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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.8.16

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

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

FIRST LOOK – SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP’S 2016 HOLIDAY CARD – Can you even imagine what the White House Christmas party will be like this year? Southern Strategy Group can — and did — in its annual Christmas card. The comic strip-style holiday greeting imagines a conversation between President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In the cartoon, Obama tells Clinton he’s really glad she “decided to come out to the White House holiday party. You know, put the election behind you.” In the next panel, Clinton admits it was a bit awkward at first, telling the president she “just bumped into Donald over by the eggnog bowl.

“Oh, really? What’d you say to him,” the card imagines the president asking. Clinton’s response: “Pardon me.” It’s a riff on a joke President-elect Donald Trump told at the Al Smith dinner back in October. In that joke, Trump told the crowd Clinton bumped into him on the dais and “she very civilly said, ‘Pardon me.’ And I very politely replied, ‘Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.’”

Each year, the Southern Strategy Group Christmas card offers a silly take on the year’s biggest political stories. And while the front of the card may elicit more than a few snickers around Florida’s Capitol, the message inside is sincere: “Happy holidays from your friends at Southern Strategy Group.”

ssg holiday card

JEFF ATWATER WARNS AGAINST KILLER CHRISTMAS TREES via Florida Politics – “Christmas tree fires do not happen often, but they have the potential to be serious fires when they do,” Atwater said in his Department of Financial Services newsletter … “More often than not, these fires occur because the tree has not been properly watered and has become dried out and repeatedly exposed to multiple heat sources,” he said. “The mix of dry tree branches and hot holiday lights can quickly become a tragic combination.” Make sure to top off the water in your tree stand regularly, lest it runs dry. “Don’t place it next to your fireplace, radiator, or any candles that you may be lighting,” Atwater said. “Also, make sure that you unplug your tree when you leave the house to prevent overheating. These tips sound simple — and they are — but you must make sure to follow them.” … “In less than a minute, the entire room is covered in flames,” Atwater said. “I don’t say these things to scare you, but I do say them, so you’ll remember to pay close attention to potential risks in your own house.”

2016: THE YEAR OF THE TWEET

The entire presidential election played out on Twitter, with every debate, campaign rally and new poll documented in real time on the social media platform. (It’s also a favored communication tool of a certain PEOTUS.)

People around the world watched the 2016 Summer Olympics with their devices in hand, celebrating every flip, dive and dash. Notable deaths were documented with #RIP, and everyone freaked over the #GameofThrones twists and turns.

“From news and entertainment to sports and politics, around the world or around the block; it all happened on Twitter,” wrote Leslie Berland, the company’s chief marketing officer, on Twitter’s blog. “Tweets brought people together in laughter, shock, celebration, fear, mourning, and jubilation.”

The company announced this week it launched #ThisHappened, a campaign to reflect back on some of the top events of the year. As part of the campaign, Twitter unveiled a 3 minute and 19 second video highlighting the events of 2016.

The Olympics in Rio de Janiero topped the list of Top 10 Global Trends on Twitter. According to the company, tweets about #Rio2016 were viewed 75 billion times. More than 187 million tweets were sent about the Olympic games, and it’s probably no surprise to know that Michael Phelps had the most mentions during the games.

If politics is more your jam, then here’s some stats for you: Users in the United States sent 1 billion tweets about the 2016 election since the primary debates began in August 2015.

A tweet from Hillary Clinton as she conceded the election was the third most retweeted of the year. Clinton’s “delete your account” tweet was one of the most retweeted of “the entire election,” according to Twitter. President-elect Donald Trump’s response to that tweet was also one of his most retweeted.

PokemonGo, Euro2016 and the Oscars rounded out the Top 5 global trends during 2016, while the Brexit clocked in at No. 6 and #Trump was in the No. 8 position. Game of Thrones earned the No. 10 spot on the list of global trends, according to Twitter.

With the nation’s first tweeter-in-chief slated to take the oath of office on Friday, Jan. 20, we can only imagine 2017 will be another “yuge” year for Twitter.

 ***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

BILL NELSON, MARCO RUBIO APPLAUD NIH FUNDING BILL PASSAGE; MOFFITT MONEY PRESERVED via Scott Powers of Florida Politics– Rubio and Nelson both applauded passage by the U.S. Senate of a bill that heads off potential cuts in cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Senate approved H.R. 34, entitled the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a 94-5 vote … The House of Representatives approved it earlier. The bill provides the National Institutes of Health an additional $4.8 billion over the next 10 years. “This funding will help us retain some of the nation’s best and brightest medical researchers and allow them to continue working on several important projects such as cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s,” Nelson stated in a news release from his office.

RUBIO ENDORSES BLAISE INGOGLIA FOR FLORIDA GOP CHAIR via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican state representative, announced Tuesday that Rubio has thrown his support behind his re-election bid. In an email to Republican Party of Florida executive committee members, Ingoglia said Rubio has “been a great friend to the RPOF” and thanked him for his leadership. … “The Republican Party’s performance in Florida under Blaise’s leadership speaks for itself. We won tough races across the board in the nation’s biggest swing state, and Blaise’s leadership in the GOP’s get-out-the-vote ground operation this past year was decisive,” said Rubio in a statement. “He has worked tirelessly the past two years traveling the state, meeting with activists, and growing our party. Blaise has my full support for reelection as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.” … Ingoglia will face Christian Ziegler, a Sarasota Republican committeeman, in the race to serve as the RPOF chair. Ziegler, 33, announced his candidacy in November.

DANA YOUNG, RANDY FINE FILE FOR RE-ELECTION IN 2018 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — State elections records show more than 50 members of the House and Senate have filed to run in two years. While many of those are incumbents who faced little-to-no opposition in 2016, many just came off hard-fought battles to secure their spot in the Florida Legislature. Sen. Young is one of those. Young, a Tampa Republican, filed to run for re-election in Senate District 18 on Dec. 2. While the former House Majority Leader easily won her seat over Democrat Bob Buesing, it was far from an easy campaign. Buesing and Joe Redner, an independent candidate, attacked Young over her voting record. … Records show Sen. Debbie Mayfield, a Vero Beach Republican, filed to run for re-election in Senate District 17 on Dec. 1. … In the Florida House, Reps. Randy FineEmily SlosbergTom LeekAmber MarianoCarlos Guillermo SmithChris Latvala, and Kathleen Peters are among those who have filed for re-election.

PLAINTIFF MISSES HEARING IN ‘WITE-OUT’ CASE AGAINST DAN RAULERSON via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa was supposed to be in the Leon County Courthouse Wednesday morning to explain why he should win his suit against Raulerson. Vazquez, who is representing himself, is seeking to disqualify Raulerson, a Plant City Republican, from his re-election this year to his House District 58 seat. Vazquez was his unsuccessful Democratic opponent. His suit says Raulerson’s notary had incorrectly used “correction fluid” on his filing paperwork. The state’s notary manual says no correction fluid of any kind is allowed on notarized documents. Specifically, Vazquez has said Raulerson’s notary “improperly completed” his paperwork by whiting out the date on her notarization of his financial disclosure, changing it from an April to a June date. His request for a “judgment on the pleadings” was scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. When Vazquez didn’t show by 9:45, Circuit Judge Charles W. Dodson had had enough. Dodson said he would he would deny the motion, and asked Raulerson’s attorney to notice a hearing for his motion to dismiss the case.

RAULERSON TO UNDERGO BACK SURGERY; NO INTENTION OF RESIGNING via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Raulerson is undergoing spinal surgery Friday for an autoimmune deficiency, taking him out of the Legislature temporarily for four to six weeks while he recovers. But, the third-term state representative (said), “I have no intention of resigning.” Raulerson is working with the House speaker’s office to have other lawmakers present and manage his proposed bills when committee meetings start in January, he said.

HAPPENING TODAY — DAPHNE CAMPBELL HOLDS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN IN NORTH MIAMI BEACH — Sen. Campbell will hold a ceremonial swearing-in at 7 p.m. at the Littman Theater, 17011 NE 19 Avenue in North Miami Beach. Prior to the community ceremony, Campbell will attend an invitation-only reception. The reception is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Littman Theater. Campbell, a former state representative, formally took the oath of office during the organizational session in Tallahassee on Nov. 22.

AT ‘LEGISLATIVE UNIVERSITY,’ CONVERSATION TURNS TO ‘TURKEYS’ AND PLANE RIDES AS HOUSE MEMBERS LEARN ETHICS RULES via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida –  Some legislative ethics rules may seem complex and nuanced, but those relating to gifts members can receive from lobbyists are fairly cut and dry. “If you remember nothing else … please remember this, please don’t accept or solicit – don’t ask or take – anything of value from a lobbyist or principal,” new House General Counsel Adam Tannenbaum told a room filled with state legislators Wednesday at a mandatory ethics training class. “Keep that phrase in mind: anything of value.” Hoping to hammer home the ethical point, Tannenbaum doubled down: “The primary concern is the attempt to purchase influence or purchase goodwill with the legislator. When you boil all the rules down to the simple principle: members are not allowed to take anything from lobbyists or principals.” Despite the clear-cut language used by the House’s top attorney during the training session, members used the opportunity to poke and prod their lecturer to find any potential loopholes or gray areas in the state’s well established gift ban. “What happens if we have someone who comes to us and wants to give us turkeys for our constituents,” asked Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens. Welcome to Day Two of “Legislative University,” where state lawmakers sit through a two-day crash course on everything they need to know about their part-time job in Tallahassee. To answer Watson’s query, Tannenbaum, who recently served as the top attorney at the Florida Department of State, came back to the point he had made earlier in the presentation. “The safest approach for you is that if it’s something of value and given to you by a lobbyist or principal, just don’t take it,” he said. As the discussion about turkeys was concluding, another member blurted out “can you fly on your wife’s plane if she’s a lobbyist?” The question got audible laughter from the room. “Probably not, actually,” Tannenbaum said.

JANET CRUZ HIGHLIGHTS DIVERSITY IN PICKING DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – “In order to build consensus on how to confront the difficult issues facing our state, we must take into account the many varying stakeholders whose futures will be affected by the decisions we make in the Legislature,” Cruz said in a written statement. Leading on policy will be Evan Jenne and Cynthia Stafford. Floor leader is Lori Berman … Serving as whip is Joseph Abruzzo, of Wellington. Deputy whips are John CortesKatie EdwardsShevrin Jones, and Richard Stark.

JOSE DIAZ’S SHORTLIST TO CHAIR HOUSE GAMING AND TOURISM SUBCOMMITTEE via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – With the prospect of another push to pass a Seminole gaming compact looming, House Commerce Committee chairman Diaz said he’s looking for a lawmakers to chair the Tourism and Gaming Subcommittee who has substantive policy experience dealing with gambling. The subcommittee, one of five under the Commerce Committee, is the likely starting point for any gambling legislation in the House. House leaders are expected to meet Thursday to sort out who will chair the chamber’s numerous subcommittees … Diaz said there’s been substantial interest from members to get on the “coveted” Tourism and Gaming Subcommittee, noting that “tourism is important to just about every county in Florida.” But he said his “preference would be somebody who was on the [equivalent gaming] committee last year and went through the motions of seeing just how difficult the negotiation is.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JimRosicaFL: Source: Seminole Tribe refusing to pay “one more dollar” to state w/o new compact. Looks like I’ll be calling @FloridaDBPR tmrw…

SCOTT PLAKON FILES BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW GUNS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The bill, HB 6005, amends an earlier ruling on where guns are and are not allowed, deleting the portion stating that a license to concealed carry a firearm does not allow guns into “Any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile.” If the bill passes, guns will be much looser-regulated on college and university campuses. Plakon sponsored a bill that would have done the same thing in 2015, which died on the calendar. If it goes through, guns will still be banned from police and sheriff stations, jails, courthouses, polling places, schools and government meetings.

