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Sunburn for 6.8.17 – Split-screen madness; Med. marijuana in play; Rick Scott to D.C.; Blockbuster ACLU report; Gator vs. plane

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

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

What time is too early to make popcorn?

As fascinating as Florida politics is, even in what is supposed to be the slow time of late spring, it will be difficult for aficianados not to keep one eye on Sunshine State politics and another on events transpiring Thursday in D.C. and beyond.

FBI director James Comey will recount a series of conversations with President Donald Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.

Corey’s testimony begins at 10 a.m., although some bars in Washington D.C. are opening early so those in the District can tie one on this morning.

“They really should declare a national holiday, since no work is going to get done,” Sally Quinn is quoted in this New York Times story by Michael Grynbaum and Katie Rogers.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, polling stations across Britain opened for national elections amid heightened security Thursday. The election was supposed to be dominated by Britain’s pending departure from the European Union, but voters are anxiously aware of the threat the country faces from international terrorism following attacks in London and Manchester.

Of course this is a newsletter about Florida politics and it promises to be a fascinating day in the Capitol.

So make sure you have a fresh set of batteries in your TV remote control as you prepare to scroll through The Florida Channel, Fox News, and BBC throughout this extraordinary day.


When it comes to medical marijuana, lawmakers are getting another puff of the pipe.

The Legislature appeared to reach an agreement on a deal to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, announced Wednesday they would include an implementing bill in the Special Session call.

The agreement came just hours before the start of a planned three-day special session, and ended weeks of will-they-or-won’t-they speculation about medical marijuana.

“Our constitutional duty is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana in the manner prescribed by Florida voters,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, who filed the bill (SB 8A) just before the Special Session started. “This patient-first legislation will expand access to this medicine, while ensuring safety through a unified regulatory structure for each component of the process from cultivation to consumption.”

Senate President Joe Negron talks to Sen. Rob Bradley on the Senate rostrum Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: Phil Sears

The bill, among other things, calls on the state to license 10 new growers this year, in addition to the seven that are already licensed under existing state law. It also requires four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients who register with the state’s medical marijuana registry.

While earlier negotiations broke down over how many dispensaries each grower could have (reminder: the Senate wanted caps; the House didn’t), the proposed legislation includes caps on dispensaries. Growers would be capped at 25 dispensaries; however, they would be able to add five dispensaries for every 100,000 patients. Those caps would sunset in 2020, unless of course the Legislature were to act.

In return for caps on dispensaries, the House appears to have received one of its priorities — making medical marijuana and marijuana delivery devices exempt from sales tax.

The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 15-1 to approve the bill, sponsored by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, on Wednesday. The Senate Health Policy and Appropriations committees are set to take up the bill Thursday.

— “Rick Scott expands special session call to include medical marijuana” via Florida Politics

— “Medical marijuana bill would add more licensed growers” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Are vaping and smoking the same? Ray Rodrigues won’t say” via Florida Politics – As the medical marijuana implementation bill winds its way through the Special Session, some lawmakers still are grappling with whether smoking medicinal cannabis is the same as ‘vaping’ it. Before the Health and Human Services Committee approved the House bill (HB 5A), members asked bill sponsor Rodrigues, the House Republican Leader from Estero. “Are we allowing smoking?” asked Rep. Thad Altman, an Indialantic Republican. Nope, said Rodrigues, just vaping—short for vaporizing.

— “Jeff Brandes files strike-all amendment” via Florida Politics

John Morgan: I’m still suing the Legislature” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Where there’s no smoke, there’s a John Morgan lawsuit. Morgan—attorney, entrepreneur and main backer of Florida’s medical marijuana amendment—Wednesday said he still plans to sue the state despite lawmakers brokering a deal to include implementation of the measure in this week’s Special Session. Mainly, Morgan’s hair’s on fire that Florida doesn’t allow smokeable medicinal cannabis. Morgan first said he planned to sue last month. “Done is better than perfect and this is far from perfect,” he said in a statement to “I will be suing the state to allow smoke. It was part of my amendment.”

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Mystery mailers from Illinois target Joe Negron” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Voters in Negron‘s Treasure Coast-Palm Beach district are getting mailers from a newly formed Illinois-based PAC criticizing Negron’s role in an education bill that’s closely identified with House Speaker Corcoran … The mailer from a group called SunshinePac from Evanston, Illinois, criticizes HB 7069 and focuses on Negron rather than Corcoran. SunshinePac was formed May 25 as a federal committee, according to Federal Election Committee records. It is headed by John Hennelly, a former Florida director for the Service Employees International Union who’s now a consultant with the liberal Chicago-based firm Democracy Partners. “What has politician Joe Negron been up to in Tallahassee this Session? Making backroom deals and our schools are paying the price,” says one side of the mailer, which shows a picture of Negron and Corcoran but doesn’t identify the House speaker.

“House, Senate divide grows as lawmakers begin Special Session” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Lawmakers made little progress Wednesday toward narrowing the gap between the House and Senate on the major funding issues – education and economic development – that drove Gov. Scott to call a special session. With only two days remaining in the scheduled three-day session, lawmakers must quickly find compromise on policy fights that have been made more complicated since the regular 60-day session ended early last month. State Sen. David Simmon, R-Altamonte Springs, summed up the vibe at the Capitol best when he all but said Friday’s scheduled final day is flexible. “These three days here, they’re an artificial deadline for all of us,” he said. “They’re a real deadline, but they’re one that we can work around.”

Lawmakers will likely have to extend session but will Senate Republican fundraiser be in the way?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – With the Senate insisting that any budget agreement follow the 72-hour cooling off period, the House Republican leadership agreed to go along, even though they read the constitutional waiting period as not applying to the budget bills they will be passing this session. House leaders asking for in return … telling the Senate it wants them to come back to finish their work Tuesday, June 13 — same day the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has scheduled its annual golf fundraiser in California. The traditional golf fundraiser, often held at the prestigious Pebble Beach golf course, moved this year to Torrey Pines, the swanky municipal course situated along the cliffs of San Diego … The bad news for Senate Republicans is that the fundraiser is scheduled for June 12-13. Sen. Rob Bradley said the fundraiser should have no impact on the Special Session.

“House panel clears Special Session infrastructure, job training bill” via Florida Politics – The House’s main budgeting panel cleared one of the bills planned for the Special Session dealing with tourism promotion, job training and public infrastructure. The Appropriations Committee, on a unanimous vote, OK’d the measure (HB 1A). Among other things, it creates the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, and awards $76 million to and imposes accountability and transparency measures on VISIT Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

Great profile on Jeff Clemens: “U2 by UV drummer makes noise in state Senate, too” via Ben Crandell of


Rick Scott, Lenny Curry to attend White House event with Donald Trump” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – With the Special Session underway in Tallahassee, Scott will be at the White House for a “listening session” on infrastructure with President Trump. He will join a number of governors and state, local and private sector leaders “who are interested in working together to improve our nation’s infrastructure” … Also participating in the White House event is Jacksonville Mayor Curry and Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge.

Governor and Cabinet to take up environmental land-acquisition priorities” via Florida Politics —The newest project on the state’s priority list for conservation land buys is a 4,700-acre spread in eastern Alachua County, containing valuable wildlife, water, and plant resources, but also largely given over to pine harvesting. That’s if Gov. Scott and the Cabinet approve an updated Florida Forever work plan during a meeting scheduled next week. Sitting as the Board of Trustees of State lands, Scott and the Cabinet also will review the Florida Forever land-buy priority list and five-year plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. … New to that plan is Lochloosa Forest, assessed at nearly $5.3 million … containing flatwoods, swamps, and marshes, with Hatchet and Bee Tree creeks flowing through.

Carlos Smith: Since Pulse, Rick Scott has done nothing for LGBTQ community” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising –The openly-gay Orlando representative wondered whether Scott would, and whether he should, attend next Monday’s memorial ceremonies in Orlando for the 49 people who were murdered and 53 people who were wounded that night … “He’s done nothing. And he should be held accountable,” Smith said of the governor … he watched Scott evolve with exposure to Pulse families and survivors and become more understanding and sensitive – but then, devolve over ensuing months, to the point that Scott once again did not acknowledge the gay community when he talked about Pulse in his opening address to the Florida Legislature. Smith said Scott now is in an awkward position regarding Pulse, the same position he was in a year ago. Smith said the governor had appeared at the massive Pulse vigil held at Lake Eola Park June 19, 2016, asked if he should speak, was advised that he might be booed, and so did not speak. “Why would he be booed? Because the LGBTQ community knows that he’s done nothing for us,” Smith said.

Sarah Palin accidentally bashes Florida Republicans in Paris accord meme” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaPalin took a strong stand in support of Trump’s decision to withdraw from a global warming agreement, warning her Facebook readers with a meme that intoned, “Don’t be Fooled! The Paris Climate Accord is a SCAM.” However, the picture the former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee used — featuring well-dressed people celebrating — was pure fake news …  it depicts a group unlikely to support either the idea of man-made climate change or the Paris accord: highly conservative Republican members of the Florida House of Representatives on the chamber floor. Palin deleted the post after Politico reported her error.

“Labor relations panel will hear complaint against Sarasota Herald-Tribune” via Florida Politics – A Florida-based division of the National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing on a complaint against the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that the paper’s leadership intimidated and threatened “reprisals” if newsroom employees voted to form a union. The hearing is Aug. 21 in Tampa. Last September, the Herald-Tribune’s newsroom staff voted to unionize under the NewsGuild-CWA by a vote of 22-16. Among the allegations, the complaint said publisher Patrick Dorsey in August “created an impression among employees that their union activities were under surveillance.”


A new investigation from the American Civil Liberties Union found Florida officials didn’t provide the public with timely or trustworthy information during the 2016 toxic algae bloom that impacted Treasure Coast communities.

The report — published Tuesday and titled “Tainted Waters: Threats to Public Health and the People’s Right to Know” — looks at state’s record of transparency when it comes to disseminating information about the public danger to the public’s health posed by the algae flor.

Algae blooms from excess nutrients in the waterways are common and becoming more common in developed countries. Photo credit: EPA.

John Lantigua, an investigative reporter with the ACLU of Florida’s, investigated the state’s response to the algae outbreak. Lantigua, a Pulitzer Prize winner reporter, conducted his research with the help of local residents, scientists, media and state employees willing to cooperate.

The report found state scientists testing the river and estuary water for toxins did so in places where the algae was the thinnest, as opposed to along the shores and inlets where algae accumulates and where people interact with the water interacts the most. It also notes that local officials and groups complained that a task force created by statute to try and mitigate the effects of algae infestations has not been funded since 2001.

“Open government means people have a right to be informed about what public officials and employees are doing, and that information is particularly crucial when it comes to public health issues,” he said. “What we found was a lack of urgency and transparency on the part of the state in reporting information about the crisis, caused by the release of tainted waters from Lake Okeechobee.”


In the final part in a series looking at online education, Jessica Bakeman with POLITICO Florida looks at how the fierce rivalry between the University of Florida and Florida State University hasn’t entered the online education arena.

Bakeman writes that as the two preeminent universities plan for the future there has “been surprising little between the longtime rivals.”

According to the report, the University of Florida, aided by the Florida Legislature, “has undertaken an aggressive expansion of distance learning, billing itself as an international hub, while Florida State has resisted pressure from state officials to grow its non-traditional offerings, preferring to see itself as a physical destination for students.”

Those differences, Bakeman notes, could have a disproportionate effect on how online education evolves and whether the state meets its goal of having thousands upon thousands of undergraduate students taking nearly half their courses virtually by 2025.

University of Florida now counts 31 percent of its undergraduate programs delivered online. But Bakeman reported that the path hasn’t always been a smooth one. More than a year ago, the school ended its multi-million dollar contract with Pearson after the company failed to attract enough students from outside the Sunshine State. At FSU, the school’s reluctance to embrace online education has “put the school in conflict with Gov. Scott and the State University System’s board of governors,” reports Bakeman.


“Andrew Gillum ‘slams’ Special Session” via Florida Politics – Tallahassee Mayor Gillum issued a brief statement calling this week’s Special Session “a complete embarrassment to our state.” Gillum also took a swipe at an education policy bill (HB 7069) Gov. Scott is considering that, among other things, could funnel more money to privately-managed charter schools. The session “was called with a total lack of transparency, and thanks to HB 7069, Floridians’ tax dollars are almost certainly about to enrich for-profit charter school executives,” Gillum said in the statement.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla faces foreclosure on out-of-district home” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – On campaign filings for the District 40 state Senate race, Diaz de la Portilla lists two addresses: a mattress company that belongs to his father and a five-bedroom West Miami home facing foreclosure. Both lie outside the district he is running to represent, a large swath of Southwest Miami-Dade County. According to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, Diaz de la Portilla and his ex-wife jointly own the West Miami home. In April, Wells Fargo filed a notice in county court seeking to foreclose on the home … Diaz de la Portilla listed the home as being worth $603,357 in a financial disclosure form. Diaz de la Portilla said the foreclosure was a necessary step toward modifying the loan on his home following a divorce.

Democrat who switched parties too late withdraws from state Senate race” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald Steve Smith signed an oath when he qualified as a candidate for the state Senate last week saying he’s been a registered Democrat for a year. Not quite. Florida law requires anyone qualifying as a party candidate to state in writing that they have not been a member of another party for a full year before qualifying. Smith … registered as a Democrat June 10, 2016, less than a year before he and six other candidates qualified May 30 — 12 days short of a year — for the District 40 seat left vacant by former Sen. Frank Artiles. Hours after a Miami Herald story went online Tuesday about the apparent violation, Smith he withdrew his candidacy, saying he did not want to jeopardize the Democratic Party’s chances to turn the seat blue and his own political aspirations down the road. “It is what it is,” he said.

Bobby Olszewski qualifies by petition for HD 44 special election” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Republican Bobby Olszewski has become the first qualified candidate for the special elections set for later this year to fill the vacant seat for House District 44 in western Orange County. Olszewski’s campaign said it collected more than 400 petition signatures and on Wednesday the Orange County Supervisor of Elections certified 370, enough to put him on the ballot. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 15, with the final election on Oct. 10. “I couldn’t be more thankful to our great volunteers who helped us reach this goal with our voters in record time,” Olszewski stated in a news release. “My volunteers and I will out and about in our community throughout this election looking to bring our hometown, conservative principles to Tallahassee.”


Donald Trump nominates Stetson law professor to veterans appeals court” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times Trump has nominated a Stetson University law professor to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Michael P. Allen is director of the Veterans Law Institute and was a civil trial attorney in Boston before joining Pinellas County-based Stetson.

“Personnel note: Stephen Lawson moves to VISIT FLORIDA” via Florida PoliticsLawson has left the post of communications director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. He has become vice president of Government Relations for VISIT Florida. He announced the job change in an email. Lawson has been making the rounds of Gov. Scott’s administration, previously serving as communications director for Enterprise Florida, the public-private economic development organization.

Sachs named as agency of record for JMI – The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank, named Sachs Media Group as its Agency of Record. Under the leadership of newly appointed president Michelle Ubben, Sachs Media will elevate JMI’s profile in Florida and nationally by providing public affairs and strategic communications services in support of JMI’s initiatives. JMI is led by president/CEO Dr. Bob McClure, who was named one of INFLUENCE Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Florida Politics.

AppointedDaniel Waters and Marielle Kitchener to Big Cypress Basin Board.

AppointedAdrian Alfonso to the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc.

New and renewed lobby registration: Bob Harris, Messer Caparello: West Coast University

— ALOE —

9 TV shows set in Florida but not Miami, like ‘Claws’ in Manatee County” via Caitlin O’Connor of the Tampa Bay Times – I Dream Of Jeannie … Maj. Tony Nelson and Jeannie called Cocoa Beach home. Second Noah … Tampa got its moment in the spotlight in this short-lived mid-’90s series about a family with a tendency to take in kids and stray animals. Fresh Off the Boat … ABC’s hit sitcom features a Taiwanese family moving from Washington, D.C., to Orlando around 1995. The Glades … This A&E show about an FDLE detective was set in fictional Palm Glade somewhere in, well, the Everglades and filmed around South Florida. Siesta Key … A reality series filmed around Sarasota County’s popular beach destination is set to premiere July 19 on MTV. Bloodline … Netflix’s recently concluded family thriller was set and filmed in the Keys. American Horror Story … 2014-15’s Freak Show season was set in Jupiter in 1952, following the lives of members of, well, a freak show. Cougar Town …  Courtney Cox & Co. were on the prowl in fictional Gulfhaven, nicknamed “Cougar Town,” somewhere around Venice and Sarasota on the map.

Florida, Florida State on the winning end of baseball’s June Madness” via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics –Both Florida and Florida State have provided significant contributions to this year’s mayhem, which saw nearly half of the 16 seeded teams and regional hosts go down to defeat. Four others, including the Gators and Seminoles, had to bounce back from losses. No team among the 64 tournament teams had to climb the mountain faced by Florida State. The Madness struck in the first game, when FSU inexplicably lost to fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech, 3-1. The Gators were moving along nicely in their regional until Sunday night. They had the opportunity for a three-game sweep, but the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, earned a reprieve with a 6-2 win. Florida restored order Monday with a 6-1 regional-clinching win, but it was 0-0 in the sixth inning.

Orlando gator killed on runway at executive airport” via Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel – An 11-foot alligator was reportedly killed at 2 a.m. June 1 … A spokeswoman for the airport, Carolyn Fennell, confirmed that the incident occurred last week. She said there was some damage to the private plane but didn’t have details about that. “Fish and Wildlife Service said it was a 500-pound alligator,” Fennell said. The executive airport is 3 miles from downtown Orlando and is governed by Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which also governs Orlando International Airport. It covers about 1,000 acres, near several lakes, including Lake Underhill.

NASA announces new astronaut class, and one is from Florida” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel – The class of 12 astronauts will start a two-year training program in August. One candidate, Frank Rubio, 41, hails from Florida. He graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York The rest of the 2017 class: Kayla Barron of Richland, Washington; Zena Cardman of Williamsburg, Virginia; Raja Chari of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Matthew Dominick of Wheat Ridge, Colorado; Bob Hines of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Warren Hoburg of Pittsburgh; Jonny Kim of Los Angeles; Robb Kulin of Anchorage, Alaska; Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin, New York; Loral O’Hara of Sugar Land, Texas; Jessica Watkins of Lafayette, Colorado

Happy birthday to Chris Hand and PSTA’s Brad Miller.

Sunburn for 6.7.17 – Special Session already not so special?; There’s a bear in the election woods; David Richardson aims for D.C.; op-eds galore

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

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


Special Session hasn’t even started yet, and stuff’s already starting to blow up.

Take House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s Tuesday evening reaction to the Senate’s filed bills on education, economic development and tourism marketing.

“We stand with the Governor in his commitment to increase funding for our K-12 public schools and creating more jobs,” he said.

“But instead of addressing jobs, honoring the will of the people in passing medical marijuana, or taking care of our public school children, the Senate President wants a massive property tax increase, wants to weaken accountability provisions for VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida (EFI), and wants to raid reserves to give to hospital CEOs.  

“Needless to say, the House is not raising taxes, not softening accountability rules, and not borrowing against reserves to pay for corporate giveaways,” Corcoran added.

“And without question the House will not allow funding for our schoolchildren to be held hostage to pork barrel spending and special interest demands.”

In the words of Ron Burgundy: “Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”

Before that, Senate Appropriations chair Jack Latvala dropped a bomb when, in a memo, he said bills filed during the Special Sesh would fall under the constitutionally-mandated 72-hour cooling off period.

Staff came to that conclusion by researching session precedent going back to 1993, Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said.

If a bill gets amended, however, that would reset the clock, pushing back the end of session beyond Friday.

Later, the House filed HB 3A on the Florida Education Finance Program. But the House’s bill statement said the cooling off period does not apply.”

“It is not general in application; does not resemble the constitutionally required format and scope of a general appropriations bill described by Article III, section 19(b); does not meet the definition of a General Appropriations Bill in Joint Rule 2; and meets the general appropriations exemption applicable to supplemental appropriations provided in Joint Rule 2,” the statement said.

In other words: Pass or fail, we ain’t staying. (We won’t even mention the lack of medical marijuana in the call as of Tuesday night.) So let’s quote another great movie line, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy (week).”

– “Uh oh: Florida lawmakers’ special session in jeopardy before it even begins” via Michael Auslen, Mary Ellen Klas and Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

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Special Session gets underway today – The schedule starts with a House floor session at 12:30 p.m. and a Senate session at 1 p.m. The House Appropriations Committee then meets at 2 p.m., with the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee convening at the same time. The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to meet at 4 p.m. The following day, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m., with the full House going into session at 10:30 a.m. The Senate follows with a floor session at 2 p.m. Finally, both chambers meet on the floor on Friday, with the Senate starting at 10 a.m. and the House going in at 10:30 a.m. All meetings and times are subject to change.

Special Session rules — The team at LobbyTools put together a handy guide to get you up-to-date about what you need to know before the Legislature gavels in. When it comes to committee meetings, meetings need to be noticed two hours in advanced; committee amendments shall be filed no later than one hour before the committee. Senate rules require the Special Order Calendar to be published two hours in advance, but House rules don’t special a Special Order Calendar publishing deadline. The Senate deadline for floor amendments for bills on the Special Order Calendar is 5 p.m., or 2 hours after the calendar is announced. House floor amendments must be approved two hours before a floor session. And when it comes to fundraising, the rules of a regular session apply: Members of the Legislature aren’t permitted to solicited, be solicited or accept any contribution during special session

“Joe Negron: Senate will consider veto overrides” via Florida Politics Senate President Negron told members in a Tuesday memo he expects “a proposal to override the veto of some university and higher education funding.” The Stuart Republican also left the door open for medical marijuana implementation to be added to the call, saying he had made no deal “limit(ing) the subject matter to the issues listed in the Governor’s proclamation” … Legislative negotiators are reportedly close to striking a deal regarding marijuana dispensary caps, limiting the number of retail locations, that hamstrung lawmakers during this year’s regular session that ended in May. Introducing marijuana legislation would require a two-thirds vote.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala talks with Senate President Joe Negron during early discussion of the budget on the final day of the extended 2017 Legislative Session at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: Colin Hackley.

“Jack Latvala: ‘Cooling-off’ period applies to Special Session bills” via Florida Politics Latvala is telling fellow senators that funding bills will be subject to the state’s constitutionally-mandated “cooling off” period. That potentially means, if the bills are amended, that lawmakers could be stuck in Tallahassee past Friday, when the session is scheduled to end. The Clearwater Republican, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a memo that he and Senate President Negron—an attorney—had “reviewed relevant legal precedent and accepted the advice of our professional staff regarding the application of the 72-hour cooling off period.” A House spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Rene Garcia: I’m ‘not comfortable’ with more K-12 funding without changing HB 7069” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The Hialeah Republican told President Negron in a letter that he’s “not comfortable supporting any compromise” on increasing K-12 funding for 2017-18 that does not also address a controversial education policy bill that awaits Gov. Scott‘s approval. García was one of three Senate Republicans to vote against HB 7069 when it narrowly passed the Senate on the final day of the 2017 regular session. “While my career has reflected a passionate commitment to school choice and local autonomy, I find it difficult to support adjusting the Florida Education Finance Program while failing to address the erosion of Florida’s commitment to public education that is contained in HB 7069,” García said.

Medical marijuana activists ‘cautiously optimistic’ Legislature will take it up in Special Session” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Key players in the issue like Orlando attorney John Morgan said that they believe Negron was worried the seven original growers would have an unfair advantage over other MMTCs — but said those fears were irrational since the dispensaries would end up beating out each other in the long run anyway. “Joe [Negron] is misguided because I don’t think you should cap dispensaries,” Morgan told SSN. “Competition takes care of everything in a capitalistic society, [but] these lawmakers are not capitalists. They are people who have lived at the public trough their whole lives.” If legislators can’t work out an agreement over medical cannabis, it will be up to the Department of Health to figure out how to regulate the state’s medical marijuana industry before July 3.

Morgan, who supports lifting MMTC caps, said he was hopeful lawmakers would work out some kind of agreement, one way or the other, but trashed legislators for toying with the will of Florida voters. “They have never done anything besides go up there and play board games like it’s a Monopoly game and it’s not real,” he said. “At the end of the day, the cream will rise to the top. They’re fighting something that doesn’t need to be fought about.”

“Some lawmakers bowing out of Special Session” via Florida Politics At least eight House members and one senator won’t be attending some or all of this week’s Special Session, set for Wednesday-Friday. The June meeting is conflicting with some lawmakers’ plans, including one whose brother is getting married out of state. A list, as of Tuesday afternoon, showed lawmakers asking for and receiving excused absences for part or all of the three-day session, with reasons given.

DSCC goes after Scott over special session — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is out with a new ad hitting Gov. Scott over the upcoming three-day special session. The video features clips of recent media reports talking about the special session, and the governor’s request for money for economic incentives. The 60-second spot also highlights concerns over a sweeping education bill, as well as the governor’s vetoes for higher education, road construction projects. Scott is widely expected to run for U.S. Senate in 2018. Click on the image below to watch the clip.

Assignment editors: Rep. Shevrin Jones and FEA President Joanne McCall will hold a press call to discuss the special session at 11 a.m. Interested media should RSVP to Johanna Cervone at for dial-in information.

Split appeal court upholds Gov. Scott’s 2015 veto of firefighters’ $2,000 raise” via Florida Politics — The Governor’s constitutional authority to veto budget line items trumps a state law requiring him to bow to the Legislature when it resolves labor collective bargaining impasses, a divided 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. … “The Florida Constitution clearly articulates the governor’s authority to veto the (budget), or specific appropriations therein. It authorized him to veto the raise appropriation here,” the court said. “That appellant’s members possess constitutional collective bargaining rights does not alter the governor’s constitutional authority with respect to the GAA.” … The dispute involved Gov. Scott’s veto of a $2,000 raise the Legislature OK’d for members of … the Florida Forest Service for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015. In a dissent, Judge Bradford Thomas wrote that upholding the raise would not “significantly impair the governor’s general veto authority and properly harmonizes conflicting provisions of organic law.”

Governor’s veto threatens Appleton Museum of Art” via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star-Banner – College of Central Florida officials were in crisis mode in the wake of Gov. Scott’s decision to veto $1.5 million in state funding the college was counting on to operate the Appleton Museum of Art. CF President Jim Henningsen and his staff met multiple times to discuss options to keep the prestigious museum open beyond June 30, which is the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year. Henningsen hopes to get approval from the family of the museum founder, Arthur I. Appleton, to use $1.5 million of the museum’s $19 million endowment to keep the museum open for one more year, through June 30, 2018. “We are trying to reach the family to see if they will approve the money, and then we can lobby the legislature to get the Appleton funded in next year’s budget,” said Henningsen, adding that if no state funding can be acquired next year then the museum may have to be closed.

“Scott’s vetoes could impact Luna archaeology efforts” via Joseph Baucum of the Pensacola News-Journal – The University of West Florida’s excavations of the Don Tristan de Luna settlement in East Pensacola Heights could be impacted by Gov. Scott‘s $410 million cuts to the Legislature’s $83 billion proposed budget. The governor slashed $4.1 million to the university, of which $1.1 million would have gone to the university’s archaeology program. Since 2015, researchers and students from the program have conducted several digs and tests of the Luna site, arguably the oldest established European multi-year settlement in the United States. “We realize it has not been an easy year and we thank ​our legislative partners for all of their efforts,” said UWF President Martha Saunders. “The archaeology program is an active program, so we are concerned about the impact on the students currently enrolled. We are committed to doing everything we can to minimize any disruption.”

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will present the Medal of Merit to Airman David Barba and Aviation Boastswain’s Mate Andrew Miller at 9 a.m. at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville. The two sailors are being awarded for their courage and selflessness assisting victims following an incident in Times Square earlier this month. Media interested in attending should arrive at the pass and decal parking lot by 8:15 a.m. for security check in. For additional questions, contact William Austin, Mayport Public Affairs Officer, at 904-629-7145 or

Assignment editors – Aides to Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will meet at 9 a.m. in the Capitol’s Cabinet meeting room in advance of the scheduled June 14 meeting.

