTION IN FLORIDA via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Florida would follow 15 other states in outlawing abortions after 20 weeks under legislation being formulated by two Sarasota lawmakers … considered a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that abortions can be prohibited only when a fetus is viable outside the womb, typically considered around 24 weeks. Florida law bans abortions under most circumstances in the third trimester of pregnancy – after 24 weeks – or if a physician determines the fetus is viable earlier. “I just can’t imagine a baby having to feel pain and going through this,” said Sarasota state Rep. Joe Gruters, who is sponsoring the bill along with Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube. “This is an issue that I feel passionately about.” So-called “fetal pain” bills have been gaining momentum nationwide.

DENNIS BAXLEY FILES BILL FOR RONALD REAGAN SPECIALTY LICENSE PLATE via Florida Politics – If approved, the bill will take effect Oct. 1, and a portion of the proceeds will be used to fund educational programs about the late leader. “The word ‘Florida’ must appear at the top of the plate, and the words ‘President Ronald Reagan’ must appear at the bottom of the plate,” the bill says. Florida drivers wanting the license plate would pay $25 in fees, with as much as 25 percent to be used for administrative, promotion and marketing costs. Language of the bill requires as much as 10 percent of the revenue go to the Florida National Guard Foundation, and the remainder to be used for “activities, programs, and projects that educate Florida’s students and residents about the contributions of the nation’s 40th president to the state and the United States and to support ongoing research of Alzheimer’s disease for the benefit of Florida residents and their families who suffer from the disease.”

HAPPENING TODAY – FIVE COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will receive an overview of property insurance issues, including the assignment of benefits issues, during a meeting at 10 a.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The House Commerce Committee is also scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. in 212 Knott to receive a presentation about committee priorities. At 1 p.m., the House Appropriations Committee will meet in 212 Knott to get an update on the state’s financial outlook; while the House Ways & Means Committee will meet in Morris Hall to receive a presentation about state and local tax and fee structures. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to discuss several court rulings — including the death penalty sentencing system and the workers’ compensation insurance system —   at 3:30 p.m. in 404 House Office Building.

***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 www.sachsmedia.com to learn more.***

GARY FINEOUT TO GUEST STAR IN ACADEMIA via Fineout’s Facebook page – Fineout, a Capitol Press Corps fixture, posted Monday he will be a guest speaker later this week at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. “I’m going to help with a segment on Crisis Management and Media Relations that is part of a course being taught by former Gov. Jeb Bush on gubernatorial leadership,” he wrote. “I am excited about the prospect of discussing how different governors have dealt with the press, especially how they have dealt with hard-hitting coverage, access and transparency.”

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – With a new Legislative Session approaching, as well as a new chef, the Governors Club buffet today will feature She Crab soup; Remoulade slaw; seasonal greens salad; traditional potato salad with bacon; fried chicken with whiskey barbecue sauce; herb roasted pork loin; macaroni & cheese; mashed potatoes; succotash; broccoli & cauliflower casserole; and finishing off with assorted desserts.

WHAT JEFF BRANDES IS READING – GOOGLE SPINOFF WAYMO HAS BUILT ITS OWN SELF-DRIVING SENSORS via Steven Overly of The Washington Post – Waymo, has developed sensors that pair with its self-driving software, potentially opening the door for the company to sell a comprehensive system that automakers build into future car models. Google initially built its self-driving software on a prototype car outfitted with sensors, cameras and other hardware from outside suppliers. But to build a more affordable and sophisticated system capable of fully autonomous driving, the company decided it needed to create both halves of the technology, executives said. The announcement comes just weeks after Japanese automaker Honda said it would incorporate Waymo’s technology into some of its vehicles. The companies said that deal was centered on research rather than producing vehicles for market, Bloomberg News reported.

WHAT MATT DIXON IS READING – POLITICO VETERANS’ NEWS VENTURE AXIOS AIMS TO FIX ADVERTISING via Lukas Alpert of the Wall Street Journal – The political and business news-focused outlet—which kicks off with a slate of newsletter offerings and will launch in full Jan. 18—is beginning with the premise that banner ads and long-form native advertising don’t work. In its place, Axios will only offer advertisers a type of short-form branded content. It will fit all on one screen and will lie more naturally within its editorial concept of providing readers bite-size bits of hard news and information. “People want more digestible news. They want it shorter and more shareable, so it makes no sense to not have ads structured the same way,” said [JimVandeHei, chairman and CEO of Axios. “To keep doing the same thing as has been done in media nowadays means death.” Axios will launch with 10 advertising partners, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Boeing Co., BP PLC and PepsiCo.

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Sunburn for 1.9.17 – Key dates for 2017; Terror at #FLL; Pam Bondi still mum; 3 key personnel moves

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

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

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

In Florida, odd number years are just as busy as even numbered ones.

There’s big city municipal elections; a never-ending legislative session; and turmoil in the state’s political parties. And with major statewide elections coming up in 2018, every day could be the next governor could announce his (or her) candidacy.

Want to be in the know? Here’s a few key dates to help you get through 2017 (and help you plan for 2018):

Jan. 14 — The fight for the future of the Florida Democratic Party could come to an end (or at least put on pause) when the state party meets in Orlando to elect its next chair.

Jan. 20 — Hail to the chief! President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Don’t worry, it’s unlikely he’ll give up his title as tweeter-in-chief once he takes the oath of office.

Jan. 27 — The Senate deadline to submit requests for drafts of general bills and joint resolutions. It’s also the deadline for House member bill request submissions subject to opening day filing (except for appropriations project bills).

February — More money, more problems? Gov. Rick Scott must submit his budget recommendations at least 30 days before the start of the annual 60-day legislative session.

Feb. 14 — Want to know how much lobbying firms made in the fourth quarter of 2016? Firms have until 11:59 p.m. to file the quarterly compensation reports with the state. [And if you don’t want to land in the doghouse with your loved one, don’t forget it’s also Valentine’s Day.]

Feb. 17 — The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy will host its 17th annual Celebration of Reading at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs. Last year was one of the first years former Gov. Jeb Bush (who along with wife, Columba, founded the event) missed the celebration. With no primary in New Hampshire to worry about, will he be on hand for this year’s festivities?

March 6 — Every 20 years, Florida’s Constitution gets a makeover and 37 Floridians get a chance to help give it a face-lift. Expect appointments to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to be made by today.

March 7 — It might be one of Tallahassee florists’ favorite day of the year, the start of the annual 60-day Legislative Session. The 2017 Legislative Session convenes at noon.

March 21 — Welcome to the Florida Capitol! The Florida Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Florida Chamber Capitol Days. The event runs through March 23.

April 15 — Federal candidates need to turn in their campaign finance reports covering the first quarter of 2017. (It’s also Tax Day, so make sure your taxes are in the mail).

April 25 — Ten days left until the end of the legislative session. If your bill isn’t bound for a floor vote by now, it’s unlikely it will pass.

May 5 — Drop that hanky, it’s Sine Die.

May 15 — Want to know how much lobbying firms made in the first quarter of 2017? Firms have until 11:59 p.m. to file the quarterly compensation reports with the state.

June 30 — Thinking of running for Republican Leader-designate? Under new House rules, candidates can’t directly or indirectly solicit or accept “formal or informal pledges of support” before June 30 of their first full term of office.

July 1 — The 2017-18 fiscal year begins.

July 4 — Bring on the fireworks! It’s time to wish the United States “happy birthday.”

July 15 — Federal candidates need to turn in their campaign finance reports covering the second quarter of 2017.

Aug. 14 — Want to know how much lobbying firms made in the first second of 2017? Firms have until 11:59 p.m. to file the quarterly compensation reports with the state.

Aug. 29 — St. Petersburg voters will head to the voting booths for municipal primaries.

Sept. 2 — Are you ready for some football? Florida State University will face the University of Alabama at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Home games more your thing?

Oct. 15 — Federal candidates need to turn in their campaign finance reports covering the third quarter of 2017.

Nov. 7 — Voters in St. Petersburg, Orlando, Miami, Miami Beach, head to the polls for municipal general elections. Also of note: Nov. 7 is one year out from the 2018 general election (Election Day 2018 is Nov. 6). Why is that important? Well in 2013, former Gov. Charlie Crist announced his plans to run for governor as a Democrat exactly one year out from the 2014 gubernatorial election.

Nov. 14 — Want to know how much lobbying firms made in the third quarter of 2017? Firms have until 11:59 p.m. to file the quarterly compensation reports with the state.

September through December — With the 2018 Legislative Session scheduled to start in January, expect the fall calendar to be filled with committee meetings.

Dec. 31 — Say goodbye to 2017, and hello 2018. The big question we’ll be asking as we countdown to midnight: Who has (or hasn’t) declared a 2018 run, and is it too late for them to jump in?

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— TERROR IN FT. LAUDERDALE —

HOW IT UNFOLDEDCNN, Airport shooting suspect used gun once seized by police, confesses – “When Esteban Santiago was in an Alaska FBI office in November, saying his mind was being controlled by US intelligence, he left two things in the car: a gun and his newborn child … concerning enough for authorities to take away his gun and order a mental health evaluation. But it wasn’t enough to get him mentally adjudicated, which would have prohibited Santiago from owning a firearm.” The Washington Post, Fort Lauderdale suspect claimed government was controlling his mind months before shooting – “Santiago showed signs of violence and what authorities called ‘erratic behavior’ in the months before … Police held his gun for a month, and then gave it back to him … ” USA TODAYAlaska neighbors say shooting suspect mostly amicable – “Two Anchorage, Alaska, neighbors … say the Iraq War veteran was generally amicable for the few years he lived near them with his girlfriend … and their children … they did notice a change last October.” ABC NewsVictims of Fort Lauderdale Attack Include ‘Joyful’ Great-Grandmother and Globe-Trotting Husband – “Olga Woltering, 84, a great-grandmother from Marietta, Georgia, and Michael Oehme, 57, a land surveyor from Council Bluffs, Iowa, who owned his own business, Boundaryline Surveys.” Washington ExaminerFort Lauderdale gunman could face death penalty – “The statutory charges authorize a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years.” ABC/Local10News.comFather celebrating birthday dies in Fort Lauderdale airport shooting – “Terry Andres started celebrating his 62nd birthday Friday. He was getting ready to go on a 16-day cruise …” AOL NewsA 7-year-old at the Fort Lauderdale airport Friday found herself in a second brush with an active shooter – “Cheyenne Crist … Cheyenne’s mother, Alicia Crist … said her husband is in the Army and was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, when the most recent shooting occurred in May 2016. Her daughter also was present.” Miami Herald, Hero shields mother of two from Fort Lauderdale airport shooter – “Annika Dean … prayed fervently that she would survive and that her two children would not be left without a mother. Then a man dropped down and lay on top of Dean, quietly telling her that he would protect her. The shooter walked over to them … and began to shoot over them.” The Associated PressWhat happens next in Florida airport shooting legal case? – “Does Santiago have a defense? Uphill at best. There are dozens of witnesses to the shooting and the FBI said in an affidavit that he told agents in a post-arrest interview how he planned the attack, what weapon he brought with him to Florida, how he loaded the gun from his checked luggage in an airport bathroom and came out firing.”

VIDEO: FIRST SHOTS IN SHOOTING via TMZ.com – The Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooter walked casually through baggage claim before suddenly pulling his gun out and wreaking havoc. You see the shooter, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, with a 9 mm handgun tucked inside his waistband, and then pulling it out and beginning to shoot.