Plakon was initially not a supporter of guns-on-campus bills – initially, he was “ambivalent” about the issue. But an incident in 2013 at his daughter Jeanne‘s school, in which there was thought to be an active shooter on campus, spurred him to change his mind. “I got a text message from my daughter Jeanne,” he said. “‘Daddy I’m so scared,’ is the way it started off. It was believed there was a shooter loose in Lake Mary High. It took me 13 mins to get there. No parent wants to be in this situation… to have their child on a campus with a shooter, with no way to protect, no one with a firearm anywhere near. I was parent with face against chain link fence, and she’s texting me, crying, scared, hunched under a desk.” Fortunately, it turned out there was no shooter at Lake Mary High that day. But the incident forever changed Plakon’s view on guns on campuses.

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‘HORRIFIC’ CONDITIONS AT FLORIDA PRISON LANGUISH UNTIL LEGISLATOR SHOWS UP AND ASKS WHY via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – When the inmates at Columbia Correctional Institution started shouting at him during one of his surprise prison inspections, Rep. David Richardson knew something was amiss. “I’ve done this long enough to know adult males never want to talk to an outsider in a group setting,” said the Miami Beach Democrat. The fear of retaliation and being singled out by gangs wasn’t enough to silence their need to complain about the problems they faced at the prison: toilets that won’t flush, no hot water, a majority of showers that didn’t work, broken heating system, cell windows jammed shut, head-splitting noise from an exhaust fan. “The conditions were horrific — unfit for human habitation,” Richardson told the Herald/Times.

THERE OUGHTA BE A T-SHIRT FOR THE DAVID RICHARDSON TOUR via Florence Snyder of Florida Politics – State Representative — and glutton for punishment — Richardson brought his lonely crusade for improved prison infrastructure to the Columbia Correctional Institution on Thanksgiving Eve, giving inmates and guards the rare gift of something to be grateful for … Self-styled “one-man band” Richardson has taken it upon himself to change the public attention paradigm with a series of surprise visits to the decrepit, dangerous Big Houses located in places few Floridians can locate on a map. He’s shown up unannounced at 60 facilities and spoken with more than 225 inmates. It’s a tour without a T-shirt, but the Miami Herald has covered Richardson like Rolling Stone covers The Rolling Stones, making it impossible for the Department of Corrections (DOC) to ignore him, even if he is a Democrat. The punch list at Columbia is a familiar one. Unflushable toilets. Unworkable showers. Cold water in hot water faucets … To her credit, DOC Secretary Julie Jones did not try to deny Richardson’s findings or lie her way out of the Herald’s questions. Basic maintenance has been neglected for so long that Jones couldn’t get half of Florida’s prisons fixed if she had Enterprise Florida’s slush funds to work with … Many Floridians and everyone in the Legislature who isn’t Rep. Richardson have no problem housing prisoners and even troubled teenagers in facilities that are unfit for hamster habitation, let alone humans. But what about the health and safety of corrections officers like Dale Nye, who has served Florida since 1995 and earns less than $34,000? Nye took to the comment section of the Herald to note, more in sorrow than in anger, that “… in 13 years … my Institution has only gotten one new vehicle…. held together with wire, seats worn-out, so that after you ride… six hours, your hips and shoulders ache, exhaust leaks that fill the car with fumes …”

REGULATORS OK PRIVATE INSURERS TO ASSUME CITIZENS INSURANCE POLICIES via Florida Politics – Effective in February, Avatar Property and Casualty Insurance Co. can take nearly 11,000 commercial and personal residential policies. Safepoint Insurance Co. was cleared to accept 15,000 policies, and Southern Oak Insurance Co. can remove 15,000. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced the takeouts and offers details on this webpage. The move came as Citizens Board of Governors learned that the trend is toward slower depopulation — or transfer of Citizens policies to insurers in the private market. All told, the office has approved depopulation of 42,724 Citizens policies in January and February. During the first two months of 2016, the agency approved depopulation of 200,000 policies, Citizens president Barry Gilway said during the company’s Board of Governors meeting.

CITIZENS INSURANCE CHIEF SEES ‘ABSURD’ RISE IN LITIGATION EXPENSES via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Rising litigation “is driving 80 percent of our attention and time,” Gilway warned during a meeting of the board of governors of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. He pointed to the trend line. About 12.5 percent of claims went into litigation in 2011. Now, “45 percent of all claims are going into litigation,” Gilway said. “Which, in my opinion, is just absurd. It’s completely out of control situation.” The trend is slowing depopulation — or transfer of Citizens policies to insurers in the private market, Gilway said.

During the first two months of 2016, the Office of Insurance Regulation approved depopulation of 200,000 polices, he said. For the first two months of 2017, the office has approved the switch for 4,2724. Although Citizens’ policy count dropped by 26.3 percent between January 2015 and November 2016, “depopulation is slowing down dramatically,” Gilway said. The bottom line is that Citizens faces net operating losses of $100 million in its inland residential policy lines, with losses concentrated in South Florida. The problem is mostly confined to personal insurance lines bought by homeowners; competition in the private market for business in coastal property and commercial lines is robust, he said.

FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES HOSTS ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE IN ORLANDO — The Florida League of Cities will hold its 56th annual legislative conference at the Embassy Suites Orlando-Lake Buena Vista South. The two-day conference will give attendees a chance to hear from experts, attend League committee meetings and adopt the FLC legislative action agenda. “The engagement of city officials in the League’s legislative process is essential to our success in Tallahassee. This conference provides a unique forum for local leaders to come together and learn about the key issues affecting municipal home rule and to share best practices for advocacy,” said Susan Haynie, the president of the Florida League of Cities and the mayor of Boca Raton. “Each year we gather municipal leaders from across the state to take advantage of this educational opportunity to unite with common goals and return home as better advocates for home rule.” The conference kicks off Thursday and continues through Friday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Governors Club’s Allison Ager, Mike Deeson, The Victory Group’s Ashley Lauren, and my friend Joy Ann Reid.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.7.16

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

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

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS…

ADAM PUTNAM PRESENTS FLORIDA-GROWN TREES TO GOVERNOR, CABINET — Agriculture Commissioner Putnam presented Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and CFO Jeff Atwater with Florida-grown Sapphire Christmas trees Tuesdaymorning. The governor lit the Christmas tree during a ceremony in the reception area of the Executive Office of the Governor, and First Lady Ann Scott hung the first ornament, the 2016 Governor’s Mansion Christmas ornament. The four trees were provided by the Ergle Christmas Tree Farm. The Dade City farm is owned and operated by Tony and Debbie Harris, and produces Carolina Sapphire, Florida Cedar, Florida Sand Pine, and Leyland Cypress.

christmas-tree

HERE’S THE SCHORSCH FAMILY’S 2016 CHRISTMAS TREE:

schorsch-christmas-tree

HERE’S THE SCOTT FAMILY CHRISTMAS CARD via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post:

scott-family

BAH HUMBUG! SCOTT WON’T GIVE STATE WORKERS EXTRA DAY OFF via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – A spokeswoman for Scott said Tuesday that the governor will not be closing state offices an additional day around the Christmas holiday.

Scott for five straight years had ordered state offices to be closed an extra day in recognition of the hard work of state employees. Three times Scott had given state workers Christmas Eve off when it fell on a weekday. Employees had the day after Christmas off in 2014 and in 2011 state employees received Dec. 23 off since Christmas Eve fell on a weekend.

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so the observed holiday is Dec. 26. In the past, state workers who perform essential functions still have to work. But state offices aren’t open.

MORE BAH HUMBUG – SEAWORLD TO CUT 320 JOBS DURING HOLIDAYS – Company officials said Tuesday in a statement that the goal of the restructuring is to eliminate costs and improve the company’s operations. The job eliminations involve both salaried and hourly workers. The company says it will offer severance packages and job-placement assistance to affected workers.

SeaWorld’s attendance and revenue have suffered in the face of a campaign by animal-rights activists. Earlier this year, the company announced it was ending its orca-breeding program and stopping its traditional killer-whale shows.

SPOTTED at the Tampa WaVE holiday party at the Boat House in Channelside: Former CFO Alex Sink.

JAX MAN MAKES HILLARY CLINTON THE GRINCH IN XMAS DECORATIONS via Action News Jax – A Jacksonville man decided to poke some fun at the campaign season by decorating his lawn with an unusual Christmas decoration. The man-made a 6-foot silhouette of the Grinch — and painted Hillary Clinton‘s features on it. The wooden lawn decoration features Clinton’s campaign symbol and what is supposed to be her hairdo. 

hillary

The Trump supporter said he wanted to make another cut-out of Trump but found it too difficult. The homeowner said he is waiting for some elements to finish the portion that will include Trump. He placed the Clinton-themed decoration near a red, white and blue Christmas tree on his lawn on Buttercup Street. The homeowner said he was trying to get some laughs this holiday season.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

DAYS UNTIL: Premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 8; Inauguration Day – 43; Pitchers & catchers start reporting for Spring Training – 69; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 100: Election Day 2017 – 334: Election Day 2018 – 698.

HOUSE FRESHMEN GET EDUCATED ON HOW STATE BUDGETARY ‘SAUSAGE’ IS MADE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Florida House freshmen attended an introductory course to writing a state budget … They learned that the process gives them sweeping authority, but within the limits of fiscal reality. At present, Florida government is running a $3 billion reserve within a total budget of around $83.5 billion. But if spending continues at existing levels, that reserve will fall by half by this time next year. And if that happens, the state will find it impossible to maintain its ability to borrow and its cash-flow obligations, while still providing services to the public, House Appropriations Committee chairman Carlos Trujillo said. “The most important thing is to realize the responsibility that we have,” he summed up following the budget workshop. “We have to pass a balanced budget. We don’t have any additional revenues. In order for us to meet our obligations, we have to manage our revenues with our expenditures. If our expenditures continue to grow, we have to find other places to save money.”

The 45-minute workshop was among a number of offerings during Legislature University, organized by House leaders to orient new members. They covered the basics about the state budget. “It’s a bill. It’s filed. It’s vetted through the process. It’s passed out of the House. It’s passed out of the Senate. It’s sent to conference. At the end, like any other bill, both sides have to match,” Trujillo said. Freshmen might find the process hard to follow, he continued.

HOUSE STAFF TELL LAWMAKERS MEDICAID MANAGED CARE PROGRAM IS MONEY SAVER via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Florida’s top economist was unable earlier this year to confirm that the state’s mandatory Medicaid managed care program was saving the taxpayers any money. But state legislators who attended a Medicaid meeting with House health care committee staff were emphatically told that the program is a cost saver. “Big picture on the costs, what do we see in this program? It’s going down,” House Health & Human Services Committee staff director Christa Calamas told the members who attended the Medicaid breakout session on Tuesday. While the overall costs have increased, Calamas asked members to consider the average cost per person. According to the House Medicaid document, the average annual cost per Medicaid enrollee in 2011-12 when the mandatory managed care program passed was $6,251. In 2015-16, the average costs per person was $5,896.