Meanwhile … “Trouble getting sake in Florida? Law could soon change for the better” via Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times – State law officially defines wine as a beverage fermented from grapes, berries or other fruit. Made from fermented rice, sake … often has been erroneously lumped with liquors, typically distilled from grains. Restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, and other places allowed to sell and serve wine and beer, but not liquor, have often shied from sake, fearing legal problems. House Bill 689, passed by the Legislature in the 2017 Session but awaiting action from Gov. Scott, would finally clarify that sake is indeed a wine, making it servable and sellable anywhere other wines and beers are sold.


At least 3 Florida counties targeted by Russian hacking attempt” via Steve Bousquet and Adam Playford of the Tampa Bay Times – At least three Florida elections offices got malicious emails days before the 2016 presidential election that a classified federal report says were part of a Russian cyberattack that aimed to hack into their computers. Election supervisors in Citrus, Clay and Pasco counties got the emails, but they did not open them. It’s unclear whether the cyberattack was successful anywhere else in Florida. A secret intelligence report by the National Security Agency described two efforts by a Russian military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. to disrupt the presidential election.

State officials say voting system was secure in 2016” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure in 2016 … despite what appears to be confirmation that a phishing email was sent to state elections offices  and news reports indicate that federal officials believe the Russians were behind it. “The Florida Department of State participated in an informational call with the FBI related to elections security at the end of September 2016, said Sarah Revell, spokesperson for the agency that oversees Florida’s elections system. “But there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue.” She denied there were any successful hacking attempts from the phishing emails investigated by the National Security Administration.

Shot tweet:

Chaser tweet:

Perry Thurston backs Gillum for Governor — Thurston, the chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, announced Tuesday he was endorsing Gillum’s gubernatorial bid. “As Governor, we can trust Mayor Gillum to be a fierce advocate for our community on so many issues – from addressing climate change, to ensuring healthcare is accessible to the most medically-needy in our state, to protecting public education from for-profit charter schools and their friends in the Legislature,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to helping him ‘Bring It Home’ for Florida!” 

Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle considering statewide run in Florida” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald — Rundle is mostly interested in the possibility of running for Governor but didn’t rule out running for Attorney General, said State Rep. Joe Geller, an Aventura Democrat who organized the meeting at her home Memorial Day weekend. While multiple Democrats have filed to run for Governor, no well-known Democrat has announced a bid for attorney general. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, a Democrat, is considering running for Attorney General. (Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, both Republicans, are term limited.) Fernandez Rundle had no timeline for making a decision, Geller said.

– “Jail inmate scalding death haunts Miami-Dade prosecutor’s plans to run for governor” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

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Matt Caldwell raises more than $100K for Agriculture Commissioner bid in May” via Florida Politics — The North Fort Myers Republican raised $101,1575 for his 2018 agriculture commissioner bid during a 20-day period in May, his campaign said Tuesday. While Caldwell filed to run for the statewide office May 1, he did not begin fundraising until after the 2017 Legislative Session ended. Caldwell will report ending the month with $100,458 cash on hand, according to his campaign. His political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell, will report raising $712,825 since January. “I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support we have received and what we have been able to accomplish in our first month,” said Caldwell in a statement. “When we announced our campaign, I said this would be a grassroots endeavor.”

Now a CFO candidate, Jeremy Ring to publish a book on Yahoo experience” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Former state Senator Jeremy Ring, the only official candidate in the 2018 race to be Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, has just completed a book about his experiences working as a founding member of Yahoo. Ring said Monday he plans to publish his book this fall. “We Were Yahoo” will describe how the Silicon Valley-based company changed the world twice, Ring told a couple of dozen supporters who gathered to learn more about him at an appearance at the University Club in downtown Tampa. “The first time on the way up it pioneered the entire digital information age, and everybody knows that, but on the way down the major missteps of that company allowed Facebook and Google to grow and mature and become the companies that they were,” he said.

Assignment editors: Ring will address the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans annual conference at 11 a.m. at The Florida Hotel & Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

Democrat running for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s open seat drops out” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Miami businessman Scott Fuhrman, who jumped into politics last year and took on longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, announced Tuesday that he’s suspending his campaign for Ros-Lehtinen’s open congressional seat in 2018. Fuhrman said a lack of support from donors was the primary reason behind his decision. “Running these campaigns costs an exorbitant amount of money, it’s really insane,” Fuhrman told the Miami Herald. “I spent over a million dollars of my own money in 2016 and this year. I couldn’t really get the support among the Democratic donor community without having to put in a huge amount of my own money in the race.”

Legislature’s financial sleuth, David Richardson, to run for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “I’m ready for it,” Richardson said. “The most important thing is that anyone working Washington has got to work in a bipartisan way and, for the last five years, I’ve demonstrated I’ve been able to get things done in the minority.” Richardson, 60, entered a race that is already crowded with both Democrats and Republicans … He starts with a strong base as his Democratic state House district is enclosed entirely within Congressional District 27, is 60 percent Hispanic and leans Democratic. “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen because of her tenure has been amazing and exceptional with constituent services,” he said. “I really believe she could have won in 2018.” Richardson said he has been considered a run for Congress for some time but expected Ros-Lehtinen to retire in 2020. Her unexpected announcement that she will retire in 2018 after 35 years in office, accelerated his timeline.

— Flashback to May 10: “David Richardson preparing for run in CD 27” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

“Daisy Baez hit with residency complaint” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — A Coral Gables voter said he has filed a complaint against state Rep. Daisy Baez, accusing the Democrat of violating a Florida requirement that lawmakers live in the districts they represent. Christian Rodriguez asked House Speaker Richard Corcoran to investigate Baez’s residency, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Miami Herald. Though it is dated May 29, the House had yet to confirm receipt as of Tuesday, more than a week later. “Baez is ineligible to represent the district in the Florida House of Representatives and should be removed immediately upon a finding that she either never established her permanent residency within House District 114 or she relinquished her permanent residency,” the complaint says.

Two Republicans, one Democrat qualify for HD 116 race — State records show two Republicans, Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez, and one Democrat, Gabriela Mayaudon qualified to run for the seat. Democrat Ross Hancock, who previously filed to run for the seat, has withdrawn from the race, according to state records. Mallea and Perez will battle it out for their party’s nomination in the July 25 primary. The winner will face Mayaudon in the Sept. 26 general election. Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican, resigned his seat effective Sept. 26 to run in the Senate District 40 special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles. Artiles, a Miami-Dade Republican, resigned in April amid scandal.

— “Missing penny almost costs House candidate” via Florida Politics

– “Invisible Pasco’ activist Linda Jack to challenge Amber Mariano in House District 36” via Florida Politics

– “House candidate Berny Jacques wins another local elected official’s endorsement” via Florida Politics


After a seemingly rule-less meeting, constitution panel adopts rules” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Rules — addressing such matters as who will appoint committees, how proposals will move through committees, whether Florida’s Sunshine laws will cover everything — emerged from a sometimes chaotic debate in Orlando at a meeting that Chair Carlos Beruff adjourned suddenly after he got what he apparently wanted. By a 20-11 vote, the commission adopted a proposal from Gov. Scott-appointee Brecht Heuchan that largely adopts, as a base, the rules used by the previous state Constitution Revision Commission in 1997-98, with a few changes Heuchan said were the desires of a rules work group that had met. With that, Beruff closed down discussion or consideration of dozens of other proposals, including some amendments and then adjourned the meeting. He promised that the other suggestions would be taken up at later meetings, but made contradictory statements about whether they would be considered by the full commission, or by a rules committee, which he would be able to appoint and control. But the rules package didn’t address everything that everyone wanted, and opponents mounted challenges.

“Supreme Court will hear Florida A&M hazing appeal” via Florida Politics – The justices have decided to consider an appeal from Dante Martin, convicted in the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. A date for oral arguments is not yet set. “Florida’s hazing statute criminalizes the type of conduct that—though physically grueling, perceived as brutal to many, and unappealing to most—is nonetheless protected under the federal constitution,” his initial brief said. Martin and Champion were both members of the school’s famed “Marching 100” band. Champion, 26, succumbed to internal injuries after a brutal beating ritual with fists, mallets and drumsticks in a band bus that was parked outside a game in Orlando. According to the AP, “the case brought into focus the culture of hazing in the band, which was suspended for more than a year while officials tried to clean up the program.” Martin, now 30, was sentenced in 2015 to 6 years and 5 months in prison on felony manslaughter and hazing charges, according to the Department of Corrections website. He is currently serving time in the Wakulla Work Camp.

National, local politics infuse union fight over panhandle county’s teachers” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – With Alabama on its northern border and the Gulf of Mexico along its southern coast, Santa Rosa County is deep red. Even many of its teachers — a traditionally left-leaning group — didn’t want to be associated with the state and national unions’ efforts to boost Democrats. So, leaders voted to leave in late 2015. The Tallahassee-based Florida Education Association has since helped form a competing local union there and is challenging the now-independent Santa Rosa Professional Educators for the rights to collectively bargain contracts with the school district. SRPE’s leaders say the state union is coming after them out of fear that other, bigger chapters will follow their lead. Several unions from around the right-to-work state have indicated their interest in breaking away as well, the group’s president and attorney claim.

Deal for David Beckham’s Miami soccer stadium land gets approval” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press – In a 9-4 vote Tuesday, Miami-Dade County commissioners decided to allow Miami Beckham United to buy 3 acres of county land, the final piece in a nine-acre plot on which a 25,000-seat soccer stadium is planned. It’s a big win for the English soccer icon, who has spent four years – and counting – trying to bring Miami an expansion MLS franchise. “Miami is ready,” said Tim Leiweke, one of the partners in Beckham’s group. “We are committed. And the city and the county have now taken the necessary steps for us to control our own destiny for a privately financed, world-class soccer stadium for Major League Soccer. Beckham’s group will pay just over $9 million for the three-acre plot. It has already paid $19 million for the other 6 acres needed, and Leiweke said he’s hopeful a team could start playing in the stadium in 2020.

Injured Orlando Predators player loses workers’ compensation claim on appeal” via Orlando Rising — A former Orlando Predators player can’t recover workers’ compensation benefits because nobody from the Arena Football League ever signed his employment contract, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday. Bryon Bishop attempted to claim benefits for an injury sustained during a tryout to rejoin the now-defunct team following a hiatus. A judge of compensation claims had ruled that he was entitled to them under his contract with the league. A three-judge appellate panel … cited the lack of a signature by a league representative in reversing the compensation judge. Only Bishop and a team representative had signed. The contract term was Feb. 1-Aug. 31, 2013.

Workers’ comp judge ordered to reconsider $20K attorney fee agreement” via Florida Politics — A state appeals court criticized a judge of compensation claims for denying a $20,000 attorney fee award because of unsubstantiated claims that the parties had colluded. The 1st District Court of Appeal ordered Judge John Lazzara of Tallahassee to conduct a proper evidentiary hearing in the matter. … The case involved a claim for hearing loss by Jose Delgado against City Concrete Systems Inc. and FCCI Insurance Co. The parties had agreed upon the fee award, but waited until May 2016, after the Florida Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated Castellanos v. Next Door Co. ruling on attorney fees, to file it with the judge. … The court criticized Lazzara’s seven-page order “that assumed certain unestablished facts and strongly suggested that the attorneys engaged in collusion to commit fraud.”

“Personnel note: David Mica Jr. named interim head of Florida Lottery” via Florida Politics Mica Jr., the Florida Lottery‘s chief of staff, has been named interim secretary while Gov. Scott searches for a full-time replacement, an agency spokeswoman said Tuesday. Mica was officially appointed as interim on Friday, according to Lottery spokeswoman Connie Barnes. The vacancy was created by the departure of former Secretary Tom Delacenserie, now president and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery.

Sabal Trail pipeline protesters accept probation deal” via Katie Pohlman of the Ocala Star-Banner – Two protesters who crawled 250 feet into a piece of the Sabal Trail pipeline in February will receive 12 months of probation each. Karrie Kay Ford, 29, of Gainesville, and Nicholas Segal-Wright, 26, of Lake Worth, entered no contest pleas to a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Ford also entered a no contest plea to resisting a law enforcement officer. The two have to complete 30 community service hours and pay a joint restitution of $7,183 to Sabal Trail Transmission at a rate of $200 a month each during probation. They will have to decide how to pay the remaining amount after the year has passed. Both are prohibited from returning to any land or property that Sabal Trail Transmission owns or has interest in.


Orlando workplace shooter John Neumann Jr. showed ‘pattern of abuse’ court injunction says” via David Harris of the Orlando Sentinel — A former Fiamma co-worker wrote in 2014 court filings that John Robert Neumann Jr. was a “danger to our community” and showed a “pattern of abuse” that was known among other employees. … Carlos Rodriguez filed two injunctions against Neumann in May 2014 that highlighted an ongoing dispute — one for stalking and another for repeat violence. Rodriguez wrote that Neumann started verbally attacking him and “spitting in my face.” … Deputies were called to the business after Rodriguez accused Neumann of assaulting him, but no charges were filed.”

Company ‘heartbroken’ after workplace shooting near Orlando killed 5” via Emily Shapiro of ABC News — After a “disgruntled” ex-employee returned to his former workplace near Orlando, Florida, shooting and killing five people, the company said it is “heartbroken,” calling the attack “unspeakable.” … Fiamma, which is part of an Italian company that manufactures awnings and accessories for RVs, said in a statement, “The Company is heartbroken following the unspeakable attack upon our loved ones and employees. In these dark hours we ask for thoughts and prayers for all the victims of this tragedy and their families.”

Sheriff: Workplace shooting left 2 teens parentless” via The Associated Press — As families of five people killed in a workplace shooting in Florida deal with their shock and grief, a local sports league is raising money for the children of one of the victims – two teens who had already lost their mother nine years ago. Kevin Clark was a “wonderful man and an absolutely amazing, supportive and wonderful father” to his 14-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son, the local Pop Warner league said Tuesday in its fundraising appeal. … The Lake Howell Pop Warner league said Clark’s 14-year-old daughter was a cheerleader in the league, and his 18-year-old son played football in the league for several seasons. The fundraising appeal says Clark was a big supporter who “could often be found snapping pictures on the sideline during game days.”

Friend: Orlando victim feared workplace shooter would seek revenge over firing” via Troy Campbell of WKMG — A friend of Fiamma shooting victim Robert Snyder (said) …  that Snyder warned others of the gunman’s behavior prior to the shooting. It was Snyder who personally fired John Robert Neumann Jr. in April, said Lillian Crouch, who has been on a billiards team with Snyder for about three years. …. Crouch said Snyder told her at the time of Neumann’s firing that he feared Neumann would return for revenge.

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Kevin Clark was devoted dad, passionate photographer” via Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Robert Snyder was skilled billiards player, ‘awesome’” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Brenda Montanez was ‘like a ray of sunshine’” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Kevin Lawson was husband, father who loved motorcycles” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Jeff Roberts had been married nearly 37 yearsvia Gal Tziperman Lotman of the Orlando Sentinel


Steve Hayes: Tourism industry in jeopardy with House Bill 1A” via Florida Politics – As I watched Gov. Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and Speaker Richard Corcoran announce their plans for a special session to discuss tourism funding, I felt hopeful for the fate of Florida’s tourism industry. However, my optimism faded when I read the strict VISIT Florida provisions tucked inside House Bill 1A. Of course, I am deeply appreciative of our lawmakers’ willingness to rethink the issue of VISIT Florida’s funding, but I am concerned the severe restrictions still hinder VISIT Florida’s ability to help smaller communities compete in the increasingly aggressive tourism promotion industry. VISIT Florida must be able to operate to keep tourists, and revenue, flowing into the Sunshine State. Restoring its funding to $76 million is certainly a critical component to ensuring our tourism industry continues to flourish, but the bureaucratic red tape proposed by HB 1A counteracts the increased budget.

Pat Neal: look to Colorado — cutting visit Florida funding would be disastrous” via Florida Politics – To gauge just how disastrous major cuts to VISIT Florida would be, one must look to Colorado. Keep in mind that Colorado has a more diversified and equitable share of its gross domestic product among different industries, and is not quite as reliant upon the tourism industry alone for its revenues. So, presumably, the effects of defunding tourism marketing programs in Florida would be even more drastic than those seen in Colorado. In 1993, an obscure provision in the state law allowed for the funding of the state’s tourism marketing mechanisms to expire. This meant that Colorado became the first state to essentially eliminate its funding for tourism marketing. The effects were fairly immediate and more drastic than could have been anticipated. The elimination of their $12 million tourism marketing budget manifested in a 30 percent decrease in Colorado’s share of the domestic tourism market. In terms of dollars, this constituted a contraction of Colorado’s tourism revenue by $1.4 billion annually.

Timothy Stapleton: fighting the opioid epidemic in the exam room via Florida Politics – It’s up to all of us to come together as a community to fight this rampant problem at every level: education, prevention, treatment and recovery services. Physicians can effect positive change by staying educated on best practices and effectively communicating with their patients about treatment protocols for pain management. There is an inherent risk in prescribing highly addictive medications, particularly for patients suffering from severe chronic pain. Physicians have a duty to consider the risks versus clinical effectiveness of prescribing opioids and communicate those risks and benefits clearly and honestly to their patients. Physicians have an obligation to educate their patients while developing treatment goals. Treatment does not end when a prescription is written: An open line of communication is necessary to make appropriate clinical decisions and detect signs of opioid dependence.

John Sowinski: Gambling lobbyist finally admits it – casinos prey on customers” via Florida Politics Marc Dunbar … wears the hats of a lawyer, lobbyist and investor. And so, call it a Freudian slip or just a moment of candor, it was interesting to hear someone from the inside let us all in on how the industry views its customers – as prey. This came out in a recent interview … In it, Dunbar discussed the state’s longstanding rejection of Vegas-style resort casinos — something the industry has sought in this state for decades. Because of that prohibition, he said, “you arguably have the kind of gambling that you don’t want to have, the kind that preys primarily on your constituents, as opposed to the tourists.’’ It’s an interesting argument to make to state lawmakers – fleece the tourists to spare your voters. Perhaps it would be an argument some might buy if there was any validity to it. But it’s a fake choice. Casinos do indeed prey on customers. And the most effective method they have for doing so is with high-tech, digital slot machines. Researchers have documented that these machines create a fast-paced, immersive environment in which gamblers lose track of time and losses.


How not to lobby the Florida Legislature via J.D. Alexander‘s Facebook page:

New and renewed lobby registrations: Lisa Aaron, Lisa Aaron Consulting: Commvault Systems; David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, and Evan Power, Ramba Consulting Group: Surgical Care Affiliates

“Personnel note: Beth Vecchioli rejoins Carlton Fields” via Florida Politics Vecchioli will be Senior Director for Government Consulting and co-Chair of the firm’s Property and Casualty Regulatory Group in its Tallahassee office. Previously, she was senior policy advisor and a member of Holland & Knight’s Florida Government Advocacy Team. “This is like coming home for me,” Vecchioli said. She was formerly with Carlton Fields for 9 years, serving as a government consultant from 2003-12. At Carlton Fields, she’ll advise clients in the areas of insurance regulation, lobbying, and financial services. Her client roster includes insurers, reinsurers, mortgage brokers and lenders, as well as national computer companies. She was a senior manager and regulator at the Florida Department of Insurance and Office of Insurance Regulation for more than 10 years.

“Personnel note: Joshua E. Doyle selected as head of Florida Bar” via Florida Politics Doyle, a Tallahassee-based special agent for the FBI, will be taking the reins from John F. “Jack” Harkness, Jr. as the next executive director of The Florida Bar, according to a Tuesday press release. Harkness, who’s been with the Bar for 37 years, will shift to an “ongoing consulting role.” They’ll start a six-month transition in July. The Bar is charged with regulating the state’s 104,000 licensed attorneys. Doyle, 37, who has spent seven years with the bureau, previously was a lawyer-lobbyist for Metz, Husband & Daughton in Tallahassee, including serving as outside legislative consultant to the Bar, the release said. Leading the Bar “is his dream job,” said name partner Jim Daughton. “It’s the only job he would have left the FBI for.”

AppointedJanet Price to the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

— ALOE —

Florida woman let snake bite baby as learning opportunity” via The Associated Press – A Florida woman is under investigation after apparently posting a video on Facebook showing a red rat snake biting her 1-year-old daughter. The woman … has no regrets for “introducing” the girl to the snake, which she found in the driveway of her home near Sebring … the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. The woman says, “people are too sensitive” … the snake bit her and her son several times and “didn’t leave a mark.” She thought it was a good opportunity to “introduce” the girl to the snake without her getting hurt.

Universal announces Fast & Furious – Supercharged to debut next spring” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Fast & Furious – Supercharged will include a simulated 120-mph car race through the streets of Los Angeles with the Fast & Furious crew of Dom Toretto, Hobbs, Letty and Roman. The 3D attraction replaces Disaster!, an earthquake adventure that closed in 2015. The newest ride will feature Universal’s new Virtual Line system, which is being used at Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and the Volcano Bay water park. Guests can select a time to ride in advance to avoid queues for the attraction, which will include an exhibit of show cars.

Happy birthday to Rep. Jason Brodeur and Thomas Grigsby.

Sunburn for 6.6.17 – Graham trumps King; Ashley Moody’s BFF; WTF CRC?; Deal on pot for Special Session?; Rosanna Catalano’s new gig; Prayers for Orlando

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

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

Good morning from … Madeira Beach. That’s right, after 26 days, we’re back home and likely not leaving again for a very long time. As wonderful as our adventure was, there truly is no place like home. Let’s begin this edition with a scoop from the campaign trail.


Gwen Graham has only officially been in the race for governor for about a month, but her campaign is reporting she has raised more than $2.25 million, surpassing the $2 million raised by rival Chris King.

According to her campaign, Graham raised $1.5 million in May — $430,000 to her official campaign account and more than $1 million toward Our Florida Political Committee, the political committee backing her 2018 run. The combined total raised between the campaign and political committee is now $2.25 million, according to her campaign.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received from Floridians across our state. Florida families understand that after almost twenty years of Republican rule in Tallahassee, we’re running out of time. Too many families are struggling to get by, too many children are at risk of losing their future, and too much of our land and water is threatened,” she said in a statement. “As governor, I will renew our promise to public education, build an economy that works for every Floridian, and fight to protect our environment.”

The King campaign said Monday it had passed the $2 million mark in total contributions in May, and raised $212,000 during the one-month period, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

May fundraising numbers weren’t immediately available for Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Campaign finance reports covering the month of May are due to the Division of Elections by June 12.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Libertarian candidate Joe Wendt entering 2018 U.S. Senate race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Wendt, 32, has claim to fame in the Libertarian Party of Florida, having finished second with 43 percent of the vote in a 2012 Soil and Water Conservation District race in Hillsborough County, one of the best showings ever for a Libertarian in any Florida election. This time he wants to shoot statewide, focusing on incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his expected Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott in the 2018 election. “I’m realistic, but I think I can do well,” Wendt said. …  He also may be looking at a potentially major candidate for a primary within the Libertarian Party: right-wing political fire-breather, consultant, and author Roger J. Stone Jr. The consultant to President Donald Trump’s campaign is a registered Libertarian, and he’s been subject to rumors this year, as well as in 2016, that he would seek office himself, in Florida. They’re rumors that Stone himself apparently likes to stoke, including in a Draft Roger Stone for Senate Facebook page that includes pictures of him in front of Roger Stone for Senate signs, and no one is quite certain if he’s serious.

Wendy Davis backs Graham for Governor — The former Texas state senator threw her support behind Graham during a Ruth’s List event in Orlando over the weekend. “She has shown compassion, grit, and a determination to work for all Floridians. I am proud to endorse Gwen Graham for Governor of Florida,” said Davis in a statement. “When I took to the floor of the Texas State Senate to filibuster a bill that would restrict vital women’s health care access, and then ran for Governor of Texas, I did so because someone had to take a stand. Now I’m proud to be standing with Gwen as we chart the future of values we care about.” Graham, a former U.S. representative, said as Florida’s first female governor she would make Florida “one that respects women and gives them the support they need to be successful.”

Assignment editors: Gillum will meet with the Puerto Rican Leadership Council at 9 a.m. at the Center for Peace Islamic Society of Central Florida, 1021 N. Goldenrod Road in Orlando. Gillum will then highlight protecting seniors’ healthcare and retirement benefits during remarks to the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans Annual Conference at 11 a.m. at the Florida Hotel & Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

Pam Bondi to back Tampa’s Ashley Moody to succeed her as Attorney General” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — Bondi said on Monday that Moody is her preferred successor, and the candidate she will support in the 2018 race. “I’ve known her most of her life,” Bondi said. “I don’t think there could be a more qualified candidate for attorney general in the entire state of Florida. I whole-heartedly support Ashley and I’m proud of her for wanting to sacrifice so much for our state.” … Moody served as a circuit judge in Hillsborough for 10 years before abruptly resigning in April. …. Last week, Moody filed to run for the office with the state Division of Elections. She is expected to officially announce her candidacy Tuesday. The other candidates are Republican State Representative Jay Fant of Jacksonville and Democrat Ryan Torrens of Tampa . “No one will outwork Ashley Moody in this race,” Bondi said.

“Mitch Berger may run for Attorney General if Jack Seiler doesn’t” via Amy Sherman of the Miami HeraldMitchell Berger, a prominent Democratic donor, says he will consider running for Florida Attorney General if Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler decides not to run. “If he says ‘no’ I will certainly think about it,” Berger said. “I’m trying to get Jack to do it. He would be the right person — he would have my support if he is going to do it.” Berger founded Berger Singerman law firm in 1985 and lives in Fort Lauderdale. He has hosted several fundraisers for national candidates including Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Happening Thursday — Annette Taddeo hosts fundraiser at The Biltmore Hotel — Taddeo’s campaign is hosting a fundraiser at 6 p.m. at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The event host committee, according to the campaign, features a “growing list of supporters who are excited about picking up a key state Senate seat in Miami-Dade and are enthusiastically behind Annette’s campaign.” The host committee, according to a copy of the invitation, includes Rep. Charlie Crist, David Geller, Chris Korge, and John Morgan. A few lawmakers who were expected to attend were taken off the invite because of the special session, said Christian Ulvert, Taddeo’s political consultant, in an email accompanying the invitation. Lawmakers can’t fundraise during session. Taddeo is one of three Democrats vying to replace Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal, in Senate District 40. Democrats Ana Rivas Logan and Steve Smith are also running for their party’s nomination. On the Republican side, Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz are running. The special primary is July 25, with the special general election on Sept. 26.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla’s sole income source: Firm he founded, paid $900K for work on brother’s failed race” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Republican state Senate candidate made all his income last year through a political consulting firm he founded the same year it was paid nearly $1 million for work on his brother’s failed state Senate run. Díaz de la Portilla said his firm, First Stone Management, which he started in January 2016, earned income from other sources in addition to his brother’s campaign and committees associated with the race. He said that money was from private sources and would not discuss it further because it is “proprietary and confidential.” He would only say that his firm was paid from outside sources for things like advertising and mailers. … “Work was done for multiple clients,” he told POLITICO Florida. “90 percent was flow-through to everything from TV to US Post office. All the mediums used in political communication.”

Bob Buckhorn crosses party lines to help Shawn Harrison’s bid for re-election” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – As Harrison already begins looking forward to getting re-elected next year, he’s getting assistance from one of the biggest Democrats in the region, Buckhorn. “I support people who support the City of Tampa and our legislative issues,” Buckhorn told in a text message. “He never forgot what it was like to be a local elected official and has been a voice of reason in a political party that has made local government a target. It seems to me that we are all better served when our elected officials care more about their community that their political issues.” Harrison has voted against the majority of his party in a few notable cases, such as when he supported a hybrid version of Medicaid expansion a few years ago. He also supported economic incentives for Enterprise Florida, a position Buckhorn backed and which earned him the public rebuke of Gov. Scott at an appearance at MOSI early this year.