ALASKA COPS RETURNED GUN TO AIRPORT SHOOTER via Patricia Mazzei, David Ovalle and Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald – On Nov. 7Santiago parked at an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska — leaving his newborn son and his gun in the car — and told agents the CIA was trying to control his mind, pushing him to watch Islamic State terrorist videos. The feds called local police, who took Santiago into custody and sent him to get a psychiatric evaluation … The cops took the gun — and a loaded magazine Santiago carried on him. He got the gun back 31 days later. Twenty-nine days after that, one-way plane ticket in hand, Santiago hopped on a flight that brought him to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. He picked up a Walther 9 mm gun he’d checked in as luggage, loaded it in a men’s room stall, and shot 11 people, five of them to death. Santiago “shot the first people he encountered,” according to investigators who interrogated him. He emptied the two magazines, firing 10-15 bullets, “aiming at his victims’ heads.”

— “Esteban Santiago planned airport killings, investigators say” via Paula McMahon of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

— “As bullets flew around her, a stranger whispered, ‘I will protect you’” via David Fleshler, Diane C. Lade, Adam Sacasa and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

— “Man who shielded Broward teacher from Fort Lauderdale shooter a ‘humble’ hero” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald

EDITORIALWHY DIDN’T THE FBI DIG DEEPER INTO ESTEBAN SANTIAGO’S STORY? via the Miami Herald – Now, even as Americans learn more about Santiago and his long, unfortunate journey from Alaska to South Florida, the questions remain practically endless. He had a domestic-violence charge lurking in his background, as well as a “general discharge” from the Alaska National Guard for “unsatisfactory performance.” It is imperative that the FBI, the Alaska police department, aviation authorities and — to the degree that they can given confidentiality laws — the psychiatric professionals who encountered Santiago must respond quickly and forthrightly. Unfortunately, it appears that almost everyone did everything according to law, which makes the airport shootings even more tragic. Even though Santiago was alarmed at his own state of mind and told the FBI he was considering fighting for ISIS, he was put on neither a no-fly list, which would have prevented him from flying internationally if that truly was his plan, or the Terrorist Watch List, which would have triggered other alarms. We need to know why all this happened. More urgent, we need to know that it won’t happen again. It’s very possible that Santiago is one “lone wolf” that could have been snared.

— “FBI owes better answers on Fort Lauderdale airport shooting” via the South Florida Sun Sentinel

IDS, PHONES, BAGS AMONG 25K ITEMS LOST IN AIRPORT RAMPAGE via Kelli Kennedy and Terry Spencer of The Associated Press – The shooting … which killed five people and wounded six, also stranded about 12,000 outgoing and incoming travelers, many returning from cruises or arriving ahead of the usual Saturday departures of the massive ships based in the tourism hub’s Port Everglades terminal. Some travelers were kept on planes for more than seven hours while police put the airport on lockdown; others scrambled to protected corners or were hustled out onto the tarmac … The Florida Highway Patrol sent computer-equipped buses to the airport Saturday afternoon to issue temporary ID cards to help travelers get out of state and even abroad. “We are doing what we can to help,” Sgt. Mark Wysocki said. Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said most bags won’t be available until [today]. The airport hired an outside firm to collect discarded bags and sort them by where they were found so they can be identified by their owners. Those with lost luggage were told to call a toll-free number.

FRUSTRATED PASSENGERS FLAG DOWN RICK SCOTT TO HELP FIND MISSING LUGGAGE via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald – After the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale’s airport, authorities have an unusual problem: More than 20,000 pieces of personal items were abandoned on the scene, leaving passengers desperate to retrieve their luggage, cellphones and purses. On Saturday morning … Scott did his best to find four suitcases. Passengers Ronald Mackey and Charod Oliphant of Maryland saw the governor walking through Terminal 2 after a news conference and approached him. Mackey said he was getting the run-around from Delta representatives about their four bags … until he handed the phone to the governor. “They told me it was a crime scene and it would be at least three or four days before they release our bags,” Mackey said. Scott took the phone and spoke with a Delta rep as he leaned against a railing near several potted plants. After an unexpected conversation with the governor, a Delta rep said she would arrange to have Mackey and Oliphant’s bags sent to Aruba, their first port of call — and would approve an allowance for them to buy toiletries and undergarments.

SENATOR: SHOOTING SHOWS NEED TO REPEAL GUN FREE ZONES via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Sen Greg Steube is the sponsor of SB 140 which would eliminate most gun-free zones in Florida. The proposal allows concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry handguns in most public places, including airport passenger terminals. “My first thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” Steube said … “But this goes back to the fact why I’ve been working against gun free zones for the past three years.” In that time, Steube noted Florida has experienced shootings at Florida State University, the Pulse nightclub and now a South Florida airport. “Gun-free zones don’t prevent criminals from breaking the law and killing innocent victims,” said Steube. “All that law did was prevent law-abiding citizens who have a concealed-carry permit from carrying their firearm in defense of themselves and others.”

— “Bloodbath shows why guns should be allowed in airports, lawmakers say” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

BILL HAGER ‘DUMBFOUNDED’ HIS FLIGHT LANDED DURING FORT LAUDERDALE AIRPORT SHOOTING via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – “We are on an active runway. I’m on a JetBlue aircraft that landed here at about 1:30,” said the Boca Raton Republican. “We are in view of much of the events unfolding.” “We are looking at what I believe to be terminal 3,” he added. “There are hordes of people just standing out in front of it. People are not physically moving; they are just standing around the jetway.” Hager said that passengers on his flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport knew roughly one hour before landing that there was an active shooter situation at the airport. When pilots addressed passengers after landing, they told passengers they were not aware of the situation on the ground, he said. “We were dumbfounded. The passengers knew an hour, give or take, before landing that there was an active shooter scene unfolding here,” he said. “We were dumbfounded that JetBlue nonetheless made the decision to land here and not in [Palm Beach] or Miami.”

***On 3 Public Relations, an award-winning and woman-owned full service PR and communications firm, is your one stop shop for coalition development, grassroots advocacy and corporate communications. It’s a new year, with new stories. Let us tell yours! #storytellingexperts***

MARK HAMILL READS DONALD TRUMP’S TWEET AS THE JOKER via Madeline Farber of Time magazine – In an audio clip Hamill posted to social media, the Star Wars actor is heard reading Trump’s holiday tweet in the voice of the DC super-villain. Hamill first voiced the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and has continued to perform the role in Batman video games and television shows for decades. “With a little help [from daughter Chelsea Hamill and wife Marilou Hamill] Got the app to send out my 1st soundbite,” he tweeted … “Stay Tuned…for I am #TheTrumpster!”

PAM BONDI STILL MUM ON WORKING FOR TRUMP via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – Bondi kept mum when asked if she would take a position in Trump’s administration, saying she would “not discuss anything confidential.” … “I’m very happy being the Attorney General of the state of Florida right now,” she said, grinning and deflecting the report in Bloomberg News that said she would be tapped for an administration post. Bondi’s critics say she let Trump off the hook over his controversial Trump University, featuring his get-rich-quick real estate seminars.

— “Bondi announces website to spread awareness of human trafficking in Florida” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

TWEET, TWEET: @KBradshawCL: I’m hearing that @AGPamBondi was being considered for the top spot in US DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs.

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS EXPIRE; FLA. NOMINEE LIKELY OUT via Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union – With the election of Trump, Jacksonville U.S. Magistrate Patricia Barksdale appears unlikely to be sworn in to the federal bench anytime soon. Nominated in April by President Barack Obama, that nomination expired in December when the previous Congress adjourned without voting on her. Barksdale would only get on the bench in the unlikely event Trump reappointed her. Barksdale was appointed to fill one of two vacancies in the Middle District of Florida that runs from Jacksonville to Naples. Tampa attorney William Jung got the other nomination and also didn’t get a vote before the previous Congress adjourned. The issue is occurring throughout the country.

CHARLIE CRIST EXPLAINS WHY HE MISSED VOTE SUPPORTING ISRAEL via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Crist said missed an important vote last night because he didn’t give himself enough time to walk from his office to the Capitol and was “detained” by people in the halls wanting to chat. “I’m sorry. It happens. Now I know better. I have to give myself more time,” the rookie Democrat [said] … The vote condemning a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem took place at 7:05 p.m., according to the House Clerk website, and was the first in a series of votes, which Crist did make. Asked about speculation he may have been fundraising Crist replied, “No, no, that’s not the case.”

OP-ED FLORIDIANS HAVE MUCH TO LOSE IF OBAMACARE IS REPEALED via Ted Deutch for the South Florida Sun Sentinel – In the years since, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has tilted our health care system toward justice by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, guaranteeing preventive checkups without a dime coming out of pocket, eliminating annual and lifetime limits to ensure that getting sick won’t mean going broke, and reducing uninsured rates to historic lows. Who benefits from these protections? It’s not just the 20 million Americans newly covered by plans on Healthcare.gov; the law also improved coverage for the 150 million Americans enrolled in plans through their employer, the 55 million disabled Americans and seniors covered by Medicare, and the over 74 million low-income families enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. What could repeal of the health care law mean? It could mean that your grandmother will pay more for her prescription drugs, or that your niece in graduate school on a limited budget will no longer be able to afford contraceptives, or that your friend’s cancer treatment will be interrupted when coverage is pulled because of her pre-existing condition. It could undermine our efforts to stop the onslaught of drug overdose deaths claiming six lives every week in Broward County by allowing insurance companies to arbitrarily refuse to cover mental health and substance abuse services.

IN LETTER TO CONGRESS, RICK SCOTT ASKS FEDS TO INCREASE MEDICAID FUNDING via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – In a 5-page letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyScott said he would like the federal government to reimburse the state 90 cents on the dollar for Florida’s “most vulnerable populations.” Under traditional Medicaid, Florida receives about 61 cents. The 90-cent match is a feature of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Scott said the increased match could encourage states to develop home and community-based programs to care for the most vulnerable. Scott also said that Florida needs flexibility to run its own Medicaid program and that he would use the “successful” managed care Medicaid program already in place, but would like to begin charging copayments for inappropriate emergency room use. Scott also said that Congress should allow a Medicaid waiver to become permanent. Currently, a waiver must be renegotiated with the federal government, a process deemed burdensome by states.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. News conference begins 10 a.m. at the Lake Nona Town Center, 6900 Tavistock Lakes Blvd. in Orlando. At 6 p.m., the governor will attend the Florida Police Chiefs Association Mid-Winter Conference at the Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr. in Orlando.

SCOTT’S DIVISIVE INCENTIVE FUND ATTRACTS BIG DEALS, AND ITS SHARE OF CRITICS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Last year, the Quick Action Closing Fund, which offers cash incentives to close economic development deals, was zeroed-out by then-House Budget Chief Richard Corcoran and his top allies. That move sparked a clash with Scott, a passionate defender of using taxpayer-funded incentives to goose the economy … House Republicans call the incentive strategy “corporate welfare,” while Scott says it’s an imperative tool to spur job creation. The debate over its effectiveness will spill over into the 2017 legislative session, but what is clear is that the Quick Action Closing Fund has been a tool used in some of the state’s most recent and biggest economic development deals. On average, a company involved in a Quick Action Closing Funding deal promised to create 340 jobs compared to an average of 99 for deals that did not involve the fund, according to state data. The Department of Economic Opportunity, the Scott-controlled agency that oversees incentive programs, says they are geared toward companies of all sizes. Corcoran, now the Speaker of the House, said the state can attract new companies without incentive programs like the Quick Action Closing Fund.