BILL WOULD PROHIBIT PUBLIC FUNDING OF SPORTS STADIUMS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican, filed the bill (HB 77) … The House website shows it does not yet have a Senate companion. The legislation says “sports franchise(s) may not construct, reconstruct, renovate, or improve a facility on public land leased from the state or a political subdivision thereof.” It also would require any “sale of public land by the state or a political subdivision for a sports franchise to construct, reconstruct, renovate, or improve a facility on such land must be at fair market value.” The 2-page bill applies to the “National Football League, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, the National League or American League of Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League, or the promoter of a signature event sanctioned by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).”

— “Sports stadium bill could impact Rays deal” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

BILL TARGETS CRIMES FROM ‘VIOLENT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS’ via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – A bill filed for the 2017 Legislative Session by Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Dane Eagle seeks to enhance penalties for violent crimes from illegal immigrants. “Reclassification of crimes” legislation would increase penalties for violent crimes committed by illegals by one degree from the baseline penalty. A third-degree misdemeanor would become a second-degree misdemeanor, and so on, under this legislation, which sees escalations similar to current hate crimes legislation (a genre which will see expansion this session, via enhanced penalties for hate crimes against law enforcement.) Hutson … notes in a press release that he is “focused on going after violent illegal immigrants only” to “ensure that all people in Florida, whether they be residents or visitors, are protected from these violent actors.” Eagle says the federal government has been “asleep at the wheel.”

THIS IS YOUR FLORIDA HOUSE — MEN, WHITES, YOUTH HAVE THE NUMBERS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The Florida House is 76 percent male, 66 percent white, and has an awful lot of newcomers this year, according to data released by the Majority Office.

The Republican caucus is 82 percent male and overwhelmingly white, also at 82 percent, with 17 percent Hispanic and 1 percent African-American. That last would be Rep. Byron Donalds, representing Hendry and Collier counties. The 41-member Democratic caucus is 63 percent male, and nearly half — 49 percent — are African-American. Whites comprise 34 percent of the caucus, and Hispanics 17 percent. Numbers reflect power.

About the newcomers: There are 49 freshmen in the House this year, including 27 in the GOP caucus and 22 Democrats. Only 20 members are in their fourth year of service, including 17 Republicans and three Democrats.

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

MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA COULD TOP $1B IN THREE YEARS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida is on track to log more than $1 billion in medical marijuana sales by 2019, according to an industry report …  By 2020, the report predicts, Florida will be the second-largest medical marijuana market in the country, following only California. Marijuana industry analysts New Frontier Data and Arcview Market Research compiled the estimates based on data from governments, businesses and activists. New Frontier and Arcview assume sales will begin next year. They predict $10 million in marijuana sales in 2017, though the earliest the drug could be available to an expanded group of patients is late in the year. From there, revenues from the market would only grow, gaining steam from national upward trends in the marijuana industry and the state’s steady population growth.

KNOX MEDICAL AUTHORIZED TO DISTRIBUTE MEDICAL POT via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – The state’s Health Department gave Knox Medical authorization over the weekend. The organization, which has its cultivation and distribution facility in Winter Garden, said on Tuesday that it expects to begin in-home delivery to patients by Friday.

OIG LAUNCHES TWO NEW INVESTIGATIONS INTO CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Florida’s inspector general opened two investigations into Citizens Property Insurance Company stemming from internal complaints made against the state-run insurer between July and September … One investigation stems from allegations of improper conduct; the other focuses on alleged harassment and discrimination. The investigations affect two business units: underwriting and systems and operations. OIG investigations can result in criminal prosecutions or terminations. The Office of Inspector General’s third quarter report was given to the Citizens Audit Committee, which met briefly … Audit Committee chairman Juan Cocuy said it was provided for informational purposes and it wasn’t discussed. In all, there were six internal complaints levied against Citizens by staff or vendors between July and September. The other four complaints are being addressed as “administrative projects,” which includes consultation services, opinions and referrals.

FLORIDA CHAMBER TACKLES TRANSPORTATION ISSUES IN NEW VIDEO — The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a new video during The Florida Chamber’s Transportation Summit this week. The video addresses the challenges and opportunities the state will face in the coming years, as millions of more people move into the state. Six million more residents will call Floridians home between now and 2030, and another 150 million visitors will come to the state each year during the same time span. “With a growing population, the Florida Chamber Foundation takes discussions on Florida’s Transportation future very seriously,” said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “By bringing together industry experts with those affected by transportation issues, we can not only plan for the future, but we are able to plan better for the next six million residents.” Among other things, the summit focused on transportation trends; the impact transportation will have on access to housing, education, and jobs; and new models for transportation funding. Click the image below to watch the video.

FLORIDA’S TIDE OF RED INK RECEDES AGAIN – HITTING NINE YEAR LOW via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Florida’s debt dropped $1.6 billion last year to its lowest overall level since 2007, Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet were told Tuesday. The state’s Bond Finance Division Director Ben Watkins pointed out the decline returned Florida to its more recent course of reducing the level of red ink, after a one-year increase spawned by major borrowing for road work on Interstate 4. The $24.1 billion owed by Florida is its lowest level since 2007.

FLORIDA LOTTERY ANNOUNCES RECORD SALES MONTH, STRONGEST NOVEMBER EVER via the Space Coast Daily – The Florida Lottery announces its strongest November ever, with record sales for the month totaling over $489 million, an all-time record high. This represents an increase over last year’s November sales of 9.5 percent. Ticket sales during the month of November generated approximately $127 million in contributions to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF). The Lottery’s November sales figures represent all product offerings, with Scratch-Off sales being primarily responsible for the record numbers; sales of Scratch-Off tickets alone exceeded $327 million. Draw games accounted for more than $162 million in sales.

EX-FWC OFFICER SUES FOR JOB BACK UNDER ‘WHISTLEBLOWER’ LAW via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Travis Hooker filed suit last week in Leon County Circuit Civil Court under the state’s whistleblower law. The decorated combat Marine, who was stationed in Iraq, was a lieutenant in the FWC’s law enforcement division. He alleged that his October 2015 firing came after alerting superiors that another officer was attending his son’s Little League games while on duty. The suit says the proof is in computer-aided dispatch records that show the individual logged in as working, but at the baseball fields. Instead, Hooker himself got in trouble because he declined to name other FWC employees who had tipped him off. Instead of investigating the other employee, FWC officials tried to “damage (Hooker’s) reputation,” according to an earlier court filing.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS PUTS CHUCK O’NEAL ON ITS BOARD via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising —  Apopka environmentalist and former Democratic candidate for Florida Senate District 11 Chuck O’Neal, has been appointed to The League of Women Voters of Florida’s State Board of Directors. O’Neal rejoins the board after resigning early this year to run for state office.

WHAT JACK LATVALA IS READING – LAURALEE WESTINE APPOINTED TO SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT via POLITICO Florida – Westine, 45, of Palm Harbor, has been an attorney in private practice since 2000, and previously served as an Assistant State Attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit from 1995-2000. Westine fills a vacancy created when Judge Bruce Boyer resigned.

***PRIDE Enterprises trains eligible inmates in real-world job skills and assists their transition into the job market upon completion of their sentences. PRIDE Enterprises uses inmates in vocational work programs in real factories, instead of classrooms, to produce real products that meet the quality demands of real customers. PRIDE offers inmates third-party certified vocational training that has market value to potential employers. Visit www.pride-enterprises.org to see how PRIDE Enterprises positively impacts people.***

2018 WATCH – JOHN MORGAN TORN ON POSSIBLE GOVERNOR RUN, AND IN NO HURRY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Morgan, the 60-year-old Orlando trial attorney who championed Florida’s Amendment 2 medical marijuana initiative this year, said others – not he – are pushing for him to run for governor. And while flattered, he insisted it’s not his idea, and he’s not giving it any serious thought yet. “I don’t think I have to do anything this year, 2017,” Morgan said in an interview … But that doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about it now, if only when he’s driving around, kicking it around in his head. “The advantage I have, for better worse, is they [any other candidates for governor in 2018] are going to have to spend $25 million at a bare-bones minimum to have any name ID. To me that’s a starting number,” he continued. “And so for better or worse, except for Miami and Fort Lauderdale, I [his Morgan & Morgan law firm featuring him in TV and billboard advertising] am in all those markets, and have been for 30 years or so. I also have the advantage of four years of [campaigning statewide for medical] marijuana, and a very big following. When people come up to me, they thank me for marijuana.”

MIAMI DADE DEMOCRATS PICK NEWS LEADER AMID DRAMA OVER STATE PARTY via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The most momentous election in recent memory for Miami-Dade County Democrats ended late Tuesday after more than three hours of political wrangling that could determine the future of the Florida Democratic Party. At stake at the reorganization meeting were not only the reins of Miami-Dade’s Democratic Executive Committee — but also the chances that a deep-pocketed donor might find a way to run for the far more powerful position of chairman of the state party, which has been reeling since its drubbing in the Nov. 8 election. Juan Cuba, until recently the local party’s executive director, won the Miami-Dade chairman’s post. Dotie Joseph, a former North Miami Beach assistant city attorney, became vice-chairwoman. Business consultant Bret Berlin was reelected state committeeman without opposition. Francesca Menes, policy director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, became the new state committeewoman.

— “Stephen Bittel says he has not struck a deal with Miami Dade Democrats” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

MARIO DIAZ-BALART READY TO WORK WITH ELAINE CHAO, BEN CARSON via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – … even as he never quite embraced Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Diaz-Balart was clear throughout 2016 that he would back the Republican presidential nominee but never referred to Trump by the name. Still, that lukewarm support was more than what Trump received from South Florida Republicans U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

With the Trump team planning for a $1 trillion federal transportation and infrastructure program over the next 10 years, Diaz-Balart will have a large seat at the table as Congress gets ready to examine the proposal … “I commend President-elect Trump for selecting Elaine Chao to serve as the secretary of the Department of Transportation,” Diaz-Balart said. “Elaine is a bright, capable woman, and her previous Cabinet experience will be helpful in this role. I look forward to working with her to improve our nation’s infrastructure to best serve our country’s needs.” Diaz-Balart also offered praise for Dr. Ben Carson  … after Trump picked his former presidential primary rival to lead the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. “I thank Dr. Ben Carson for his willingness to serve our country as HUD secretary,” Diaz-Balart said. “He will bring an outsider’s perspective, helping to shake things up so the agency can better serve families across the United States. Dr. Carson has a true passion for helping people, and I look forward to working with him to improve the quality and efficiency of our housing programs.”

CHARLIE CRIST CALLS ON CONGRESS TO EXTEND TAX BREAKS BEFORE ADJOURNING via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — The congressman-elect on Tuesday asked Congress to extend several soon-to-expire tax breaks, including a medical expense deduction for seniors, and a tuition and fees deduction. Congress is expected to adjourn for the year later this week. “These tax breaks are important to seniors, students and homeowners struggling to make ends meet,” said Crist, Florida’s former governor, in a statement. “Congress can and should extend them before the end of session.” Crist has honed in on five tax breaks that help seniors, students, and middle class homeowners. … “The Majority in Congress wants to delay consideration of these tax breaks until next year, when they hope to overhaul the tax code,” said Crist in a written statement. “The better way forward would be to do what’s right for our seniors, students and middle class homeowners and extend these tax breaks now!”