Save the date: Shawn Harrison to host June 29 fundraiser — The Tampa Republican is kicking off his 2018 re-election campaign with a fundraiser at the Tampa Theatre. The event is hosted by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Rep. Jose Oliva, and Rep. Chris Sprowls, according to a copy of the invitation. 

More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018 LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for legislative seats in 2018. Democrat Bob Doyel, a former circuit judge, has filed to run against Sen. Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22. Republican Michael Cantu has filed to run against Democratic Rep. Patrick Henry in House District 26. Cantu, who unsuccessfully ran in 2014 and 2016, is a former professional musician and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. Three Republicans have filed to replace House Speaker Richard Corcoran in House District 37. Bill Gunter, a pastor at Redeemer Community Church, has filed to run for the seat. Gunter won the GOP primary to replace Mike Fasano during a 2013 special election, but ultimately lost to Amanda Murphy. Elle Rudisill, an assistant state attorney for the 6th Judicial Circuit in Pinellas and Pasco counties, also announced she planned to run. George Agovino filed to run for the seat earlier this year. Corcoran can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Democrat Carmelo Garcia filed to run against Rep. Sam Killebrew, a Winter Haven republican, In House District 41. In 2016, he briefly ran in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Democrat Tony Munnings has filed to run against Rep. Cary Pigman in House District 55. Munnings has previously filed to run for office, but failed to qualify in the last two election cycles. Democrat David Poulin droped out of the House District 56 race, leaving two Republicans — Melony Bell and Jeff Mann — vying to replace Rep. Ben Albritton, who can’t run again because of term limits. Democrat Jeffrey Solomon has filed to run in House District 115. Solomon, a South Florida chiropractor, has run in House District 115 three times before. He challenged Rep. Michael Bileca in 2012 and 2016, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in 2010.


You could call it the wild west of the Florida Constitution.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has been operating without an agreed upon set of rules since March, when the uniquely Florida committee convened for the first time in 20 years.  

Since then, the 37-member committee has been touring the state, hearing from Floridians interested in everything from restoring voting rights for non-violent felons to seceding from the union — plus plenty of people have been sounding off about the rules, or in this case the lack thereof.

That could all end today when the full commission meets at the University of Central Florida’s FAIRWINDS Alumni Center to consider — and likely vote on, the rules of the 2017-18 commission. But with dozens of amendments and substitute amendments on the agenda, don’t expect it to be a short and peaceful meeting.

Some background: Commission Chairman Carlos Beruff, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, has proposed rules that would, among other things, limit the full committee’s power to override committees; allow private meetings between committee members; and give Beruff the power to send proposals back to committees after another committee amends it.

Those rules have drawn the ire of watchdog groups, and even some of the members of the commission. While a working group was formed to offer up suggestions, members of the working group — including Sen. Tom Lee, appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and former Sen. Don Gaetz, appointed by Senate President Joe Negron — have indicated they aren’t in favor of the rules as written.

Lee filed an amendment last week to adopt the 1997-98 commission rules. Gaetz and Rich Newsome, who was appointed by Corcoran, have co-sponsored the amendment.

Gaetz has filed several amendments, including one that would allow two or more commissioners to meet to discuss commission business, as long as the meeting is “publicly noticed by the Secretary of the Commission on the Commission’s website with at least three hours’ notice and is held in a meeting room in the Capitol Complex approved for such purpose.”

The full commission meets at 9 a.m. at the University of Central Florida’s FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, 12676 Gemini Blvd. N. in Orlando. The meeting is open to the public and will be live-streamed on


“‘Progress’ on getting marijuana in Special Session but ‘no deal’ yet” via Florida PoliticsLegislative leaders working behind the scenes are getting closer to putting medical cannabis implementation into the call of this week’s Special Session. One senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “some progress” had been made but there was “no deal” as of Monday afternoon. When this week’s Wednesday-Friday Special Session was announced last Friday, it only included plans to fund education, tourism marketing and economic development. That’s despite dozens of lawmakers, including House Speaker Corcoran, who have said the Legislature needs to pass implementing legislation this year for the state’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana.

Bill filed detailing student funding for Special Session” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Many of the specific amounts that House PreK-12 Appropriations chairman Manny Diaz proposed remain the same from measure to measure. Those include spending levels for school recognition, exceptional student education, safe schools, supplemental academic instruction, instructional materials, classroom supplies, student transportation and digital classrooms. Under Diaz’s bill, the base student allocation would rise $43.24 over the fourth calculation from 2016-17, to $4,203.95. That amount is $70.31 higher than the BSA lawmakers initially adopted this spring. The Diaz proposal also would decrease school districts overall required local tax effort by more than $1.5 million from the original budget. Lawmakers passed a bill calling for $7,605,379,015. HB 3A would set the required local effort at $7,603,850,013.

New economic development bill gives governor $85 million grant fund with few strings attached” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The agreement, between House Speaker Corcoran and the governor, and signed off on by Senate President Negron last week, paved the way for Scott to sign the $83 billion budget … and call for a three-day special session … In calling back legislators, the governor directed them to add $215 million in K-12 funding to the budget, restore $75 million to the tourism marketing agency, Visit Florida and create an $85 million grant program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. If they pass the bills, many expect the governor to sign Corcoran’s priority legislation, HB 7069. The economic development bill proposed by the House, HB 1A, will regulate how taxpayer money is used for economic development. The bill says that DEO and Enterprise Florida will “identify projects, solicit proposals, and make funding recommendations to the Governor, who is authorized to approve” them.

“Rick Scott defends record-setting budget vetoes” via Gary Fineout of The Associated PressScott‘s veto total – which was about 14 percent of the entire $82.4 billion budget – included the main state account that goes to public schools. But the governor also vetoed roughly 400 projects worth nearly $410 million that were placed in the budget by Republicans and Democrats. Some counties that are home to top Republican legislators – including Miami-Dade, Pasco and Pinellas counties – had a long list of budget vetoes. Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, who had several projects vetoed, tweeted out that “we won’t stop fighting for the worthy projects Floridians need, want and deserve.” During a stop in Panama City, Scott maintained that his vetoes did not target any legislators who had upset him this year. “We look at every line to see whether it’s good for Florida families,” Scott said.

Bill watch – Gov. Scott was presented with 25 bills on Monday. He has until Tuesday, June 20 to act. As of Monday, 93 bills were on the Governor’s desk. Monday’s bills include SB 128, a procedural fix to the state’s “stand your ground” law; SB 436 on “religious expression in public schools,” and SB 494, which would allow more people wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Florida to receive compensation for their time behind bars.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will highlight security funding for Jewish Day schools during a press conference at 9 a.m. at Brauser Maimonides Academy, 5300 SW 40th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. He’ll then highlight the funding during a press conference at noon at Orlando Torah Academy, 8651 Commodity Circle in Orlando.  

“Mike Dew named Secretary of Florida Department of Transportation” via Florida PoliticsAs expected, Gov. Scott named Dew, the Florida Department of Transportation‘s chief of staff, as its next Secretary, effective immediately … first told readers that Dew had received a call from the Governor’s Office telling him the job was his. Dew, who put in for the top spot the morning of the deadline to apply, was Scott‘s external affairs director in 2011-12. He bested the other finalists: Florida Transportation Commissioner Ron Howse and former FDOT assistant secretary Richard Biter. The position became open when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm.

— Flashback to May 17  – “Mike Dew is a shoo-in for Transportation Dep’t’s top job” via Florida Politics

P.S. Look for Dave Mica, Jr. to be named interim Secretary of the Florida Lottery.


Assignment editors: First Lady Ann Scott will make her first stop on her 2017 Summer Literacy Adventure at 10 a.m. (CDT) at Eden Gardens State Park, 181 Eden Gardens Road in Santa Rosa Beach. Scott is expected to read to students from The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast during her visit. 

Happening tonight – Marco Rubio, F. Rooney expected to join President Trump for dinner — President Donald Trump has invited a half dozen members of Congress to dinner at the White House, according to POLITICO. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Francis Rooney, a Naples Republican and the former ambassador to the Holy See, are among those expected to attend the outreach dinner. Also on the invite list, according to POLITICO, Sens. Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, and Todd Young, and Rep. Lee Zeldin.

“New deal? Gretna asks court to reconsider slots ruling” via Florida PoliticsLawyers for a North Florida racetrack have asked the state’s Supreme Court to rehear argument in a case over whether pari-mutuels can add slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them. Gretna Racing filed a motion for rehearing late Friday, court dockets show … Last month, the court unanimously ruled against the track, meaning that gambling facilities in Gadsden County’s Gretna and in seven other counties that passed referendums allowing slots cannot offer them … The track’s 12-page motion counters, in part, that the justices “misapprehended” case law on counties’ home rule authority.

“No Casinos responds to criticism it’s ‘misinformed’ about casino gambling” via Florida PoliticsThe state’s anti-gambling expansion group is pushing back against comments it’s “misinformed” about casino gambling not being a “meaningful attraction for Florida tourism.” Steven Norton, a longtime gambling executive and consultant, linked to Nick Sortal’s Friday column for the Miami Herald in Norton’s Monday email roundup of the gambling scene in the South … In his own commentary, Norton points to Las Vegas: “It’s not just the gaming, but the entire experience… you will find many potential visitors who will not vacation at a resort unless casino gaming is available.” … But Paul Seago, No Casinos’ executive director, pointed to a report commissioned by the Legislature in 2013 — the same one mentioned in the Herald column — concluding that “even if destination casinos were built, 95 percent of the revenue would be derived from locals.”

Regulators reject Duke request to make customers pay more” via Florida Politics — State utility regulators refused to let Duke Energy Florida add $4.70 to customers’ bills effective July 1 to cover rising fuel costs. The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities, voted instead to make the utility wait until this fall to propose a fuel-cost adjustment. Any increase would begin to take effect July 1 next year. That could mean a steeper increase next July 1, when a separate $4.25 boost tied to the coming online of a new natural gas-fired generating plant in Citrus County. The utility plans to retire one of its coal-burning generators. But it would allow a truer picture of Duke’s actual fuel costs for the year, the commissioner reasoned. “(Duke) wanted to smooth it out, and the commission said, No, we’d rather just look at it all in the upcoming hearing in the fall, and see it there are offsets. And maybe we can look at your projections and see whether you are projecting something wrong,” Deputy Public Charles Rehwinkel said.

Cover-up at Port Richey P.D.?” via Noah Pransky of WTSP – Following a whistleblower’s tip, 10Investigates launched a four-month investigation into the Port Richey Police Department, where officers allegedly accessed personnel records to remove detrimental discipline and evaluations: an apparent violation of several Florida state criminal statutes. Research included numerous records requests and interviews with officers, former officers, and several with current police chief, Gerard DeCanio … not only had dozens of disciplinary documents gone missing from both police department and city HR records, but also a lack of appetite from DeCanio to launch an internal investigation or ask for outside help to get to the bottom of how the records – which are required to be retained by state law – disappeared. DeCanio insisted the problems happened before he re-joined the department October as chief.


Sheriff: Fired worker kills 5, then self as sire approached” via Terrance Harris and Mike Schneider with the Associated Press — A lone gunman returned with a semi-automatic pistol to the Orlando awning factory where was fired in April and methodically killed five people on Monday, then killed himself at the sound of an approaching siren, the Orange County sheriff said. Sheriff Jerry Demings identified the shooter as John Robert Neumann Jr., a 45-year-old Army veteran who lived alone and did not appear to be a member of any type of subversive or terrorist organization. The shooting began at about 8 a.m. after Neuman slipped through a rear door into the cavernous factory, an area that stretches across more than two football fields where awnings are stitched together for recreational vehicles. “My experience tells me that this individual made deliberate thought to do what he did today. He had a plan of action,” the sheriff said. “We have information that at least one of (the victims), he had a negative relationship with. He was certainly singling out the individuals he shot.”

Orlando shooter came in knowing who he wanted to kill, not to kill” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said John Robert Neumann Jr., 45, whose hometown has not yet been disclosed, slipped in through a rear door of Fiamma and encountered a new employee, a temporary employee, who was not working there when Neumann was fired a few weeks ago in April. “He pointed a firearm at her and told her to get out of the business,” Demings said. … In a matter of a few minutes, Neumann had killed Robert Snyder, 59, Brenda Motanez-Crespo, 44, Kevin Clark, 53, Jeffrey Roberts, 57, and Kevin Lawson, 47, at the Fiamma facility on Forsyth Road, just north of the Hanging Moss Road intersection in east Orange County.

 Orlando shootings: WFTV anchor turns personal” via Hal Boedecker of the Orlando Sentinel — Coverage of the Orlando shootings Monday morning took an unusually personal turn for WFTV-Channel 9 anchor Nancy Alvarez. She relayed that she was hearing from a childhood friend — a pal who said that her father-in-law was among those shot. The WFTV anchor told her friend that she loved her but acknowledged that few details about what happened were then available. … As viewers waited for confirmation of what had happened, Alvarez also dropped the anchor veneer. She said she was sick of all the violence and cited an incident last week when a man brandished a fake gun at Orlando International Airport. “This isn’t Orlando,” she said. She said the community would come together.

— “Orlando shooter: Who is John Robert Neumann Jr.?” via Christal Hayes of the Orlando Sentinel

Florida leaders react to the Orlando shooting:

— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson: “The city of Orlando, which is still healing from the Pulse massacre, has seen too much violence this past year. We must do more to address mental health issues in this country.”

— Gov. Scott: “Over the past year, the Orlando community has been challenged like never before. I have been briefed by our law enforcement officials on this tragic incident and Ann and I are praying for the families who lost loved ones today. I ask all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence. I will remain in contact with the Orlando law enforcement community throughout the day as more information is made available.”

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: “In the wake of today’s shooting in Orange County, my prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, first responders and the entire the Central Florida community.”

— Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: “My deepest sympathies go out to the victims’ families and friends after today’s tragedy in Winter Park. It has been a difficult year for the Orlando area – one punctuated by the worst mass shooting in American history and a tragedy where two law enforcement officers lost their lives. But the community has rallied together to stand united in love and solidarity, and in the wake of today’s mass shooting, I pray they find the strength to continue to do so. We must do more to stop Florida’s epidemic of gun violence – not simply send our thoughts and prayers in the wake of lost lives.”

— U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy: “I’m incredibly saddened by the news of this morning’s tragic shooting in Orlando. My heart breaks for the families and co-workers affected, and I join all Floridians in praying for a quick recovery for those injured and for the families who lost a loved one. The Orlando community is also grateful to our first responders for their speed, bravery, and professionalism, especially the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. I am incredibly thankful for their dedicated public service. “Orlando has endured far too much heartbreak over the past year, and it’s especially important we remain united and supportive of one another. This senseless act of violence happened just one week away from the anniversary of the Pulse attack, only adding to our community’s collective grief. In these difficult moments, we must continue to find strength in one another. We are Orlando strong and Orlando united.”

— U.S. Rep. Darren Soto: “Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of #ForsythShooting. I encourage public to support law enforcement investigation.”

— Sen. Linda Stewart: “Orlando business shooting is not terrorist attack. Mental Health issues more likely, again a continued need for more help.”

— Rep. Jason Brodeur: “Hug your family. Be vigilant. Local Family Help Line: 407-679-0100. Ext. 3087.”

— Rep. Chris Sprowls: “My heartfelt prayers to the families & victims of the shooting in Orlando. A big thank you to first responders who contained the situation.”

— Rep. Jennifer Sullivan: “Praying for the families effected in the Orlando shooting. My heart is grieved at the thought of yet more loss.”

— Rep. Frank White: “Thoughts and prayers for those affected in today’s tragic shooting in Orlando.”

— State Attorney Aramis Ayala: “A sad day in Orlando. My most sincere condolences to the families impacted. Much respect and honor to Orange County Sheriff’s Office and first responders.”


Darryl Paulson: In defense of politics” via Florida Politics – How did politics fall from “the greatest and most honorable adventure,” to ranking below cockroaches? Polarization, hypocrisy and corruption are three primary factors associated with the decline of politics. Compromise is seen as weakness and an evil … Politics has made important contributions to our nation. In fact, our nation would not exist if it was not for the political efforts of those who opposed the tyranny of the Crown. Without politics, we would not have our constitution, over which they were great divisions. We would not have ended slavery and kept the nation united without politics. We would not have triumphed over the horrors of fascism in World War II or communism in the Cold War without a united political effort. Those who denigrate politics and politicians do so at their own peril.

Joe Henderson: Tallahassee gets Special Session, the public gets the bill” via Florida PoliticsScott got what he wanted. Corcoran got what he wanted. What everyone else got was a take-it-or-leave-it deal that smacked of smoke-filled rooms and quid pro quos. Even Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Senate’s budget panel on tourism and economic development, was left out of the conversation. That led to this cynical tweet from Republican state Senator and possible gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala: “It’s a shame the House wouldn’t negotiate during the regular session. Now we have to spend $60-70k a day on a special session.” Write that on the tombstone for this Legislative Session. Corcoran really, really wanted more money for those “Schools of Hope” charters that would otherwise have gone to public schools. Assuming lawmakers go along to get along, Corcoran wins. Scott wins. And what do we, the people, receive? As always, we get the bill.


Appointed Virginia Johns to the Governing Board of Suwannee River Water Management District; Clifford Newsome to the Calhoun County School Board; Jaime Weisinger and Brandon Tucker to the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District and John Henslick to the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Appointed – Judge Eric Roberson to the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court; Gregory G. Groger to the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court and Thomas James Coleman to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court.

“Personnel note: Rosanna Catalano joins Capitol Access” via Florida Politics Attorney Catalano is joining Capitol Access, a government relations firm in Tallahassee. “We are excited about this new relationship,” said Jerry Paul, founder and managing member of the firm. “Ro’s experience, professionalism, and high-energy personality are a perfect fit for Capitol Access and the clients we serve.” Catalano has been executive director and chief administrative officer for the Florida Elections Commission, according to a press release. She also was assistant general counsel at the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Brett Heuchan, The Labrador Company: AltMed LLC; Richard Heffley, Kelly Horton, Heffley & Associates: FFT Technologies

On this week’s edition of The RotundaTrimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, features the Orlando Sentinel’s Gray Rohrer reporting on the art of the backroom deals leading to Governor Rick Scott’s official call for a special session. Plus, President Donald Trump finds an unlikely ally in a former Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party. Gomes also interviews Barney Bishop who says many other Blue Dog Democrats are standing in support of Trump and his calls for Tax Reform.

— ALOE — 

Collector charged in theft of Star Wars items in California” via Kristen Bender of The Associated PressSteve Sansweet, the owner of the largest privately owned collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the world, said he feels lucky he found out about the theft of $200,000 worth of prized vintage action figures from his California nonprofit museum before it was too late. About 120 pieces were stolen between 2015 and 2016 by a friend who stayed at the compound four times during that period, Sansweet said. The sprawling collections are set up on shelves and are not behind glass or under lock and key. About 100 of the stolen items have been recovered, he said. Police arrested Carl Edward Cunningham, 45, of Marietta, Georgia, and in March, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office charged him with felony grand theft.

Happy birthday to Reps. Charles McBurney and Jeanette Nunez.

Sunburn for 6.4.17 – Where’s Jack?; The new ‘Veto Corleone’; Jeremy Ring hits the trail; Steve Bousquet looks back

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

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

If you know him, it should come as no surprise that it was Gus Corbella, the well-traveled Greenberg Traurig lobbyist, who first reached out to me Saturday night.

“Y’all ok?”

At that moment, I had no clue about which Corbella was referring. In fact, since it was late Saturday night, my first assumption was the Tampa Bay Times had gone live with a story about me that would run in the Sunday newspaper.

Of course, my assumption could not be more wrong. Soon several text messages popped up on my phone, as well as on the phones of the people around me. Diners were getting up from their tables and walking out of the restaurant without finishing their meals.

And that’s when the flood of flashing blue lights from the emergency vehicles racing down the street poured in through the glass of our restaurant.

London was under attack.

Twitter was blasting rapid-fire updates about a van running down pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbings in two neighborhoods near the bridge.

Hey, weren’t we just at London Bridge earlier that day?

Michelle and Ella had been in the bathroom while all of this was happening. I was already on my way to find them when we all saw each other. Michelle said later I was ashen-faced. Ella understood something was going on and she asked her mother not to lie to her.

The hotel staff was directing guests inside. More emergency vehicles raced by. Everyone was moving with intensity, if not purpose.

We were not close to the attacks but we were nearby. And, as tourists, we didn’t know what was close and what was far. We were scared.

This was the third time in as many weeks that our family vacation had been punctured by terrorism or the threat thereof. When we landed in England two weeks ago, it was on the same day as the bombing in Manchester. There was the scare outside Notre Dame. And now there was the attack at London Bridge.

How do people endure this?

I guess they just do. The Israelis have for decades.

Want to know who one of my favorite people from Saturday night is? The man who calmly walked away from the terror attack with his pint still in hand.

And so is Richard Angell, the man who returned to the London Bridge restaurant after the attacks to pay his dinner bill.

And so are the bar patrons who fought off the attackers by throwing pint glasses at them.

And, most of all, the heroes were the London police, who took just eight minutes from the moment they were contacted to confront and kill the three attackers.

As I write this, its morning rush hour in London and the streets are filled with people and cars. We are leaving here, imbued with a sense of solidarity with these brave people.

So to answer my friend Gus’ question, yeah, we’re OK.

Tweet, tweet:


What does Jack Latvala have up his sleeve?

The Clearwater Republican, chair of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, was suspiciously out of the limelight Friday as Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders announced their plans for a Special Session.

He did tweet and post on Facebook: “It’s a shame the House wouldn’t negotiate during the regular session. Now we have to spend $60-70k a day on a special session.”

(Of course, that did invite a response from Facebook commenter Roy Rhodes: “Welcome to the Florida legislature Jack! You’ve been there for years.”)

On Facebook and in another tweet, Latvala added, “Glad to see the House agree to positions the Senate took during regular session on Visit Florida, Enterprise Florida and K-12 funding.”

But otherwise, he kept his head down — which always makes us curious.

Latvala will be term-limited in the Senate come next year.

And we’re mindful of stories from last month that said he’s “leaning” toward jumping into the race for Governor in 2018, but that he wouldn’t decide till “June or July.”

Well, it’s June.

The clock ticks. Maybe he’s wrapped up in other political planning. Stay tuned …

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Gov. Scott signed a nearly $83 billion state budget Friday and released a list of line item vetoes amounting to nearly $12 billion.

The vetoes included individual projects worth $409 million — much of the rest represented Scott’s rejection of efforts to take money from dedicated trust funds.

Scott vetoed $11.5 billion associated with the Florida Education Finance Program — money for the public schools.

“I am also vetoing General Revenue funds which I believe should be allocated to our students in public schools,” Scott wrote.

“This action can be accomplished without changing the required local effort … previously authorized and agreed upon by the Florida Legislature in the budget,” he added.

In other words, Scott accepted the Legislature’s decision to lower property tax rates for public education, allowing homeowners to benefit from rising property values.

— Here’s Scott’s veto message

— Here’s the list of line item vetoes


Corcoran hopeful new law, apology brings ‘closure’ to Dozier case” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida — Scott signed into law a bill that authorizes two memorials dedicated to the memories of boys who lived and died at what was once the nation’s largest reform school, and directs $1.2 million so the victims’ unclaimed and unidentified burial remains can be returned to two Northwest Florida counties. “Today’s signing, coupled with an official apology led by the House earlier this year, will hopefully bring some closure and healing to all those affected directly or indirectly by the atrocities that occurred at the Arthur Dozier School for Boys,” said House Speaker Corcoran …”I thank Governor Scott for signing this legislation, I thank the many House and Senate Members who passionately took up this cause, and look forward to seeing the construction of a memorial that is a tribute to those lost and a testament to the strength of those who never gave up the fight.”

‘(Friday’s) signing … will hopefully bring some closure and healing to all those affected directly or indirectly by the atrocities that occurred,’ said House Speaker Richard Corcoran in a statement. Photo credit: AP.

Scott approves vote-by-mail fix” via LobbyTools — Among the 33 bills Gov. Scott signed into law Friday was HB 105, a bill requiring supervisors of elections to notify voters when their signature is rejected. Voters with mismatched signatures can submit an affidavit to confirm their vote-by-mail ballot is legitimate.

Scott signs Triumph Gulf Coast bills into law” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — The first payment of BP’s $1.5 billion settlement for the 2010 oil spill will be transferred to Triumph Gulf Coast Inc., which will spend the money on projects in eight Panhandle counties affected by the spill. The counties include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla. BP will make payments until 2033 as part of the settlement. The new law mandates that at least 75 percent of all future payments be transferred to Triumph Gulf Coast within 30 days of being received.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will ceremonially sign the Triumph Gulf Coast bill during a bill signing ceremony at 11 a.m. (CDT) at Venture Crossings, 5900 Venture Crossings Blvd. in Panama City. He’ll hold a second ceremonial bill signing event at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) at VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering at Pensacola International Airport, 2430 Airport Boulevard in Pensacola. The airport location is an active construction site, and media should enter via Langley Avenue.


Save the date: Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew GillumGwen Graham and Chris King are expected to appear at a candidate forum on June 17. The forum is part of the Florida Democratic Party’s “Leadership Blue Gala,” a three-day event that features a keynote speech by former Vice President Joe Biden.

Assignment editors — Former Yahoo executive and State Sen. Jeremy Ring is expected to elaborate upon his plans to run for Florida CFO at a gathering with supporters and community leaders in Hillsborough County. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the University Club, 201 N. Franklin St., Suite 3800 in Tampa.

Old news: “Fresh off big talk-radio endorsement, DeSantis makes moves to run for governorvia Marc Caputo today. “Ron DeSantis for Governor: Don’t rule it out” via A.G. Gankarski on May 16

Tony Knox is a polished politician” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The veteran shoe shiner has filed to run for Florida governor in 2018 without any party affiliation. He has spent 30 years shining the shoes of Florida power brokers, along Monroe Street, in Adams Street bars, and at the airport. “The Speaker’s office, Senate President’s, the Governor’s, I’ve been in all of those places,” Knox said while working on a pair of wing tips on the steps of the state Capitol. “I know what goes on in this building,” he added, confiding he has been in the room when deals have been cut.

“Democrats bet health care bill will help them oust Brian Mast via Isadora Rangel of TCPalm — Democrats already are targeting the freshman Republican from Palm City for voting in favor of the controversial American Health Care Act that 55 percent of Americans view unfavorably, according to a May poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Under the bill approved by the House, the number of uninsured people would rise by 23 million in the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Democrats hope grass-roots momentum, President Trump‘s slumping approval ratings and voter anger over the bill will ignite a Democratic takeover of Congress. They envision something similar to the Republican Party wave after passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” in 2010. Mast has come under attack by such groups as Indivisible, a grass-roots movement created to resist Trump’s agenda, as have GOP lawmakers across the country. Ousting Mast, however, will be a steep climb.

In ads, Koch-backed group asks Carlos Curbelo to oppose border adjustment tax” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — The Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity is launching a six-figure digital ad campaign urging Curbelo to “support AFP’s plan to un-rig the economy.” Curbelo sits on the Ways and Means Committee that will rewrite tax policy. He hasn’t publicly supported or opposed the tax so far. “We hope Congressman Curbelo uses his leadership role in passing pro-growth tax reform based on AFP’s 5 Principles of simplicity, efficiency, equitability, predictability, and no new burden on taxpayers,” AFP state director Chris Hudson said in a statement. “That starts with opposing a border adjustment tax — a trillion-dollar tax on consumers masquerading as a tax on imports.”