MUST-READ OP-ED – PLAIN TALK ON PITBULL: DITCH MARKETING HOOEY AND STICK TO THE FACTS via Rep. Mike Miller for the Orlando Sentinel – While I fully understand and respect differing opinions, I view a contract financed 100 percent by the taxpayer as a public record, period. It seems others see confidentiality as a cost of doing business, even if it leaves taxpayers in the dark. We can debate which position is better — I lean toward openness and transparency — but let’s stick with what we know, and deal in facts, not speculation. In 2000, before Pitbull first appeared on Luke Records, Florida had 73.2 million visitors. In 2001, after Pitbull hit the airways, Florida had 68 million visitors. The truth is “Mr. 305” is an entertainer whose impact on Florida tourism — for better or worse — is negligible, and certainly not worth $1 million from taxpayers … our job as Florida legislators is not to look out for Mr. 305. Our job is to represent and stand with “Mr. and Ms. 407″ and the residents in every other area code in the state. The Florida House will continue to do this because we, like you, #LoveFL.”

— “4-year-old helps school politicians on economic impact reports” via Noah Pransky of WTSP

COULD KEN LAWSON NEXT BE TAPPED TO HEAD VISIT FLORIDA? via Florida Politics – Smart money in Tallahassee now is betting on Scott to move Lawson, his secretary of Business and Professional Regulation, to head VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s “official tourism marketing corporation.” First, he’s a loyal Scott soldier, and has “has held numerous regulatory positions within the private sector and federal government,” according to his official bio. He also knows how to take hits: Bulldog reporter Gary Fineout … shellacked him with questions in October on the last day of trial on whether the Seminole Tribe of Florida should keep offering blackjack at its casinos. Lawson, who had been in the courtroom, was even asked if he planned to resign should the judge rule for the tribe. (The department also regulates gambling.) He smiled but didn’t answer. The state lost—and Lawson’s still in his job.

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SENATE LEADER’S AMBITIOUS EVERGLADES PLAN FACES UPHILL BATTLE via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – Environmentalists are aggressively rallying behind Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to purchase 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee. “This year, we must unite around the opportunity to buy 60,000 acres of land to send water south,” said Cara Capp, the National Parks Conservation Association’s Everglades Restoration Program Manager … While the plan has already come under attack from the environmentalists’ longstanding foe, the sugar industry, Capp reminded the more than 250 attendees that they were their own kind of a political force with a history of success. “We know the job that needs to be done this year. Remember, that our community is powerful,” Capp said.

SENATE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO STREAMLINE FLORIDA SCHOOL TESTING via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Sen. David Simmons, who chairs the Education Appropriations Committee, has scheduled his panel’s first session of the new year Wednesday to explore ways to reduce the scope and cost of Florida testing. He plans to address: Testing methods. Simmons suggested a return to paper-pencil testing, noting many superintendents say their schools lack sufficient computers to administer exams efficiently. The number of tests. Simmons stressed he does not want to eliminate all tests, but said educators and others have pointed out that many are redundant. In some instances, he added, nationally accepted alternatives could suffice. Time spent on testing. Teachers need to be teaching, Simmons said, not preparing students for tests and delaying lessons during testing.

WHAT HENRY KELLEY IS READING – KEY SENATORS WILL FIGHT TO PROTECT NORTHWEST FLORIDA BP DOLLARS via Tom McLaughlin of NWFDailyNews.com – Sen. Jack Latvala, who as chairman of the upper chamber’s Appropriations Committee holds great sway over how Florida’s dollars are spent, said he and Senate President Joe Negron want to see BP lawsuit settlement dollars spent primarily in Northwest Florida. Microphone off what’s that “I’m committed and the Senate President is committed and will fight, with Sen. Broxson and Sen. Gainer, as well as the local House delegation, to make sure the money gets spent the way it was intended” … what he meant by “intended” was that the $400 million the state has thus far received from BP should be doled out as designated in the 2011 Oil Spill Economic Recovery Act. The law … dictated that 75 percent of the total BP dollars received in a legal settlement would go to eight Panhandle counties deemed “disproportionately affected” by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. That would be $300 million of the $400 million that arrived last summer as a first installment of a 20-year, $2.1 billion payout. Those counties are: Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Escambia, Bay, Gulf, Wakulla and Franklin.

JEFF BRANDES TO FILE DRIVER LICENSE SUSPENSION BILL — Sen. Brandes is expected to file a bill Monday that would, among other things, prevent a person’s driver license from being suspended for not paying a fine. According to draft of the proposal, “a person’s driver license may not be suspended solely for failure to pay a penalty if the person demonstrates to the court, after notice of the penalty and before the suspension takes place, that he or she is unable to pay the penalty.” A person would be considered unable to pay if they can show they are: receiving unemployment compensation, disabled and incapable of self-support, receiving temporary cash assistance, or determined indigent after filing an application with the clerk. Sen. Darryl Rouson is expected to be a co-sponsor of the bill.

LAWMAKERS SET TO TAKE ANOTHER STAB AT FIXING INSURANCE CLAIMS ABUSES via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Banking and insurance panels from the state Senate and House will kick off this year’s efforts to solve the “assignment of benefits” problem that home insurers say will trigger annual insurance rate hikes for South Florida homeowners indefinitely if not resolved. Officials from state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation plan to address the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on the issue Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Senate Office Building. The next day, the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee plans a discussion Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the House Office Building.

‘BREACH OF THE PEACE’ MAY BE A RELIC OF THE PAST UNDER NEW LEGISLATION via Florida Politics – Florida Statute defines “breach of the peace” with language from a bygone era, describing it as “acts … of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” Rep. Cord Byrd … filed a bill to amend relevant statute to remove that dated term … and to offer recourse for gun owners who had weapons seized by law enforcement and have been frustrated in recovering their property because statutory language allows law enforcement to keep weapons seized in an investigation unless a court order is issued. House Bill 6013 excises the “breach of the peace” language in statute, reframing offenses like brawling and fighting as “disorderly conduct.” Byrd asserted that “breach of the peace is used as a mechanism to deny people their firearms.”

BILL FILED IN HOUSE TO MAKE KRATOM A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE via Florida Politics – Rep. Kristin Jacobs filed … House Bill 183 [to] add Mitragynine and Hydroxymitragynine, constituents of Kratom, to the schedule of controlled substances, offering an exception for any FDA approved substance containing these chemicals. Selling, delivering, manufacturing, or importing these Kratom chemical constituents into Florida would be considered a misdemeanor of the first degree, should the law go into effect. Kratom has been used as herbal medicine in Southeast Asia for centuries, serving as a palliative and an alternative to opiates, though it only recently has become popular in the United States.

— “Randolph Bracy’s SB 276 would give tax credits to businesses for hiring felons” via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics

— “Senate bill offers redress for hurricane-damaged homes” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

HAPPENING TUESDAY:

JOE FOLLICK DEPARTS FLORIDA TAXWATCH via Florida Politics – Follick is leaving the government watchdog as of today to join the Jeb Bush-founded Foundation for Excellence in Education as its State Communications Director. He had been TaxWatch’s Director of Communications and External Relations. Follick brings more than two decades of communication and media experience, having served as communications director for the Florida Department of Education and worked for the Department of Children and Families. He also spent 17 years in newspapers, including the now-defunct New York Times Regional Newspapers and Tampa Tribune, both in their Tallahassee bureaus.

PERSONNEL NOTE: DALE PATCHETT MOVES TO JOHNSON & BLANTON via Florida Politics – Veteran lawmaker and lobbyist Dale Patchett is joining the Johnson & Blanton lobbying firm. “Dale Patchett brings an incredible history and perspective to our firm,” firm founder Jon Johnson said. “He has seen government operate from every angle as both an elected legislator and appointed official. He was Republican in Florida before it was fashionable… ” Patchett was elected seven times to the Florida House of Representatives (1976-90), serving as Republican Leader in 1984-90 in the days before term limits and a GOP majority. He represented Indian River, St. Lucie, Brevard, Osceola, and Okeechobee counties throughout his tenure.

PERSONNEL NOTE: JONATHAN REES JOINS ANHEUSER-BUSCH via Florida PoliticsRees, a member of the 2016 class of FloridaPolitics.com’s “30 Under 30,” will be joining Anheuser-Busch as the state affairs manager for Florida, effective today. He will be responsible for leading Anheuser-Busch’s legislative agenda, political giving and stakeholder engagement in Florida. The company brews more than 100 brands in the United States, including its flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, and holds a 45.8 percent share of the beer market. Rees also will continue to highlight the company’s commitment to Florida, including its nearly 1,000 employees in the state, its Jacksonville brewery and tour center, and the $180 million expansion of Anheuser-Busch’s Jacksonville can plant that’s expected to be completed in 2017.

CITIES CAN’T SAY HOW MUCH THEY PAY UBER via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel – When Maitland, Lake Mary, Sanford, Altamonte Springs and Longwood reached the deal with the ride-sharing giant last year, they agreed not to disclose Uber’s ridership information. That includes dates of rides, total trips and total fares. Although the cities have the information, Uber considers it a “trade secret,” which shields it from Florida’s broad public records laws. While the vast majority of government records are available for the public’s review, information that gives businesses an advantage is protected under Florida’s trade secret exemption. First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen said much of the data shouldn’t be exempt and governments shouldn’t have agreed to the provision.

WHAT MATT FLORELL IS READING – ACTUALLY, CRASH DATA SHOWS MIXED BAG via Florida Politics – As Florida lawmakers gear up for battle once again over the use of red light cameras statewide, a new report by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers a decidedly mixed bag for both sides of the debate … a (slightly) deeper dive into the numbers reveals something a little different. According to the figures, the rate of accidents is down at the red-light camera intersections themselves … the DHSMV report gathered data by pulling crash reports from a statewide database – and importantly – from within 250 feet of RLC intersections, which pulls in a lot of accidents unrelated to real red light running. This 250-foot radius would include accidents unrelated to RLC’s: For example, those from a car pulling out onto the road from an adjacent McDonalds, or switching lanes while approaching the intersection, etc. When further breaking down trends in reported crashes, only red-light running crashes and those involving pedestrians – which are both down – are the accidents certain to occur in an actual intersection/crosswalk; these are most likely attributable to running a signal light.

TWO BOUTIQUE LOBBYING FIRMS PURCHASE HISTORIC DOWNTOWN TALLAHASSEE BUILDING via Florida Politics – Liberty Partners of Tallahassee and RSA Consulting have purchased a property just steps from the Capitol. The firms, however, will remain separate businesses. “Tallahassee has been my home for over 25 years and since I don’t see the Capitol building moving anytime soon, this was an easy long-term business decision,” said Jennifer Green, co-owner of Frog Dog Real Estate Holdings and President of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee. “This type of real estate opportunity does not come up frequently and gave us the ability to diversify our business portfolios while continuing to expand our current consulting firms,” said co-owner of Frog Dog Real Estate Holdings and President of RSA Consulting, Ron Pierce. The building, on College Avenue, was built in 1930, has 17,000 square feet, four stories, fully finished basement with offices, kitchen, etc.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Rep. Rene Plasencia, Ron Bilbao, Evan Ross, and Meagan Salisbury. Happy birthday to the effervescent Rachael Bjorklund, Mike Fasano‘s guy Greg Giordano, and Lisa Miller.