PERSONNEL NOTE: CRIST NAMES SENIOR PATRICK MURPHY AIDE NEW LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR via Florida Politics – Crist announced … the appointment of veteran policy adviser Christopher Fisher to Legislative Director in his Capitol Hill office. “I am excited to have Chris join the team,” the former governor said in a statement. “With his years of experience serving Florida in Washington, working on the issues the people care about, Chris will hit the ground running.” A graduate of the University of Miami, Fisher has a deep legislative background working on behalf of Floridians, previously serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy for Congressman Patrick Murphy, legislative assistant for Congressman Ted Deutch, and Health Policy Fellow for Congressman Robert Wexler.

RIO2016, ELECTION2016, POKEMONGO TOP GLOBAL TWITTER TRENDS via The Associated Press –The Rio Olympics, the American presidential election and Pokemon Go were the top global trends on Twitter in 2016. The social media site says Rio2016 was the most tweeted-about topic around the world, followed by Election2016 and PokemonGo. Euro2016, Oscars, Brexit, Trump and BlackLivesMatter also made the top 10. A Spanish gamer known as elrubius originated the year’s most popular tweet: It reads “Limonada” (lemonade) and was re-tweeted more than 1.3 million times. One Direction’s Harry Styles had the second most-repeated post — quoting a Taylor Swift song — with more than 700,000 retweets. A postelection tweet from Hillary Clinton encouraging little girls to recognize their power and seize opportunities was the third most popular of the year with 634,560 retweets.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend, Mark Ferrulo of Progress Florida, as well as the great Anna Alexopolous, Jane Castor, and Jon Yapo.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.6.16

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

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

DRIVING THE DAY – PRESIDENT OBAMA TO VISIT ACTIVE MILITARY IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press – Obama is coming to Florida in the final weeks of his presidency … the president will meet with active duty service members at MacDill Air Force Base, the home of the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command. While in Tampa, President Obama is also expected to deliver remarks on the counterterrorism campaign and meet with uniformed leadership from both commands.

HAPPENING TODAY — ADAM PUTNAM PRESENTS CABINET WITH FLORIDA GROWN CHRISTMAS TREE — Agriculture Commissioner Putnam is scheduled to present Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater with Florida grown Christmas trees at 8:30 a.m. outside of the Executive Office of the Governor on the Plaza Level of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. The 2016 trees are provided by Ergle Christmas Tree Farm in Dade City. Floridians harvest Christmas trees each year from more than 100 Christmas tree farms across the state.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT A GREAT PERSON – SYDNEY RIDLEY JOINS SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP via Florida PoliticsRidley, former right-hand woman to lawmaker Dana Young, is joining the firm‘s Tampa office. The top-tier lobbying concern announced the move Monday. “Sydney represents the future of the lobbying business,” said Seth McKeel, managing partner of SSG’s Tampa Bay office and a former House member. “She’s sharp, respected, energetic, and she’s very excited about delivering for our clients – a perfect fit for our team.” The two had been talking about Ridley, 28, joining the firm “for a little while and the timing prior to session seemed right so we pulled the trigger and couldn’t be more excited,” McKeel said. Ridley will be part of the team traveling back and forth between Tampa Bay and Tallahassee working on behalf of clients as the 2017 Legislative Session cranks up, he added.

FLORIDA LAWMAKERS ARE GETTING SCHOOLED

On the ways of the Florida House, that is.

State representatives are scheduled to meet in Tallahassee this week for “Legislator University.” The two-day initiative is the brainchild of Speaker Richard Corcoran, and is meant to train new lawmakers on the finer points of policy making.

So what exactly does Corcoran have in store for lawmakers?

Think of Legislator University as one-part TED talk and two parts orientation. There are seminars aimed at giving members insight into how to balance their work and family lives and one providing insight into what senior members wish they had known when they were first starting out. Members will have the chance to attend breakout sessions focused on gaming, Medicaid, and workers’ compensation.

In a memo releasing the schedule, Corcoran said he wanted to give members “the maximum freedom to explore the topics” that interest them the most.

“We hope that you will fully embrace these learning opportunities,” he said in the memo last week.

And just like any university, there are a few mandatory classes. Members are required to attend sessions about civility and professional conduct, sexual harassment, and ethics in the Legislature.

But the mandatory sessions are meant to be both informative and interesting. The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that Shelby Scarbrough, a motivational speaker, is scheduled to talk about civility in politics and applying the same principles to legislating.

The mandatory session on civility — called “Civility and Professional Conduct in the Legislative Process” — kicks off the two-day Legislator University at 9 a.m. in Reed Hall, 102 HOB.

The full schedule can be found here. All of the seminars, except for the ones during the working lunches each day, are expected to be live streamed and archived on The Florida Channel.

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RICHARD CORCORAN SHOWS HIS CARDS: HE’S ON A MISSION TO OVERTURN SUPREME COURT RULINGS, CHANGE COURT via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald —Corcoran had an idea in 2012 when three of the Florida’s Supreme Court’s liberal justices were up for a merit retention vote: raise money to defeat them. The Land O’Lakes Republican was determined that several decisions — from redistricting to school vouchers, to the death penalty and other issues — needed to be reformed. He approached business groups seeking their support. “My pitch was this: that the enemies of business regulations, a good business environment, a small business environment, a good social environment…the enemy is not the House of Representatives, not the state Senate. not the governor. The enemy is the seven individuals who meet in private in black robes,” Corcoran told the Associated Industries of Florida conference in Tallahassee Monday. … He didn’t like the response he got from the business groups. … Now, Corcoran said, he wants to return to those unnamed business groups in the wake of the court’s worker’s compensation ruling and ask: “How do you like Fred Lewis now?” Corcoran wouldn’t name the groups but the implication is that the members of AIF, a business-backed lobbyist group, was complicit in retaining the court’s majority which this year invalidated the limits on legal fees from the 2003 workers compensation reform. … Corcoran now is in a position to influence the future of the state’s highest court by making 9 appointments to the Constitutional Revision Commission, the unique panel that convenes every 20 years to update the state Constitution. He told reporters Monday he has a litmus test: his appointees must support term limits for Florida Supreme Court justices.

IT’S “WHISKEY AND WHEATIES” ALL OVER AGAIN via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – For the fourth year in a row, lawmakers will try to tear down the wall that separates tequila from tangelos. Senate President pro tem Anitere Flores … filed a bill (SB 106) to repeal the Prohibition-era state law requiring businesses, such as grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in Florida. “As legislators, we shouldn’t burden businesses with archaic regulations when they must be more innovative and forward thinking than ever to compete with the digital marketplace,” the Miami Republican said in a statement. A companion bill will be filed in the House by state Rep. Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican. The “whiskey and Wheaties” bill has long been a heavy lift. It’s failed even when watered down to simply allow a door in the wall between a main store and an attached liquor store. The repeal again is supported by Floridians for Fair Business Practices, a coalition that includes Target, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods Market. The measure will add to customer convenience and bolster competition, they say.

FOOD FIGHT TWITTER HANDLE ALERT@FLFairBusiness

JEFF BRANDES FILES COMPUTER CODING AS FOREIGN LANGUAGE BILL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Sen. Brandes filed legislation Monday to allow Florida high schools to offer computer coding classes that “along with the earning of a related industry certification satisfies two credits of sequential foreign language instruction.” Senate Bill 104 also requires the state college and university system to recognize the credits as foreign language credits. “Software development and coding is one of the largest skill gaps we have in Florida, said Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican. “We believe there is now, and will continue to be, an incredible demand for coders. My goal is to ensure that Florida students have the skills employers value.” … The 2017 measure … requires students and parents to sign a statement acknowledging and accepting that “a computer coding course taken as a foreign language may not meet out-of-state college and university foreign language requirements.” It also allows the Florida Virtual School to offer computer coding courses, and says districts that don’t offer courses “may provide students with access to the courses through the Florida virtual school or through other means.”

BRANDES TO FILE FLOOD MITIGATION BILL via Florida Politics – Brandes says he will file legislation for the 2017 Legislative Session to fund flood mitigation in affected communities. The idea is to lower the cost of flood insurance by decreasing flood severity in areas covered by the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System. The legislation will create a matching grant program, in part through the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund, for “local projects (that) reduce flood risks and acquire conservation land for the purpose of mitigating flood risk,” Brandes’ office said in a statement. The matching grants, to be administered by the Division of Emergency Management, would not exceed $50 million a year for “technical and financial assistance to local governments implementing flood risk reduction policies and projects.” His bill also would authorize the Florida Communities Trust to “undertake, coordinate, or fund flood mitigation projects and to acquire and dispose of real and personal property or specified interest when necessary or appropriate to reduce flood hazards.”

RANDY FINE CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE BUT DROPS PRIVATE COVERAGE FOR STATE PLAN via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Fine … described the health care market as a “disaster” and attributed the situation in part to government involvement. But Fine, a Republican elected in 2016 to represent southern Brevard County, dropped the family health plan that he, his wife and two children were insured under and tapped into Florida’s state group health insurance plan, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. “Until I got this great state health insurance, I typically have paid for my own health insurance,” Fine told the crowd at Associated Industries of Florida annual conference in Tallahassee. … A millionaire who founded a casino management company, Fine pays $180 a month to cover himself, his wife and his two sons, That’s $2,160 per year. Florida taxpayers are picking up the remainder of the tab which, according to a cost report for 2014-15, is $15,168 annually. Fine told POLITICO Florida that he dropped his individual health insurance policy and tapped into the sate group health plans to “broaden his perspective on things.” “I wanted to understand what government health insurance is like,” he told POLITICO Florida, when asked why he dropped his plan to enroll in one that was subsidized by taxpayers.

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AIF EMPHASIZES JOB-KILLING ASPECT OF WORKERS’ COMP INCREASES via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Business leaders emphasized the risk rising workers’ compensation costs pose to Florida’s economic competitiveness during an Associated Industries of Florida-sponsored discussion … “There are other governors competing against our governor for the next plant, the next manufacturing facility, the next high-tech jobs,” said Tom Feeney, president and chief executive officer of the business lobby. “They are suddenly able to use our workers’ compensation situation against Florida, the same way our governor uses high taxes and high regulations that other states have to attract businesses,” Feeney said. “It’s putting us at a competitive disadvantage.” Bill Herrle, Florida director for the National Federation of Independent Business, agreed and emphasized that the repercussions will travel throughout the economy. “We know that this is going to be debilitating to small business,” Herrle said. “But we need to carry the message out there that this is affecting every layer of employment, including our very important public sector.” The event coincided with a trial judge’s final order refusing to stay her ruling that a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums were illegal, because they were reached in violation of Florida’s open-government laws. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers had issued an oral preliminary ruling Friday refusing to stay that decision. On Monday, she put it in writing. The legal issue remained alive, however, because the 1st District Court of Appeal had blocked Gievers’ order before she even issued it. Proceedings will determine the increase’s legality before that appeal court.