Democrats take advantage of high-profiles absences during District 40 forum” via Martin Vassolo with the Miami Herald — Scheduling conflicts prevented Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla from addressing a mostly black crowd at the panel inside Second Baptist Church … leaving some community members disappointed. Wylamerle Marshall, 89, said their absences proved to her they were not committed to serving her district, District 40 in Southwest Miami-Dade. “Their not being involved in the process tells me they are not that interested in the position that they are running for,” she said. “I would not waste my time with them.” The absence left just one Republican in attendance, attorney Lorenzo Palomares. … Democrats in the race — former state Rep. Ana Rivas Logan, Steve Smith and Annette Taddeo — along with independent candidate Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth, maintained their support for climate science and said they fear dramatic sea-level rise in Miami-Dade County.

The Marlins stadium saga and Miami’s hot Senate GOP primary” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — Former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla opposed public funding for a potential Major League Soccer stadium. Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, trailing the well-known Diaz de la Portilla in early polls, replied with a couple of links to stories from 2006 and 2007, when Diaz de la Portilla favored legislative proposals to benefit the Marlins’ quest for a baseball stadium. In 2007, Diaz de la Portilla filed a bill giving the Marlins — who then shared the Miami Dolphins’ stadium in Miami Gardens — a $60 million state tax subsidy over 30 years so the county could build the ballclub a $490 million, publicly owned stadium. As for Diaz: In 2013, he voted against giving the Dolphins up to $200 million in tax incentives to help renovate their stadium. In 2012, he sponsored a proposal — likely running afoul of the Florida Constitution — saving the city of Miami from being on the hook for a huge property-tax bill for its Marlins stadium parking garages.


Florida city ‘rats’ on self to evict homeless from park” via The Associated Press — Fort Lauderdale called the state health department last month to report rats in city-owned Stranahan Park. A state health inspector cited the city and gave it 30 days to clean the park. Using that citation, Fort Lauderdale ordered 60 people from the park and threw away any belongings that went unclaimed. Advocates for the homeless said one woman lost a laptop computer while others lost birth certificates, Social Security cards, identification cards and family photos. Mayor Jack Seiler said that when the state cited the city, officials had no choice. “When the Department of Health had to intervene … we had to act.” He said that the city is under no obligation to give homeless people a comfortable existence in the park when their presence harms nearby businesses.

OIR approves nearly 20,000 Citizens takeouts for August” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools — The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved 19,520 policies for removal from the state’s insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., in August. National Special Insurance Company is approved to remove up to 4,520 personal residential policies and Southern Oak Insurance Company can remove up to 15,000 policies. So far in 2017, 89,244 policies have been approved for removal from Citizens, though OIR reports only 12,276 have been removed.

Limits on marijuana dispensaries get new life in Hillsborough after lobbying from grower” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Just three months after declaring Hillsborough County open to boundless medical marijuana businesses, commissioners now may put a cap on how many dispensaries can set up shop … the about-face comes amid an intense lobbying campaign by a state-approved medical marijuana company that would benefit greatly from less competition … Those hoping to limit dispensaries have pushed for a re-vote Wednesday … If approved, Hillsborough would allow just 13 dispensaries. Those already operating would have a significant advantage: Licenses would be awarded on a point system that heavily favors experience operating here.

Worst story you’ll read today – “11-month-old boy dies; welfare workers fail, even on the basics” via Olivia Hitchcock of the Palm Beach Post — died about eight days after he was found whimpering in his crib, a blanket wrapped around his neck. Fort Lauderdale police have opened a criminal investigation, but autopsy results are not final, and there is no determination of whether his death involved wrongdoing … A Florida Department of Children and Families review of the case found caseworkers violated even basic policies. They placed him in the home of a woman with 11 abuse allegations and a misdemeanor drug conviction. They mistakenly believed she was a relative. She wasn’t. Brayden’s great uncle, a convicted drug trafficker, did live in the home but had made it clear to caseworkers that he would not take care of the infant. The caseworker’s assessment of the home “contained inaccurate information, was incomplete and did not provide a thorough assessment of the home environment,” DCF concluded in its review that sharply criticized child welfare workers involved in the case.


Casinos push for expansion, but for public, all bets are off” via Nick Sortal for the Miami Herald — As I survey the scene nationwide, I think it’s fair to ask the question: Do we have enough casinos already? And, a related question: Do we have enough gambling already?

 Gambling operators say the market must expand to maintain profitability — and to create more taxable revenue to feed state coffers. But what about the public? When is the last time you’ve heard a group of everyday fans of slots, poker, or table games get together to demand expansion?

… The question of how much is enough is something that should be asked nationally, not just in Florida. Take the mid-Atlantic. New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania all are in some stage of expansion after New Jersey broke the ice four decades ago. Those states are fighting each other for market share — to the point that just about everyone in those states can now get to a casino via car or train relatively easily, no airfare necessary.

I understand that each casino expansion proposal is unique and that many may be valid. But the casino industry shouldn’t automatically assume that every court ruling that halts gambling growth is a bad thing.

— “Gadsden track seeks rehearing in slots case” via The News Service of Florida

— 30 —

In a Sunday column, Tampa Bay Times reporter Steve Bousquet reflected on his three decades in the Capitol Press Corps. The end of the regular session marked 30 years in the Press Corps.

Steve Bousquet at Tallahassee’s R.A. Gray Building in 2006.

Here’s some highlights:

Key lime pie & secrecy: In 1988 one of the less weighty questions that faced the Legislature was whether Florida should have a state pie. It already had a state bird, a state reptile and a state song. The key lime bill, Bousquet writes, didn’t pass but “the lawmaker who filed that bill taught a young reporter a lesson about how Tallahassee’s top down, undemocratic style of governing really works.” Bousquet remembers Rep. Norm Ostrau, a Democrat from Broward County, as one of the most candid about the frustrations of being shut out of big decisions by party leadership. “You’d love to be part of the secret meetings,” he said, “so you could hear them make up your mind for you.”

Technological advances: Bousquet points out nowadays “only a social-media clueless legislature does not have a Twitter feed — a 140-character spin room to push agendas and belittle opponents.” But back in 1988, Bousquet says reporters wore pagers, wrote print-only stories on portable Radio Shack laptop, and sent them to editors by “attaching rubber couplers to pay a telephone’s handset.” He continues: “When the editor said “Got it,” it was time to head to Clyde’s for a cold beer and a bowl of popcorn, where we would find lobbyists and lawmakers, and would work that smoky crowd for more tips and stories.

Political change: When Bousquet got his start Democrats “enjoyed the kind of majorities in both houses in 1988 that Republicans have today.” Term limits didn’t exist; it was still totally OK for lawmakers to party all night and have a lobbyist pick up the tab. Two of the biggest changes, Bousquet writes, over the years — the spread of political committees and term limits — has been “both been very bad for the institution, and for Floridians.”

Shrinking press corps: As Bousquet writes, most papers have cut their staffs, while online news outlets that didn’t exist 30 years ago have multiplied. In 1988, the clerk’s manual listed 73 full-time reporters; the 2017 edition lists 62. Still, the press corps remains strong. Bousquet notes that members worked “the phones until midnight revealed the shocking racist and sexist rants of Sen. Frank Artiles of Miami, who quickly resigned his seat. So much for a “decimated” capital press corps.

30 years, in his own words: “Thirty years. The number 30 is a part of journalistic lore and signals the end of the story. It dates to the Civil War, when news was sent by telegraph using Morse Code. In some cases, an X meant the end of a sentence, XX the end of a paragraph and XXX, or the Roman numeral for 30, the end of the story. But there’s no end in sight in Tallahassee. A wild and unpredictable race for governor is only beginning. A governor whom no one saw on the horizon eight years ago, Rick Scott, is angling to run for U.S. Senate. A powerful group of appointees want to overhaul the state Constitution. And the next session of the Legislature starts right after Christmas.


Lobbyist Doug Bell leaves Buchanan Ingersoll for Metz Husband Daughton” via Florida Politics — “With many years of in-depth experience focusing on government affairs and administrative law, and specializing in myriad areas, including insurance and health care, we know Doug is uniquely positioned to help our clients achieve their legislative goals,” said MHD President Jim Daughton. Before joining MHD, Bell served as senior principal at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney … Bell boasts an AV Preeminent distinction, the highest available for professional excellence from Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Ratings; has been named a member of the Florida Legal Elite in Florida Trend Magazine; and, has listed among The Best Lawyers in America publication.

— ALOE —

Southern rocker Gregg Allman laid to rest near Highway 41” via Jeff Martin of The Associated Press — Thousands of fans lined the streets of Macon to honor Allman, who was carried into Rose Hill Cemetery as a bagpiper played a somber tune. Family and friends, including musicians who played in The Allman Brothers Band over the years, gathered next to his grave and on a nearby hillside shaded by huge oak trees. Toward the end, a freight train rolled in and stopped alongside the cemetery, reminding some mourners of Allman’s lyrics to “Melissa.” Along the funeral route, many shared memories of concerts, and some blared the band’s songs from their cars and trucks. One carried a sign saying “You made our soul shine. We’ll miss you brother Gregg.”

Happy birthday belatedly to Robert Agrusa (doing great things in Central Florida), Holly Benson, Reggie Cordoza, Julie Fess, and Mark Proctor. Celebrating today is Brad Burleson, (The Man) Matt Hunter, Seth McKeel, Heidi Otway, and Ricardo Rangel.

Sunburn for 6.2.17 – Another Uber win; Ashley Moody for AG; new House candidates galore; Aramis Ayala on the record; the Marlins can’t draw

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

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


A former Uber driver has lost his bid to have class-action litigation against the company centralized in a South Florida federal court.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation this week ruled against Sebastian A. Rojas, who claims Uber wrongly classified him and other drivers as independent contractors and not as employees.

Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, speaking during the opening of the Digital Life Design (DLD) Conference in Munich.

Rojas wanted his and two other suits consolidated in the Southern District of Florida, saying “they are nearly identical.” Uber and the other plaintiffs had objected, however.

Among other things, Rojas wants Uber to pay its drivers minimum wage and overtime pay, as required by federal wage law.

The San Francisco-based ride booking service already has been waging a multi-state legal battle not to be considered an employer so it doesn’t have to pay certain benefits under state labor laws.

The Multidistrict Litigation panel found that “centralization will not serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.” Two other suits are in North Carolina and Tennessee.

There are “significant” questions of “state-specific” employment law, the panel said,  and noted the volume of similar cases in the judicial pipeline: “13 related actions involving FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) claims.”

“Additionally, the Panel is aware of at least four pending actions alleging similar claims under state law,” it said. “… Voluntary coordination remains practicable.”

In February, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that a former Uber driver wasn’t entitled to unemployment benefits because he was an independent contractor, not an employee.

That court said “drivers exercise a level of free agency and control over their work different from that of the traditional … employer-employee relationship.”

Last year, the company settled lawsuits for millions of dollars in California and Massachusetts, allowing it to keep classifying drivers as contractors.

On Thursday, Uber spokesman Javi Correoso said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Former Hillsborough judge Ashley Moody files for Attorney General” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Moody, a Republican, was elected to the 13th Judicial Circuit in 2006. At the time, she was the youngest judge in Florida. … Back in April, when Moody resigned from the bench, she hinted to the Times’ Sue Carlton about a big announcement in the future. “I felt like it was time to serve our community and system of justice in different ways,” she said.

It’s early days, so Ashley Moody has not yet started raising money. However, she has lined up Tampa accountant Nancy Watkins, who handles many prominent Republicans’ books, as her treasurer.

Andrew Gillum-crafted city contracting program cost $320K — and got no results” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — In 2006, his third year on the commission, Gillum helped take the lead in crafting the city’s Charitable Contribution Vendor Incentive Program, which was aimed at giving a leg up to vendors seeking city contracts who gave to a list of certified local charitable organizations. … The program was deemed a complete failure. Commissioners unanimously voted to kill it in 2014 after spending $40,000 annually over a period of eight years. … City records show that companies gave just under $1 million in charitable contributions between 2008 and 2014 through the program. Contributions given in 2006 and 2007 did not go through an auditing or official verification process, so might not be accurate, officials said. The lone vendor that got credit for winning a city contract because of the program was Jimmie Crowder Excavating and Land Clearing, according to records.

Gillum said the program’s aim was good but that its execution was bad. “The program looked to help companies operating in the city to be better corporate citizens,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday through his campaign. 

Bobby Powell backs Gillum for Governor — The state Senator and chairman of the Palm Beach County legislative delegation announced Thursday he was throwing his support behind Gillum for governor. In a statement, Powell said he has known Gillum for more than 15 years and said he is passionate and committed to the citizens of Florida. “Andrew is the only candidate capable of rebuilding Florida’s economy so that it creates better-paying jobs at every rung of the income ladder, and his bold proposal to protect the healthcare of Floridians with a pre-existing conditions is the kind of solution we need,” said Powell in a statement. “I’m excited to endorse him so we can best serve the people of Florida together.”

Gwen Graham declares support for Competitive Workplace Act” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Graham expressly announced she would push hard for the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” which would extend nondiscrimination practices to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Floridians. She also vowed to sign an executive order as governor to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. “I am proud to live in a state with vibrant LGBTQ communities from Key West to Pensacola,” Graham said. “Despite facing institutionalized discrimination and bigotry, and the heartbreak of the terrorist attack at Pulse, LGBT Floridians have never given up in their fight to make Florida a more equal and welcoming home for everyone. This month, we celebrate the progress we have made and recommit ourselves to the fight for equality.”

Is this really a thing? “Orlando or Winter Park? Chris King’s campaign gets it wrong” via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – King’s campaign refers to the affordable housing investor as an “Orlando small businessman,” while his campaign releases are datelined “Orlando.” King’s official campaign bio also states that he and his wife “are raising their three children in Orlando.” But King, 38, lives in Winter Park, his campaign acknowledged. His campaign and his business, Elevation Financial Group, are also based in Winter Park. Hari Sevugan, a King campaign consultant, said while King is a Winter Park resident, he was born in Orlando and has roots throughout the area.

A campaign spokesperson joked that Chris King still considers the Orlando Sentinel his hometown paper, despite the story questioning his residency. Photo via Orlando Sentinel.

’Name ID v. money:’ Alex Diaz de la Portilla leads Jose Felix Diaz in early polls of bareknuckle state Senate race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Díaz de la Portilla, a veteran of tough campaigns, is better known than Diaz in the district, partly due to his record and that of his two brothers who have also held state and local elected office. As a result, a poll paid for by his campaign shows he leads Diaz 48-12 percent among likely GOP voters. Attorney and former Spanish-language Trump campaign surrogate Lorenzo “Larry” Palomares-Starbuck is in third with 10 percent. Diaz said he’s not worried because Díaz de la Portilla’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep; each of the three brothers lost their last election.

Prosecutor Elle Rudisill announces HD 37 run” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Rudisill, an assistant state attorney for the 6th Judicial Circuit in Pinellas/Pasco county since the fall of 2014, will seek the being vacated by term-limited Richard Corcoran in 2018. “Today, I embark on an incredible journey of running as a Conservative Republican candidate for the Florida House of Representatives … For the past few years, I have had the privilege of serving as a Prosecutor right here in Pasco. Now is my chance to make even more of a positive impact for my hometown of Land O’ Lakes and Central Pasco County. Growing small businesses, educating all of our youth, and protecting Pasco will be my aim in Tallahassee.”

— “Bill Gunter to take another stab at HD 37 seat” via Florida Politics

Jeff Ramsey announces HD 51 run — The Merritt Island Republican announced Thursday he was throwing his hat in the race to replace Rep. Tom Goodson in House District 51. “I have spent my career fighting to make sure our country stays free and safe for future generations, and I look forward to continuing the fight in Tallahassee,” said Ramsey. “We must continue to push for policies that cut taxes and promote job growth as well as protect our freedoms, especially our Second Amendment rights. And Florida must ban sanctuary cities.” An Air Force veteran, Ramsey said he planned to make veterans a priority.  Goodson can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

“Democrat Emma Collum announces HD 93 bid” via Florida Politics— Collum, the founder of Women’s March FL and the national head of field operations for the National Committee of Women’s March, announced Thursday she was running in House District 93. “Over the last year, my work on both Women’s March FL and the National Committee of Women’s Marches has brought a new sense of purpose and resolve to fight for the things I believe in,” said Collum in a statement. “Part of the lesson of those marches is to channel our anger and disappointment about government into movements and change. I’m excited to take this straight to Tallahassee.”

An early organizer of the Women’s March, Emma Collum played a key role in getting thousands upon thousands of Floridians to Washington, D.C. and regional marches.

She is currently the executive director of the twenty-chapter statewide group, as well as a field director for the national organization. Collum is the third Democrat to throw her hat in the race to replace Rep. George Moriatis, a Fort Lauderdale Republican who can’t run again because of term limits. Jonathon May and Stephanie April Myers have also announced their runs.

Will Weatherford backs Jose Mallea in HD 116 — The Mallea campaign announced Thursday that Weatherford, who served as speaker from 2012 to 2014, has endorsed the Miami Republican. “Jose Mallea is a principled conservative, committed to limited government and lower taxes,” said Weatherford. “I’ve known Jose for many years. He’s a strong leader with a solid work ethic who will promote policies to create jobs and safer communities. District 116 will be well served by his fresh, conservative voice in Tallahassee.” Mallea is vying to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. Diaz resigned, effective Sept. 26, to run in the Senate District 40 special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal. “Speaker Weatherford is one of Florida’s most effective conservative leaders, and I am honored to have his support,” said Mallea in a statement. “I look forward to following his model of servant leadership and commitment to increasing opportunity for everyone by keeping taxes low and supporting pro-growth policies.” Mallea faces Daniel Anthony Perez in the special Republican primary.

Mallea gets enough signatures to qualify for ballot — The Miami-Dade Republican has received 305 verified signatures, pre-qualifying him to run in the House District 116 special election. “Our campaign’s momentum is strong, and I am so encouraged by the support we are receiving all around the district,” said Mallea. “I plan to keep working hard to get our conservative message out, and I look forward to meeting and speaking with as many voters as I can.” The abbreviated qualifying period for the special election runs from June 5 through June 6. Mallea needed 240 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Democrat Ross Hancock running in HD 116 — LobbyTools Legislative IQ reported that Hancock, a perennial Democratic candidate, has filed to run in the special election to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. Hancock previously challenged Reps. Erik Fresen and Michael Bileca. A graduate of the University of South Florida, he works for a Miami-based manufacturing company.


“Rick Scott interviews DOT candidates” via Florida Politics – The Governor interviewed the three finalists Thursday for secretary of the Department of Transportation, his public schedule shows. Florida Transportation Commissioner Ron Howse was at 2:40 p.m.; former deputy DOT secretary Richard Biter at 3:40 p.m. and current DOT chief of staff Mike Dew at 4:40 p.m. The interviews are likely for show: Sources tell that Dew got a phone call from the Governor’s Office in April telling him the job was his. The open position was created when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm.

Backstage talks heat up as Rick Scott, Richard Corcoran try to save priorities” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – As Scott trains his veto pen on the new budget and decides the fate of Corcoran‘s priority omnibus education bill (HB 7069), the speaker sounds more open to preserving Enterprise Florida in some form. Corcoran remains opposed to an Enterprise Florida that “picks winners and losers” and doles out incentives to specific companies, but says the House supports job training and an infrastructure program that spurs jobs. “We’ve said all along we’re not against economic development,” Corcoran told the Times/Herald. But what if the House meets Scott halfway on keeping Enterprise Florida alive and maybe tosses in a $50 million sweetener to restore VISIT Florida’s ad budget?  “There’s discussions going on all the way around,” Corcoran said. “Everyone wants something, and everyone doesn’t want to lose something, and everyone wants to get along. The discussions are good. So we’ll see.”

— What’s the Speakers Office is really thinking: “If the inference is that there are negotiations to add incentive money for anything, that is way off. Any jobs programs or infrastructure program would not be money directly to any companies and would be infrastructure owned by the public for the public good that can be utilized by multiple companies or entities. That isn’t EFI and incentives are dead.”

Medical marijuana special session appears all but certain” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Two high-ranking state senators close to President Negron say they believe he will join the call for a special session to implement the voter-approved medical marijuana constitutional amendment. House Speaker Corcoran has already publicly supported doing so. Negron and Corcoran have begun talking to lawmakers about how to resolve disagreement between the two chambers on a medical marijuana bill that broke down in the final hours of the legislative session last month. A special session — likely slated for the week of June 19 — would allow them to implement a constitutional amendment passed by 71 percent of voters in November. It would also give them a chance to rewrite sections of the state budget if needed or override Gov. Scott’s impending vetoes.

State Rep. Al Jacquet accused of using position to get parking ticket dismissed” via Skyler Swisher of the Sun-Sentinel – Jacquet is facing ethics charges that he misused his former position as Delray Beach vice mayor to have a $35 parking ticket voided by the city’s police department. An ethics panel announced Thursday after meeting in a closed-door session it had determined probable cause existed to hold a public hearing on whether an ethics violation occurred. Jacquet said he didn’t do anything improper, and he will present his side to the ethics board at the hearing. He declined to discuss the specifics of the complaint filed against him.


Released this week, the Associated Industries 2017 Voting Record report calculated more than 208,966 votes on 1,955 bills with 848 legislators.

“This session, AIF faced a variety of tough issues on behalf of Florida’s business community, including opposing any measure that would have made it more expensive for businesses to operate, such as prejudgment interest and fighting to preserve the insurance premium tax salary credit,” said Tom Feeney, the president and CEO of AIF, in a statement. “Additionally, AIF was a proud advocate for Florida’s business community, actively engaging on measures, such as reducing the business rent tax, addressing the workers’ compensation system, making 5G wireless technology a reality and protecting productive private agricultural land.”

Feeney said while AIF accomplished many of its priorities during the 2017 Legislative Session, “this year’s Voting Records vary from what (AIF has) seen in years’ past.”

The report shows the lowest percentages since 2002 for both the Senate and House, with the Senate voting in favor of the business community 74 percent of the time. The House, according to the report, voted in favor of the business community 79 percent of the time.

According to the report, five House Republicans — Colleen Burton, Holly Raschein, Eric Eisnaugle, Jay Fant and Charlie Stone — voted with AIF at least 90 percent of the time. Burton and Raschein voted with AIF 91 percent of time.

The report showed eight Senate Republicans — Keith Perry, Doug Broxson, Denise Grimsley, Dennis Simmons, Aaron Bean, Jeff Brandes, Tom Lee and Greg Steube — voted with AIF at least 80 percent of the time.

“Although Florida’s business community had to fight back initiatives that would have negative impacted our state’s small and large businesses, we did make some headway this session; and, we thank Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature for continuing to give our state the opportunity to have a vibrant, competitive business environment,” said Brewster Bevis, the senior vice president of state and federal affairs at AIF, in a statement.

Tweet, tweet:


Enterprise Florida reduces marketing ahead of potential cuts” via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Enterprise Florida’s executive board Thursday discussed ways the agency can do more with less as the economic development partnership braces for a 23 percent budget cut that Gov. Rick Scott has railed against. The $16 million Enterprise Florida could receive from the $83 billion budget under review by Scott would mean cuts in marketing the state.

— “Would I like us to have a bigger budget so we can do some very targeted marketing during certain specific times when you would do TV? We don’t have that, so we’re going to focus on digital and print,” said Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of Florida Power & Light and chairman of Enterprise Florida‘s Marketing Committee. “We’ll leverage wherever we can. … It’s going to have to be very, very specific. But limited.”

How many counties are doing better now than before recession? EFI is stumped” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The question from Florida Chamber of Commerce chief economist Jerry Parrish seemed innocent enough for the quarterly board meeting of Enterprise Florida … How many counties have more jobs now than before the recession? The audience of executives was stumped … Parrish had to ask it twice and then someone volunteered an answer: 50. “Wrong,” responded Parrish. The real number of counties that have more jobs today than they had before the Great Recession “is stunning,” he admitted to the group that has pegged its future and fate on job creation in Florida. The number is 31. That leaves 36 counties that still have not returned to pre-recession employment levels, a sign of an uneven and incomplete recovery in an era when Gov. Scott has made job creation his singular focus.

Florida Supreme Court revising death penalty jury instructions” via Katie Pohlman of the Ocala Star-Banner – Comments have rolled into the court over the past month about its proposed amendments to the jury instructions in first-degree murder cases, which the court originally posted for public viewing April 13. The commenting period ended May 29. Five commenters have entered requests for oral arguments in the case. None have yet been scheduled. State Supreme Court justices are faced with revising jury instructions after Gov. Scott signed new regulations in March requiring a unanimous jury decision in death penalty cases. The regulation also requires that juries, not judges, find the aggravating factors in a case worthy of sentencing the defendant to death.

Hurricane season is prime time for scams, price gouging, Pam Bondi warns” via Florida Politics — It’s hurricane season. Brace for rip-offs. Following Hurricane Matthew last year, Attorney General Bondi’s office drew more than 3,100 complaints of price gouging, resulting in 21 investigations and four lawsuits. As the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season opened … Bondi referred Floridians to her 2017 Hurricane Preparedness Guide. It’s a primer, containing easy-to-use checklists and definitions of terms — plus warnings against scams of every color. Like tree-removal scams, building repair scams, debris-removal scams, disaster relief scams and water testing and treatment scams. … The investigations opened last year have netted more than $60,000 in restitution and $70,000 in penalties paid to the state to date, Bondi said. You can report a scam or price gouging to Bondi’s office at (866) 9-NO-SCAM or via

New hurricane advisories will give deadlines for storm prep” via Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press – Some coastal residents always put off emergency preparations until storm clouds loom on the horizon. The National Hurricane Center is going to try giving those people a deadline this year, issuing experimental advisories showing when tropical-storm force winds may hit particular communities to help them understand when it’s too late to put up storm shutters or evacuate. The forecasters’ advisories will be fueled by more data than ever, thanks to new weather satellites and an expanded network of underwater gliders. To help people understand when storm preparations should be completed, the hurricane center will experiment with advisories showing the times when sustained tropical-storm force winds are estimated to hit land. If a tropical disturbance nears shore, forecasters also could post advisories or warnings before it develops into a tropical depression or named storm.

CareerSource centers dealing with their own layoffs as economy rises” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In an ironic economic twist painful to some, Florida’s agencies charged with helping unemployed people find jobs are facing budget cutbacks because of the state’s declining unemployment rate — and some now are forced to lay off a few of their own workers. CareerSource Florida‘s 24 regional agencies are facing budget cuts, some deep, and in many cases that means layoffs of those people who help other people who’ve been laid off. “It’s kind of a Catch 22 for us when the economy improves. The unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, so that’s great for the economy, but our funding is based on a formula that takes into account the levels of unemployment,” said Tonya Elliott-Moore, CareerSource Central Florida’s director of communications and community relations. “That’s something that workforce boards across the country, not just in Florida, have to deal with.”

Study: Last year’s St. Lucie River blooms contained 28 kinds of blue-green algae” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – The more types of algae in a bloom, said Barry Rosen, a USGS biologist and lead author of the study, “the more types of toxins might be produced.” Blue-green algae, known scientifically as cyanobacteria, is naturally occurring microscopic organism. A combination of high levels of nutrients from fertilizer runoff; long, hot days; and low salinity can cause it to explode into a full-tilt bloom. A species called Microcystis aeruginosa was the primary blue-green algae in last year’s blooms. It produces a toxin called microcystin that’s known to cause nausea and vomiting if ingested; rash or hay fever symptoms if touched or inhaled; and liver disease if drank.


In an interview with Scott Powers published Thursday on Orlando Rising, State Attorney Aramis Ayala defended her anti-death penalty position as “evidence based” and charged that the Florida Legislature’s $1.3 million cut to her budget will hamper anti-human trafficking and domestic violence prosecutions.

The interview, which Ayala provided written responses to written questions, marks some of the most comprehensive public statements Ayala has made since her March 16 announcement that she had decided Florida’s capital punishment laws are unjust to all and she would not pursue them. Here are a few excerpts from the conversation.