IN MEMORIAM – Our condolences to Celeste Lewis of the House Speaker’s Office, whose husband, Mitch Lewis, passed away this weekend.

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Sunburn for 1.6.17; The AG guessing game; Bam in Jax; Bob Buckhorn on the clock?; Lauren Book’s diaper bill

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

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

THE NEXT A.G. WILL BE…

Let’s play Tallahassee’s favorite parlor game (for now): “Who Wants to be Attorney General?”

The capital’s Twitterati was all a-twitter Thursday after Bloomberg’s White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs teased that, no kidding this time, Pam Bondi is heading for D.C.

“Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will be named to a post in the Trump White House, sources tell me,” she wrote. “Trump aides finalizing her role.”

After rumors she might be U.S. Attorney General (nope), White House counsel (sorry, Pam) and even the nation’s drug czar (hey, it’s still open!), Bondi hadn’t committed – at least in public – up to then.

Her spokesman’s swift non-denial denial only stoked the story.

“Attorney General Bondi has absolutely no news to report at this time and is unaware of who the source of this information is,” communications director Whitney Ray said.

Then, the guessing game began in earnest. But first, that nagging question of succession.

The state constitution provides “the governor shall fill by appointment any vacancy in state or county office … for the remainder of the term of an elective office if less than twenty-eight months, otherwise until the first Tuesday after the first Monday following the next general election.”

“She has less than 28 months in office, so I think (Gov. Rick Scott) gets to appoint,” one attorney said.

With that settled, let’s name names. For the sake of argument, let’s assume neither Senate President Joe Negron or House Speaker Richard Corcoran would be on the list or be interested.

So … does Scott ‘look backward,’ with a safe, reliable pick like Pete Antonacci, his former general counsel and now head of South Florida Water Management District? Or former House Speaker Dean Cannon, a lawyer-lobbyist at GrayRobinson?

Does he go with his former Department of Economic Opportunity director, Jesse Panuccio, now in private practice?

Does he think a bit outside the box by tapping state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the House Commerce Committee chair?

But wait, there’s more. How about state Sen. David Simmons, formerly the Senate Rules chair? He’s said to be interested. Or state Rep. Larry Metz, who unsuccessfully applied to become a state Supreme Court justice?

— “Amid White House job rumors, Pam Bondi spokesman says “absolutely no news to report’” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida

— “Bondi’ White House Call Close; Who Will Be Florida’s Next AG?” via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

— “The Unofficial Rick Scott Short List to Replace Pam Bondi” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Bondi will hold a press conference to announced a new human trafficking awareness effort at 10 a.m. in the Aviation Authority Boardroom at the Tampa International Airport, 4100 George J. Bean Parkway in Tampa. She’ll be joined by Rep. Ross Spano and Chief Paul Sireci, the director of public safety and security for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

FLORIDA’S CAROLINE WILES GETS DONALD TRUMP WHITE HOUSE JOB via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Wiles, daughter of Jacksonville-based lobbyist and political consultant Susie Wiles, will serve as Trump’s White House director of scheduling, the transition team announced this morning. Wiles served in that role for the campaign since July 2016 and had done a similar job on Rick Scott’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Trump shook up his campaign in September by replacing Florida director Karen Giorno with Susie Wiles, who had been doing campaign communications from New York.

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BARACK OBAMA TO VISIT FIRST COAST SATURDAY via First Coast News – Obama is expected to visit the Jacksonville area Saturday, sources confirm … The Jacksonville Aviation Authority told First Coast News that they are aware of the president visiting. At this time, it isn’t known where he is going to stop or what he plans to talk about.

CHARLIE CRIST MISSES VOTE CONDEMNING UN RESOLUTION ON ISRAEL SETTLEMENTS via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Crist tonight missed a key House vote condemning a UN resolution seen as anti-Israel, and issued a statement quoting another lawmaker, an usual move, to say the least.

BOB BUCKHORN IS ON THE CLOCK via Peter Schorsch – Tampa Mayor Buckhorn is the Florida politician now on the clock when it comes to who will run for what in 2018 … Will Weatherford is not running for governor … Gwen GrahamPhil Levine, and Adam Putnam have all but declared; it’s simply a matter of how they launch their campaigns, not if they will run … Bill Nelson is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Rick Scott will probably challenge him, but the governor — because he can self-fund — does not have to make a decision until next year. Richard Corcoran is a question mark about wanting to run for governor in 2018, but if he does, he would not announce until next year, either before or after the 2018 session. Jack Latvala‘s another possible candidate, but if he gets in it won’t be until later this summer, at the earliest. Certainly, there are other possible candidates out there – Rick BakerCarlos BeruffAndrew GillumMike Huckabee – but none are as clearly defined as a potential contender as Buckhorn. Seriously, Mayor Buckhorn, you are on the clock. Of course, if Buckhorn could have his way, he would run for a third term as Mayor. And a fourth. And probably a fifth. He must look at his friend, Buddy Dyer, with envy because the Mayor of Orlando is not subject to term limits. So, if there is to be a next chapter to Buckhorn’s political career, it will have to be in Tallahassee, not Tampa. And he’ll need to make a decision sooner rather than later … Buckhorn does have a compelling story to tell about how he led his city to a new level of success. And he is a helluva retail politician who probably is more comfortable than others in the current ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ political environment. But before he can tell the Tampa success story and demonstrate what a great retail pol he is, Buckhorn has to make a decision. And soon.

THOUGHTS ON THE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY AHEAD OF CHAIR ELECTION via Steve Schale — The Chair race has devolved into the usual: a fight between party activists over personalities. This is the nature of these things. On its best day, these races are adult-versions of high school elections. On their worst, they are pure circular firing squads. To me, what is less important than who occupies the Chair, is that the people running, the activists voting, and those observing, understand what that job is, and isn’t. … This isn’t a race about who has the best ideology, or who supported who in the primary. it is about basic management. You are hiring a CEO. Find someone who is realistic about the job, capable of putting together the resources, and laser focused on the things they can actually control, namely candidate recruitment and organizing. There is nothing symbolic about who holds the job — no regular voter actually casts a vote based on who sits in the party chair, or has any idea who chairs their state party. … So it boils down to this: if you want the party to do more, pick up a shovel. God knows political parties and candidates don’t need more opinions, they need more doers. I banged on doors in 2016, did you? And if you don’t like the party, go find a candidate or issue to support, or pick up Bob Graham and Chris Hand’s new book on ways you can be more civically engaged. Just do something.

IS FLORIDA ON ITS WAY TO BEING A RED STATE? via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s Republican Party leader says if he is re-elected next week, he will put a full court press on increasing the GOP voter registration numbers with hopes of officially giving Florida more registered Republicans than Democrats for the first time in history … Blaise Ingoglia said it likely cannot be done in two years, but by the next presidential election, he said Florida could finally be majority Republican. “Today, I would like to formally announce Project Majority Red – our next big aspirational goal,” Ingoglia said in an email blast to Republican activists this morning. “It will have one singular purpose, as we continue to win elections up and down the ballot, to make Florida a ‘majority red’ state by not only overtaking the Democrats in voter registrations, but keeping it that way for future elections.” Currently, Democrats have 4.9 million voters, Republicans have 4.6 million. Another 3.5 million voters are registered with neither political party.

SAVE THE DATE:

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a press conference to highlight his proposed $5.8 million request to add 46 counterterrorism agents at noon at the Fort Myers Regional Operations Center, 4700 Terminal Drive, Suite 1 in Fort Myers.

RICK SCOTT DEFENDS FUNDING TOURISM MARKETING AGENCY WHILE CALLING FOR REFORMS via Jeremy Wallace of the Miami Herald – Scott has called for a series of reforms to Visit Florida and is pushing for the quasi-governmental agency’s leader to resign. Scott made clear … that he still supports marketing the state for tourism. Scott said Visit Florida has been successful and to continue to grow tourism, the state needs “to continue to market and anybody who doesn’t understand that doesn’t understand how the economy works” … in Orlando, Visit Florida’s board of directors will meet to discuss Scott’s letter from December that called for the agency to enact reforms to insure more transparency of public money and called for the resignation of Will Seccombe, who has led the agency for more than four years – a stretch that has seen record tourism numbers every year.

>>>Anyone else hearing Ken Lawson as the next chief of Visit Florida?

HIGH TURNOVER RATE, LOW SALARIES CREATE VACANCIES AT FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS via Mike Vasilinda of WJHG – Governor Rick Scott is the jobs governor, claiming more than 1.2 million new jobs since taking office. But as many as 2,500 jobs remain open in one state agency with no takers … the agency has a vacancy rate of 10 percent, forcing officers to work long hours. The problem, a $29,000 starting salary. “Right now, they are working 12-hour shifts plus another four,” Corrections Secretary Julie Jones said. “We are working them to death because of the vacancy rate. I don’t have time to train them.” It’s not just vacancies, but sky-high turnover as well. Jones told lawmakers the turnover rate was just under 30 percent this year.

HEARING ON GUN BILLS POSTPONED AFTER SENATE CANCELS JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEETING via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — According to the Senate calendar, a Judiciary Committee meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday has been cancelled. The committee, which is chaired by Sen. Greg Steube, was set to take up two gun bills during the two-hour meeting. Steube’s open carry bill — Senate Bill 140 — was one of the two bills scheduled to be discussed. Under that proposal, concealed carry permit holders would be allowed to openly carry a handgun. … A second bill — Senate Bill 128, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley — was also on the agenda. That bill aims to clarify that prosecutors have the burden of proving that shootings are unjustified under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: If a mtg is cancelled bc a senator can’t attend it may mean there aren’t enough votes to pass bill. #FLLeg math

LAUREN BOOK WANTS DIAPERS EXEMPT FROM SALES TAX via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Book, who’s eight months pregnant with twins, has filed legislation to exempt diapers and baby wipes from the state’s 6 percent sales tax … The 32-year-old lawmaker, elected in November, said the idea came to her as she attended pregnancy classes. Book is having a boy and a girl, due in February. “For many families, buying diapers can be a (financial) burden,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s not a luxury item.”

BILL WOULD KEEP FLORIDA FROM BUILDING MORE EXPRESS TOLL LANES via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post – The measure, SB 250, was filed Thursday by state Sen. Frank Artiles. If the bill is made law during the upcoming Florida legislative session, which begins March 7, it would ban state officials from creating any new express lanes after July 1. Money collected from tolls on existing express lanes could only be used to pay off bonds used to create the projects. Once those bonds are paid off, the bill proposes that those express lanes would become general-use lanes.

PANEL SEEKS CHANGES TO WORKERS’ COMP BILLING AND NEW DRUG FORMULARY via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – A state workers’ compensation advisory panel voted to ask the Legislature to consider letting regulators establish a drug formulary in hopes of keeping medical costs under control. The panel also recommended changes to the way Florida’s workers’ compensation system reimburses facilities that treat injured workers, and to tighten the guidelines for authorizing medical care. Although formally named the Three-Member Panel, the group contains only two members at present — Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and Tamela Perdue, a senior vice president for Sunshine Health, who represents employers. Gov. Scott has not filled a vacant seat representing workers. The panel sets reimbursement policies and payment levels for health care providers, pharmacists, and medical suppliers working with workers’ compensation claimants.

APPOINTEDDottie PeoplesBen GirtmanDrexel CollinsJanice AncrumKerry MarsalekLarry PowellLance JarvisKathleen RiceKelly WilsonWilliam EdelsteinEdeline Mondestin and Rick Davis to the Department of Elderly Affairs Advisory Council.