— “Corcoran promises House will pass work comp bill” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REFORM, REPEALING TAX ON COMMERCIAL LEASES AMONG 2017 FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION PRIORITIES — The Florida Retail Federation released its 2017 legislative agenda Monday in preparation for the upcoming legislative session. According to the trade association, the agenda highlights issues that are important to the state’s retailers and business community. “Our legislative agenda, which is determined by our members each year, ensures that FRF is laser-focused on those issues important to retailers statewide, and which play a big factor in the success of our members,” said Randy Miller, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Our governmental affairs team is one of the most talented and influential in this state, and we look forward to working with Governor Scott, his administration and our Senate and House leaders in identifying legislation that will enhance Florida’s businesses.” According to the the 2017 agenda, the association said it supports workers’ compensation reforms that will “decrease rates for Florida’s retailers;” continued efforts to provide retailers renewable energy options; and the repeal of the sales tax on commercial real estate leases. Florida is the only state that assesses a sales tax on commercial leases, and the FRF said it “supports efforts to repeal the tax, reduce the tax rate, modify the taxable base, or any combination thereof, in order to lessen this tax burden.” Among other things, the association said it will oppose efforts to increase the minimum wage, legislation that would require retailers to sell certain products, and online lottery ticket sales.

RICK SCOTT TO MAKE PORT FUNDING TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida –”What is the biggest geographical advantage we have? It’s our 15 seaports,” said Scott at the Associated Industries of Florida’s annual meeting. Scott has pushed for increased ports funding since taking office in 2010. The industry scored a big win during last session when Scott signed a bill into law that increased from $15 to $25 million the amount that must be allocated each year to the Florida Seaport Transportation Economic Development program. The FSTED council selects priority seaport projects to help fund. It is a 50-50 match program that also requires local contributions.

SCOTT AND CORCORAN POISED FOR BATTLE OVER STATE’S WELCOME MAT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Corcoran (has) set his sights on Visit Florida as another agency poised for trimming. Scott on Monday … told reporters he was still optimistic that Visit Florida money would be maintained. “I’m comfortable the Legislature is going to continue to be supportive of Visit Florida,” Scott said. “Let’s look at the numbers. We have increased funding for Visit Florida since I’ve been elected. And look what’s happened: tourism has skyrocketed.”

SCOTT DECLINES TO COMMENT ON PROPOSAL TO REPEAL IMMIGRATION BILL HE SIGNED IN 2014 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Last week, Sarasota state Senator Greg Steube filed a bill (SB 82) that would repeal legislation approved by the GOP-led Legislature in 2014 that offers lower in-state tuition rates in Florida state colleges and universities for undocumented immigrants. Passage of that bill was uncertain until the end of that year’s session, but was strongly supported by then-House Speaker Will Weatherford and Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala. “I haven’t seen it,” Scott [told reporters] … “I think there are about 2,000 bill that are being proposed during the session, so as I go through the process if they get to my desk, I’ll review,” he added. “I need to look at the bill.” The legislation is a political power keg, as are most items concerning immigration. Scott campaigned as a tough on immigration candidate in 2010 when first running for governor, getting behind what was then known as an “Arizona style” immigration proposal that asked suspects stopped by the authorities for proof of their citizenship, similar in nature to the conversion SB 1070 immigration law passed earlier that year in Arizona. “We need to come up with an immigration policy that works for the country,’’ Scott told the Miami Herald back in late 2010. “If you’re stopped in our state — no different from if you’re asked for your ID — you should be able to be asked if you’re legal or not.”

AFTER THE PHOTO-OP: HOW AN ENTERPRISE FLORIDA DEAL WENT SOUR via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – In the code-name world of Enterprise Florida, it was known as “Project Assassin.” Altair Training Solutions Inc. was going to do big things for Hendry County, one of the most economically distressed counties in Florida, and its neighbor to the west, Collier. But in a case that likely will only intensify Corcoran‘s criticism of Scott‘s economic incentive programs, Altair’s Florida expansion ended up in a quagmire of liens and lawsuits.

FLORIDA’S PENSION PLAN PERFORMING WELL OVER LONG TERM via The Associated Press — A new state report finds that Florida’s massive retirement account for public employees did not meet its goals over the past year, but that it’s still doing well over the long term. Researchers who work for the Florida Legislature released a report this past week that looked at the performance of the Florida Retirement System pension plan. The pension plan, which is worth about $141 billion, has nearly 1 million active and retired enrolled members. The report found that the State Board of Administration did not meet its investment goals for the pension plan during the fiscal year that ended this past June. The board attributed this to devaluations in Chinese currency as well as turmoil in Europe. However, the state board did meet or exceed investment goals over the last three, five, 20 and 25 years.

FLORIDA MAY BE PONDERING ‘NOVEL’ LETHAL INJECTION CHANGE via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — In a move that would be certain to spur more litigation over the state’s already embattled death penalty, Florida corrections officials appear to be planning what could be a dramatic change to the triple-drug lethal injection process — including the use of a drug never before used for executions. The Department of Corrections has spent more than $12,000 this year stockpiling three drugs likely to be used to kill condemned prisoners, according to records obtained by The News Service of Florida.

DONALD TRUMP MAY DETERMINE FATE OF MEDICAL POT IN FLORIDA via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — More than 71 percent of voters approved an amendment expanding medical marijuana in Florida last month, but the fate of patients who rely on the drug and the burgeoning marijuana industry could largely depend on President-elect Donald Trump. … Florida and 27 other states now have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. But federal law still bans the growth, cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana for any purpose. Yet the marijuana industry has been allowed to grow in recent years because of a memo issued by the Obama administration in October 2009 to federal prosecutors telling them to direct limited federal resources into investigations of large-scale drug dealers that aren’t in compliance with state laws or are involved with foreign drug cartels. The memo said sick patients following state laws shouldn’t be targeted. … Trump’s recent announcement of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general could spell trouble for the industry. Sessions is a former federal prosecutor and harsh anti-drug warrior. During a hearing in April he called marijuana “dangerous” and said “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

***PRIDE Enterprises is a not-for-profit corporation that was statutorily designated in 1981 by the Florida Legislature to operate vocational work training programs inside state prisons and to provide job placement assistance for inmate program participants throughout the state of Florida. PRIDE operates 41 inmate training centers in 21 state correctional facilities. PRIDE fully funds its work programs and job placement/re-entry services from the sale of its products and services – all at no cost to Florida taxpayers. Visit www.pride-enterprises.org to learn more about PRIDE Enterprises.***

FLORIDA EARLY VOTE, A RETROSPECTIVE via Steve Schale — When early voting started, I thought Presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day – namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming that 3% of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton. I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68% of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4%, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes. This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8% to upper end of 8%, just to break even. Both of these numbers are above Romney’s Election Day win in 2012 (I can’t remember McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

… So here are the toplines: 9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race. 9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump’s margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2% out of the two-party voters. 69.3% of the vote was cast before Election Day. Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes — roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote) On election day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton. … Clinton’s nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we’d see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day. However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. … Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes. How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes — out of 7.6 million cast. Trump’s Election Day margin almost matched it.

ALLEN WEST VISITS TRUMP TOWER, TALKS WITH MIKE PENCE via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – According to a pool report, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. West told reporters he met with Pence and with Trump’s incoming national security adviser and deputy national security adviser — Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn and K.T. McFarlandWest, Flynn and McFarland emerged from an elevator about 1:50 p.m. … “We talked about some national security issues, and you know how maybe I can continue to serve my country,” said West, who lost a 2012 re-election bid and is now executive director of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank based in Texas. Asked if any particular job in the Trump administration was offered or discussed, West said: “Nothing was offered. I mean they know my reputation very well. I’m just a simple soldier and I’m the third of four generations that served this country going back to my father in World War II, and we still have a relative of ours that is continuing to serve in the Army now.” West declined to offer an opinion on potential candidates for secretary of State. “He can choose whoever he wants for secretary of State. I’m just considering how I can best serve this country and through this administration,” West said.

THE PLUM BOOK IS HERE FOR THOSE ANGLING FOR JOBS IN TRUMP’S WASHINGTON via Lisa Rein of The Washington Post – The biggest Help Wanted ad in eight years materialized in Washington … A plum-colored paperback listing 9,000 political jobs for those who want to work in Trump’s administration. The 226-page Plum Book — so called for the desirable jobs that change hands at the end of a presidential term — lists every patronage position in the executive and legislative branches that could be filled by Trump supporters. They’re the policymaking and support positions that will form the spine of the real estate developer’s new government, and they’ll be vacated by the Obama administration by Jan. 20. Could be filled, because the president-elect made a campaign promise to shrink the federal bureaucracy — and transition officials say he plans to make good on that pledge. Many of these positions could be abolished after Trump takes office in January. The current tally is 2,000 jobs more than when the George W. Bush administration ended in 2008, a sign that government — at least the political positions that reward supporters — has grown over eight years. Trump officials said it’s safe to say that the entire bureaucracy, including political appointees, will be significantly scaled back. One transition official … described recent conversations on the team as it considers how to shape the federal government in the Trump era. “Oh, they had five people doing that? We’re only going to hire two,” the staff has discussed … “In addition to imposing a hiring freeze on all federal employees, which will reduce the federal workforce through attrition, the number of political appointees will drop significantly,” said Cliff Sims, a Trump spokesman. “‘Drain the swamp’ was not just a campaign slogan. President-elect Trump is building a streamlined, innovative government focused on serving the people, not the special interests.”

JUDGE DISMISSES LAWSUIT CHALLENGING BOBBY POWELL’S ELECTION via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post — A Leon County judge Monday dismissed a lawsuit over the election of Riviera Beach Democratic state Sen. Bobby Powell, apparently avoiding the possibility of a costly do-over contest. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said he lacked the legal jurisdiction to hear the claim by Ruben Anderson, a Democrat, and Ron Berman, the Republican who lost to Powell in last month’s election. Robert Hauser, a West Palm Beach attorney representing Anderson, said it would be several days before a decision is reached on whether to appeal Lewis’ ruling. … But in his ruling, Lewis sided with Powell’s attorney, Mark Herron, who argued in a recent hearing that since the lawmaker had already taken office, it was up to the Senate to decide, not a court. Senate rules, though, also require any such election “contests” to be filed before the Legislature’s organizational session, a date which has already passed.

SUSIE WILES ENDORSES BLAISE INGOGLIA’S RE-ELECTION FOR RPOF CHAIR via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – “As Florida’s Chief Strategist for President-Elect Trump’s presidential campaign, I can say that the organization built under Chairman Ingoglia‘s leadership was a crucial element to our success as we worked together with the Republican National Committee to deliver Florida,” said Wiles. “To continue that success in the future, we need a steady hand and consistent leadership who will continue to focus on the grassroots. “I can’t think of anyone to better serve in that role than Blaise Ingoglia,” Wiles continued. “I am proud to support him in his bid for re-election and am excited to see the new levels of success our party will find with him at the helm again.” The endorsement comes on the heels of a highly successful campaign season for Republicans, especially for part-time Florida resident Donald Trump. A veteran campaign strategist, Wiles was largely credited with Trump’s success in the Sunshine State, which carried a crucial 29 electoral votes for the president-elect.