OR: Did you ever imagine your decision to refuse to seek death penalties would erupt into such legal, political, and cultural firestorms?

AA: I would have expected research from the legislators that challenged the validity of findings prior to cutting $1.3 million from my office budget. An evidence-based decision should have a response that is evidence based… not emotional or political. … What I did not anticipate is the governor overstepping his authority by inserting himself in a prosecutorial decision and removing 23 cases from my office. I believe what Gov. Scott has done is an attack on the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution, the rule of law, the separation of powers and our criminal justice system. Scott’s move is unprecedented and solely based on his own political beliefs. … did not anticipate the Legislature cutting my office budget $1.3 million and eliminating 21 positions from my office. This move will severely impact this agency’s ability to effectively prosecute crimes, threaten public safety, and ultimately have an economic impact on the Central Florida community. …I also did not anticipate racist responses including someone sending a noose to my office because they disagree with how my administration will handle death penalty cases.

OR: The Florida legislature said, essentially, that if you’re not going to pursue death penalties, which are expensive cases, you won’t need as much money, and so took $1.3 million from your office in next year’s budget. How would that affect your operations?

AA: To be clear less than .01 percent of all cases in the 9th Circuit are death penalty cases. The other 99.9 percent include non-capital homicides, sexual batteries, sex crimes against children, domestic violence, drug and human trafficking, carjackings, robberies, burglaries, DUI’s thefts, aggravated assaults, batteries, and other violent and non-violent crimes. It is also important to note… my office will also be footing the bill for every single case Scott removed from this office. … The impact of cutting $1.3 million and eliminating 21 positions will have a devastating effect on existing efforts to prosecute widespread human trafficking and domestic violence offenders in this circuit. As one of the biggest tourism hotspots in the world, Orlando is a prime location for human trafficking, ranking third in the nation, and first in the state. … The 9th Circuit has 23 ongoing human trafficking investigations and 15 cases pending prosecution. This unit has also handled 209 sex trafficking tips, 13 labor trafficking tips, and has rescued 21 human trafficking victims. If these funds are not continuing, the human trafficking epidemic in the 9th Circuit will continue to grow in this Circuit at an exponential rate.

OR: Have you or anyone on your staff or campaign had any contact with George Soros or his representatives, who ran an independent election campaign on your behalf, and who oppose capital punishment?

AA: No, I do not know George Soros nor have I ever spoken to Mr. Soros. While campaigning for this position, I was running on a platform centered around justice reform and integrity. I wanted to bring change to the office. I talked about eliminating racial disparities, and I advocated for smarter data-driven policies to improve public safety. I understand that Mr. Soros invested in around a dozen prosecutor campaigns across the country, both Republicans and Democrats, as supporters and opponents to the death penalty. He supported candidates like myself who were committed to bringing change and reform to prosecution. My values and goals were very clear before Mr. Soros ever supported my campaign. I appreciate the support he gave, but I never solicited it nor did it change my platform.

The complete interview can be found on


Personnel note: J.D, White joins Mercury — The bipartisan public strategy firm announced Thursday that John David “JD” White is joining its Florida office as a senior vice president. “We are excited to welcome JD to the Mercury team,” said Mercury Partner Ashley Walker. “Mercury’s Florida operation is comprised of the state’s top strategists across party lines. JD’s public policy expertise, as well as his political experience will be an asset to our work here in Florida and globally.” White most recently served as former Rep. David Jolly’s chief of staff in Washington, D.C. and Tampa Bay. In that role, he directed all policy objectives, strategies, and legislative initiatives, while overseeing all offices and operations. Previously, White served as director of government affairs at WellCare. He also advised Premier Healthcare Alliance’s 2000 member hospitals and health systems to Congress, and previously served as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Porter Goss. A Florida native, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Florida State University.

Personnel note: Laura Cassels joins Rowland Publishing via Florida PoliticsCassels, a veteran journalist and public relations professional, will become the managing editor at Tallahassee-based Rowland Publishing, publisher of Tallahassee, Emerald Coast and 850 magazines. Cassels joins the company on June 12. As managing editor, she will oversee “editorial processes, edit copy and produce stories” for the magazines and the two dozen other publications that Rowland produces for others, according to a press release.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Stuart Brown, SKB Consulting Group: Study Edge

Kelly Horton, Heffley & Associates: FFT Technologies

— ALOE —

As pythons invade Florida, professional snake hunting becomes booming industry” via Phil Keating of Fox News – An estimated 100,000 pythons are living in and ravaging Florida’s Everglades. In Miami-Dade County, the South Florida Water Management District decided Florida’s python problem has become so big and so bad, paying for a “python posse” to find and kill them could be the answer. It’s a two-month, $175,000 pilot program. Twenty-five python hunters get paid $8.10 an hour to drive, hike and crawl in the hot and humid Everglades, looking for snake dens and wrestling the big beasts to the death. In seven weeks, the 25 pros have killed and removed 149 pythons. The longest one was a 16-footer. Most are in the 7-, 8- and 9-foot range. The hunters also get $50 for every snake they bag, and for each foot longer than 4, there’s an additional $25.

 “Nobody went to Wednesday’s Marlins-Phillies game in Miami” via Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated – A midweek afternoon game in Miami between the Marlins and the Phillies—the fourth- and fifth-place teams in the National League East, respectively—was never going to draw much of a crowd, given the matchup, the time and the fact that the Marlins have successfully chased away most of their fans over the last six years … But even by the low standards the Marlins have set for themselves, the dearth of spectators for Wednesday’s 10–2 Miami win was shocking to see. For the record, those 1,590 souls would be the lowest attendance for an MLB game since Sept. 5, 1989.

Associated Press reporter Steve Wine counted just 1,590 fans at the Miami Marlins Wednesday afternoon game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. It was the least-attended MLB game since Sept. 5, 1989.

Happy birthday today to my friend Chris Ingram, as well as Jim Gill and Daniel Tilson.

Sunburn for 6.1.17 – Hurricane season is here; Gov. gets budget; Adam Putnam’s big $#’s; Ballard Partners’ latest hire

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 Sunshine State’s 11-year storm free streak ended in 2016, when two storms — Hurricane Hermine and Hurricane Matthew — swept through the state. Hermine, a Category 1 storm, hit Florida in September, becoming the first hurricane make landfall in Florida since 2005.

A month later, Hurricane Matthew snaked its way up the state’s East Coast. While it never made landfall in Florida, the strong storm caused extensive damage in Florida, including washing out 1.3 miles of A1A coastal byway in Flagler County.

Gov. Rick Scott surveys the damage in Flagler County following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today and runs through Nov. 30. The NOAA forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms this year.

With 15 named storms in the Atlantic, the 2016 storm season was the most active since 2012. And it served as a wake-up call for Floridians, especially since forecasters are calling for another active season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Two to four of those hurricanes are expected to be major storms, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

Florida officials aren’t taking any risks, encouraging residents to get a put a plan in place and stock up on supplies — just in case.

“Preliminary forecasts point to an active hurricane season this year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in a statement Wednesday. “It’s crucial that Floridians plan early to protect their families and homes this hurricane season.”

Need to stock up on supplies? You’re in luck. Gov. Rick Scott OK’d a three-day, disaster preparedness sales tax holiday as part of a wide-ranging tax cut plan he signed into law last week.

The 2017 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs from June 2 through June 4. During the three-day window, items like flashlights, batteries, coolers, and portable generators are tax-exempt. The sales tax holiday is estimated to save Floridians $4.5 million.

Once you’ve got the supplies, it’s time to make sure you have all of your insurance documents in order. Make sure to scratch down the state’s toll-free insurance helpline number, which is staffed by Department of Financial Services staff and can connect Floridians to insurance experts who can help file insurance claims and better understand their claims.

Now that all that is covered, we do have one question: Did Rep. Charlie Crist get his prayer note asking God to “protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties” to the Western Wall this year? Not that we’re superstitious, but 2016 was the first year since 2007 that he was unable to send his note before the start of hurricane season.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will kick off the 2017 hurricane season with a press conference at 11 a.m. at the National Hurricane Center, 11691 SW 17th Street in Miami. Credentialed media planning to attend must RSVP to before 8 a.m. On the day of the event, media must arrive no later than 10:15 a.m. for security purposes. Parking is located on the east side of the building with signage “NOAA Conference Parking.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Senate sends $82.4 billion budget to Rick Scott” via Florida Politics — Senate President Joe Negron sent 13 bills, including the 2017-18 spending plan, to Gov. Scott on Wednesday. Scott now has until June 15 to act on the $82.4 billion spending plan, but exactly how he plans to proceed remains unclear. The Naples Republican has been tight-lipped on his plans for the budget, telling reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday he can veto the entire budget, a portion of the budget, or veto a line in the budget. “I’m going to do what I do every year,” he said. “I’ll look through the budget and make sure the dollars are allocated in a manner that I think is good for the state.”

— Americans for Prosperity signals its continued support for this budget via state director Chris Hudson: “This budget also makes historic cuts to wasteful spending by zeroing out taxpayer dollars for controversial economic incentives. Forcing lawmakers back into a special session would demonstrate to taxpayers that special interests hold more weight in the Governor’s mansion than average Floridians who only expect their hard-earned dollars be used on essential government services.”

Prosecutors want Scott to veto raid on their money” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida prosecutors are lobbying Gov. Scott to whip out his veto pen and wipe out the Legislature’s $542.3 million raid on a wide range of trust funds, including a $10 million “sweep” of the state attorneys’ revenue trust fund (page 436 of the budget). … Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle sent an email to Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera that said: “Please try to remember to ask the governor to veto state attorney sweeps.” … The fund was created during the Great Recession of 2008-09 to give prosecutors a cushion against shortfalls. The main revenue sources are prosecution costs, worthless check fines and penalties from traffic citations. State attorneys say revenue streams from all three are on the decline, especially from worthless checks, as consumers increasingly use debit and credit cards, not checks.

It’s hard to overstate how much critics hate Florida’s ‘scam’ education bill. Will the governor veto it?” via Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post – House Bill 7069, was passed by both the Florida House and Senate at the end of their legislative sessions without time for serious consideration or debate … Scott has not said what he will do, but his office recently released information indicating that public response has been mostly negative. The Orlando Sentinel described the legislation as a “scam”: “Imagine for a moment that you went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread … But when you got there, the store manager said the only way you could buy bread would be for you to also buy a gallon of milk, 10 packs of adult diapers, a box of Popsicles, some day-old pastries, a 5-pound pork butt, 3 gallons of orange juice, a tin of anchovies and a fistful of lottery tickets. That would sound like a scam, right? Well, welcome to the way the Florida Legislature handled public education this year — legislation by scam.”

Couldn’t a similar story be written and headlined, “It’s hard to overstate how much supporters love Florida’s transparent education bill. Will the governor sign it?”

Scott approves DOT modification bill” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Scott signed five bills into law, including HB 865, the omnibus measure reforming areas of the Department of Transportation. In part, the bill prevents the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority from using DOT money in contracts that are not approved by the department. The bill also asks the department to submit a report taking a look at its district boundaries and headquarters and changes the allowable weight for vehicles fueled by natural gas on the interstate.

Criminal justice reform remains a top priority for Jeff Brandes via Florida Politics — Brandes, who has made criminal justice reform a top priority, was in Washington, D.C. last week for the Right on Crime annual summit. The conservative-leaning organization has been working on criminal justice issues in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Brandes said the key takeaway from the summit was that “many states are struggling with criminal justice reform at the same time.”“They’re all realizing that the current trajectory they’re on isn’t working,” said Brandes, who sits on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. “I think one of the things is we’re learning from each other’s experiences. Texas started this years ago, and we’re learning from their experience. We know what is palatable and we know what the outcomes are.” … Brandes didn’t just focus on criminal justice during his trip to D.C. last week. He also met with Rep. Dennis Ross to talk about flood insurance; as well as Uber and Tesla to talk about bills passed during the 2017 Legislative Session.

Power struggle emerges over Constitutional Revision Commission rules” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Before the commission first met on March 20, Carlos Beruff proposed a set of rules to shape how the panel operates. They were modeled after the rules used by the CRC that convened in 1997-98 but modified to essentially give Beruff the authority to control which proposals made it to the ballot — more power than the chair had 20 years ago. Beruff, who is mindful of the fact that Gov. Scott is also likely to be on the 2018 ballot as a candidate for U.S. Senate, faced immediate resistance from the other commission members, who refused to adopt his rules.

— Among the changes Beruff is seeking are provisions that will allow him to reject proposals by individual members or committees, send a proposal back to a committee after it has been amended in another committee — a tool used to effectively kill proposals — and give him sole discretion over which proposals will be referred to which committee. He also proposes upending Florida Sunshine laws: allowing members of the commission to meet for the first time with two or more members in secret.

— Sen. Tom Lee filed an amendment late Wednesday that adopts the rules of the 1997-98 commission minus Beruff’s modifications.

— Former Senate President Don Gaetz said the working group’s efforts were shelved because Beruff and the governor’s staff didn’t like the results.


On Wednesday afternoon, Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign released a snapshot of the contributions it has collected for the campaign and political committee, as well as some other statistics that demonstrate, it says, “the wide range of grassroots support for Putnam’s campaign.”

Putnam has collected more than $2.1 million in the first month since he filed to run for governor, with more than $1.1 million in hard dollar contributions to the campaign. The contributions to the campaign came from 2,203 supporters. More than 1,714 supporters contributed under $500.

Tweet, tweet:

Overall, here’s where Putnam’s campaign stands:

— $13.4 million collected to date for the campaign and PC (combined

— $10 million cash on hand at the campaign and PC (combined)

Note: These numbers are as of 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31. The campaign says contributions are still being processed.

And here’s an infographic the campaign shared:


Opponents eye 2018 to head off legislative moves legalizing slots” via John Breslin of Florida Record – Following a May 18 Florida Supreme Court ruling that stopped one county from allowing slots at a particular racetrack, those advocating against their spread said they are already working on the 2018 ballot initiative. “We are happy (with the ruling), but what happened was a partial victory,” said Paul Seago, executive director of No Casinos. “Hopefully we shoot now for total victory.” His group is working on a Voters in Charge initiative that will stop legislators moving to expand slots and other forms of gambling … Seago said his group and others have so far helped hold back legislation being passed. And the Voters in Charge ballot initiative will finally end those legislative moves, Seago said, adding that overall, No Casinos’ position is that the Florida constitution expressly bans lotteries except with limited exceptions.

Former Clinton aide Nancy Soderberg ‘seriously considering’ run for CD 6” via Mike Finch of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Soderberg, a University of North Florida professor and a former aide in the Clinton White House, said she may run in 2018 for [the] seat occupied by Rep. Ron DeSantis. Soderberg … said this week while attending a Volusia County Democratic Executive Committee meeting that she was on “the precipice” of making a decision but hasn’t made up her mind yet. “I’m seriously considering it, absolutely, but I’m not really ready to go into the strategies yet,” Soderberg said. “I want to make my decision based on what the issues in the district are.” Soderberg, 59, was a national security adviser and served as an ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton … She has written two books about American foreign policy and has been teaching at the university for 10 years, she said.

American Action Network releases digital ads in congressional districts of Brian Mast, Carlos Curbelo via Florida Politics — The $250,000 digital ad campaign is part of a multi-million dollar effort to advance tax reform in Congress. The ad — which will run on online platforms in the congressional districts of Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Brian Mast — is the second in a series of advertisements featuring Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the American Action Forum president and economist. In the 60-second spot, Holtz-Eakin talks about the need for corporation income tax reform to help grow the U.S. economy and raise the standard of living. The ad will run in 28 congressional districts — including those of Curbelo, Mast, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — over the next two weeks. The ad is expected to run on online platforms, including YouTube and Facebook. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

Gwen Graham stresses protecting the environment, but takes $50K from developer fined $1.7M by state” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — A main theme of Democrat Gwen Graham’s nascent gubernatorial campaign has been criticism of Scott administration policies she says have battered Florida’s environment. …  Nearly one month before the speech, though, a political committee controlled by Graham received $50,000 from James Finch, a Panama City developer who in the past has been hit with large fines from environmental regulators. In each case, Finch has said his company, Phoenix Construction Services, did nothing wrong. … “Anyone who contributes to our campaign knows Gwen is determined to enforce Florida’s environmental laws and to protect our unique land and water,” said Graham spokesman Matt Harringer.

’Floridians need a champion again,’ Andrew Gillum says” via Kristen M Clark of the Miami Herald — Amid a crowded field of contenders for governor in 2018, Democrat Andrew Gillum is casting himself as the “slightly out of place” candidate who would bring years of government experience but also fresh ideas and “something different” than Florida has seen under two decades of Republican rule. “It is our political leadership — or the lack thereof — that has failed us,” Gillum said Wednesday, speaking for nearly an hour in front of a couple hundred people at the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee. “We’ve had enough with slogans and showgames, enough with struggling to get ahead, enough with shrinking from our state’s challenges. … Floridians need a champion again.”

— “Gillum knocks Trump, Scott and Graham on environmental issues” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

— “Gillum emphasizes training angle for economic development programs” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

Jeremy Ring announces 2018 CFO bid — The Margate Democrat became the first person to throw his hat into the 2018 Chief Financial Officer race, filing to run for the statewide office on Tuesday. “Our campaign will be focused on innovating and inspiring students and entrepreneurs across the state to take their brilliant world changing ideas and turn them into a reality,” he said in a statement. “I can’t wait to travel from Key West to Pensacola and throughout all 67 counties to personally meet every Floridian. I am so grateful for this opportunity and now onward and upward.”

Ring, a former Yahoo executive, opened the East Coast office of the company out of his New York City apartment in 1996. He served in the Florida Senate from 2006 until 2016, serving a stint as the chairman of the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. Ring will formally announce his 2018 campaign with an event on Monday in Tampa.

Jose Felix Diaz, six others qualify to run in SD 40 special election — State records show Republicans Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Lorenzo Palomares; and Democrats Ana Rivas Logan, Steve Smith, and Annette Taddeo qualified as of noon Wednesday. Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth, a no party affiliation candidate, has also qualified to run. The special primary election is July 25, with the special general election scheduled for Sept. 26. A special election in House District 116, triggered by Diaz’s resignation, has been scheduled for the same days.

– “Alex Diaz de la Portilla’s website says he’s running in district that doesn’t exist” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News


Everglades Foundation’s fuzzy math exposed as coastal property values increase in 2016 – The Everglades Foundation hit a snag in its effort to drive a wedge between coastal residents and farming communities, as Glades farmers learned that coastal property values in Ft. Myers and Stuart actually increased during 2016.

Property appraisers in Lee and Martin counties announced a jump in property values, despite record amounts of rainfall and corresponding coastal discharges. This directly contradicts The Everglades Foundation’s claim in a 2015 study that discharges from Lake Okeechobee decreased property values in affected areas.

Reports from both TC Palm and Fort Myers News-Press said that property values in Martin County increased 5.3 percent, with an equivalent 6 percent increase for Lee County homeowners. In 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discharged more than 1.7 million acre-feet of water into the Caloosahatchee River, as well as 827,000 acre-feet of water into the St. Lucie river, and 718,000 acre-feet of water south of Lake Okeechobee.

In January, the Everglades Foundation was also caught using its fuzzy math with data from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), attempting to show a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee would perform better than similar storage to the north. This resulted in a SFWMD scientist accusing the foundation of “irresponsible science” with “more of an academic exercise than a realistic tool to support informed policy and decision making.”


First in Sunburn – Personnel note: Rebecca Benn joins Ballard Partners D.C. office — The Florida-based government affairs firm announced that Benn, the former director of federal affairs for CSX Transportation, is joining its Washington, D.C. office as a partner. “We are pleased to welcome Rebecca to our growing team in the nation’s Capital,” said Brian Ballard, president of Ballard Partners. “From negotiating billion-dollar budget bills in the Senate to advancing Congressional legislative priorities for the largest Eastern freight railroad, Rebecca’s extensive expertise in both the public and private sector ensure our diverse client portfolio will continue to receive the best guidance and advocacy for their issues.” During her five years at CSX Transportation, Benn directed all government relations initiatives impacting automation, safety, environmental regulation and safety and security, while overseeing federal constituent relations for seven states. She previously served as a professional staff member for the Subcommittee on Interior, Environmental and Related Agencies, as well as the Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies. In both roles, she served as the leader Republican negotiators for bicameral and bipartisan billion-dollar federal appropriations bills, in addition to drafting legislative materials and analyzing budget requests. 

Personnel note: Rob Shave joins GrayRobinson via Florida Politics — GrayRobinson continues to grow its roster, announcing this week that Rob Shave has joined the firm as its director of government affairs. “Rob brings to the firm years of experience in a wide variety of public policy matters, including water policy, property rights, infrastructure and education-related issues,” said Dean Cannon, the firm’s executive vice president and chairman of government affairs, in a statement. “He’s an asset to our team and will be a strong advocate for our clients.” A Florida State University graduate, Shave began his career in government as committee staff for the Florida House Environment and Natural Resources Council. … Prior to joining GrayRobinson, Shave worked at Capitol Access, a Tallahassee-based lobbying firm.

Memorial service planned for Sergio Bendixen — A memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Storer Auditorium on the University of Miami campus, 5250 University Drive in Coral Gables. Bendixen, a pioneering public-opinion pollster, died Friday in Miami after a brief illness. “Sergio was a one-of-a-kind force to be reckoned with in the world of politics, a pioneer in the field of multilingual and multiethnic research, as well as a cherished mentor and loyal friend throughout South Florida, across the United States, and around the world,” said Fernand Armandi, his friend and business partner, in an email.

Appointed – Michael StricklandFrank CawthonKeith LawsonRobert Maphis and Edgar Laney to the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Stuart Brown, SKB Consulting Group: Study Edge

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association, Inc. d/b/a FACCPA

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Iron Mountain Information Management

— ALOE — 

Florida dive boat captain bitten on hand by sea creature” via The Associated Press – Authorities say a dive boat captain known to hand-feed sharks was bitten by a “sea creature” off Florida’s Atlantic coast. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera tells the Palm Beach Post the agency’s marine unit responded Sunday after receiving a distress call from an Emerald Charters dive boat. They airlifted Randall Jordan to a hospital with hand injuries.

“Google’s breakdown of what American’s don’t know how to spell, state by state” via Travis M. Andrews of The Washington PostIn honor of the National Spelling Bee, which starts Wednesday, Google decided to see what words people in each of the 50 states struggle to spell. To do this, employees looked at Google searches of “how to spell ______” in each of the states from Jan. 1 to April 30 this year. Whatever word filled that blank most often in each state became denoted as that state’s “most misspelled word.” … The results may not be scientific, but they sure were amusing. … People in Wisconsin, for example, most frequently searched for how to spell Wisconsin. The longest word Americans didn’t know how to spell, searched for by both West Virginia and Connecticut users, was also an invented one: “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the word that one magic nanny named Mary Poppins sang about. … In Florida, the most misspelled word was receipt.

Happy birthday to Rep. Danny Burgess and Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jeff Burlew.

Sunburn for 5.31.17 – Rick Scott’s budget strategy; Bad news for Andrew Gillum; He-Man on the ballot; Jeb Bush no longer fishing for the Marlins

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

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

Here’s a travel tip for when you visit Paris: don’t tell your French tour guide that “some people believe the American culinary scene is on par with France’s.”

We were walking — more like eating our way — through Montmartre when I made this bold statement. Montmartre is a village within the metropolis and thought of, as one observer notes, the way New Yorkers talk about the Village: It’s not what it used to be, It’s like Disneyland, the artists can’t afford to live here anymore, too many tourists, etc.

In front of The Wall of Love, a love-themed 40 square metres wall in the Jehan Rictus garden square in Montmartre.

But we are tourists!  So we just lost ourselves in the steep and cobbled streets of one of the most historic and interesting neighborhoods in Paris. The food here is exactly what you imagine when you think of France. A bakery follows a cheese shop, which follows an open air fish market, which follows a speciality foods shop, which follows a wine store specializing only in Pouilly-fume. Then there is a chocolatier and another bakery and another cafe and…

… all of the weight I took off in advance of this vacation has returned. But it’s all so delicious — and affordable. Fifteen Euros buys a charcuterie board that would cost five times that in the States. The nondescript glasses of Champagne Michelle has been enjoying are better than any of the big labels American bars limit themselves to serving.

And, yet, here I was, carrying the red, white, and blue for the American food scene.

We have such a diversity of influences and so many dialects of cooking which don’t exist elsewhere (just try to find great BBQ in Paris), along with access to the greatest supply of ingredients and produce and meats, that we’ve almost caught up with the French just by sheer weight of it all.

To prove my point, I reminded our tour guide that it was the American team which this year brought home the gold from the Bocuse d’Or, the most prestigious culinary competition in the world.

“But all of zee great dishes are French!” our guide insisted.

Clearly, she has not had the Panang Mole, which combines Thai red curry with Mexican mole, from Nitally’s in St. Petersburg or the thousands of other uniquely American dishes that make our food scene so great.

What a twist: Enjoying all of this wonderful French food has me longing for the comforts of home.


The question on everyone’s mind this week: What’s going on with the budget?

With just a month until the end of the fiscal year, Florida lawmakers have yet to send the 2017-18 budget to Gov. Rick Scott for his consideration. Some Capitol watchers thought the Senate could send the spending plan to the governor as early as Tuesday; but, it wasn’t among the 26 bills sent to the governor yesterday afternoon.

As Associated Press reporter extraordinaire Gary Fineout pointed out last week, the lag time between passing the budget (which happened on May 8) and sending it to Scott is one of the longest since the Naples Republican took office. The Legislature took 28 days to deliver the budget to Scott in 2012, but with an early session to tackle redistricting that meant the budget still landed on his desk in early April.

Gov. Rick Scott speaks about job creation in Florida at Fish Tale Boats in Lee County. Photo credit: Naples Daily News.

What he’ll do once it lands on his desk remains unclear. For weeks he’s been traveling the state calling out lawmakers for their decision to cut funding for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, two of his top priorities, and has pointed out he “can veto the entire budget, veto a portion of the budget, or … veto a line in the budget.”

Once the governor receives the budget, he’ll have 15 days to act. Scott said he thought he would receive it “sometime this week.”

If Scott gets it today, he’ll have until the middle of June to make up his mind. That would give lawmakers enough time to hustle back up to Tallahassee if Scott vetoes the budget, triggering the need for a special session before the end of the fiscal year.  

So … what’s the hold up?

— “Rick Scott still mum on 2017-18 budget veto plansvia Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


“Scott could soon be the all-time king of line-item veto” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Former Gov. Jeb Bush earned the nickname “Veto Corleone,” with the intentional misspelling of “Vito,” for his aggressive use of the line-item veto. It was even used as a TV ad in Bush’s ill-fated run for president last year. But Bush’s record is in jeopardy, thanks to Gov. Scott. Yearly totals compiled by the LobbyTools legislative research service show that Scott vetoed $1.9 billion in spending in his first six years in office. If he wipes out more than $250 million from the budget that’s headed to his desk — which is highly likely — Scott will have surpassed Bush’s $2.1 billion over eight years, making him the rightful “Godfather” at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. And Scott still has a year to go. … 

— Scott’s veto track record does come with an asterisk, however. In that first year, he vetoed more than $615 million, but nearly half of the amount, or $305 million, was legislative authorization for an environmental land-buying program to be funded from sales of surplus land.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will present veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal at 9 a.m. at the National Guard Armory, 16386 Spring Hill Drive in Brooksville.

— House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, Leader Pro Tempore Bobby DuBose, and Ranking Member on the Education Committee Shevrin Jones have all written op-eds in opposition to HB 7069 and have called for Gov. Scott to veto it.