CHANTA COMBS SETS UP SHOP AS HEALTH POLICY PARTNERS via Marc Caputo of POLITICO  – Combs, former policy director for former Gov. Charlie Crist, and deputy policy director and associate general counsel for former Gov. Jeb Bush, started Health Policy Partners, which will focus on issue such as “federal funding and regulatory oversight; State political, budgetary and policy positions; relevant competitive intelligence and economic trends; value based, integrated and tailored whole-person care delivery models; population health management; data analytics, predictive modeling, technology and administrative modernization products and services.”

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm. Visit www.bascomllc.com to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

ORLANDO CITY SOCCER STADIUM UNVEILS 49 RAINBOW-COLORED SEATS AS TRIBUTE TO PULSE VICTIMS via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The soon-to-open Orlando City Soccer stadium will have a section of seats painted in bright, proud rainbow colors to celebrate and memorialize the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. There will be 49 seats painted that way in total – one for each person lost in the shooting. They’ll all be emblazoned with the hashtag “Orlando United,” and they’re placed in section 12, as the shooting happened June 12 last year. The rest of the seats are purple and white. The club chose to do this to celebrate further and acknowledge Orlando’s status as an “inclusive, diverse and welcoming community.”

FLORIDA BOWLS SEEING DECLINE IN ATTENDANCE via Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union – When the Outback Bowl in Tampa announced an attendance of 51,119 … it became the sixth college bowl game among the eight in Florida to have a decline in attendance from the previous year. Only the Russell Athletic in Orlando (an increase of 8,207 to watch Miami beat West Virginia) and the St. Petersburg Bowl (1,065 more to watch Mississippi State beat Miami of Ohio showed increases and in the case of the latter, it might not be bragging to claim your game went up to 15,717. The TaxSlayer Bowl attendance was 43,102 … down from 58,212 for Georgia-Penn State the previous year but still ahead of the national average for this season … a bit more than 40,000 per game. The Outback Bowl declined by slightly more than 2,000 … the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl tumbled the most, going from 63,113 for last year’s Florida-Michigan game to 46,063 … The Orange Bowl had a negligible decline of 183 fans as 67,432 watched Florida State edge Michigan 33-32. But that was compared to a College Football Playoff semifinal last year … Orange Bowl TV ratings were up 68 percent (6.7 overnight) over the first New Year’s Day Six game last season, the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Still, it was systemic of the overall decline in attendance for bowl games (the Sugar, Cotton, Liberty, Alamo and Texas bowls were among those experiencing lower crowds — the Cotton going down 23,197 and the Sugar 18,040).

LOCALS IN TAMPA BAY HOPING TO CASH IN ON LAST MINUTE FOOTBALL FANS THROUGH AIRBNB via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times – Hotel rooms in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties began booking up months in advance. Most of the hotels in downtown Tampa and the West Shore area have been reserved for the teams, officials, corporate sponsors and media … More than 15 beachfront hotels in Pinellas County have sold out completely, including the Sand Pearl Resort, the Opal Sands Resort, TradeWinds Island Resorts and the Vinoy Hotel. One Alabama alumni group booked 50 rooms for three nights at the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach about a month before the big game. “We expect that hotel occupancy will be at the 90 percent rate, if not higher, for the game,” said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. But there are still dozens of accommodations options available on Airbnb, ranging from rooms in residents’ Carrollwood and West Tampa homes for $30 a night to entire houses for rent in South Tampa for $2,000 a night. The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office signed a voluntary collection agreement with Airbnb last month to collect tourism development taxes and sales taxes on rooms booked through the service beginning Feb. 1. So while the county won’t get an extra boost from the 700-plus Airbnb rentals listed in Tampa this month, Hillsborough County projects the deal will bring in an extra $250,000 in new annual tax revenue to Hillsborough County if bookings at least match 2016 levels.

WHAT JOE YORK IS READING – AT&T BOOSTS TAMPA BAY MOBILE COVERAGE FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP via Kelly Bazzle of WFTS – The company has made permanent and temporary upgrades throughout Tampa Bay to keep their customers connected all weekend. Two Cell on Wheels have been deployed to keep fans connected. They help improve reliability and data speeds. The Distributed Antenna System has been upgraded at Raymond James Stadium to help manage the wireless capacity in heavily-trafficked areas. They have done a 400 percent boost in LTE capacity to improve speeds so that you can post all the selfies, photos, videos and share the experience with your network.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to HCA’s Bryan Anderson. Celebrating this weekend is the Florida Association of Counties’ Cragin Mosteller, the great Diane Roberts and Jonny Torres.

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Sunburn for 1.4.17 – Birthday thoughts; Rob Johnson’s big move; FDP & RPOF intrigue; Reporter gets punk’d

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

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

THOUGHTS ON MY 41ST BIRTHDAY

If you want to know what’s on my mind as I approach my 41st birthday, read the essay from Andrew Sullivan, “The Distraction Sickness.

As David Brooks writes, “Sullivan was the superstar of what I guess we can call the blogging era, consumed with online volleying all day, every day. Everything else — health, friendships — atrophied: ‘Every minute I was engrossed in a virtual interaction I was not involved in a human encounter. Every second absorbed in some trivia was a second less for any form of reflection, or calm, or spirituality.’ He also came to understand that we don’t really control our time online. Our clicks are seduced by technologists superbly able to suck us in.’ “

I am not as “sick” as Andrew was. Being married to a wonderful woman and being the father to an incredible daughter gives me a perspective Andrew did not have. But I understand what it’s like to live much of life through the screen.

I’d be lying if I said I planned on changing a lot about my life save that, as I enter 2017, I am craving more human interaction and am highly interested in conversation, especially if I can translate those conversations into meaningful content for our outlets.

For a while now, I have been threatening our stable of talented reporters that I have wanted to “slow” everything down, not because I don’t still value being first, but because our analysis is still often the best, regardless of when it is delivered. The insights of an AG Gankarski into Jacksonville politics are unparalleled. Joe Henderson‘s columns are the best in Tampa Bay. Mitch Perry is arguably the best political reporter in the region.

I could go on, but the moral of the story is that I think I am arriving at the position of the old bull — you know the one who told the younger bull to walk down the hill, not run, and have at it with all of the cows.

Of course, I say this now and soon Florida’s Legislative Session will gavel into business and I will be hyperventilating once again.

Remind me then to re-read Sullivan’s essay.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT A GREAT PERSON – ROB JOHNSON EXITS PAM BONDI’S OFFICE FOR THE MAYERNICK GROUP – Johnson, a long-time policy advisor and legislative affairs director, has left the Attorney General’s Office to join The Mayernick Group.

“The Mayernick Group is excited that Rob is joining as a partner in our firm,” said Frank Mayernick in a statement. “We have experienced significant growth and know that as a well-respected professional, Rob has strong relationships and knowledge of the process that will help us continue to serve our current and future clients.

Long on the wish list for private sector recruiters, Johnson served as the Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs in the Florida Attorney General’s Office since 2007. He began his time there under Attorney General Bill McCollum, and stayed on after Bondi was elected in 2010. Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Johnson served as Gov. Jeb Bush’s Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs.

“I want to thank Rob for his 16 years of service to the State of Florida as a policy advisor, cabinet aide and legislative affairs director,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi in a statement. “Rob had a great opportunity in the private sector that he couldn’t pass up and he will be greatly missed.”

Johnson’s last day at the Attorney General’s Office was Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the state agency. His first day at The Mayernick Group is today, said Mayernick in a message.

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BARACK OBAMA’S DECISION AWAITED ON OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA – TERRORIST OR POLITICAL PRISONER via Florida Politics – Puerto Ricans and other supporters are counting down days until Jan. 20 … waiting to see if President Barack Obama will heed their pleadings to release Oscar López Rivera — a federal prisoner varyingly known as a terrorist, Puerto Rican nationalist freedom fighter, dangerous criminal, political prisoner, avowed enemy of the United States, or a conscience for a people. López … is serving his 36th year in U.S. prison, currently in the Terra Haute (Indiana) Federal Correctional Institution, on a 1981 conviction for several federal crimes, most notably seditious conspiracy, essentially conspiring to levy war against the United States. López is a cause célèbre in the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida and throughout the United States, and for residents of Puerto Rico. His support extends from the capitol of Puerto Rico, where Gov. Alejandro García Padilla; Gov.-elect Ricardo Rossell, and Secretary of Justice César Miranda all have written and called for his release; to the halls of Congress, where López has near-universal support among the Hispanic Caucus members including U.S. Rep.-elect Darren Soto of Orlando … A petition asking for his release, filed through the White House We The People program, has drawn more than 108,000 signatures. López also has petitioned on his own for clemency. His most ardent supporters, including the ACLU, compare him with Nelson Mandela, portraying him as a jailed freedom fighter and prisoner of conscience. Soto compared his efforts with those of Boston Tea Party patriots. Even those who oppose López’s specific cause of national independence for Puerto Rico find him symbolizing their frustration at being second-class, under a political status imposed on the island.

MARCO RUBIO LANDS APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE SPOT via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Rubio, sworn in this afternoon to a second term, has taken on two new committees: Appropriations and the SpecialCommittee on Aging. He retains his posts on the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He will no longer serve on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which had oversight on space issues.

CHARLIE CRIST SAYS “GOD WOULD BE PLEASED” IF DONALD TRUMP SHOWS MORE HEART TOWARD DREAMERS via Florida Politics – Crist is one congressional Democrat who appears to be greeting the incoming Trump administration with an open mind. “Whatever it is that we come to help American workers get back to work and help the middle class and our country, we need to do it together and do it in a spirit of cooperation,” the St. Petersburg Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview broadcast on “State of the Union” … That spirit of cooperation includes embracing a Trump proposal to place a 35 percent tax of tariff on U.S. businesses wanting to take American jobs overseas. “It’s all about jobs and making sure that we have American jobs protected, we protect the American worker, give them the opportunity to be able to provide for their families, get a college education,” Crist said. When asked by Tapper if that appeared to be a backing away from his earlier stance, Crist said yes, and he said he’s glad that’s the case. “Being a nation of immigrants, I think it’s important we embrace that kind of hope,” Crist said. “I would say to the president-elect, I appreciate you showing your heart. And if it’s a little softer, what’s wrong with that? God would be pleased.”

SPOTTED: U.S. Rep Ted Deutch on Tuesday’s edition of Vice News on HBO.

VERN BUCHANAN BEGINS NEW SESSION OF CONGRESS BY INTRODUCING SEVEN NEW BILLS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The seven bills Buchanan will introduce include: The Main Street Fairness Act, a key feature of the tax reform blueprint released by House Republican leaders, ensures that small businesses never pay a higher tax rate than large corporations. The Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act, which directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country. The Support Our Start-Ups Act, which makes it easier and less costly for an entrepreneur to start a new business. The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act … aids Florida orange growers in their battle against citrus greening, which is decimating the citrus industry. An amendment to the Constitution of the United States that requires Congress to balance the federal budget. Balancing the budget is an urgent priority as the U.S. is nearing $20 trillion in federal debt. The Thin Blue Line Act, which toughens penalties against anyone who murders police and other first responders. The SAFE Act, which permanently bans the killing of horses for human consumption in America.