WHAT SHANNON SHEPP IS READING – AFTER A SOUR DECADE, FLORIDA CITRUS MAY BE NEAR A COMEBACK via Greg Allen of NPR – After 11 years of fighting a debilitating disease, Florida’s citrus industry is in a sad state. The disease, called citrus greening, is caused by a bacterium that constricts a tree’s vascular system, shriveling fruit and eventually killing the tree. The bacterium is spread by a tiny insect called a psyllid. Florida’s signature orange crop is now less than a third of what it was 20 years ago because of this disease. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture says this year’s orange crop is expected to be the smallest in more than 50 years. But, at Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, researchers are now optimistic they’ll win the battle to save Florida oranges, thanks in part to recent advances in developing tougher varieties of citrus. For nearly a century, orange and grapefruit growers have planted varieties developed at the Center at Lake Alfred in central Florida. It’s a 600-acre campus that’s part of the University of Florida, where hundreds of staffers are focused on finding a cure for citrus greening. Fred Gmitter, a horticulture scientist, has worked for 30 years developing new varieties for citrus farmers … “But look up ahead there on the right,” Gmitter says. He points to one tree that stands out. Unlike the others, it’s full of fruit and looks healthy. He says, “Our growers wanted to call this variety ‘Bingo.’ ” It’s a small mandarin orange variety, seedless and easy-to-peel, that was developed over years using painstaking conventional breeding Florida growers think the new variety will help them compete for market share with clementines from California and Spain. Gmitter picks an orange from the tree. “I wish the people … could smell this as I’m peeling it,” he says. It’s also delicious — sweet, tart, tender and from a tree that after nine years, is still healthy despite a citrus greening infection.

WHAT CHRIS SPENCER IS READING – FLORIDA POLY INTRODUCES NEW AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES COURSE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MIT More info here –  A brand-new course called “Autonomous Systems and Self-Driving Vehicles” starts in the spring 2017 semester. Dr. Dean Bushey, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel with more than 10 years of experience developing and advancing autonomous systems, will teach the course. Dr. Bushey will partner with professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston where the same course will be taught during the spring semester. MIT professors will provide video conferencing lectures to Florida Poly students … The course breaks students into groups of five to upgrade a small race car. They’ll start with learning basic motion control, then advance to object detection. These building blocks will take students through the final phases as the cars learn to map a course and finally race against each other at the end of the semester. By the end of the semester, the cars will be capable of independently following a yellow line, stopping at a red light and stopping for sudden obstacles. Excitement for the course is building, with 15 students already signed up. The autonomous vehicle course is being launched as Florida Poly prepares for the arrival of SunTrax, a new testing facility being built near the University. SunTrax is a joint venture between Florida Poly and the Florida Department of Transportation designed to test tolling and autonomous vehicle technology.

CORRECTION: in Monday’s Sunburn, we said that Jeb Bush had unsuccessfully campaigned for governor in 1990. In fact, the year was 1994. We apologize for the error.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Vickie Brill.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.5.16

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

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

FIRST IN SUNBURN – JEB BUSH ALIGNS WITH BUCHANAN INGERSOLL & ROONEY AS STRATEGIC CONSULTANT

Jeb Bush is bringing his star power to the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in what is being described as a strategic affiliation through his firm Jeb Bush & Associates.

The two-term Florida governor and former presidential candidate will offer his decades of expertise as a consultant, executive and thought leader, according to a statement by the firm first shared with Florida Politics.

“There are very few people that have the breadth of experience that Governor Bush has both in the public and private sector,” said Buchanan CEO Joseph Dougherty. “We believe his insight will be a tremendous asset to our attorneys and clients.”

“We live in a complex business and political environment,” Bush said. “I believe that putting my knowledge and experience together with Buchanan’s professional acumen will help Buchanan’s clients grow and prosper.”

In his new role, Bush – who will not be lobbying — will focus primarily on guidance for issues concerning Florida, the state he led as governor from 1999 to 2007.

“Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with the Governor in the past now have the opportunity to do so again,” said longtime Bush friend and adviser Mac Stipanovich, who chairs Buchanan’s Florida Government Relations practice. “Those who haven’t can look forward to a truly rewarding experience.

“This is an exciting development for the firm and for our clients,” he added.

In a way, the new partnership is somewhat of a homecoming for Bush.

Bush was a key surrogate when Stipanovich served as Florida’s executive director for the Reagan-Bush 1984 campaign. He was also Secretary of Commerce when Stipanovich was working as Chief of Staff. In a friendship that spans more than 30 years, Stipanovich served as a senior advisor during Bush’s unsuccessful 1994 gubernatorial bid.

Buchanan principal Mike Harrell was Bush’s regular golf partner while he was governor and was behind the initiative to bring the two firms together. Kim McGlynn is another Bush alum; she was on staff in the campaign headquarters for both 1990 and 1994. Jim Magill also was on staff for two sessions in Bush’s second term, after having done advance work on all three campaigns.

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TODAY IS #LOVEMYNEWSPAPER DAY – And while we haven’t killed as many trees as traditional newspapers, we do rely on, read, and subscribe to some fantastic journalism supplied by newspapers. So, I’ll be joining in on #LoveMyNewspaper Day this morning by posting a Tweet and Facebook about why I #LoveMyNewspaper. You should, too. It’s a thing.

MORE BACKGROUND ON HOW KEVIN CATE LAUNCHED #LOVEMYNEWSPAPER DAY here.

NEW LAWMAKERS: THE PRESS IS NOT YOUR FRIEND OR FOE via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — A lot has changed since I covered my first session, in 1970. That tall white tower with the twin domes, for instance, wasn’t there then. But unlike most grumpy old guys, I think this generation does it better than we did. I have seen an awful lot of legislators come and go. While their success hasn’t depended on press relations, their dealings with the folks in the glass boxes above the House and Senate chambers are important.

DAYS UNTIL: Premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 10; Inauguration Day – 45; Pitchers & catchers start reporting for Spring Training – 71; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 102: Election Day 2017 – 337: Election Day 2018 – 700.

EVERYONE LOVES RICHARD!

Richard Corcoran: In the House, ‘We are very, very conservative’” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

Richard Corcoran right to look at tourism marketing cash” via the Pensacola News-Journal

Tallahassee knocks lobbyists down a peg” via Michael Joe Murphy of the Orlando Sentinel

LOBBYISTS GET WITH THE PROGRAM — According to the Florida House, 255 individual lobbyists submitted at least one form representing 67 lobbying firms in the first full week of the new House Rules being in effect. Lobbyists have disclosed issues and bills for 788 different principals. The most common issue category as of Saturday morning was the budget at 613 times, followed by health at 434 times and insurance at 256 times. The House reported the 255 registered lobbyists have filed 1,528 separate issue description disclosures and 23 bill disclosures. The House reported 4,123 individual issue or bill records had been filed as of Saturday. Under new House rules, lobbyists are required to file an electronic notice of appearance that identifies the issues and principals represented.

LOOKS LIKE SCOTT MAXWELL’S CRIBBIN’ FROM THE CAPITOLIST – Shot: “Three Volunteer As Tribute For Richard Corcoran’s Hunger Games” via The Capitolist on June 14, 2016. Chaser: “New Speaker vows to make Legislature’s ‘Hunger Games’ ethical, virtuous” on Dec, 2, 2016.

JEFF CLEMENS PROPOSES AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION BILL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Clemens filed legislation … (SB 72) that would automatically register Floridians to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s license. “The reason is pretty simple – nobody should have to jump through an extra hoop to exercise their constitutional rights,” says Clemens, who edged out Irv Slosberg in a fiercely combative primary in the Democratic-leaning Senate District 31 in August. Clemens says this is either the third or fourth time he’s proposed such a bill, and he says that his fellow Republicans should embrace it. “There’s been an initial skepticism, as if there’s some sort of Democratic plot,” he says. “As we’ve seen in other states, whatever ratio that the people are registering in that state, that’s the same ratio as we increase registration. We have to alleviate the fears that this is some sort of partisan plot.” If passed, Florida would join Oregon and California in passing such legislation.

DANA YOUNG’S ANTI-FRACKING BILL HOLDS PROMISE via Joe Henderson of the Tampa Bay Times –The campaign to represent District 18 in the Florida Senate was nasty, with charges and counter-charges flying to the point where voters might have been tempted to hide under the covers. One of the more virulent exchanges came on the issue of hydraulic fracking … That was the issue opponents tried to stick on Republican Young, and it caused her a lot of problems in the campaign. She was called out in attack ads for her votes as a member of the Florida House that supported fracking, even though she continually said she was against it. It did seem to be quite a contradiction and Young struggled at times to explain it, but she won the race anyway. She now has the chance to prove she was serious with what she said about fracking, and took a first step by promising to introduce a bill when the Legislature opens in 2017 to outlaw that practice throughout the state. This is a big deal. As if we needed another reason to be skittish about the potential for major damage to our water supply, look at recent events in Polk County and the giant Mosaic fertilizer company. A humongous sinkhole opened under a gypsum stack on company property and dumped more than 215 million gallons of tainted water into the aquifer.

UCF STUDENT, 21, WILL JUGGLE LAWMAKING WITH CLASSES via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel – Amber Mariano knows how to juggle. The full-time UCF student ran a campaign on weekends to narrowly defeat an incumbent in her home county north of Tampa last month, becoming the youngest person elected to the Florida House of Representatives. “It was tough … It was a lot of driving,” 21-year-old Mariano said. “I’m really good at handling stress in my life. I just kind of focus on what I have to do that day.” The second juggling act begins next year when committees meetings start up in January and the legislative session convenes in March. Mariano, a senior studying political science at the University of Central Florida, says she will keep pursing her bachelor’s degree by taking online classes while working in Tallahassee. “I’m lucky,” Mariano said. “I only have four classes left.” Politics is in the family as her father, Jack Mariano, has served on the Pasco County Commission for 12 years. Even though her opponent Amanda Murphy — a Democrat who raised $198,000 for the campaign compared with Mariano’s $47,000 — Mariano’s father said he believed in her chances. “I’d tell her … ‘We’re running to win. We’re expecting to win,'” her father said.

PATRICK HENRY’S SON INJURED AFTER SHOOTING, BEATING IN DAYTONA BEACH via Christal Hayes of the Orlando Sentinel –Witnesses saw Henry’s son, whose name is also Patrick Henry, being chased down by a gold Nissan Altima about 10:14 a.m. They stopped near Henry’s home on Thunderbird Drive in Daytona Beach and heard gunshots, police said. A man got out of the car and started to punch and pistol whip Henry in the face, officers said. The man then threw him against a tree in the yard and continued shoving and hitting him, an incident report states. The attacker called for a woman in the car to grab him “big guns,” according to the report. The woman got a second gun and gave it to suspect. He fired about five times at Henry and drove off, authorities said. It’s unclear whether Henry was shot but he had a cut on the side of his face. Police said he went to the hospital on his own.

— “Jayer Williamson learns the ropes in Tallahassee” via Anne Delaney of the Pensacola News-Journal

— “New lawmaker driven by Pulse tragedy” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight his proposal for a 5 percent pay raise for all state law enforcement officers at a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the Florida Highway Patrol station, 11305 N. McKinley Drive in Tampa.