>>>”Respect Florida’s public schools and properly fund them” via Rep. Cruz

>>>”The Governor must Veto HB 7069 on behalf of our public schools” via Rep. DuBose

>>>”Florida education bill’s path isn’t how the process works” via Rep. Jones

First on #FlaPol – “House releases document listing state budget line items by county” via Florida Politics — The House released a county-by-county list of budget line items Tuesday, ranging from a $26.8 million loan for a highway project in Alachua County to $64,820 in adult education money in Washington County. Speaker Corcoran’s office dropped the list without comment, but it followed by four days Florida TaxWatch’s annual list of budgetary “turkeys” — line items included without sufficient public scrutiny or ranking low on the state’s priority lists.  TaxWatch asked Gov. Scott to veto projects totaling $178 million. “This report was produced prior to the veto process,” the document notes.

Wildlife Federation seeks special session to finance conservation land purchases” via Florida Politics — The Florida Wildlife Federation wants the Legislature to meet in special session to pump money into the state’s environmental land-buying program. The organization issued a written statement to Gov. Scott, House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron, arguing the Legislature is under a “clear obligation” to finance Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative approved by 75 percent of the voters in 2014. “They clearly directed our elected leaders to set aside some of our public tax dollars to buy conservation land so we have some of natural Florida left for future generations,” Federation President Manley Fuller said. “What does the 2017 Legislature do?  Allocates zero money for land conservation. Zero. Lawmakers need to go back and fix this in a special session.”


Bad news for Andrew Gillum? Tallahassee named most dangerous city in Florida” via Florida Politics — Tallahassee had 767 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2015, far more than in any of Florida’s 21 other metro areas observed by the FBI. It was also well above the state’s violent crime rate of 461.9 per 100,000 (Florida was the 11th highest in the nation). 

Gillum’s camp pushes back on the report: “Here’s the real story of Tallahassee: it was ranked one of the best cities in Florida to start a business and it continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Geoff Burgan, the Gillum campaign’s communication’s director. “People expect that communities will have challenges – what they care about is how you address them, and the Mayor’s taken public safety very seriously. He’s worked to put more police on the street and increase community policing practices. He’s also addressed the social side of public safety – from expanding the Summer Jobs program to offer kids an opportunity, to using restorative and alternative justice programs to better address systemic issues.”

— Gillum will address the Capital Tiger Bay Club at 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.)

Gwen Graham picks up endorsements of three prominent environmentalists – The Democrat announced Tuesday that she received endorsements from 1000 Friends of Florida founder Nathaniel Reed, Florida Wildlife Federation president Manley Fuller and former House Speaker Jon Mills, a board member of the Everglades Foundation.

Old news – “Foreclosure attorney to announce AG bid” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times; One week ago: “Citing need for ‘new energy,’ Ryan Torrens becomes first Democrat in Attorney General racevia Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

“Miami Commissioner Ken Russell opens congressional exploratory committee” via David Smiley of the Miami HeraldRussell, a Democrat and first-term commissioner representing downtown and Coconut Grove, has tapped Utrecht, Kleinfeld, Fiori, Partners in Washington D.C. to help him decide if he should open a 2018 campaign for the CD-27 seat being vacated by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Locally, he’s working with political consultant Fernando Diez.

— “… I believe I need to do that next step, to see if this is the right decision to move forward and serve. I’ve already spoken with the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] in Washington, the state party chairman for the Democratic Party here in Florida,” Russell, 43, told the Miami Herald Tuesday afternoon. “This is something that’s very important to me. I represent the common neighbor who becomes a local politician. And that voice is becoming stronger and stronger.”

Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Annette Taddeo qualify in SD 40 — Six candidates vying to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles qualified to run in the Senate District 40 special election as of the end of the day Tuesday. Two Republicans — former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Lorenzo Palomares — and three Democrats — Ana Rivas Logan, Steve Smith, and Annette Taddeo — qualified to run for the seat. Rep. Jose Felix Diaz filed a letter with the Department of State last week saying he planned to resign from his House District 116 seat to run for the Senate, but has not yet qualified. He has until today to do qualify. 

There’s a real He-Man on Florida ballot via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – State election officials on Tuesday agreed to let Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth qualify for a special election. Schlaerth turned into state officials an affidavit that contends he did not create the nickname to “mislead voters.” He also included an affidavit of a friend who says he was introduced to Schlaerth as “He-Man” last year. State rules allow nicknames to be placed on the ballot if it can be shown that the candidate is known by the nickname.

If Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth’s campaign materials don’t include a play on “I have the power,” it would be like he’s not even trying.

Jeb Bush endorses Jose Mallea in HD 116 — The former Florida governor is throwing his support behind Mallea in the special election to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. “There is no question Jose Mallea is the right leader for District 116,” said Bush, who served as governor from 1999 until 2007, in a statement. “Jose has an inspiring personal story of working hard to achieve success in both business and public service, and now wants to ensure that same American dream is attainable for everyone, not just a select few. I know that Jose will effectively put his conservative principles and leadership skills to work in Tallahassee for the community he loves and for our great state.” 

Miami Republican candidate took wedding engagement photos in Cuba” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — A Miami Republican running in a special Florida House election traveled earlier this year to Cuba, where he and his fiancée posed for engagement photos in Havana. Daniel Anthony Perez, a 29-year-old attorney and first-time candidate for House District 116, described it as a family trip to see his fiancée’s elderly uncle. “It was to visit a family member,” Perez said Tuesday to a Miami Herald reporter who asked about the photos, which are posted online.

In Miami politics, even the location of where a candidate took their engagement photos can be controversial.

“We did take pictures while we were there. But the main reason we went was to visit her uncle. We took food, we took medicine.” … Perez and his fiancée, Stephanie Nicolas, posted their engagement photos on The Knot, a popular wedding planning website. The couple’s profile is public. The photos were also posted by PS Photography, a Miami-based studio.

More legislative hopefuls file for 2018Carmelo Garcia has filed to run in House District 41. Garcia, a Winter Haven Democrat, filed the necessary paperwork on Friday to challenge Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew, who was first elected to the seat in 2016. State records show Tony Munnings Sr. filed to run in House District 55. Munnings, a Lake Placid Democrat, is challenging Republican Rep. Cary Pigman. The Avon Park Republican was first elected in 2012 and is running for his final term in the Florida House.


Celeste Philip: Current indicators improved, but Zika threat remains serious” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Florida Surgeon General Philip and Gov. Scott told a roundtable of Orange County public health officials in Orlando that Zika preparedness is up and incidents and rain down this year, but the risk of another major disease outbreak remains significant and no one should abandon precautions. Florida has seen 50 confirmed case of Zika infection so far in 2017, all from overseas transmissions, and less than half of what was seen by this time in 2016. The dry spring has helped, as has more vigilance by officials and citizens, Philip said and that must not change. Real mosquito season is coming, and last summer’s experiences, with hundreds of confirmed cases and a local outbreak from infected mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County. “Compared with last years’ experience, we are better positioned,” Philip said.

Jeff Atwater offers insurance advice as hurricane season opens” via Florida Politics — Hurricane season begins Thursday. Are you covered? Are you sure? Better take a look at your policy, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater advised … “For a better chance of a complication-free claims process, Floridians should carefully review all insurance policies to ensure that proper coverage is in place for their home, car and belongings,” Atwater’s office said … Atwater suggested Floridians write down the state’s toll-free insurance help line number — 1-877-693-5236. It’ll put them in touch with experts who can help them file insurance claims and help solve problems during the claims-filing process.

Three-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday begins Friday via Florida Politics —  The Florida Retail Federation has issued a reminder that the new disaster preparedness sales tax holiday begins this week. Right in time for hurricane season, the state will waive sales taxes on purchases of emergency supplies beginning at 12:01 p.m. Friday, ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. … The waiver extends to solar-powered lights; self-powered radios; batteries; electric generators and fuel tanks; nonelectric coolers and reusable ice; and more. There are price limits for covered items. The Florida Department of Revenue has issued a tip sheet with all the details. The hurricane season begins Thursday and runs through Nov. 30.

Knox to open Orlando’s first medical marijuana dispensary Friday” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Winter Garden-based Knox Medical is set to open Orlando’s first medical marijuana dispensary in a location near Florida Hospital’s downtown campus. Knox is one of nine companies statewide licensed to produce and sell medicines derived from cannabis. Knox has been in operation for several months, relying primarily on delivery service, and earlier this month opened its first storefront, in Gainesville. The Orlando dispensary will be its second, and the company vowed to open more in Jacksonville, Lake Worth, Tallahassee and St. Petersburg in a short time. The Orlando location hold a grand opening at 11 a.m. Friday, at 1901 N. Orange Ave., about six blocks from Florida Hospital, a location consistent with the company’s vowed strategy of locating near major medical centers.

Miami megamall is biggest in U.S. – but don’t call it a mall” via Kurt Anderson of The Associated Press – Call it retail-tainment. Just don’t call American Dream Miami a mall. Developers are proposing a massive 6 million-square-foot (557,000 square-meter) project on the edge of the Everglades in bustling South Florida that would dwarf any other shopping mecca in North America, including Minnesota’s Mall of America. Don Ghermezian, president of developer Triple Five Worldwide Group of Edmonton, Canada – which also built Mall of America – said this is not your father’s shopping mall. In addition to millions of square feet of retail, the project would include an indoor ski slope, a water park, a submarine ride attraction, a skating rink, 2,000 hotel rooms, theaters, a performing arts center and places to eat and drink. “We are not mall developers. That’s not what we’re trying to build,” he said. “A lot of it is ‘retail-tainment.’ What we’re trying to create is an economic engine.”


The rainy season might be on the horizon, but the threat of wildfires is far from over.

According to the Florida Forest Service, more than 2,300 wildfires have burned over 233,000 acres in Florida this year. There were 84 active wildfires burning as of Tuesday, according to the Florida Forest Service.

“As we enter what is traditionally Florida’s rainy season, much of the state is still experiencing drought conditions and elevated wildfire danger,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in a statement. “Residents and visitors need to pay attention to and comply with local burn bans and should take every precaution to help prevent wildfire.”

More than 2,300 wildfires have burned more than 233,000 acres in Florida already this year.

At least two dozen counties had burn bans in place as of May 26, according to the Florida Forest Service. That doesn’t include the four counties — Duval, Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Orange — that have permanent burn bans in place.

According to the Forest Service’s fire danger index, about half of the state’s 67 counties had a moderate or high threat of fire on Tuesday. The index did not appear to put any county in the “extreme” risk category, several counties were in the “very high” risk category.

Putnam encouraged Floridians to take steps to reduce their wildfire risk, including by creating 30 feet of defensible space around their homes.


Appointed –  Babu Varghese and Pankaj Shah to the Florida Board of Professional Engineers.

Personnel note: Bonnie King named president of Film Florida — Film Florida announced Tuesday that Bonnie King, a film commissioner for the Space Coast Film and Television Office, a Committee of the Brevard County Tourist Development Council, has been named president of the 2017-18 board of directors. King started her career as a radio broadcaster, becoming the first woman in Brevard County to host a rock-and-roll radio show during the day. She also worked as a marketing director for a regional shopping mall, before joining the Space Coast Office of Tourism/Film. “I look forward to working side by side with industry professionals as we seek opportunities to strengthen the film, TV and digital media industry,” she said in a statement. “Florida is open for business and competing for high wage jobs in the film, television and digital media industry and we plan on continuing to spread that message.” The organization also announced its 2017-18 executive board officers: Gail Morgan with the Emerald Coast Film Commission will serve as 1st vice president; Tony Stopperan with Ringling College of Art & Design will serve as 2nd vice president; Herta Suarez with SAG-AFTRA will serve as secretary; and Lauren O’Quinn with ClassAct Studios will serve as treasurer. Kelly Paige will serve as the immediate past president.

Sachs Media Group announces new leadership – Preparing for future growth following a record year in 2016, Sachs Media Group Tuesday announced major new roles for key company leaders. Sachs named Michelle Ubben the firm’s president, following her longtime service as senior partner and chief operating officer. Ryan Cohn, the firm’s vice president of digital, was named executive vice president and is part of the core leadership team setting a course for the firm’s future direction and growth. Sachs Media Group acquired Cohn’s firm, What’s Next Marketing, in 2012. Lisa Garcia was named chief operating officer, taking on responsibility for the firm’s working processes and daily operations. Garcia also will head up the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Sachs Media Group’s new president, Michelle Ubben; founder/CEO Ron Sachs; Executive Vice President, Ryan Cohn; Lisa Garcia, Chief Operating Officer.

Turning 50, Greenberg Traurig tops the Law360 400 via Cristina Violante of Law360 —  Greenberg Traurig LLP is celebrating its golden anniversary with a trip to the top of Law360’s list of the largest U.S. law firms, capping off decades of steady growth by ousting Jones Day from the No. 1 spot. While its 2 percent growth in 2016 mirrored the industry’s overall average, the uptick was enough for the firm to leapfrog its rival, which shrank slightly, according to our annual ranking of the largest U.S.-based law firms as measured by domestic attorney headcount. “We’ve gotten bigger over the last 50 years, without a doubt,” said Brian Duffy, Greenberg’s CEO. “I also think we’ve gotten better every year over the last 50 years, and the latter is the more important part. There’s nothing magic about being a larger firm, but it is important to always, every day, be a better law firm.” … While most firms at the top of the Law360 400 trace their lineage back at least a century, Greenberg Traurig has become the largest U.S. firm after opening its doors 50 years ago in Miami. At the behest of its clients, the firm began crawling up the Eastern Seaboard in 1991 when it expanded into New York City, now the firm’s largest office. The firm launched its Atlanta office in 1998, it opened its doors in Boston, Chicago and Delaware in 1999, and it moved into New Jersey in 2002.

— ALOE —

GayDays expected to bring $100 million economic boost” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – What began in 1991 as a one-day celebration with 3,000 participants now spans a week and brings more than 180,000 gay and lesbian visitors to 40 events that pump an estimated $100 million into the local economy. Walt Disney World Resort initially posted signs at their gates warning families of GayDays’ visitors but now for the first time this year paid for a full-page ad in the GayDays publication. The resort unofficially designated June 1-4 as days to wear symbolic red shirts at each of its theme parks. Visits to SeaWorld and Universal also are on the schedule. GayDays has pledged this year to collect donations to support the onePulse Foundation.

GayDays began in 1991 as a one-day celebration at Walt Disney World with 3,000 participants. Now, the week-long event brings more than 180,000 gay and lesbian visitors to 40 Orlando venues, with an estimated $100 million going into the local economy.

Jeb Bush no longer interested in buying Marlins” via The Associated Press – The ex-presidential candidate and former Florida governor is no longer interested in buying the Marlins and has ended his pursuit of the team … former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who had been part of Bush’s group, is still exploring a bid with other investors. Jeter becomes the frontman for an investment group competing with a group led by businessman Tagg Romney, son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The Romney group includes Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and former Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart.

Joe Henderson: Frank Deford’s passing deserves a moment of pause and reflection” for Florida Politics – People have rightly praised him as a consummate storyteller, wordsmith, and a giant in the world of sports writing – although, for Frank, a more appropriate description would be writer, period. Never mind the subject. Like wannabe’s everywhere, I poured over each line of a Deford story in Sports Illustrated. He routinely did things with words that I could only imagine. The magazine wisely granted him time and space to dig deep into a subject, and he repaid by producing lasting literature. One of the beautiful things about literature is that it survives eternally. These men wrote prose that happened to be about sports. They turned words into pictures and reminded everyone that when done properly, telling the story is an art. They made that matter. Godspeed, Frank Deford.

Where did Buster Posey go wrong in Monday’s Giants vs. Nationals brawl?” via Bob Sparks for Florida Politics – Actually, he was not involved. To put it mildly, that is the very reason he became a big story … video showed the former Florida State player standing still while events unfolded. Perhaps he was stunned because catchers are normally in the loop when an opponent is about to get drilled. To borrow from politics, we must ask “what did Posey know and when did he know it?” … “Well, I mean after it happened, I kind of saw Harper point,” Posey told the media in the Giants’ clubhouse. “Next thing you know, he’s going out after him. Those are some big guys tumbling around on the ground. So, it was a little dangerous to get in there sometimes.”

Happy birthday to Keith Fernandez and Adrian Lukis.

Sunburn for 5.30.17 – Special Session when?; Budget turkeys where? Filed for SD 40 who? Fix ‘stand your ground’ how?

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

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

Bonjour from the Renaissance Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Our transatlantic cruise reached its final destination in Copenhagen, where we disembarked to take in the fascinating Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. It was here where Walt Disney found the inspiration for the theme parks that would bear his name.

Unlike other “seedy” amusement parts of the day, Tivoli was a “a clean and orderly park in Copenhagen … with ‘lush flowers, tame rides’ and a festive family atmosphere,” Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer wrote in their book The Idea Hunter: How To Find The Best Ideas And Make Them Happen.

Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843.

During a 1951 trip to Tivoli, Disney walked through the amusement park scribbling down notes about the seats, gardens, rides, food, and every other detail he noticed.

Disneyland opened in California four years after the trip.

After two days in Copenhagen, we made our way to the City of Lights for the second part of our journey.

The Florida political world took a breather for Memorial Day, but now it heads into a month where so much is in the uncertain. The number one question: Will there be a special session of the Legislature?


Lawmakers hoping for a special session to act on medical marijuana could be racing against the clock.  

Facing a rapidly approaching July 3 deadline to write rules to govern the state’s fledgling medical marijuana industry, the Department of Health published a notice last week outlining procedures it will use to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment.

While it wasn’t immediately clear when rules will be published, health officials have to give 15-day notice before adoption. It also allows for a three-day public comment window.

But that doesn’t leave much time for lawmakers to act before the Department of Health, which has been criticized for the slow implementation of the state’s low-THC law in the past, puts its rules into effect. And a month after lawmakers failed to pass implementing legislation, there still appears to be plenty of support for a special session on medical marijuana.   

Editorial cartoon via Andy Marlette.

The Department of State has received 16 letters from lawmakers asking for a special session. If 32 lawmakers send a letter asking for a special session, the department must poll the Legislature. Three-fifths of each chamber need to agree before a call is issued.

“I believe it is our duty as the Legislative Body of the State of Florida to implement the framework needed to adopt the significant amendment,” wrote Sen. Greg Steube in his May 18 letter Secretary of State Ken Detzner asking for a special session. “We have a duty to our constituents who support this measure, and who are in need of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions.”

Senate President Joe Negron confers with Sen. Greg Steube at the rostrum on the Senate floor. Earlier this month, Steube wrote a letter calling for a special session of the Legislature to implement Amendment 2. (Photo by Phil Sears)

A rank-and-file push for a special session might be a tougher path, but a call from leadership isn’t totally out of the question. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has said he supports a special session, telling a Tallahassee radio station earlier this month he believed and supported the notion that “we should come back and address and finalize dealing with medical marijuana.”

Senate President Joe Negron signaled he was open to the possibility, and asked his membership for input on how they thought they should move forward. Last week, a spokeswoman for the Stuart Republican said he had not yet made a decision about a special session.

With a few weeks until the DOH needs to have rules in place, lawmakers might need to act fast if they want to give the state agency instructions about how the constitutional amendment should be implemented. And as more voices call for a special session — including gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum and Adam Putnam, and the Drug Free America Foundation, which opposed the amendment — the question might not be if, but when the special session will be.

 — “Health officials outline their plan for writing medical marijuana rulesvia Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

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Adam Putnam faces criticisms for ‘bandwagoning’ over call for medical marijuana special session” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Putnam took a swipe at state legislators for failing to reach an agreement on the bill to implement Amendment 2 earlier this month, saying they need to come back to Tallahassee and get back to work. Putnam spokeswoman Amanda Bevis [said] the change of heart was really Putnam simply recognizing the need for state lawmakers to fulfill their duty to the people of Florida … Some believes Putnam doesn’t have the right motivations on medical marijuana, though, and say the past speaks for itself. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who pushed legislation in the Florida House to legalize a low-THC form of medical cannabis in 2014, criticized the Commissioner for only recently hopping on board the medical marijuana train for his political advantage now that he’s all in the governor’s race. Gaetz tweeted that Putnam had no desire to join forces and work together on legalizing medical marijuana just three years ago, questioning whether the commissioner’s motivations were pure or just a political tactic. “As Agriculture commish he had no interest in helping w cannabis reform when I asked,” Gaetz tweeted this week. “Now he’s running for gov and is full of opinions #weird.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


State budget uncertainty has school districts ‘very concerned’” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – While waiting for Gov. Scott to approve or veto the Legislature’s education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line. It has not been easy. First, they see a $24.49 increase in total per-student funding, a minimal hike of 0.34 percent. Next, they check the “base student allocation,” which helps pay for day-to-day expenses, and see a tiny decrease of $27.07 per student, down 0.65 percent. But school districts also face inflation in areas such as health insurance and utilities, as well as rising contribution rates to employee pensions, he and others pointed out. For many districts, a gap between revenue and expenses appears likely under the Legislature’s plan, which officials hope is the worst-case scenario. “We’re very concerned,” said Kendra Sittig, Hernando County school budget director. “Any time they cut our base student allocation, that dips into what we’re able to provide for our students.”

Legislature failed transparency test this year, TaxWatch chief Dominic Calabro says” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – In an interview tied to Florida TaxWatch’s release of its annual list of budgetary “turkeys,” Calabro praised House Speaker Corcoran especially for subjecting member projects to unprecedented scrutiny. Where Corcoran fell down, Calabro said, was in failing to collaborate with the Senate leadership under President Negron from the beginning.“He just threw it out there — we’re going to do this,” Calabro said. “The process requires consensus from both sides at some point.” The result was an “I win, you lose” atmosphere. “That’s not a way to run the ship of state. The voters really don’t want that. We want the Sunshine State to be the best it can be. That requires principled compromise.” Still, Calabro sees an opening to improve the process. “We could learn a lot from this year’s missteps, and have a process that could go on for decades,” he said.

— “Another day, another call for the Governor to veto at least part of the budget” via John Lucas of The Capitolist

Joe Negron defends funding for anti-opioid drug buy” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida –  The Stuart Republican this year secured $10.5 million in funding for VIVITROL after budget writers in the House torpedoed spending for it. Negron increased by 50 percent funding for the drug, manufactured by Alkermes, in private backroom negotiations between him and House Speaker Corcoran during the waning days of the 60-day session. “I completely stand by it,” Negron told POLITICO Florida. “I think it’s the responsible course of action and I think it’s very sound public policy.” Alkermes, a firm based in Dublin, Ireland, made $156,500 in campaign contributions in the 2016 election cycle, including contributing $50,000 to Negron and political committees he controls or is affiliated with. The company has already contributed $39,000 this year, much of it going to committees associated with GOP state senators.

Sen. Joe Negron got money for the drug Vivitrol in private negotiations between him and House Speaker Richard Corcoran during the waning days of the 60-day session. (Photo: AP)

Darryl Rouson takes heat over exemption vote” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – Rouson … is taking heat from area public officials — including some who gave him crucial support in his 2016 election — for switching his stance on the proposed constitutional amendment to increase the homestead tax exemption … local government officials say it would force layoffs, service cuts or property tax rate increases, and most Democrats opposed it. In late April, Rouson [said] he opposed the measure as “devastating” to this area, potentially forcing cuts in services including police and fire protection. He repeated that April 28, saying his position wouldn’t change. But May 1, Rouson voted for the measure, which passed easily and will go on the 2018 ballot. Six of 15 Senate Democrats and 11 of 41 House Democrats voted for it, along with nearly all Republicans.

“I evolved, like people do when they receive information over a period of time,” Rouson said. He said changing the bill to exempt “fiscally constrained counties” swayed him, and he decided, “The good policy is giving voters the choice. We created the opportunity for voters to weigh the facts and decide for themselves.” He denied that GOP leaders offered him any incentive for his vote.

Noah Valenstein cellphone is primary contact for business he says he doesn’t run” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Florida’s new Department of Environmental Protection secretary, Valenstein, flatly denied this week he had any role in the political consulting and polling businesses he turned over to his wife when he came to work for the governor in 2012. But the company website still listed his personal phone number as the contact. It was the same phone number Valenstein used on his application for the DEP job. “Thank you for raising this issue to my attention,” Valenstein said in an email to the Herald/Times. “I have asked my wife to immediately remove my cellphone number from her company’s website. Upon entering public service in 2012, I removed myself from the business and my wife has owned and operated it since. I was not aware my cellphone number remained on her website and neither was she.” The companies, Voter Opinions, LLC and Campaign Facts, LLC, (with website are income-producing businesses for Jennifer Valenstein. Started by Noah Valenstein in 2010 out of their Tallahassee home, the companies have been paid nearly $1 million by candidates and political committees.

Constitution commission to vote on rules June 6” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – Chair  Carlos Beruff … called a meeting for the entire 37-member commission for June 6 in Orlando to vote on rules. “Although consensus was achieved in some areas, there were many other areas where consensus was not reached,” Beruff wrote in letter to commissioners. “In light of the extensive time required by the working group to continue its work and the likelihood that much of their discussion will need to be reiterated with the full Commission, I think you will agree that consensus on Rules must be achieved on an expedited timeline to ensure we can continue our very important commitment to Floridians.”

— Beruff also set a new schedule for the commission, promising to have its work done by May 10, 2018.


Happening this week  Andrew Gillum returns to campaign trail with speech at Miami Women’s March — The Tallahassee mayor is scheduled to give the keynote address at the March for Truth Rally, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday at the Government Center, 111 NW First Street in Miami. The event marks Gillum’s return to the campaign trail after the birth of his son, Davis. The Women’s March for Truth includes a coalition of grassroots groups, including the Women’s March National, Indivisible 305, Indivisible Miami, Rise Up Florida, and MoveOn.

South Florida lawmakers endorse Graham — Five South Florida state Representatives have thrown their support behind Gwen Graham, the former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee. Graham’s campaign announced that she has earned the backing of Reps. Emily Slosberg, David Silvers, Kristin Jacobs, Evan Jenne, and Richard Stark. “Gwen believes we need to build a state that works for small business and home-based business owners, not just the largest corporations,” said Silvers in a statement. “On her Workdays, she gains firsthand experience learning about the challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs face. As governor, she will build an economy that creates growth and opportunity for businesses of all sizes.” In a statement, Graham said she was “honored to have the support of these South Florida representatives.”

Richard Corcoran has a new committee to help him become governor” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has opened a new political committee, Watchdog PAC, that may or may not bankroll his campaign for governor in 2018. The Land O’Lakes Republican says he will remain Speaker of the Florida House through the 2018 session and decide after that whether or not he will run for governor.

Jeb money trickles into Putnam’s bid for governor” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times —  A year ago, Bush’s Right to Rise PAC put $1,171 in money left over from his failed presidential run into a fund called SSLP Political Committee, which Putnam used for his 2014 re-election campaign for Florida Agriculture Commissioner. After the Right to Rise donation, SSLP was up to just over $221,000 and has not spent any money since, according to records with the Florida Division of Elections. But … Putnam moved all of SSLP’s unused money over into Florida Grown, a new committee he runs that has already raised $11 million since the start of 2015. … It’s no surprise Jeb Bush money would end up in Putnam’s campaign. For years, Bush has been encouraging Putnam to run for Governor. Even in 2014 while Putnam was still seeking re-election as agriculture commissioner, Bush used an event in Charlotte County to hint that Putnam should run for governor in the future.

In South Florida, Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will take on Carlos Curbelo” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – What she didn’t explain was why her party has yet to find someone to run against him. “We will be having a strong focus on Florida in the next election and certainly the Curbelo race will be one of them,” Pelosi pledged in Wilton Manors. Several Democrats intend to run for the Democratic-leaning 27th Congressional District being vacated by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring. But none have challenged Curbelo, a sophomore lawmaker whose 26th District also leans blue. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials have met with potential Curbelo challengers including while in South Florida this week for fundraisers that Pelosi attended. (Pelosi told the Herald that she herself hadn’t met with any potential candidates.)

Assignment editors – U.S. Rep. Brian Mast will speak at a Palm Beach County Tea Party breakfast beginning 10 a.m. at the Abacoa Country Club, 105 Barbados Dr. In Jupiter.