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FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR FEUD ERUPTS OVER RESIDENCY via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald  – With the race for Florida Democratic Party chair less than two weeks away, activists are fighting over who is eligible to remain in the running. An activist filed a challenge with the party alleging that Alan Clendenin, who moved counties to keep his chair bid alive, is ineligible to run. When Clendenin lost a race for state committeeman in Hillsborough, he then rented a mobile home in Bradford County and won a similar position there. Patricia Byrd, a state committeewoman in Bay County, wrote in the Dec. 30 complaint that Clendenin has homestead exemptions in Hillsborough and Manatee counties and doesn’t actually live in Bradford. “It appears that Mr. Clendenin has disingenuously played a shell game with residences and homestead exemptions in total violation of state election laws and state homestead laws for the sole purpose of positioning himself to be eligible to run for the state party chairman,” Byrd wrote. “However, despite his best efforts, it is clear that he was not, and is not, a resident of Bradford County.” Clendenin called the complaint “petty gamesmanship.”

ALAN CLENDENIN DETAILS HOW HE WILL ATTEMPT CHANGE IN FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CULTURE via Florida Politics – Clendenin is vowing to work with the State Executive Committee to have them become more empowered and engaged. “As Chair, I will provide State Executive Committee members with regular opportunities to participate in the processes of setting policy, strategic planning and oversight,” he writes … that means holding monthly meetings of the State Executive Committee that will be held via conference call and online … if he’s in charge, the FDP will provide regular training for State Executive Committee members on communications and fundraising … also provide Finance Committee members with copies of budgets in advance of the meetings at which they are submitted for approval. “I will open meetings of the FDP’s Finance Committee to any State Executive Committee members that wish to attend,” … Clendenin … he will ensure that Committee members be given access to all FDP budgets, not just the operating budget … upon taking office, he will order an immediate review of the FDP’s relationship with outside providers and issue a report to State Executive Committee members … his staff will create a request-for-proposal process for future vendors that rewards contracts based on electoral results, “not relationships.” … institute an immediate ban on staff and contractual vendors from receiving commissions or kickbacks from other vendors for work done on behalf of the Florida Democratic Party, and prohibit staff from participating in outside employment or contractual work that “presents a real or perceived conflict of interest.”

CHRISTIAN ZIEGLER CONTENDS THE RACE FOR FLORIDA GOP CHAIR WILL BE A CLOSE CONTEST via Florida Politics – Ziegler says the idea of challenging Blaise Ingoglia for leadership of the Republican Party of Florida first came to his mind … As he was presiding over a gathering of the state’s Republican committeemen and committeewomen at the party’s quarterly meeting in Tampa. That’s when he said a slight case of pandemonium erupted when he began distributing approximately 150 “Make America Great Again” Donald Trump caps to the 134-member caucus … he said that the level of excitement that ensued was absent from the rest of the two-day meeting. “I had so many members after come up to me, and say, ‘Look, the energy that you had, that’s the kind of energy we should have had throughout the quarterly meeting’” … he heard from Republicans that “we need leaders who are going to accept who our nominee is going to be, and accept who are candidates are and are going to waive the flag as high as you can, and we really need to lead with the energy you generated in that room.” From there, he says that “a ton of members” then began lobbying him directly to challenge Ingoglia, claiming that leadership was lacking at the top of the RPOF …  “Blaise is a friend,” Ziegler says, ” But I think the party deserves a full-time chairman that’s focused on the party full-time, because we are the most important political state in the entire country.”

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm. Visit www.bascomllc.com to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make a public safety announcement at 10 a.m. at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 500 W. Robinson Street in Orlando.

RICK SCOTT REJECTS BAR’S NOMINEES FOR STATE’S JUDICIAL PANELS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Scott has rejected all suggestions from The Florida Bar to fill vacancies in several of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNC), the panels that recommend lawyers for judgeships. The latest rejections now add up to at least 90 of the Bar’s recommendations for JNC openings that Scott has turned down since taking office in 2011, according to Bar records. Other names that Scott rejected over the years include Vero Beach lawyer Erin Grall, now a Republican state representative, and nationally known civil-rights attorney Ben Crump of Tallahassee. On Dec. 27, William Spicola, Scott’s general counsel, wrote a letter to Bar President William J. Schifino Jr., saying the governor wanted the Bar to start over and offer different recommendations for all the current openings. He did not give a reason.

LEGISLATORS SAY THEY’LL REQUIRE COMPANIES TO DISCLOSE POLLUTION SPILLS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald  –  …Florida legislators are drafting a law to require companies and local officials to notify the public when pollution threatens public drinking water. The legislation, being drafted by Sen. Bill Galvano … and Rep. Kathleen Peters … is in response to a judge’s ruling that rejected an emergency rule imposed by Gov. Scott in September. … The rule … was challenged by business groups … But Judge Bram D. E. Canter said in the 19-page order on Friday that DEP had overstepped its authority in approving the new rule and that only the state Legislature can enact such a change in how the public is notified regarding pollution.

TOM LEE WANTS TO ELIMINATE AGENCY DESIGNED TO USE TAXPAYERS FUNDS ON SPORTS FACILITIES via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Less than three years after Gov. Scott signed legislation providing for state revenues to go toward constructing or improving professional sports franchise facilities, Republican state Sen. Tom Lee wants to eliminate the agency created to distribute those funds. “The Sports Development Program was ill-conceived and based on the false premise that these capital improvements are a boon for economic development,” Lee said … “Professional teams are vying for taxpayer funds to pay for largely superficial facility upgrades, many of which are already in progress or completed. History has shown that team owners will make these investments without hardworking families having to foot the bill.” … it will undoubtedly be backed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has historically opposed giving sales-tax dollars to professional sports facilities.

JEFF BRANDES BILL CREATES PROGRAM FOR ORDERS FOR LIFE SUSTAINING TREATMENT IN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH via FloridaPolitics.com – Brandes‘ bill, SB 228, would make a new program in the Florida Department of Health dealing solely with Physicians’ Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLSTs), which provide directions on patients with terminal conditions. Brandes’ bill establishes a laundry list of small rules and regulations to cement the way POLSTs should be used and regulated. The new rules would make clear that an absence of a POLST form doesn’t mean medical professionals can withhold resuscitation or care.

BILL WOULD HELP MUSIC HALL IN CLEARWATER TO SECURE TOURISM TAX REVENUE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The bill, sponsored by Sen. Denise Grimsley  would allow auditoriums that are publicly owned but operated by a nonprofit to have access to tourist development taxes, which is levied on things like vacation rentals or leases. Grimsley says the bill is aimed to help Ruth Eckerd Hall, a Clearwater performing arts center that has tried in the past to get access to the tax revenue. “If this were to pass, they would still have to go through the process at the local level to get any funding,” Grimsley said. She said the bill is aimed at addressing issues with Ruth Eckard Hall, but would also apply to performing arts centers run by nonprofits in Pembroke Pines and Fort Lauderdale.

HAPPENING TODAY – LEGISLATIVE DELEGATIONS ACROSS THE STATE MEET — The Baker, Columbia, Escambia, Palm Beach, and Suwannee legislative delegations will meet ahead of the 2017 Legislative session. The Suwannee County legislative delegation will meet for a hearing at 9 a.m. at Oak City Hall Commission Room, 101 White Ave. S.E. in Live Oak. The Palm Beach County legislative delegation will hold its annual workshop with the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners to discuss legislative priorities at 10 a.m. at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. The Columbia County legislative delegation will hold a delegation meeting at 1:30 p.m. in the trustees’ board room at the FL Gateway College Administration Building 149 SE College Pl in Lake City. The Baker County legislative delegation will hold its meeting at 4 p.m. at in the council chamber at Macclenny City Hall, 118 E. Macclenny Ave. in Macclenny. The Escambia County legislative delegation meeting is also scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. at WSRE at Pensacola State College, 1000 College Blvd. in Pensacola.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK – BOBBY POWELL HOLDS TOWN HALL MEETING — State Sen. Powell will host the second in a series of town hall meetings at 6 p.m. at the Mary V. McDonald Wilson Center, 1501 N. Australian Ave. in West Palm Beach. Powell will be joined by Rep. Al JacquetOn Thursday, Powell will hold a town hall meeting at the Jupiter Community Center, 200 Military Trail in Jupiter. Jupiter Vice-Mayor Ilan Kaufer is also scheduled to attend.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Division of Workers’ Compensation will review its three-member panel 2017 biennial report and its annual report on reimbursement disputes and overutilization for 2016 at 3 p.m. at the Larson Building, 200 East Gaines Street.

RON BOOK IS RUNAWAY LEADER IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – For the first time, the Florida House is posting copies of contracts between lobbyists and local governments online and more than a third of the first set of contracts posted are with one lobbying firm, Ron Book of Aventura. … He is among the first lobbyists in Tallahassee to comply with a new requirement to disclose all local lobbying activity. House Speaker Richard Corcoran … is a vocal critic of the practice. He has called it a “disgrace” that cities, counties, school boards, sheriffs and others spend tax dollars on hired lobbyists to represent their interests in Tallahassee. Corcoran says local elected officials should be doing that work themselves, and that legislators should be able to look out for local interests without the help of hired guns. But the practice is common and has grown over the past decade.

PERSONNEL NOTE: PETER F. MURRAY TO COLODNY FASS via Florida Politics – The law firm has snagged another “policy and legislative strategy veteran” with the hire of Peter F. Murray, the firm announced Tuesday. Murray was Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Commission on Offender Review, formerly the Florida Parole Commission. He also was Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Department of Corrections, and has worked in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. Before that, Murray was a Senior Program Analyst under then-Gov. Charlie Crist, focusing on energy and climate issues.

STEVEN GELLER LEAVES GREENSPOON MARDER, CITES ETHICS REQUIREMENT via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Geller marked his election to the Broward County Commission in November by resigning from the Greenspoon Marder law firm and launching a solo legal and lobbying practice. Geller had been warned that under the Florida Commission on Ethics’ interpretation of state law, his continued presence at Greenspoon could prevent any of the firm’s attorneys from appearing before the commission. So he launched the Geller Law Firm and began reregistering for his lobbying clients to reflect his changed status. All but one of his clients have followed him to his new firm, he said. “Most local governments interpret it differently,” Geller said in a telephone interview. “Most local governments believe that if you recuse yourself, you’ve resolved the conflict. The Ethics Commission feels differently.”

BEN NEWMAN NEW YEAR’S PRANK: LEAVING GRAYROBINSON FOR POSSIBLE POLITICAL RUN, NOT LOVE OF BURRITOS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Newman has left GrayRobinson, where he’s been a shareholder for seven years, but not to feed the hungry masses yearning for queso, he said … Instead, he’s moving on to a national law firm, Wilson Elser, and thinking about running for office. “Sorry about that,” he told FloridaPolitics.com, politely but not entirely suppressing a well-deserved laugh. FloridaPolitics.com and OrlandoRising – I – bought Newman’s trail of posts on Facebook declaring he was quitting law to pursue his lifelong dream of running a food truck. Among other things (Photoshopping a picture of a food truck with his name on it), he changed his status to CBO (Chief Burrito Officer) at El Queso Loco Burrito Company. My texts and calls to Newman before I wrote went unanswered … apparently because the numbers I had were old and out of date (his GrayRobinson numbers); and while they still recorded messages they did so for someone who wasn’t around anymore to retrieve them. I also Facebook messaged him, but that was too late. Turned out I also had a private, valid email address available for him. But in a full disclosure of incompetence, I didn’t come across that until too late, and went ahead and wrote before I had his or anyone else’s confirmation. Full mud bath for my face, please.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my birthday twin, the always cool Sydney Ridley.