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT REJECTS SHIFT IN INSURANCE CLAIMS LAW via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The Florida Supreme Court has overturned a lower-court ruling that would have made it harder for policyholders to collect on insurance policies when there is more than one cause for their losses. At issue in Sebo v. American Home Assurance Co. was competing doctrines for resolving claims under all-risk policies in those circumstances. Under the so-called “efficient proximate cause” theory, if the first cause of any damage — say, construction defects — isn’t explicitly covered, nothing else is. Under the “concurrent law doctrine,” however, a homeowner can collect if any of the damage is covered. “We conclude that when independent perils converge and no single cause can be considered the sole or proximate cause, it is appropriate to apply the concurring cause doctrine,” Justice James E.C. Perry Thursday wrote for a 5-2 majority. That’s been the law in Florida for 30 years, said Richard Hugh Lumpkin of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin in Miami, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of United Policyholders, a consumer group. Still, the 2nd District Court of Appeal applied the stricter policy in ruling on the case. Other states, including California, use that standard.

PRISON OFFICIAL KEEPS HIGH-PAID JOB EVEN AS STATE SETTLES LAWSUIT AGAINST HIM via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The state takes no blame for what former Florida Department of Corrections inspector general Jeffery Beasley has done, but it is paying $800,00 to end a retaliation lawsuit brought by his former employees and is keeping him in a newly created job that pays $116,500 annually. As “director of intelligence” at the state’s prison agency, Beasley admits that his position was created after the whistleblowers filed their lawsuits and he left the inspector general’s post last fall, according to his deposition in another pending retaliation lawsuit … He is in charge of the department’s K-9 unit and the security threat group, among other things. He draws “special risk” designation as a law enforcement officer, allowing him to collect a higher pension when he retires. His replacement as inspector general, Lester Fernandez, makes $115,000. Meanwhile, the three former inspectors, Doug GlissonJohn Ulm and Aubrey Land who left FDC this week after it agreed to pay them each $133,000 to resolve their claims against Beasley, are forming their own consulting business, “Capitol Connections Consultants.” They will offer to serve as expert witnesses in future lawsuits against the state and advise other law enforcement officers when their employer has violated the Officers’ Bill of Rights. “We will be a thorn in their side,” said Glisson … “We’re not here to protect dirty officers, but if you have someone like us who was getting nailed, we can help. It’s not going to be a full-time job.”

PAYROLL DATA SHOW GULF IN PAY BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN AT UF via The Associated Press – New payroll data show that only eight women are among the top 100 highest-paid faculty members at the University of Florida … the top woman earner at Florida earned $524,450 and the top male $984,759. Of the top 20 highest paid faculty, one is a woman. Dr. Shahla Masood, a professor at the College of Medicine, is the fourth-highest paid female faculty member. She told the paper that several factors contribute, including that some female faculty members are fearful of speaking up and being ignored, criticized or retaliated against. Florida State University in Tallahassee did better, boasting 26 women in the top 100 earners there.

FLORIDA-GEORGIA WATER FIGHT NOW IN HANDS OF SPECIAL MASTER via The Associated Press – A monthlong trial aimed at settling a high-stakes water dispute between Georgia and Florida ended … with a special master imploring both sides to negotiate a settlement. Special master Ralph Lancaster reminded both parties that there’s much to be lost by booming metropolitan Atlanta or by residents of tiny Apalachicola, Florida. “Please settle this blasted thing,” Lancaster said. “I can guarantee you that at least one of you is going to be unhappy with my recommendation – and perhaps both of you.” Florida blames the booming Atlanta metropolitan area and agriculture in Georgia for causing low river flows that have imperiled fisheries in Apalachicola Bay … Lancaster was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to make a recommendation to resolve the matter. The Supreme Court will have the final say in the coming year. The dispute focuses on a watershed in western Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers flow through Georgia and meet at the Florida border to form the Apalachicola River, which flows into the Apalachicola Bay. Florida contends Georgia us siphoning away more than its fair share, causing the fresh water flow to dry up, killing endangered mussels, harming tupelo and cypress trees and increasing the salinity of the Apalachicola Bay, causing a die-off of oysters. Georgia contends that it consumes only a small portion of the water and that there’s no clear and convincing evidence to support restrictions that would imperil its economy and drinking water with the goal of helping a much smaller number of residents in Florida.

IS THIS THE FINAL BURN FOR FLORIDA’S ‘CIGAR CITY’? via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post – The last standing cigar factory here, in what was once dubbed “Cigar City,” has survived two world wars, the Great Depression, smoking bans and a Cuban trade embargo that wiped out much of its tobacco supply. The death of Fidel Castro — the most iconic of cigar smokers — marks yet another milestone for the region. Many here wonder whether the once-booming cigar industry may be on its way out as well. Among those most worried: Eric Newman, whose family has been making 31 brands of cigars, including Cuesta-Rey, Diamond Crown and La Unica, for three generations. For 121 years, the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has churned out millions of cigars and shipped them worldwide — even as, one by one, 149 surrounding factories shuttered their doors, many moving their operations overseas. But now Newman, who owns the company with his brother, Bobby, says cigar manufacturers and retailers in this stretch of town known as Ybor City face hurdles that could deal a final blow to an industry that has, until now, gone largely unregulated. The Food and Drug Administration this year introduced new guidelines that will require cigar manufacturers to get approval for new products, pay increased fees and add prominent warning labels. The FDA says the measures, which will be phased in over three years, are a matter of public safety and are meant to curb underage tobacco use.

Before August, no federal law prohibited the sale of cigars, ­e-cigarettes or hookah tobacco to children under 18. “For years, the unregulated marketplace was like the Wild, Wild West,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. The new rules, Zeller says, will help bring order to a corner of the tobacco industry that has long operated without oversight. Newman, though, says the regulations represent millions of dollars in new costs and increased uncertainty for his factory, which last year had sales of $10 million. On top of that, he says, the Obama administration in October loosened its ban on Cuban cigars, allowing Americans to bring back as many cigars as they like for personal use. Newman says the move, part of the thawing of relations between the nations, introduces another layer of competition at a critical time. “What we’re dealing with right now is the worst it’s ever been,” said Newman, whose grandfather started the business at age 20 in a family barn. “On the one hand, the government is saying, ‘smoking is bad’ and making us jump through all these new hoops. On the other, they’re welcoming Cuban cigars — which haven’t been tested, which aren’t taxed — into the country. They’ve got this backwards.”

SLOW PROGRESS DESPITE EFFORTS TO FIX ORANGE LAKE POLLUTION via Fred Hiers of The Associated Press –The popular fishing and recreational lake is impaired. Florida environmental agencies officially designated it so nearly 15 years ago. Its main problem: high concentrations of polluting nutrients that have flowed in from the watershed and from neighboring waterways. The main culprit is phosphorus, much of it coming from residential and agricultural fertilizers. The pollutants also come from Newnans Lake, making their way to the Orange through River Styx, Prairie Creek and Camps Canal; and from Lochloosa Lake by way of Cross Creek, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In 2003 the FDEP set a total maximum daily load for phosphorus entering Orange Lake. In 2007 it created the Orange Creek Basin Management Action Plan (known as a BMAP, for short,) which covers Orange Lake and its neighboring water bodies. The BMAP is a blueprint to manage and improve the basin’s lakes, including a nutrient-reduction effort for Orange Lake. The Orange Creek Basin covers Orange Lake, Newnans Lake, Lake Wauberg, Hogtown Creek, Sweetwater Branch, Tumblin Creek and Alachua Sink. The FDEP continued and updated the plan in 2015, took stock of its progress, and created new restoration projects. The plans call for a total phosphorus level of 0.031 milligrams per liter (mg/l,) in Orange Lake. That’s equivalent to a 45 percent reduction of the nutrient currently present in the lake. The strategies focus on improving stormwater treatment and control programs; identifying the sources of nutrient discharges and then working to reduce them; and educating the public. But despite the FDEP’s efforts for the past several years to make the lake healthier for the fish and wildlife that depend on it, progress has been incremental at best: Phosphorus levels have remained the same some years and even gotten worse in others. “Water quality in Orange Lake has been declining since 1985,” according to the FDEP. “Annual average (total phosphorus) and (total nitrogen) concentrations have increased between the 1993-2000 total daily maximum daily load data period and the post-BMAP period of 2008-2013.” Area environmentalists, residents and scientists say the state’s efforts are not enough. FDEP’s own data show its efforts don’t appear to be panning out.

STATE WORKER CHARITY CAMPAIGN NOSE-DIVES via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat –Florida’s annual state worker charity drive, which came under fire last year for exorbitant overhead, finished its worst campaign last week in its 36-year history. And once again, the New Jersey company that serves as the campaign’s fiscal agent, Solix, Inc., is set to get most of the money. The Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign, which ran Sept. 1 through Nov. 10, raised only $282,092 in pledges, according to the Department of Management Services. Solix, under its contract with the state, would get $180,000, or nearly 64 percent. The rest — only about $102,000 — would go to charities. “This is another casualty of outsourcing and privatization,” said state Rep. Loranne Ausley … “This is a company outside the state of Florida that has pretty much driven the campaign into the ground.” The FSECC was created by the Florida Cabinet in 1980 and put in statutes the following year as the state workforce’s only official charity drive. In its heyday, when it was overseen by the United Way, it raised nearly $5 million a year from state employees.

NEXT STOP FOR IRV SLOSBERG: TALLAHASSEE OFFICE FOR SLOSBERG FOUNDATION via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post – Slosberg … will go to Florida’s Capitol to represent the Dori Slosberg Foundation — a nonprofit he founded after his daughter was killed in a violent car crash in Boca Raton 20 years ago — before the state Legislature. Florida state law bans former legislators from representing another person, organization or business for compensation for two years following their departure from office. But Slosberg says he’s received the thumbs-up from the Florida Commission on Ethics, which can make exceptions to the law on a case-by-case basis. … Slosberg said working with the foundation in Tallahassee will allow him to continue working to improve traffic safety in Florida. “We’re ready to fight, because unfortunately that’s what this takes,” he said. The foundation’s new office will open Jan. 1 on Monroe Street in Tallahassee, giving the foundation “headquarters both in Boca Raton and Tallahassee,” Slosberg noted.

CHALLENGING AIRBNB – THE NEXT UBER? via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – Airbnb … could turn into the next Uber/Lyft-style fracas in the Florida Legislature over how government should regulate emerging online industries. Hillsborough County, as in the Uber battle, may be in the thick of it. County Tax Collector Doug Belden is asking local legislators — including state Sens. Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee — to pass legislation over collecting tourist taxes on rentals by Airbnb and other online, short-term rental services. Belden’s office has been negotiating with Airbnb since March, but he refused conditions sought by the company that he says other counties have agreed to — some of which, he said, would violate state open government laws. The company has sought to keep parts of its agreements with them secret. Belden said that would violate state public records law. He said the company also wants a waiver on collecting back taxes, and wants to avoid providing the names of its renters. That would make it impossible for the tax collector to do audits, as it does on other hospitality businesses, to ensure they’re accurately reporting rental income. Pinellas County, on the other hand, already has signed an agreement with Airbnb and is getting some $63,000 per month in tourist taxes … In that agreement, Airbnb agreed to compromise on the issues that Belden objected to.