Qualification period begins in Senate District 40 –  The two-day qualifying period for candidates in the Senate District 40 special election begins at 8 a.m. A special primary election is July 23, with the special general election for Sept. 26 to replace Miami Republican Frank Artiles, who resigned the seat in April.

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Special elections set for House District 44 in August, October” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Special elections were set Friday for the vacancy in Orlando-based House District 44, with primary elections to be held on Aug. 15, and the election on Oct. 10, under an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Scott. he election is to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Republican former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, whom Scott appointed to fill a vacancy on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Already there are five candidates vying for the position, including four Republicans, John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti, Bobby Olszewski, and Dr. Usha Jain, and one Democrat, Paul Chandler. All filed for the 2018 election and will have to refile for the special election.

More legislative hopefuls announce 2018 bids LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for legislative seats in 2018. Linda Rinaldi, a Surfside Republican, has announced she plans to challenge Democratic Rep. Joe Geller in House District 100 in 2018. Geller was unchallenged in 2016 and the seat is considered a safe Democratic district. Republican Luis Rolle has filed to run in House District 118. He will go head-to-head against Anthony Rodriguez in the Republican primary. Both men are hoping to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

Kellyanne Conway to headline Miami GOP Lincoln Day Dinner” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Conway will be headlining the Miami-Dade Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner June 27 … Conway has not spent a great deal of time in Florida since Trump took office. She worked as a pollster and was put in charge of Trump’s campaign shortly before Election Day last year … Miami-Dade was one of the nine counties Trump lost in November and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took more votes in that area than anywhere else in the state.


Donald Trump set to roll back Barack Obama’s Cuba policies” via Alex Pfeiffer of the Daily Caller – The development is due to the behind-the-scenes efforts of Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. This information coming from an anti-embargo group …was confirmed Sunday by John Kavulich of the nonpartisan U.S. – Cuba Trade and Economic Council. “The Trump Administration has been ‘ready’ since February 2017 to announce changes, but issues unrelated to Cuba have intervened,” Kavulich said. Former President Obama worked to enact several changes to Cuban policy during his tenure in office. He ended the policy known as “wet foot, dry foot” that gave Cuban illegal immigrants a path to legal status, opened travel to the island nation, re-established diplomatic relations and loosened restrictions on doing business in the country. These moves were applauded along bipartisan lines, but Cuban hardliners weren’t pleased. Trump himself has been on both sides of the issue. He told TheDC in 2015 that the “concept of opening with Cuba is fine,” but on the campaign trail he threatened to “terminate” deals that the Obama administration made with Cuba.

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What the Governor’s Office is reading – “Florida’s economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall” via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times – New figures show Florida’s real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 … ranking the Sunshine State fourth in growth among the states and District of Columbia, behind Texas, Utah and Washington. For all of 2016, Florida’s GDP increased 3 percent, ranking fifth behind Washington, Oregon, Utah and New Hampshire. Among the five most populated states, Florida’s GDP was fastest growing in 2016, with California’s 2.9 percent GDP growth following a close second. For the fourth quarter last year, Texas’ GDP outgrew Florida’s, 3.4 percent to 3.1 percent, but the Lone Star State grew at a much slower pace for all of 2016. U.S. growth has averaged 2.1 percent a year since the recession ended in mid-2009. The nation’s GDP growth rate slowed to just 1.5 percent over the year and 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter — well below Florida’s pace.

The worst story you’ll read today – “11 years old, a mom, and pushed to marry her rapist in Florida” via Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times – When she was a scrawny 11-year-old, Sherry Johnson found out one day that she was about to be married to a 20-year-old member of her church who had raped her. A government clerk in Tampa, refused to marry an 11-year-old, even though this was legal in the state, so the wedding party went to nearby Pinellas County, where the clerk issued a marriage license. The license lists her birth date, so officials were aware of her age. Not surprisingly, the marriage didn’t work out — two-thirds of marriages of underage girls don’t last, one study found — but it did interrupt Johnson’s attendance at elementary school. Today she is campaigning for a state law to curb underage marriages, part of a nationwide movement to end child marriage in America. Meanwhile, children 16 and under are still being married in Florida at a rate of one every few days. A great majority of the child marriages involve girls and adult men. Such a sexual relationship would often violate statutory rape laws, but marriage sometimes makes it legal.

Governor cleared to sign death warrants again, experts say” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Florida can start executing condemned killers again, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand the state’s changes to its death-penalty law, experts say. But so far, Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t signed a warrant for any of the 366 prisoners on Death Row. “Other than the typical motions that defendants file and exhaust before a death warrant being signed, both federal and state, I don’t think there’s another barrier out there to stop the governor from moving forward,” said Rep. Chris Sprowls … a former Pinellas County prosecutor and legislative leader on death penalty issues. Scott could be ready to begin executions again soon. “Our office is currently reviewing the next steps in the process” of selecting a case and signing a death warrant, Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said. Scott has signed death warrants for 23 prisoners, more than any other Florida governor since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

Florida could pave new changes in ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press – A measure before Scott would effectively require a trial-before-a-trial whenever someone invokes self-defense, making prosecutors prove the suspect doesn’t deserve immunity. Scott hasn’t revealed his intentions, but he’s a National Rifle Association supporter, and this is an NRA priority. … Florida Republicans made this bill a priority after the state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the defendant has the burden of proof before trial. If Florida starts a national trend to shift that burden to prosecutors, it’ll be just fine with Republican Rep. Bobby Payne, who sponsored the bill. “It’s about following our right of innocent until proven guilty,” Payne said. “It’s about Fifth Amendment rights, it’s about due process, it’s about having a true immunity, for when folks really believe they’re in imminent threat of great bodily harm or death, to defend themselves properly.” Senators originally wanted prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” before trial that self-defense didn’t justify a violent crime. The final legislation lowered the threshold to “clear and convincing” evidence. Either way, it makes prosecuting violent crimes more difficult, experts say.

Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths for preschoolers” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Florida had the highest drowning rate in the nation for the under four age group with 7.5 per 100,000 population, according to 2013 statistics from the Florida Department of Health. Enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown each year in Florida and do not live to see their fifth birthday. Most of those incidents occur in backyard pools and studies have shown that usually an adult was nearby, but not watching the child when they fell in the pool … Kelly Whittemore, founder of Swim Life, said children die in Central Florida because parents don’t realize how easy it is to get distracted when watching their children around water. “A child can drown in the seconds it takes to return a text message,” said Whittemore, who has been teaching swim lessons for 25 years. “Hollywood has done us all a big disservice. They’ve made it look like there’s lots of splashing and noise involved. In reality, a child can slip in without a splash and there’s no noise. That’s how quickly and silently it happens.”

Pam Bondi says charities she helps aren’t required to register with state” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Bondi’s office this week responded to a lawsuit claiming she forces businesses to pony up millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases. Deputy Solicitor General Jonathan L. Williams, writing on Bondi’s behalf, said in part that some of the organizations criticized by Orlando entrepreneur John D. Smith aren’t “require(d) … to register (with the state) before receiving contributions from governmental entities.” Rather, they need to register as charities if they plan to “solicit,” or ask for, charitable contributions, Williams added. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee ordered Bondi to show why he shouldn’t find for Smith, giving Bondi 40 days to respond. Williams’ response came on the 40th day. “Florida law expressly and unambiguously authorizes (the Attorney General’s office to require) a settling party’s promise to make a contribution to a third party,” said the response to the order to show cause. “Nowhere in the relevant statutes does it say that these third-party entities must be registered charities.”

As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Since 2010, the agency has lost 993 troopers to retirement or resignation, or a little more than half of its current workforce of 1,946 troopers, said FHP Director Col. Gene Spaulding. “That’s a big turnover,” said Spaulding, a 24-year highway patrol veteran himself. “That’s really tough.” Spaulding had 240 vacancies in the department this spring. Reinforcements are not filling the void. The state’s trooper academy typically has 80 recruits per class three times a year. Spaulding said the current class doesn’t even have half of that. Meanwhile, the workload is increasing. In 2011, the state reported 229,000 crashes. In 2016, that rose to 395,000. Local governments are stuck picking up the slack, said Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight, who spent 20 years working for the Highway Patrol.


Gary Croke: Past hurricanes help prepare for tomorrow” for Florida Politics – As a hurricane builds, so does the need to communicate. Police departments need to coordinate with fire and rescue to ensure the most vulnerable have a route out of the path of destruction, and to provide emergency care to those unable to get to safety in time … microwave technology, provided to local organizations … has enhanced communication between first responders. It has also helped reduce costs, and improve local networks’ reliability and performance. As the microwave provider to these local organizations, Aviat is proud to play a part in helping these communities be prepared with additional network capacity in future weather emergencies. However, natural and man-made disasters will continue to test the limits of this technology. As demonstrated by recent public safety incidents in Florida, during times of immediate crisis, lines of communication are often flooded by the number of individuals on the ground trying to help. The addition of more technology, such as body cameras on law enforcement officials, will only add to the onslaught of vital data that needs to shared. It’s also impossible to predict how intense future hurricanes may be. The emergency responders that have prioritized communications are entering hurricane season as well prepared as possible.


Sergio Bendixen, pioneer pollster of Hispanics, dies at 68” via Patricia Mazzei and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald – Bendixen had been suffering from a bad cold in recent days, according to his friend and business partner, Fernand Amandi. The two ran the Coconut Grove-based Bendixen & Amandi International polling firm, though Bendixen was semi-retired. “Sergio led the way in capturing the opinions of and understanding how Hispanics in America thought and felt about the most important issues in our time,” Amandi said. “He was largely responsible for giving Hispanic America a voice.” Bendixen not only focused on polling Hispanics: He also chose to survey them in Spanish, if they were more comfortable in that language, an industry innovation now considered standard in multilingual polling. He later expanded his work to other ethnic groups and worked for political candidates internationally, especially in Latin America. His best friend of 40 years, Mike Abrams, called him “the single greatest political mind I’ve ever met,” and said that all of Bendixen’s grandest political plans started humbly — sketched out on a napkin over lunch. “He could be a little Machiavellian to his political foes, but his loyalty and compassion for friends far outweighed any of that,” he said.

Sunburn for 5.25.17 – Remembrance

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

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

A programming note: Sunburn is taking a holiday Friday, Memorial Day, and next Tuesday. Barring a call for a special session, Sunburn will return Wednesday.

By then, we will be in Paris. Accordingly, I wanted to share with Sunburn readers one story about how some Americans abroad pay tribute to the nation’s fallen soldiers.

In a small town just outside Paris, at the end of every May, a pair of red, white, and blue flags are raised honoring the connection between France and the United States.

Both flags – that of the United States and France – celebrate Memorial Day, a reminder to the citizens of Suresnes (population 50,000) of how America and Americans had stood for its enduring friend and ally, France.

Suresnes is home to the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial –  7.5 acres of sacred space commemorating World War I and II. In the Cemetery are 1,541 graves of World War I service members, as well as two dozen graves of unknown World War II soldiers, including a pair of brothers and a pair of sisters.

Rows of marble headstones are seen in front of the chapel at Suresnes American Cemetery in France.

As the Cemetery overlooks the City of Lights, fallen soldiers serve as silent sentries over Paris.

Every year, the Suresnes Cemetery – not as well-known as its Normandy counterpart – joins the entire town in observing Memorial Day, a holiday not usually celebrated in France.

Organized by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Cemetary, and the city of Suresnes welcome both American and French visitors, in a tribute that includes local and regional authorities and veterans.

All are there to give praise to the American military service members who afforded a full measure for liberty.

Prayers are followed by speeches celebrating the distinction of American service members, giving gratitude for their service and the lives paid to the French people.

While not an official holiday – French workers do not get that Monday off – many celebrants will visit Sunday to offer remembrance. Yet the juxtaposition of a Memorial Day ceremony, in a cemetery overlooking Paris, highlights the profound bond of blood between two old friends – France and the United States – joined by war and a desire for peace.

Much has been said in both the United States and France about the U.S. military. And while there may be much to disapprove about government policies, often those critics target the same men and women who serve honorably, those who put lives on the line to allow us all the freedom to criticize our government.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Summertime is here — well, almost.

While Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces, the holiday also marks the unofficial start to summer. And for many people, that means it’s time to start thinking about summer vacation.

A record number of Floridians are expected to travel this weekend, with more than 2 million expected to take to the road, sky and water for a weekend getaway.

Planning a last-minute getaway? Maybe AAA’s legislative lobbying team of Chris Dudley, Paul Mitchell, and Monte Stevens with Southern Strategy Group; and Jennifer Wilson with Adams and Reese can help you get a TripTik to help plan your trip and make sure your membership is up-to-date before you hit the road this weekend.

With millions of people flying into (and out of) the Sunshine State on a regular basis, Airlines for America, the trade organization representing the principle U.S. airlines, tapped Fred Baggett, Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, Leslie Dughi and Fred Karlinsky with Greenberg Traurig to represent its interests before the Florida Legislature.

Once you get to your destination, you’ll need a place to stay. If you want some tips about where to stay, you might want to check with the Marriott International’s legislative lobby team of Slater Bayliss, Al Cardenas and Stephen Shiver with The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners; and Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Brittany Finkbeiner, and Cari Roth with Dean Mead.

If you’re looking for a place with a homier feel, a vacation rental might be more your style. Brian Bautista with Impact GR; and William Rubin, Amy Biscgelia, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco, and Heather Turnbull with The Rubin Group might be able help you find the perfect beach rental at Airbnb. Or you can check in with Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick and Timothy Parson with Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, and Ron Pierce and Natalie King with RSA Consulting for some tips on how to find a good place using HomeAway.

Want to avoid an encounter with law enforcement while you’re out and about, but don’t want to turn down that cocktail? Aaron Brand, Cesar Fernandez, Kasra Moshkani, Brad Nail, and Stephanie Smith with Uber — or one of the members of the transportation technology company’s team of über lobbyists — might be able to walk you through how to call an Uber at the end of a long night.

Love the water? It’s probably too late to book a cruise for this holiday weekend, but with three of the top cruise ports in the world located in Florida, you’ll surely be able to find a ship setting sail soon.  The Cruise Lines International Association legislative lobby team of Brian Ballard, Bradley Burleson, Carol Bracy, David Browning, Nelson Diaz, and Matthew Forrest, and Sylvester Lukis with Ballard Partners; and Edgar Castro with Southern Strategy Group might be able to give you some suggestions about the best time to set sail.

Whatever you do this weekend, make sure to remember the real reason for Memorial Day. While the holiday commemorates those who have died in service to the country, it’s still fair to give a shout out to Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion? Bill Helmich with Helmich Consulting represents the Florida departments of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


“The hangover: Rick Scott vetoes ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ bill” via Florida Politics Saying it could hurt job creation, Scott vetoed a contentious bill that would have removed the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. Scott filed his veto letter of the measure (SB 106) on Wednesday night, his deadline to act on the bill. It would have removed the 82-year-old requirement, enacted in Florida after Prohibition, that hard liquor be sold in a separate store. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in the Sunshine State.

Independent liquor store owners and other opponents flooded the Governor’s Office with thousands of emails and petitions against the bill. Scott was careful to explain his position in his veto letter, balancing his concerns over jobs with the desire of big businesses that sorely wanted him to approve the legislation … “I have heard concerns as to how this bill could affect many small businesses across Florida,” he wrote. “I was a small business owner and many locally owned businesses have told me this bill will impact their families and their ability to create jobs.”

— “We applaud Governor Scott for saving hundreds of Florida small businesses that employ thousands of Floridians, while at the same time keeping safeguards in place for minors,” ABC Fine Wine & Spirits CEO and President Charles Bailes.

— “We have made tremendous progress in the last four years, and there is a clear momentum in Florida for this common-sense approach to liquor sales. While Governor Scott ultimately chose to veto Senate Bill 106, we look forward to working with state leaders in the future to finally put an end to this outdated, Prohibition-era law.” said Michael Williams, a spokesman for the group Floridians for Fair Business Practices, which supported the repeal.

Bill watch – Two more bills were delivered to the governor: HB 457 on “terrorism and terrorist activities,” creating statewide crimes for terrorist acts, and HB 865 for the Department of Transportation. Among other things, it mandates a study of the boundaries of the Department’s seven districts and how much it would cost to create another district for the Fort Myers area. He has until Thursday, June 8 to act on the latest bills. As of midday Wednesday, 72 bills awaited action by the governor.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will sign highlight job growth and sign legislation that will benefit Florida families and businesses at 10:30 a.m. at 3Cinteractive Corp., 750 Park of Commerce Blvd. Ste. 400 in Boca Raton.

Adam Putnam calls for special session on medical marijuana” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam wants state lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee in a special session to finish the work on medical marijuana that they started but didn’t finish earlier this month. “I think that it’s important for the elected officials to have done their job during the regular session,” he said Tuesday. “Since they didn’t, I think a special session is in order.” … “I think for a constitutional amendment’s implementation, it’s important for the elected officials to do it, not the bureaucrats at the Department of Health,” Putnam said.

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“Amendment 1 lawsuit may rev up after Session” via Florida Politics – A lawsuit over the state’s environmental funding under a new constitutional amendment is expected to resume now that the annual Session is in lawmakers’ rear-view mirror. An array of environmental advocacy groups had filed suit over the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1. The constitutional change, approved by voters in 2014, mandates state spending for land and water conservation … Advocates — including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club — sued the state in 2015, saying lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate. But the legal action had been put on hold earlier this year by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson. He cited a state law that allows litigation to be suspended during a Legislative Session and up to 15 days after the conclusion of one.

Assignment editors – Miami-Dade public schools to host town halls on Legislature’s K-12 spending plan beginning 6 p.m. at Miami Senior High School, 2450 SW 1st Street in Miami, and at 7:30 p.m. at Miami Beach Senior High School, 2231 Prairie Avenue in Miami Beach.

New DEP secretary says there’s no conflict in political side businesses” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state’s top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying groups, many of whom sought to influence the administration’s policy or advance the governor’s political fortunes. Before he joined the governor’s office, Valenstein was director of legislative affairs for the nonprofit Everglades Foundation from August 2011 until December 2012. But while Valenstein was holding each of these policy jobs, his wife was also operating two political consulting and polling companies that Valenstein started: Campaign Facts, LLC and Voter Opinions, LLC. Each catered exclusively to Republican candidates, advocacy groups and political committees. But the week before Valenstein started with the governor’s office … he named his wife, Jennifer Barnhill Valenstein, the registered agent for both firms and removed himself from the corporate paperwork. The companies continued to operate and, between June 2010 and April 2017, they received $942,117 in payments for political consulting, legal and polling work.

Actual press release: “FWC uncovers major alligator violations in long-term covert investigation” via Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


In the latest post on his blog “The Fine Print,” Associated Press reporter-extraordinaire Gary Fineout takes a look at some of issues still lingering in the capital city.

One of the issues Fineout tackles in his post — titled “Out of the House and into a Mansion? … and other Tallahassee bubble news” — is the question of the budget and bills we’re still watching. As Fineout points out, Memorial Day weekend is “sort of the end of session.”

“By this time school is about to end around the state, and the governor has usually acted on a new state budget,” writes Fineout. “But as we have seen this isn’t an ordinary year as Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans continue their all out public feud over spending and legislative priorities (or as Corcoran puts it – a fight for the soul of the party.)

Even though the new fiscal year starts July 1, Fineout notes the Legislature hasn’t sent the budget to the governor yet. Since Scott became governor, the longest the Legislature waited to deliver the budget was 2012 when it took 28 days. But as Fineout noted, that was a redistricting year so lawmakers went into session early and “actually delivered it in early April.”

The delay in getting the budget has people wondering whether Scott will veto it. He has “publicly thrown out the possibility he may veto the entire budget to register his displeasure.” And school district officials, as Fineout explains, have called on the governor to “veto the main appropriation that goes to public schools.”

Another layer of complexity, lawmakers could send Scott the budget, but hold back big bills, like a massive education bill that has drawn “fierce criticism and support across the education spectrum.”

“That’s important because that bill includes more than $400 million – including money for the contentious Schools of Hope charter school proposal and money for teacher bonuses,” wrote Fineout.


Gruters is backing Rep. Paul Renner to be  House Speaker in 2022-24. The Sarasota Republican said while he thinks everyone in the running for the position would do a great job, he felt Renner is the best person at this time. Gruters said he’s decided to make his position known because he didn’t want to give anyone false expectations or lead any candidates on. “Like all my votes in the Legislature, I am committing to the person who I think is the best to lead our class,” he said in a message.

Freshmen House Republicans are scheduled to meet on June 30 to select their class leader and, assuming the GOP maintains its control of the Florida House in the next decade, the likely House Speaker for the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions.

… Gruters’ backing could be a sign of good things to come for Renner, a Palm Coast Republican first elected to the Florida House in a 2015 special election. Gruters, the longtime chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, was an early supporter of Gov. Scott, a little known Republican candidate for Governor back in 2010. … He was also an early supporter of President Donald Trump.


Jeff Clemens endorses Andrew Gillum for Governor — The Gillum campaign announced Wednesday that Clemens, the Senate Democratic Leader-designate, has endorsed Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial bid. In a statement, Clemens called Gillum a “bold leader whose vision will transform Florida.” “Andrew will prioritize the people we serve, not the privileged few who have had their way in Tallahassee for decades,” said Clemens. “Strong values like top-flight education for every child, an economy that works for workers as well as small business owners, and healthcare that protects the vulnerable by covering Floridians with pre-existing conditions.” Gillum is one of three Democrats currently vying to replace Gov. Scott in 2018. “It’s an honor to receive Leader Designate Jeff Clemens’ endorsement. He is a true champion for Florida’s working people, and as a former Mayor, he knows the critical importance of building strong communities everywhere in Florida,” said Gillum in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to build an economy that serves all Floridians – not the special interests.”

Raquel Regalado casts herself as Ros-Lehtinen’s political heir” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — As she mulled a run for Congress, Regalado was nagged by a question she said was posed to her again and again that might not usually be asked of male candidate. “The first question that I was asked was, ‘How are you going to be a mother and a congresswoman?'” Regalado said Tuesday at a women-centered Miami Young Republicans event where she kicked off her candidacy. “I think it’s sad that we’re in a place where people still ask those questions.” With that, Regalado, a former Miami-Dade County School Board member, portrayed herself as the political heir to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the retiring GOP congresswoman Regalado is hoping to replace. Regalado didn’t explicitly draw the line between her nascent candidacy and Ros-Lehtinen’s trailblazing political career. But it was clear that, as the most prominent Republican woman who’s filed for the Democratic-leaning 27th district, Regalado plans to campaign as a politician cast in Ros-Lehtinen’s centrist mold.

Does Alex Diaz de la Portilla know he’s filed for the wrong race?” via Ann Howard of The Capitolist – On May 3, 2017, he filed to run in the Senate District 40 race, as part of the 2018 general election. But if he wants to run in the Senate District 40 special election, he’s in the wrong race. The Division of Elections says they’ve not received a request from Diaz de la Portilla to amend the paperwork. The division updates that information immediately. Multiple messages to Diaz de la Portilla and his campaign were not returned.

Unconventional Green Party candidate Shawn Mathis Gilliam files for HD 58 race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – As a member of an alternative, third party, Gilliam‘s worldview and ideology are not easily explained; it could make it hard to break through with voters in House District 58. A recent convert to the Green Party, he does not agree with their stance in support of medical marijuana, saying its effects are too negative for the body. While raised as a Christian, Gilliam converted to Islam “about three Ramadans ago.” He says in some respects he’s quite conservative. He’s pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage. “I would like to present a bill making the Islamic Nikah (marriage contract) a legally binding contract for marriage and any other religious marriage contract that is legally binding between the husband and wife if it pertains to religious affiliation,” he said in a follow-up email. He’s also anti-fluoride in the water, and in an email statement, said that he favors polygamy. ‘Islam recognizes Poligomy [sic], and I would like to get that legal in our state as well,” he writes.

Assignment editors: Sally Boynton Brown, the newly appointed president of the Florida Democratic Party, will speak at the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee’s annual “Grassroots Awards Celebration” at 6 p.m. at Celebration Gardens, 1871 Minnesota Ave. in Winter Park.

Image matters more than truth (but don’t say that!)” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat – The new chief of the Florida Democratic Party has had to apologize for telling the truth. She shockingly failed to use sufficient euphemism when telling a euphemistically titled group of party activists that emotions, rather than issues, get voters to the polls. Sally Boynton Brown, addressing the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County, knew she was treading into a sensitive area. Then she said, “I believe that we’re in a place where it is very hard to get voters excited about ‘issues,’ the type of voters who are not voting.” She did not say that poor people — whose lack of turnout last fall probably cost Hillary Clinton the presidency — are too dumb to understand issues, or that they vote on emotion alone. But that’s how some Democrats heard it. But what she said was right. A couple of things, before we get to whether issues matter to voters. First, Brown bears the new title “president” of the Florida Democratic Party, which sounds like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce. Second, the fact that Democrats have a “progressive caucus” is a big reason that they keep losing elections. The Republicans don’t have a conservative caucus. They are a conservative caucus.

Miami Beach mayor’s race heats up with email attacks” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – The two most prominent candidates hurled accusations and insults at each other in a series of emails … questioning each other’s ethics and records of public service. Dan Gelber, the former state legislator and federal prosecutor who is running for his first municipal government position, traded jabs with Michael Grieco, a criminal defense attorney and current commissioner. With the election still about six months away, it’s already getting ugly. An email blasted out Friday by Gelber’s campaign touted the results of a poll that found he was ahead of Grieco after the voter is provided biographical information on both candidates. Then the poll taker told the voter being questioned that Grieco may be tied to a political action committee that has raised money from city vendors and lobbyists — a controversial and, in some cases, illegal fundraising tactic under the Beach’s unusually strict campaign finance laws … Grieco fired back in his own email blast with the subject line “Dishonest Dan.” He rips the poll, accuses Gelber of lying and denies involvement with any PAC.


President’s budget proposal would end Amtrak services in Florida” via WCTV – The proposal cuts funding for Amtrak’s long-distance routes, which includes all three routes in Florida. It would also hinder ongoing efforts to restore service in Florida’s Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast. The president’s budget would eliminate all three routes in Florida, including: The Auto Train, which runs daily from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford; The Silver Meteor, which runs daily from Miami to Orlando to New York; The Silver Star, which runs daily from Miami to Tampa to Orlando to New York.

Zika hit Florida months before infections found, study says” via Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press – Zika began spreading in Florida mosquitoes about three months before infections showed up in the Miami area last summer, and the virus likely was carried in by travelers from the Caribbean, new research suggests. Mosquitoes there started picking up the virus from infected travelers as early as March last year, according to scientists who examined genetic information from samples from about 30 people with Zika as well as from mosquitoes. It wasn’t until July that Florida health officials said they had detected a local infection – the first in the U.S. mainland. Mosquitoes spread Zika by biting someone who’s infected, then biting another person. The bugs may have been causing infections in Miami as early as March, too, said researcher Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But there were likely few cases before July, and it’s not clear any of them sought treatment, he said. Most people infected with Zika don’t get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects in babies.

Pam Bondi says charities she helps aren’t required to register with state” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Bondi’s office this week responded to a lawsuit claiming she forces businesses to pony up millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases. Deputy Solicitor General Jonathan L. Williams, writing on Bondi’s behalf, said in part that some of the organizations criticized by Orlando entrepreneur John D. Smith aren’t “require(d) … to register (with the state) before receiving contributions from governmental entities.” Rather, they need to register as charities if they plan to “solicit,” or ask for, charitable contributions, Williams added. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee ordered Bondi to show why he shouldn’t find for Smith, giving Bondi 40 days to respond. Williams’ response came on the 40th day.