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Sunburn for 1.5.16 – Jeb skipping inaugural; Andrew Gillum’s new project; Lee Constantine for CFO?; Ambassador Carlos Trujillo?; Big change at the FJA

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

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

THANK YOU for all of the kind and considerate well-wishes on my birthday. It was a great day, spent with Michelle and Ella Joyce. Our dinner at Cafe Ponte was pitch-perfect. And the Lego-themed cake Michelle had made was delicious.

If only the political gods had blessed me with a slow news day…

WE’RE ONLY HIGHLIGHTING THIS STORY BECAUSE WE WANT TO HIGHLIGHT FREDERICA WILSON’S HAT – Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson was at President Obama‘s side Wednesday morning as he arrived on Capitol Hill to strategize with Democrats how to protect the Affordable Care Act, reports Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times. More Floridians have enrolled in Obamacare than any other state and South Florida is a big driver of that. But that hasn’t stopped criticism of the cost and Donald Trump won the state in November, vowing to “repeal and replace” the law. Gov. Rick Scott has said he wants to play a role in the dismantling, serving as a bridge between Washington and the states.

JEB BUSH WON’T ATTEND DONALD TRUMP INAUGURATION via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – George W. and Laura Bush will attend, as will Bill and Hillary ClintonJeb Bush has had positive things to say about Trump’s personnel moves and has taken some heat online. But there is some context. Some, including Scott Pruitt (EPA) and Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State) supported Bush during the presidential primary. Others, such as Betsy DeVos (Education) Andy Puzder (Labor) have personal ties to Bush.

— “Bush to give speech in Texas same night as Obama’s farewell address” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

MARCO RUBIO LANDS APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE SPOT via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Rubio, sworn in this afternoon to a second term, has taken on two new committees: Appropriations and the Special Committee on Aging. He retains his posts on the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He will no longer serve on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which had oversight on space issues.

CARLOS CUBELO GETS SEAT ON POWERFUL HOUSE TAX-WRITING COMMITTEE via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Curbelo … was rewarded Wednesday with an appointment to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax law. “This new position will allow me to advocate for many issues of importance to my constituents and our South Florida community, such as strengthening Social Security and Medicare by reducing fraud and making these programs sustainable for all generations of Americans and also the promotion of free and fair trade — a major economic driver in our community,” Curbelo said in a statement.

— “Congressman Darren Soto leases historic downtown Kissimmee building for district office” via GrowthSpotter.com

— “Tom Rooney looks ahead to new congressional session as 2018 looms” via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

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RICK SCOTT WANTS TO HIRE COUNTERTERRORISM AGENTS via The Associated Press – Scott wants to spend nearly $6 million to boost the number of state agents dedicated to counterterrorism efforts … Scott will ask legislators to include enough money in the annual budget to hire agents who will be stationed in seven regions across the state. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen last fall first recommended hiring 46 additional agents.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Scott will hold a press conference to highlight his proposal to add $5.8 million to the budget for 46 counterterrorism agents at 10 a.m. at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 4211 North Lois Avenue in Tampa.

IS RICK SCOTT CO-OPTING FLORIDA’S JUDICIAL NOMINATING PROCESS? via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Christian D. Searcy doesn’t consider himself “the most political person” but suggests you don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing on Florida’s judicial nominating panels. Searcy, president of the Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley personal-injury law firm, reacted to Tuesday’s news about the state’s Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNCs). Gov. Scott had summarily rejected all suggestions from The Florida Bar to fill vacancies in several JNCs, the panels that recommend lawyers for judgeships. Searcy once was on a slate of three people recommended by the Bar to serve on West Palm Beach’s 4th District Court of Appeal nominating commission. They were rejected by Scott in November 2015, according to Bar records. He was never given a reason why, Searcy said. “It would seem to any fair-minded person (that) what’s happening to these slates is just plain wrong,” he said. “It seems as though this governor aims to make the judiciary just another branch of the Governor’s Office.”

SCOTT TO HOST INAUGURAL BALL IN D.C. via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Scott and his wife, Ann, will host an inaugural ball to be held in Washington D.C. two days before Trump is sworn in as president. … Though state political parties often organize inaugural balls, this one is being put together by Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work.

2018 WATCH – ANDREW GILLUM, POSSIBLE 2018 GOVERNOR CANDIDATE, LAUNCHES ‘CAMPAIGN TO DEFEND LOCAL SOLUTIONS’ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is fighting for local rights, announcing this week he’s launched a statewide campaign to “defend local solutions.” A rising star in the Democratic Party, Gillum has been mentioned as possible 2018 gubernatorial contender. He announced today he’s launched the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, a nonpartisan, grassroots effort aimed at bringing together “individuals, organizations, and elected officials concerned about the erosion of local rights.” And this new organization could help boost his profile across the state, especially when it comes to red meat issues for Democrats. “This effort …  will send a message to state lawmakers, and give citizens around the country the tools to push back against special interest groups and large corporations, and maintain their right to put forward local solutions to the issues facing their community,” said Gillum. Among other things, Gillum said the group will “hold events to rise against looming threats on issues like minimum wage and health benefits, the environment, local hiring practices, and water quality.” … The announcement comes just days before the 1st District Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in a case involving Gillum and the city of Tallahassee after the City Commission decided not to repeal city codes regulating firearms.

CENTRAL FLORIDA’S LEE CONSTANTINE COULD RUN FOR CFO via Jacob Engels of the Seminole County Post – As the sun sets on Jeff Atwater‘s reign as Florida’s most visible and successful Chief Financial Officer … Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine may be a leading contender to replace him. Constantine, who has held varying public offices during his 36-year career in public service, spent time as a State Representative and State Senator, representing locales in both Seminole and Orange County. During his time in the state legislator, Constantine was a fiscal hawk and crafted important legislation tackling high interest rates from predatory fly-by-night pay-day lenders … He also protected consumers with a piece of legislation that stopped gift card providers from charging monthly fees … Before that, he served as Mayor and Commissioner in the City of Altamonte Springs, also located in the all important I-4 corridor.

FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR FEUD ERUPTS OVER RESIDENCY via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – With the race for Florida Democratic Party chair less than two weeks away, activists are fighting over who is eligible to remain in the running. An activist filed a challenge with the party alleging that Alan Clendenin, who moved counties to keep his chair bid alive, is ineligible to run. When Clendenin lost a race for state committeeman in Hillsborough, he then rented a mobile home in Bradford County and won a similar position there. Patricia Byrd, a state committeewoman in Bay County, wrote in the Dec. 30 complaint that Clendenin has homestead exemptions in Hillsborough and Manatee counties and doesn’t actually live in Bradford. Clendenin called the complaint “petty gamesmanship.”

ALAN CLENDENIN DISMISSES COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST HIM AS ‘BASELESS’ via Florida Politics – “Instead of making the case for why he’s the best person for the job, it appears as though this candidate is trying to win by clearing the field using baseless and unfounded complaints to disqualify his opponents,” Clendenin says about Bittel. “I want to be clear – the complaint filed today with Chair Tant is baseless,” Clendenin continued.

13 MEMBERS OF MIAMI-DADE DEC FILE COMPLAINT OVER STEPHEN BITTEL’S ELECTION AS STATE COMMITTEEMAN via Florida Politics – Thirteen members of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee filed a complaint to the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) regarding the special election held on Dec. 20 during which Bittel was voted as Miami-Dade State Committeeman, defeating former state Sen. Dwight Bullard. Bittel’s election made his eligible to run for the state party chair position next week in Orlando. The complaint charges Miami-Dade DEC Chair Juan Cuba with violating the bylaws of the Miami-Dade DEC, the bylaws of the Florida Democratic Party, and rules of parliamentary procedure “in order to conspire with several known and unknown individuals to bend and break the rules regarding the Special Election held on Dec. 20 and the events leading up to the aforementioned election.”

STEVE SCHALE blog post on the Florida Democratic Party here.

— “Florida Democrats and the State Senate in 2016 – a massive missed opportunity” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Florida Squeeze

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AMBASSADOR CARLOS TRUJILLO? TRUMP IS RECRUITING MIAMI STATE LEGISLATOR FOR FOREIGN POST via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Trujillo, 33, the son of Cuban immigrants, is … being recruited by the Trump administration to serve as ambassador to a Latin American country somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, the details of which are still being negotiated. “It’s a great opportunity to serve your country,” Trujillo told the Herald/Times. “It’s humbling. But it has to be the right country and the right time.” Trujillo, who is a member of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s inner circle, was recently named to the powerful post of House Appropriations Committee chairman. He expects an announcement from the Trump administration in early February and, if it happens. he will remain in office long enough to serve through this legislative session because of the lengthy vetting and Senate confirmation process.

LAWMAKERS HEADING TO ARIZONA FOR GAMBLING CONFERENCE via Florida Politics –Eight Florida lawmakers have signed up to attend this weekend’s meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States in Scottsdale, Arizona. On the RSVP list: State Rep. Halsey Beshears … State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz … He chairs the House Commerce Committee, which oversees gambling policy. State Sen. Bill Galvano … Galvano has long been involved in gambling issues … State Rep. Joe Geller … the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee. State Sen. Audrey Gibson … a member of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees gambling-related legislation. State Rep. Mike LaRosa … chairs the House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee. State Rep. David Richardson … State Sen. Perry Thurston … also a member of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, and is chair of the Council’s Committee on State-Federal Relations … the conference is “organized and produced” by New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group.

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, a Sanford Republican, filed the measure on Wednesday. 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. (Similar bills didn’t move last year.) … “The millions of Floridians who play fantasy games deserve to know that what they’re doing is not a crime,” Brodeur said in a phone interview.

JUDGE SAYS NO TO GRETNA TRACK IN GAMBLING DISPUTE via Florida Politics – A federal judge has turned down a request by a North Florida race track to alter his ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to keep blackjack at its casinos. But the loss turned out to be a win for the track’s own card games. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said … “(t)he judgment in this case has no binding effect on Gretna.” His decision, then, in the Tribe’s case has no effect on Gretna’s or other tracks’ card game operations. “We are certainly appreciative of the judge’s consideration,” (attorney Marc) Dunbar said.

PEDIATRIC CARDIAC CARE BILL COULD PUT FORMER AHCA SECRETARY-TURNED-LOBBYIST AT ODDS WITH GOVERNOR via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida — Former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek may find herself at odds with her former boss, Gov Rick Scott, this session and working alongside people in her past life she often opposed: pediatric cardiologists. Now a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig, Dudek has been hired by the Nemours Foundation to help secure passage of SB 62, filed by Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican. The bill would re-establish a pediatric cardiac advisory council within the state Department of Health and authorize the department, along with the agency that Dudek once headed, to coordinate and develop rules related to pediatric cardiac facilities participating in the Children’s Medical Services Network, a Medicaid program for children with complex health care needs.

HOUSE BILL WOULD AFFECT PUBLIC RECORDS LAWSUITS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – State Rep. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican and lawyer, filed the measure (HB 163) … It would require a judge to determine that a public agency “unlawfully refused to permit a public record to be inspected or copied” and that the complainant “provided written notice identifying the public record request to the agency’s custodian … at least five business days before filing the civil action.” The bill also says attorney fees can’t be awarded if the court finds “the request to inspect or copy the public record was made primarily to harass the agency.”

HAPPENING TODAY – LEGISLATIVE DELEGATIONS ACROSS THE STATE MEET — The Martin, Lafayette, Gilchrist, St. Lucie, Dixie, Nassau, Gulf and Franklin legislative delegations will meet ahead of the 2017 Legislative Session. The Martin County legislative delegation will meet at 9 a.m. at Stuart City Hall, 121 SW Flagler Ave. in Stuart. At 10 a.m., the Lafayette County legislative delegation will hold its meeting in the County Commission Chamber at the Lafayette County Courthouse, 120 W. Main Street in Mayor. The Gilchrist County legislative delegation will hold its meeting at the County Commission room at the County Commission Meeting Facility, 209 SE 1st Street in Trenton; while the St. Lucie County legislative delegation will hold its meeting at 2 p.m. at Indian River State College, 3209 Virginia Ave. in Fort Pierce. The Dixie County legislative delegation will hold its meeting in the county commission chamber at the courthouse, 214 Northeast Highway 351 in Cross City. The Nassau County delegation will also meet at 2 p.m. in Nassau County Commission chambers at the James S. Page Governmental Complex, 96135 Nassau Place in Yulee. The Gulf County legislative delegation is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. at the Robert M. Moore Administrative Building, 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd. in Port St. Joe. At 7 p.m., the Franklin County legislative delegation will meet at the Franklin County Courthouse Annex, 37 Forbes Street in Apalachicola.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Sen. Linda Stewart, both Orlando Democrats, will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. at the Orange County Courthouse, 425 N. Orange Ave. in Orlando to announce proposed gun safety legislation. The two lawmakers will be joined by members of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and survivors of the Pulse shooting. Members of the media should RSVP to ida.eskamani@myfloridahouse.gov.

SUPREME COURT RESCINDS ORDER BLOCKING DEATH SENTENCES IN FLORIDA via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The court took an unusual step in rescinding an order that said Florida’s death sentencing laws, ruled unconstitutional in October because they did not require a unanimous jury vote for the death penalty, could not be used to prosecute cases. The court also deleted the earlier order from its website. The … ruling was vacated because of a “clerical error,” said Craig Waters, a spokesman for the court. It’s not clear what that error is. However, Public Defender Rex Dimmig, who serves Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, said the court referenced the wrong statute in its earlier ruling. He does not know for certain why the court rescinded its order, but he says he has one idea: Instead of writing that death penalty laws in section 921.141 of Florida Statutes was unconstitutional, the court identified section 941.141 — a statute which does not exist.

FLORIDA BOARD OF EDUCATION EXPECTED TO SET RULES ON NEW PRINCIPAL PROGRAM via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – A new school leadership program aimed at giving more flexibility to principals running some of Florida’s most struggling schools could soon have more defined guidelines for its operations. The State Board of Education is poised to consider a new rule for the “principal autonomy pilot” that Rep. Manny Diaz, incoming chairman of the House PreK-12 Appropriations committee, pushed through the Legislature in 2016. The Pinellas County school district is one of seven set forth in law as eligible to participate.

FLORIDA-GEORGIA WATER CASE OFFICIAL ORDERS SETTLEMENT TALKS via Kathleen Foody of The Associated Press – Special Master Ralph Lancaster gave the states until Jan. 24 to meet and encouraged them to use a mediator. He also ordered the states to file a confidential report to him by Jan. 26 summarizing their efforts to reach a settlement. The dispute focuses on a watershed in western Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers flow through Georgia and meet at the Florida border to form the Apalachicola River, which flows into the Apalachicola Bay. Alabama isn’t directly involved in this case but has sided with Florida, encouraging a cap on Georgia’s use. After Florida filed the suit against Georgia, Lancaster was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to make a recommendation. The Supreme Court has the final say.

FLORIDA PANTHER DEATHS STILL AT RECORD HIGH via The Associated Press – A record number of endangered Florida panthers died again last year – 42 of the remaining big cats were killed, matching the 2015 record. Thirty-four were hit by vehicles in southwest Florida, where development is shrinking what’s left of their habitat. The tally kept by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission includes six new litters, with a total of 14 cubs born in 2016. But the state estimates that only 100 to 180 of the big cats remain in the wild.

MAJOR FLAW IN FLORIDA’S NEWEST RED LIGHT CAM ANALYSIS via Noah Pransky of WTSP – Despite 108 fewer cameras at 48 fewer intersections statewide, the number of violations issued has actually climbed for a second straight year, according to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The 1,227,927 violations issued in FY16 represent a 22 percent increase from FY15 … the increase could either be interpreted as proof red-light running requires more resources to eradicate; or, it could show the cameras aren’t doing their job in reducing violations. However, a major flaw in the DHSMV report appears to be an assessment that only 12 percent of citations last year went to repeat offenders. A 10Investigates analysis of the state’s raw data suggests the repeat offender figure could be drastically undercounted since the state’s 12 percent calculation only includes offenders who are ticketed twice in the same municipality. So, if a driver receives a red-light camera ticket by cameras in both Tampa and Hillsborough County, he or she would not be counted as a “repeat offender.”

OP-ED: HOME SHARING HELPS BOLSTER OUR FAMILY FRIENDLY TOURIST BRAND via Tom Martinelli for the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Home sharing helps our community cast a wider net to prospective travelers whose budgets simply cannot accommodate higher hotel rates. It also allows visitors to authentically experience Broward as we locals do, while driving tourist dollars and activating economies in neighborhoods that lack hotels. Ultimately, the power of the Airbnb platform is that it motivates guests to blend into neighborhoods, belong anywhere and live like locals. Our mission is to welcome visitors while maintaining the fabric of what makes these communities so special. Our Airbnb hosts want to serve as steadfast partners to bolster Broward’s family friendly tourist brand. The home sharing movement has already instilled community economic development while offering visitors a genuine — if temporary — home away from home. A collaborative partnership between Airbnb, our hosts and policymakers will promote responsible tourism consistent with Broward’s brand and values.

WHAT JACK LATVALA IS READING – PSTA, HART TAKE STEPS TO FORMAL WORKING PARTNERSHIP via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics – The general goal is to streamline services to save money and provide better service for transit riders, PSTA CEO Brad Miller said. The agreement sets out areas in which the two agencies already collaborate, such as a regional fare collection that uses one informational app that applies whether the customer is in Pinellas or Hillsborough. The regional fare collection app includes not only PSTA and HART, the Hillsborough transit authority, but Sarasota, Pasco and Hernando counties as well. PSTA and HART are also partnering on such items as the purchase of some equipment and on goal-setting and legislative priorities. The two would continue collaborating on those items and would research areas that could benefit from joint ventures. That could eventually mean the merger of some departments, Miller said.

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SAVE THE DATE:

BRIAN BURGESS: MY POLITICAL PREDICTIONS FOR 2017 via The Capitolist — If there’s one thing about Florida politics that is utterly predictable, it’s the utterly unpredictable nature of Florida politics. … What follows are predictions based on the best available information we have as of January 4th, 2017Adam Putnam won’t be Bill McCollum … Putnam’s team is smart – if a bit overly cautious – and they are well aware of the whispering going on in Tallahassee comparing the 2010 cycle to how things are shaping up for 2018. They are aware of the similarities, they are aware of McCollum’s mistakes, and they are aware of just how radically different the 2017-2018 cycle will be compared with how things were in 2009-2010. … Putnam isn’t going to take anything for granted, nor should he. And he’s better funded, better informed, and better equipped as a candidate than McCollum ever was. Gwen Graham and John Morgan will negotiate a deal – both are media darlings, neither wants to engage in the sort of trench warfare necessary for one of them to emerge as the Democratic nominee for Florida governor in 2018. … Rick Scott won’t announce a run for Senate in 2017 – Scott has mastered the art of the talking point, and he can easily push off questions about his political future until the week before the filing deadline in the spring of 2018. …There’s nothing to be gained by making it widely known that he has ambitions beyond the governor’s office.

One Burgess prediction we’re fond of: Strapped for funds, some Florida newspapers will strike a syndication deal with Peter Schorch’s FloridaPolitics.com … While some people in Tallahassee (the press corps included) can’t get past the fact that Schorsch’s operation started as a blog, it has long since evolved away from that. He employs a number of experienced political reporters and he gives them free reign over the beats they cover. He produces more free content than most of the rest of the capital press corps combined. And it’s effective, too.

SPEAKING OF EFFECTIVE…

SHOT: “Doesn’t the City of St. Pete have better things to do than mess around with Uber & Lyft?” via Florida Politics

SHOT #2: “… And another thing about the City of St. Pete’s efforts to regulate Uber and Lyft” via Florida Politics

CHASER: “St. Pete vote on new Uber rules canceled, for now” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal

HELP WANTED: CONTRIBUTION LINK IS HIRING — Contribution Link is looking to immediately fill up to three part-time positions. The detail-oriented support positions are based in Tallahassee and assist account coordinators with client servicing, research, data base maintenance and graphic design. Compensation is based on individual skill; $10 an hour and up. Each position allows for 15-25 hours per week with the possibility of more and can reasonably accommodate school schedules. Requirements include working well with others, reliability and discretion with information. Ideally, applicants would have experience/ proficiency in one or more of the following areas: MS excel, statistics, social media or graphic design. Interested? Email Brittney Prahlow at Brittney@contributionlink.com.

FACEBOOK AGAIN HIRES SEBASTIAN ALEKSANDER FOR 2017 SESSION via Florida Politics – This makes the third year in a row that Aleksander will have represented the social media behemoth, based in Menlo Park, California. Among other major websites, he also represents Yahoo! Inc., records show. Facebook’s last significant interest in Florida legislation was a “digital assets” bill backed by state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican. Facebook at first was against the bill because, the company said, it conflicted with federal online privacy laws. Hukill later amended the measure so that someone has to give “explicit consent” to someone else to access and control a particular account. The digital assets legislation (SB 494) became law earlier this year.

PERSONNEL NOTE: CHRIS SMITH JOINS TRIPP SCOTT via Florida Politics – Smith has joined Tripp Scott, the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm announced this week. “We’re so excited to have you here,” said Edward J. Pozzuoli, the president of Tripp Scott, in a video interview with Smith. The 46-year-old Fort Lauderdale Democrat got his start at Tripp Scott, working as a law clerk at the firm for two summers. He later joined the firm, working in the contract department writing leases and doing other contract work. In a video announcing his hire, Smith said his decision to join Tripp Scott brings him “back to where I started, back to where I got my roots, my legal roots especially.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: DEBRA HENLEY OUT AT FJA, PAUL JESS IN via Florida Politics – Henley left her job as executive director of the Florida Justice Association last month and is temporarily being replaced by her deputy, Jess … Jess, who was called a “veteran association executive and attorney,” is now interim executive director … Florida Justice Association President Jimmy Gustafson is calling Jess “an outstanding leader who has a deep understanding of the important issues facing civil justice in Florida.” Jess, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been with the association for 28 years, serving as deputy executive director and general counsel.

RIDE UBER FREE DURING COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND via WFLA – Here’s how it works: Riders can open the Uber app and request “FOOTBALL” from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. SaturdaySunday and Monday as Tampa celebrates the College Football Championship weekend … Select riders will be given the ability to watch live football action via onboard Samsung tablets powered by the AT&T network. Be patient. Demand is expected to be high and availability to be limited. The service is available to anyone, not just AT&T customers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to former state Rep. Doc Renuart, Bruce Cotton, and Christie Pontis of Century Link.

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