Florida reaps $1.6 million from settlement with Johnson & Johnson” via Florida Politics – Florida was among 43 states that sued the company and its Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. subsidiary, alleging that they misled consumers into believing that they’d manufactured the medications in FDA-compliant facilities. In a consent decree … J&J agreed to pay $33 million to the states and to improve internal and marketing controls. The company pleaded guilty in 2015 to selling liquid medicines contaminated with metal, and agreed to pay $25 million to the federal government. According to the complaint, J&J’s McNeil-PPC Inc. subsidiary marketed over-the-counter drugs as complying with federal Good Manufacturing Practices between 2009 and 2011 when not all of its plants met those standards. That noncompliance was the equivalent of selling adulterated medicines, the document says. That document cites recalls in 2009 and 2010 of drugs including Tylenol, Infants and Children Tylenol, Benadryl, Rolaids, Motrin and Zyrtec.

“Craig Waters: Florida’s courts lead in use of social media” via Florida Politics – Long seen as the quietest branch of state government, Florida’s state courts have emerged in the last year as a national leader in social media use. In fact, we are leading the nation with 20 out of 26 court divisions using Twitter to reach the public right now. That’s an astounding number … The goal is simple. It’s not enough that courts do justice. They also must make sure people see justice being done.

Thanks to beer, over 160,000 have jobs in Florida” via Joe Ruble of WDBO – A new study shows America’s beer industry contributes more than $21.6 billion to Florida’s economy. It also supports 160,706 jobs in the state, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute, a trade association for brewers. “America’s beer distributors are proud to provide nearly 135,000 jobs with solid wages and great benefits to employees at more than 3,000 facilities, located in every state and congressional district across the country. Independent beer distributors generate significant economic contributions in their communities through local business-to-business commerce, investments in local infrastructure and capital assets and tax revenue,’ said NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser. Brewers and beer importers directly employ 64,745 Americans.


Hospice care providers honor former AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek – Florida hospice operators have bestowed their Outstanding Public Service Award upon Dudek, the former head of the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association cited her “decades of dedicated public serve and her commitment of assuring the highest quality of hospice care for Florida residents.” Dudek started at the state agency in 1992, ending with a six-year stint as secretary, before leaving to handle health care affairs for Greenberg Traurig. “In each regulatory role Liz held, she matched stride with Florida’s hospice providers and played a key role in contributing to what has long been the state with the most comprehensive hospice services offered in the nation,” Association president and CEO Paul Ledford said.

FHPCA’s President and CEO Paul Ledford, Greenberg Traurig’s Director of Healthcare Affairs Liz Dudek, Hope HealthCare Services President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith, Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care Hospice President and CEO Chuck Lee.

New and renewed lobby registrations:

Ivette Arango, Brett Bacot, Marnie George, Michael Harrell, Paul Hawkes, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Timothy Stanfield, Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting: 100 Black Men of Tallahassee; Tech Care X-ray, LLC

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: Archer-De Moya JV

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: City of Lakeland; Twin Creeks Development Associates, LLC, a Florida limited liability company

— ALOE — 

Florida’s Memorial Day travelers expected to top 2 million” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Just more than 2 million Floridians are expected to travel during … Memorial Day weekend. So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Florida are up 17 percent, compared to the same period last year, said Vicky Evans, assistant vice president of travel sales development for AAA — The Auto Club Group.

— “What to read before your Florida trip” via Concepcion De Leon of The New York Times

More people to travel this Memorial Day, says AAA” via Nancy Trejos of USA Today — More people will get away this Memorial Day weekend than have in the past 12 years, with 39.3 million U.S. travelers expected to take to the road, skies, rails and water, according to a forecast released Wednesday from auto club AAA. That represents an increase of 1 million more travelers — 2.7% — this year than last Memorial Day weekend. It represents the third consecutive year that U.S. travelers have been on the move for 50 miles or more over this holiday weekend. … Most of the travelers — 88.1% or 34.6 million — will drive to their destinations. That is an increase of 2.4% over last year despite higher gas prices. Most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015. The national average price for a gallon of gas on Wednesday is $2.34, 11 cents more than last year.

Spotted: Photographer Phil Sears photos in a travel feature for The New York Times about Florida.

“Orlando top destination in the world for Memorial Day” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — The City Beautiful will receive the lion’s portion of the 39.3 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the holiday weekend. Orlando was the number one U.S. city in the top five, followed by Rome, London, Dublin and Vancouver. Seattle, Las Vegas and New York City ranked 6, 7 and 8, while Honolulu took the number 10 spot behind Paris. … The travel forecast is great news for Central Florida, where both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are launching new attractions during the Memorial Day Weekend. Universal’s new water park, Volcano Bay, opens May 25 followed by Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World of Avatar on May 27.

Happy birthday this  weekend to Reps Julio Gonzalez and Mel Ponder, Richard DeNapoli, Arron Gober, Mike Fischer, Marion Johnson, Alex Setzer, Clark Smith, Craig Waters, and our friend – a great Floridian – Christian Ziegler.

In the official trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7, the end is coming” via David Canfield of Slate – We finally have our first full look at Game of Thrones’ seventh season. The official trailer feels especially doom-and-gloomy (yes, even for this show), as the HBO epic approaches its long-awaited climax. Season 7 will consist of an abbreviated seven episodes, before the eighth and final installment premieres next year. It’s all about preparation for the final battle to come: Cersei (Lena Headey) gathering her army for the coming challengers, Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) hitching his wagon to Sansa (Sophie Turner) as his “last hope,” and Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) surprisingly returning to action after having been banished. Then there’s Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), ready to assume the throne she has sought since the series’ beginning: “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” she asserts. “And I will.” As the trailer fades to black, we hear an ominous official declaration: “The Great War is here.”

Sunburn for 5.24.17 – Florida offers #PrayersforManchester; TaxWatch ready to carve turkeys; Liquor wall standing or falling?; New candidates for A.G. and in CD 27; Tampa awarded 2021 Super Bowl

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 deep bellow of the fog horn cried out every five minutes during the Disney Magic’s late-night approach into Dover, England. The shining white cliffs are still not visible from even the top deck.

In the wake of Monday evening’s bombing, Prime Minister Theresa May has placed Britain on the highest level of alert, deploying troops throughout the country. The impact was immediately apparent as we sailed into port. A near-flotilla of light military vessels protected our entrance, as if Mickey Mouse were a visiting head of state. The tension was palpable as we disembarked, with one security officer saying yesterday was the hardest day he’s ever had at work.

But England prevails. That’s the takeaway after visiting Stonehenge, that inexplicable, ancient ring of standing stones. On this day, perhaps like few others, Stonehenge was more than just a mystical tourist attraction. It was a powerful reminder that this land — this country — has been here and will be here for millennia. The deplorable actions of an evil few cannot change that.

With a history spanning 4,500 years Stonehenge has many different meanings to people today. It is a wonder of the world, a spiritual place and a source of inspiration.

I’ll be honest — and this isn’t to make a global event about our little family — we’re a little worried about visiting London next week, especially after the PM warned that another terrorist attack is “imminent.” Yet, there may not be a more important time recently to be here.


“Donald Trump calls terrorists ‘evil losers’” via F. Brinley Bruton and Amy Perrett of NBC News —President Donald Trump branded those responsible for the deadly suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert and other terrorist attacks “evil losers” on Tuesday. “So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers,” he said in Bethlehem while standing next to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. “I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term, they would think that is a great name.” He added: “I will call them, from now on, losers because that’s what they are: losers.”

Ariana Grande concert explosion: Singer checks in with Boca friend” via Leslie Gray Streeter of the Palm Beach Post — Dennis Lambert, songwriter of “We Built This City” and other songs, has known Grande since she was a little girl growing up in Boca Raton. Grande and Lambert’s daughter Misha are close friends. “No sooner had I heard the first reports when my daughter Misha called to say she was in touch with Ari and all of her people are safe and unhurt,” Lambert said. “They really don’t know yet exactly what happened and the news reports remain unclear. We’re all relieved the Ariana and her troupe are fine. On the other hand it’s another reminder of the perils that we are all exposed to in this crazy world we live in.”

Ariana Grande back home in Boca Raton after concert bombing via the Palm Beach Post

“FSU: Students at London Study Centre safe following Manchester bombing” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Students studying this summer at Florida State’s London Study Centre are safe following Monday night’s explosion in Manchester at the end of a concert by Ariana Grande. Manchester is a little more than 160 miles from London where the FSU students are based. “All International Programs participants based at the London Study Centre have been accounted for and encouraged to confirm their safety with their loved ones,” FSU spokesman Dennis Schnittker said. “Florida State University does not have any International Programs located in Manchester, nor do we have any reports of any students traveling independently to Manchester at the time of yesterday’s horrific incident at the Manchester Arena. Our condolences go out to those affected by this tragedy.”

A British flag is seen next to flowers after a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, Tuesday. Photo credit: AP.

Florida leaders react to the Manchester bombing:

— Gov. Rick Scott: “(First Lady Ann Scott) and I continue to pray for the 22 innocent lives lost in the senseless act of hate and terror in Manchester (Monday) night. Florida stands with the British people.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio: “Our prayers are with the people of Manchester.”

— Rep. Charlie Crist: “My thoughts and prayers are with Britain and the families impacted by this horrific act in Manchester.”

— Rep. Carlos Curbelo: “Praying for the people of Manchester.”

— Rep. Val Demings: “Standing with and praying for Manchester today.  Another cowardly attack against innocent people.”

— Rep. Ted Deutch: “Tonight in #Manchester, enormous amounts of horror, grief, and pain. From America and beyond, we join you in sympathy, outrage and resolve.”

— Rep. Neal Dunn: “Leah and I send our sincere condolences to the British people as they respond to another heinous act of terrorism. The events in Manchester remind us again that these vicious killers will consider any target, even a crowd of teenagers and children at a music concert. We stand with resolve alongside our British friends in the face of this threat.”

— Rep. Alcee Hastings: “I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of yesterday’s terror attack in Manchester. As England’s law enforcement continues working to establish the full details of this horrific attack against innocent children and families, the American people stand side-by-side in grief, anger, and resolve. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the city of Manchester and all of England as they come to terms with this terrible atrocity.”

— Rep. Al Lawson: “Our thoughts and prayers are with #Manchester and the United Kingdom for all the victims of tonight’s attack. Such sad news.”

— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “As I am writing yet another statement expressing horror and condolences after another inexplicable terror attack, I feel the angst and anger of a mother who has sent my children off to a concert just like last night’s in Manchester. The terror attack that apparently targeted innocent young people was a truly despicable act committed by cowards. As Americans, we are heartbroken and horrified by this mass murder of young adults and even children, but make no mistake: our resolve to make our world a safer one for our children is only strengthened, and our commitment to working with our British ally in pursuit of that goal remains unshakeable. Our thoughts are now with the victims, their families and all the people of Manchester. And while many facts are still unknown, Americans will not waver in seeking justice and standing up against the hate that motivates such heinous crimes. And we will never let these pretenders who hold themselves out as the only true defenders of Islam to be recognized as anything more than what they are: murderers.”

— Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera: “Horrible and senseless. We mourn those lost and pray for swift justice.”

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: “Terrorists who take the lives of innocent people are nothing but cowards & they must be brought to justice. My prayers to Manchester.”

— Democrat Gwen Graham: “As a mom, my heart breaks. Praying for the children and families, parents and grandparents in Manchester.”

— Democrat Andrew Gillum: “Deeply saddened by #Manchester tonight. Prayers to the families affected & the UK.”

— House Speaker Richard Corcoran: “My deepest sympathies and prayers for strength go out to the victims, parents, & families of the terror attack in the U.K.”

— Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto: “My heart goes out to those in Manchester, especially to the families and first responders. Our prayers are with you and the United States of America will always stand by you.”

— Sen. Debbie Mayfield: “My heart goes out to those in Manchester, especially to the families and first responders. Our prayers are with you and the United States of America will always stand by you.”

— Rep. Chris Sprowls: “Our hearts are with the families of those killed in #ManchesterArena last night. May we unite together to eliminate terror.”

— Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: “My prayers go out to those in Manchester, as a Father of 2 little girls, I can’t imagine what these families are going through.”

— Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry: “Outrage!!–Manchester terrorist attack. Tears & prayers for the victims and families.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Florida TaxWatch is offering its annual serving of “budget turkeys” 11 a.m. Friday at the group’s downtown headquarters on Bronough Street.

These turkeys are not Thanksgiving staples, but “individual appropriations that circumvent a thoughtful and thorough budget process,” says the group’s website.

“The organization identifies budget turkeys to promote transparency in public budgeting, encourage meaningful legislative review of all appropriations and facilitate checks and balances within the budget process,” the nonprofit group declared in a news release.

Florida TaxWatch president Dominic Calabro, with a stuffed turkey, speaking at a 1990 news conference in Tallahassee.

Being called a turkey “does not signify a judgment of a project’s worthiness. Instead, the review focuses on the Florida budget process, … to ensure that all appropriations using tax dollars are subject to scrutiny.”

In 2013, one such “turkey” was $4 million budgeted for Pinellas County to help pay for a sequel to “Winter’s Tale” – the movie about the Clearwater Aquarium’s star attraction, Winter the Dolphin, which has a prosthetic tail.  

Another example of the biggest turkey was identified in the following year’s state budget: $12 million earmarked for the Port of Tampa Bay’s gantry crane project.

Florida TaxWatch Vice President of Research (and resident budgetary turkey expert) Kurt Wenner will serve as master of ceremony for the Friday event.

More information on budget turkeys can be found here.


Labor unions call on Rick Scott to veto education bill — Fight for Florida, a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations, has released a new ad calling on the governor to veto a massive education bill (HB 7069), calling the measure “bad for taxpayers and bad for Florida families.” The 30-second spot will be distributed digitally and is expected to run extensively in Tallahassee during the bill signing and veto period. “Our public school children, teachers and education staff professionals are already severely underfunded,” said Rich Templin, representing the coalition, in a statement. “This so-called ‘Schools of Hope’ bill will further starve public schools of much-needed resources. It’s plain wrong. It’s wrong for students, teachers and our public schools and wrong for Florida.” The bill not yet been set to Scott, but has been met with criticism from public school supporters in recent weeks. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

Senate President Joe Negron said Tuesday he stands by HB 7069: “I support the bill. I support efforts for the state to give more parental choice in public education. I support the initiatives that are in that bill,” the Stuart Republican told POLITICO Florida on Tuesday.

— “Fate of program for disabled children rests with Gov. Scott” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press 

Time growing short for Scott to decide ‘whisky & Wheaties’ bill’s fate” via Florida Politics — A history of alcoholism in Gov. Scott’s family will inform his decision about whether to sign the “whiskey & Wheaties” bill, which would tear down the wall of separation between hard liquor and other goods. … “I’ve had family members who have had the challenge of alcoholism. It concerns me. As I review the bill — I think I have to be finished sometime tomorrow on it — I take all those things into consideration.” Scott said he was scheduled to talk to representatives of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — one of the big-box stores supporting the bill — and ABC Fine Wines & Spirits — which is opposed. Scott still wasn’t prepared to say whether he would veto the state budget approved by the Legislature during an extended session this month. “I’m going to review my options,” he said.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth 3:15 p.m. at the Honeycomb Company of America, 1950 Limbus Ave. in Sarasota.

Scott, Cabinet OK $8.5M for land conservation in Okeechobee, Highland counties” – Scott and Cabinet members agreed to an $8.5 million deal to conserve land owned by ranchers in Okeechobee and Highlands counties. The purchase is through the Florida Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. About 4,200 acres in Okeechobee County and just over 1,000 acres in Highlands County will go to improve the quality of water flowing to Lake Okeechobee from the north through the purchase of easements, stopping future development while allowing existing landowners to continue using the property for agriculture and ranching. Part of the acquisition is Okeechobee County’s Triple S Ranch, just west of Fort Pierce and part of the Kissimmee River basin. Triple S has been owned by the Scott family since 1948. The Highland County parcel has been owned by the Hartt family since 1939. Water from that land empties into Arbuckle Creek and into Lake Okeechobee. After the deals, about $11 million will still be available in the current fiscal year, which ends June 1. In the upcoming 2017-2018 budget, lawmakers funded the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program at $10 million.

Pam Bondi on Sunshine exemption sealing criminal records: what about sex offenders?” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Approved unanimously by lawmakers last month, SB 118 would require clerks to seal more than 2.7 million criminal records and hundreds of thousands of arrest records for individuals who were found not guilty, acquitted at trial, had charges against them dropped or dismissed, or weren’t charged after being arrested. That would effectively prevent people from knowing whether someone was arrested or charged with a crime when they ultimately aren’t convicted in a court of law. “What concerns me about this — just as a career prosecutor: Sex offenders,” Bondi told reporters. “I think some of those cases are very important, to be able to know about the past and the history. That does concern me … We all know how difficult it is to convict a sex offender, and if they have a case again in the future, I think it’s important for people to be able to know about that. Those are the ones that concern me the most.”

Old news: “Atwater exit awaits budget action” via the News Service of Florida on Tuesday; Michael Moline of Florida Politics wrote “Jeff Atwater sticking around as CFO until state budget is nailed down” on May 10.


“Why’s Bondi raising money? Not to run for office, she says” via Michael Auslen of the Times/Herald — Term-limited Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may have restarted her political fundraising, but she says she’s not considering a run for another public office. In early April, Bondi’s fundraising engine started back up, bringing in more than $82,000 to her political committee, called Justice for All. It raised questions about the aspirations of a Republican attorney general who can’t seek reelection and who has already declared she would not run for governor in 2018. Asked Tuesday if she was gearing up for another public office, Bondi said, “No. No, I’m not. Not right now, I’m not.” … “The newest rumor I heard today is that I want to be sheriff of Hillsborough County,” she said to reporters. “I do not want to be sheriff of Hillsborough County, seriously. We’ll see, but I need a political committee to continue when you all have political questions to ask me.”

“Adam Putnam plays down aides’ departure from his campaign for Governor” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam suggested that the departure of two key aides from his campaign for governor was no big deal. “You’re always adjusting and modifying as you move forward,” Putnam said, adding that he wished both ex-staffers well. … “This is a grassroots movement, and I’m very excited about the team that we have, and I wish the team members who have moved on to other things the very best.” Campaign manager Kristin Davison was relieved of her duties Monday. Political director Jared Small also exited the campaign.

Andrew Gillum campaign launches “Doctors for Gillum” — The grassroots coalition started by Florida healthcare professionals to help Floridians understand the stakes healthcare and the Obamacare will play in the election, according to Andrew Gillum’s campaign. The group is made up of Dr. Michael Katin, the medical advisor to the American Cancer Society unites of both Lee and Charlotte counties and the president of the AFROC (Association of Freestanding Radiation Oncology Centers); Dr. Annette Pelaez, a Tampa native who has been practicing obstetrics and gynecology in the Miami area since 1989; Dr. Jean-Philippe “J.P.” Austin, the former medical director at Christie Clinic Association in  Champaign, Illinois now with 21st Century Oncology; Dr. Larry Pierre, the president and CEO of the Greater Miami Health and Education Training Center; and Dr. Lisa Wildcatt, a pediatrician and the lead physician of the Riverview office at Pediatric Associates of Tampa Bay. “As doctors, we have dedicated our lives to providing patients with quality healthcare, and under his proposal, more Floridians will have the security of access to the care they need to survive,” the coalition said in a joint statement provided by the Gillum campaign. “We look forward to working with Mayor Gillum and Florida’s policymakers to help make these protections the law in Florida.”

“Three Tampa Bay lawmakers line up behind Gwen Graham for Governor” via Mitch Perry of SaintPetersBlog — St. Petersburg-based state Sen. Darryl Rouson, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice and Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez are endorsing the former congresswoman, the Graham campaign announced Tuesday. “I’m honored to have the support of these Tampa and St. Petersburg leaders who are working every day on issues Floridians care about,” she said in a statement. “As governor, I will work with them to protect our environment, create opportunities for all, and reform Florida’s criminal justice system.” Rouson said in a statement that Graham “understands criminal justice reform, protecting voting rights and creating jobs are paramount issues to our community” and has the “passion, experience, and fortitude to make our streets safer, reform our criminal justice system and restore voting rights to the 1.5 million Floridians currently disenfranchised.”

Ryan Torrens files to run for Attorney General — The Hillsborough County Democrat opened a campaign account Monday, and is the first Democrat to throw his hat in the race to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits, in 2018. Torrens is the owner of the Torrens Law Group, and focuses on foreclosure defense and consumer protection litigation. Before striking out on his own in 2012, he worked as an independent consultant on the federally-mandated Independent Foreclosure Review Project. A fifth-generation Tampa native, Torrens received his bachelor of arts in government and world affairs from the University of Tampa. He graduated from George Washington University Law School. Jacksonville Republican Jay Fant has also filed to run for Attorney General.

Raquel Regalado joins race to fill Ros-Lehtinen’s congressional seat” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The former Miami-Dade School Board member told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that she’s “all in” after spending the last several weeks meeting with political committees and Republican leaders in Washington. The 42-year-old mother of two and self-described “compassionate Republican” believes she’s the type of moderate candidate capable of holding the Democratic-leaning 27th district for the GOP next year. “Even though the Democrats are saying this seat has to go to a Democrat because independents will lean to a ‘D,’ I disagree,” she said. “I think the majority of people believe it will be better to have a Republican in the room than a Democrat out in the hall.”

Raquel Regalado expects to have at least three GOP primary opponents for the seat: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Brun Barreiro and former Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall. Photo credit: AP.

More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018 —  LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for House and Senate in 2018. Democrat Tyran Basil has filed to run for House District 27. The 26-year-old has an associate degree in accounting from Seminole State College of Florida and works in technical support for Frontier Communications. He’ll face the winner of the Republican primary between Rep. David Santiago and William McBride. Democrat Lee Mangold is vying to replace Rep. Jason Brodeur in House District 28. Mangold earned his doctorate in computer and information security from Northcentral University, and owns a Central Florida-based cybersecurity company called Goldsky Security. He will face Republican David Smith. Brodeur can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Three Republicans — Cocoa Beach Mayor Tim Tumulty, Tyler Sirois, and Pat O’Neil — have filed to run run in House District 51. Tumulty ran in 2016, but lost to Rep. Tom Goodson. He currently works as a math and physics teacher at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School. Sirois is the executive director of the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, and has worked with the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Office in the past. Goodson can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Shawn Mathis Gilliam is challenging Rep. Dan Raulerson in House District 58. Gilliam is running as a member of the Green Party. Republican Andrew Vargas has switched his candidacy to House District 114. He will now face Republican Jose Pazos, a Marine veteran who owns a management firm. Both men are hoping to unseat Democratic Rep. Daisy Baez. Vargas had previously filed to run in House District 119.


John Morgan ready to bet big on medical pot” via the Tampa Bay Times – In a series of emails with the Miami Herald, Morgan said he intends to plunge up to $100 million into “the right opportunities.” He also acknowledged that he’s interested in owning a stake in a state-licensed dispensing organization, though he said he’s not yet invested in any cannabis companies. “I am prepared to invest significant monies in this industry and I plan to,” he wrote. “I have learned a great deal about the miracles of marijuana over the last five years. And what better person than me to be involved?” But are Morgan’s financial interests influencing his public positions? Was his political investment a down payment on a bigger business plan? Absolutely not, says Morgan. But speculation has swirled for years.

— It’s important to note that this story about Morgan’s financial interests popped ONLY AFTER on Monday raised pointed questions about the trial lawyer’s financial ambitions.

Administrative judge says 2 farms should get medical pot licenses” via The Associated Press – Division of Administrative Hearings Judge John Van Landingham ruled on Tuesday that Plants of Ruskin and Tornello Landscape/3 Boys Farm are equally qualified to receive licenses, but if the state’s Department of Health would approve only one, then it should go to Tornello/3 Boys. Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton said they are reviewing the order and in the process of determining their next steps. There are currently seven distributing organizations. This was the last of the administrative challenges since the five original licenses were decided in December of 2015. Two additional were awarded last year due to either settlements or an administrative ruling.

First on #FlaPol – “Tom Delacenserie taking over Kentucky Lottery” via Florida Politics Delacenserie, the outgoing secretary of the Florida Lottery, is getting a pay raise to become the new president and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery. Delacenserie, who submitted his resignation to Gov. Rick Scott last week, will be paid $204,000 a year. His current Florida state salary as agency head is $141,000. He was confirmed by the Kentucky Lottery’s board of directors on Tuesday, according to a press release. His first day is June 5. “I’m very much looking forward to joining one of the premier lotteries in the country,” Delacenserie said in a statement.

Florida Hurricane Cat Fund ready for storm season” via The Associated Press – Estimates prepared by Raymond James show the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund will have $17.6 billion available this year. This marks the second year in a row that the fund has more money than it would need to pay out if storms racked the state. The financial health of the fund is important because the state can impose a surcharge on most insurance policies to replenish it if the money runs out. Some critics have called the surcharge a “hurricane tax.” The fund has grown because Florida has avoided major hurricanes since 2005.

Joe Henderson: FDOT’s Tampa Bay transit plan has new name, but really needs new ideas” via Florida Politics – The Florida Department of Transportation wanted to attack the problem with a plan called Tampa Bay Express, or TBX. I’ll simplify: It called for building more roads, including 90 miles of highway people would have to pay tolls to use. A lot of people hated that idea and they raised such a ruckus that FDOT finally punted and came up with Plan B. It still leaves open the idea of more toll roads, including express lanes across a rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. So, what’s different about this plan? Er, um … it has a new name! Tampa Bay Next. Other than that, it seems like basically the same ol’ sow’s ear, which is upsetting for FDOT officials to hear.

“Leon County approves historic Airbnb tax agreement” Airbnb announced the passage of a tax agreement with Leon County that will allow the platform to collect and remit taxes on behalf of its local hosts. With the tax agreement in place, the County will be able to fully capitalize on more people visiting and staying longer through home sharing. Effective July 1, Airbnb will automatically collect and remit local taxes for all Airbnb bookings in the county, making the process seamless and easy for both Airbnb hosts and local government. “The agreement represents an investment in the long-term success of Leon County’s tourism and economic development efforts,” Leon County Commission Chairman John E. Dailey said … Leon County now represents the 39th Florida county where Airbnb will collect and remit local tourist development taxes (otherwise known as the bed tax).

OR Conversations: Belvin Perry Jr. discusses his law career” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – “I had spent nearly 25 years as a judge and 11 years as an assistant state attorney. That is total 36 years of public service. I believe in the Jim Brown school of thought; that is to go out on top and on your own terms … I enjoyed every moment I was a judge, so moments more than others. I gave everything that I had in being a judge and I left nothing on the table. I treasured the trust that the citizens of this great community gave me when they elected me judge. I don’t miss being a judge, but I sometimes miss the public service.”

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

— ALOE —

What Bob Buckhorn is reading – “Tampa to host 2021 Super Bowl” via ESPN – NFL owners, responding to inclement weather that has delayed the opening of a new stadium in Los Angeles, voted unanimously Tuesday to instead award Tampa the Super Bowl in 2021. Los Angeles will host the Super Bowl one year later, in 2022. The Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium will host Super Bowl LV, which was originally scheduled to be played at the $2.6 billion facility in Inglewood, California, that will be shared by the Rams and Chargers.

Loggerhead sea turtle returns home on World Turtle Day” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Local rescue teams released a loggerhead sea turtle to Sebastian Inlet … The sea turtle was found floating in the Indian River Lagoon near Fort Pierce in January. It was missing its left front flipper and covered in barnacles with damage on its shell. The turtle weighed 218 pounds and had eaten several sand dollars, which were creating blockages in its intestines. The turtle was given medication and fluid therapy and the blockage was removed at SeaWorld Orlando. The loggerhead weighed in at 230 pounds when it was returned to its ocean home by SeaWorld’s Rescue Team and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

A 230-pound loggerhead turtle found floating in the Indian River Lagoon near Fort Pierce in January was returned to the ocean Tuesday by SeaWorld’s Rescue Team and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Happy birthday to one of the best people in The Process, Ashley Ross.

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