SANFORD BURNHAM DOUBLES DOWN AGAINST STATE EFFORTS TO RECOUP INCENTIVE MONEY via William Patrick of FloridaWatchdog.org – Ten years to create 303 jobs. That straight-forward commitment was a core aspect of an agreement that allowed a California-based biotech nonprofit to secure $350 million in state and Orlando-area taxpayer support. It didn’t happen. Penned in 2006, time has now run out on Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute’s deal with the state. It’s 66 jobs short, according to state records. But rather than pay back some of the money, the research institute is doubling down on its refusal to comply with the state’s accountability efforts – even goading state officials “to help preserve and create more jobs.” In a letter to the Department of Economic Opportunity dated Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving, Sanford Burnham’s senior legal counsel said he was “surprised” that the state had sent the organization a notice of default requesting returned incentive funds. “Sanford Burnham is not in material default of any obligation in the agreement,” he said. “Please regard this letter as Sanford Burnham’s rejection of all the allegations, claims, and demands contained in your Oct. 28 (Notice of Default) letter.” It was the second such correspondence in a month.

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JEFF MILLER, RELENTLESS VA CRITIC, COULD BE TAPPED TO RUN AGENCY via Ledyard King of USA TODAY – Now that the Northwest Florida Republican is leaving Congress — and his post as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs — some agency officials might be thinking they will be able to breathe easier. Until they consider their fiercest critic on Capitol Hill might soon be tapped to lead Veterans Affairs under a president-elect who’s determined to shake up the way Washington works. Miller has been mentioned as a favorite for the post but said he hasn’t heard directly from Donald Trump’s transition team about any official interest. He says only that he “would seriously consider serving” as Veterans Affairs secretary, calling it “a noble mission.” … Miller, 57, has a disadvantage: He’s not a military veteran as past secretaries have been. But few are as familiar with the challenges facing the second-largest federal agency (behind Defense) that employs some 350,000 and has a budget of roughly $182 billion. Miller has also been frustrated that the Obama administration hasn’t moved quickly to implement VA whistleblower protections mandated in legislation passed this year. He referenced a Nov. 18 missing letter from VA Chief of Staff Robert Snyder informing Miller the agency wouldn’t meet a 60-day deadline spelled out in the bill due to notification and negotiation requirements in labor contracts with agency employees. It’s why he wants to work for the new commander-in-chief.

DISNEY’S BOB IGER TO JOIN PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP’S ADVISORY GROUP via Sandra Pedicini of the Orlando Sentinel – A group of CEO advisers that President-elect Trump has established will include Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co. The President’s Strategic and Policy Forum … will meet with Trump “frequently” starting in February. The 16-member forum will be chaired by Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, which has been a major SeaWorld Entertainment investor. Other members include General Motors’ Mary Barra, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon, and Wal-Mart Stores’ Doug McMillon.

IN A GOP YEAR, STEPHANIE MURPHY VOWS BIPARTISANSHIP via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Murphy, a 37-year-old former strategy consultant with a background in the U.S. Department of Defense, had never run for political office before, but the Democrats’ gamble paid off. Her victory over [JohnMica on Election Day was bright spot for a Democratic Party reeling from defeats elsewhere. Now, Murphy — a former refugee, and the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress — is preparing to head to Washington as a rising Democratic star in a capital about to become entirely controlled by Republicans. “It’s awe-inspiring and humbling,” Murphy said. “But I’m also excited for the opportunity to serve this district. … My voice and my experience will be one that will be heard in Washington.” … But she’s entering a federal government firmly in the control of Republicans, especially after Donald Trump’s presidential victory — one that came using rhetoric and advancing policies that are concerning many groups nationwide, including Muslims and Hispanics. “You can be sure that if we see President-elect Trump heading in a direction that seeks to isolate and discriminate against some groups of Americans that I will be a vocal opponent of that,” Murphy said. “But again, we haven’t taken our oaths of office yet, and a lot of this remains to be seen. Murphy remains “open-minded,” she said, “and I’m hopeful that we will find our government is willing to work together, regardless of partisanship or party affiliation, in order to advance the needs of the American people. Because I think that is the message that came across loud and strong in this election, that the American people don’t feel like they’re being served by their government anymore.”

— “If walls could talk: Orlando’s new Congress members pick their offices” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

ALAN GRAYSON SAYS GOODBYE TO ORANGE COUNTY DEMOCRATS, FOR NOW via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Grayson … made what’s likely to be his swan song appearance for now before Orange County Democrats … thanking them for backing him so he could “do so much good for so many people.” … “It’s hard to believe I stand before you as the only Orange County Democrat to represent downtown Orlando in the last 42 years. But that changes … when we have three, count them, three, Orange County Democrats in Congress,” Grayson said. “And I want to give credit where credit is due, and that is you all. We have gone through a very difficult time, wandering for 40 years through the desert here. But now we’ve reached the point with organization, teamwork, registrations, absentee ballot requests, and the legwork we all do … have led to the point where we finally are fully represented in the House of Representatives by Democrats.” … “But now we’ve reached the point with organization, teamwork, registrations, absentee ballot requests, and the legwork we all do … have led to the point where we finally are fully represented in the House of Representatives by Democrats.” Despite his loss – and his wife Dena Grayson‘s loss to [DarrenSoto in the CD 9 Democratic primary, he has not ruled out a return to politics, and his appearance Saturday included no suggestion that he was going away. “It turns out you can shame them into any good idea you want when you have might and right on your side,” he said.

SPOTTED strolling along downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront: former George W. Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Slater Bayliss, Chris Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Parters: Bruce Peters

Ron Pierce, Ed Briggs, Natalie King, Terry Lewis, RSA Consulting: Lutz Preparatory School

Leslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: Zenith Insurance Company

Robert Hosay, Fred Karlinsky, Foley & Lardner: National Strategies

Matt Jordan: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Natalie Kato, Lewis Longman & Walker: Fellere Water Control District

Greg Parks, Parks Advocacy Group: COPsync, Inc.

Amy Young, Ballard Partners: Women’s Care Florida

THE MAYERNICK GROUP LANDS KUSH LOBBYING GIG via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist – Ben Pollara spent his time interviewing top lobbying firms in Tallahassee about representing Florida for Care, the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of the medical marijuana campaign … Tracy and Frank Mayernick submitted their lobbyist registration on behalf of Florida for Care. “Voters delivered a mandate on the expansion of medical marijuana in Florida and we will work with the legislature to fulfill that mandate with implementing legislation this session,” said Pollara. “Florida for Care intends to be a reasonable actor this spring, while the members of the six-family cartel and lobbyist employment center ‘Dispensing Organizations’ hunker down and try to block true enactment of Amendment 2.” Pollara has hinted that another big name Republican lobbyist will also join the Florida for Care team within the next few days, firepower he’s going to need if he wants to successfully challenge Florida’s new marijuana oligarchy. Pollara knows the “cartel” won’t go down without a fight. His own lobbying budget for this year is nearly a quarter of a million dollars. But it’s going to be an all-out war, and the fighting will be savage. Rumors abound that some lobbyists who represent the six dispensing organizations don’t just have contracts to lobby, they also have equity stakes in the growing operations and stand to reap substantial sums of money by restricting access to the market.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the weekend to Sen. Keith Perry, Canaan McCaslin, the great Carrie O’Rourke, Bruce Ritchie, and Jason Rodriguez. Celebrating today is The Edwards Group’s Beth Herendeen.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.2.16

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

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

EARLY HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES to the great Ron Book, who turns 64 on Saturday. Recently, we learned that even this Superman has to slow down at some point. But we know Ron will pull through as he always has. Happy birthday to one of the best in the business, a great father and soon-to-be “Coach,” and a very generous soul. All the best, Ron.

The Florida Senate held their organizational session of the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee, FL November 22, 2016.
The Florida Senate held their organizational session of the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee, FL November 22, 2016.

PAM BONDI TO MEET WITH DONALD TRUMP via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times –It is planned for 1 p.m. in Trump Tower. The presidential transition has been silent about what Trump and Bondi, who are personal friends, will discuss. Bondi’s name has been mentioned in connection to several high-level positions, including White House “drug czar” and U.S. trade representative. She could also be nominated as a deputy or assistant U.S. attorney general or as a candidate to chair the Republican National Committee. However, she could also be wary of any job that would require a rigorous Senate confirmation process, as Bondi tends to cringe under critical spotlight. Bondi was an early Trump supporter and appeared alongside him at rallies around the state, as well as at the Republican National Convention. For the last week, Bondi has been out of the public eye, missing ceremonial events in the state Capitol, and her office has refused to respond to questions about where she is.

WE WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED IF BONDI ends up serving out the remainder of her term as Attorney General of Florida. Drug Czar is a thankless, low-wattage position that feels like more of a horizontal move for Bondi than a step up. Does she really want to tour the DEA office in El Paso? Of course, if the president-elect asks you to serve the country, you can’t say ‘no’ to that. But this entire situation seems, at this point, like a lose-lose for Bondi. Give up a statewide office in Florida to serve as a general in the losing War on Drugs or not take a position in the Trump administration and have everyone speculating why she didn’t (she didn’t want to go through the Senate confirmation process, etc.)

TRUMP WANTS JAMES MATTIS FOR DEFENSE SECRETARY – Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be secretary of defense, the Washington Post reports, nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform. To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO VISIT MACDILL AFB IN TAMPA ON TUESDAY via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “While at the base, the President will have an opportunity to meet with uniformed leadership from both Commands as well as with some of the men and women stationed there,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “Among those the President will meet are members of our Special Operations community, who over the past 8 years been a key element of our relentless pursuit of terrorists who would threaten the United States of America. The President will offer his personal gratitude–and that of the nation–for the professionalism, skill, and sacrifice of those American patriots.”

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DAYS UNTIL: Premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 13; Inauguration Day – 48; Pitchers & catchers start reporting for Spring Training – 74; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 105: Election Day 2017 – 340: Election Day 2018 – 703.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a press conference at 8:30 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral School, 7485 Northwest 2nd Avenue in Miami. Scott is expected to give an update on the Zika virus.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: CFO Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier will host a roundtable discussion on the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season at 10 a.m. at the Ringhaver Student Center, 2nd floor Virginia Room at Flagler College, 50 Sevilla Drive in St. Augustine.

A SCOOP FROM OUR NEW GUY – APPEALS COURT ALLOWS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PREMIUM HIKE TO TAKE EFFECT via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The 1st District Court of Appeal acted even before a trial judge could decide on a request to delay her ruling last week invalidating the increase under Florida’s open-government laws. For her part, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled following a brief hearing in her chambers that no stay was warranted. “It would not be appropriate for this court to approve further violation of the Sunshine Law and Public Records Law,” Gievers said. But she bowed to the inevitability that the case would be resolved on appeal. “I’m just trying to get you to the appellate court, where you want to be,” she told attorneys present in person and participating by telephone. Even before resolution of the legal situation, businesses were treating the increase as a fact of life. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, for example, issued a written statement complaining that the increase, as applied to new and renewal policies written during the next 12 months, would cost employers $1.5 billion. “Many businesses are telling us they will be forced to delay hiring, or even cut existing jobs, in order to cover this increase in their premiums,” Carolyn Johnson, director for business policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said in a written statement. “A rate like this puts Florida’s competitiveness and job creation directly at risk.” The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved the increase in September, based on recommendations by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI. The office has designated NCCI as the rating agency for workers’ compensation insurers in the state.

JEFF BRANDES FILES AMENDMENT 4 IMPLEMENTING BILL via Florida Politics — The St. Petersburg Republican filed Senate Bill 90, the implementing bill for Amendment 4. The ballot initiative passed with 73 percent support in August. The amendment removed the state’s tangible personal property tax, which taxes solar equipment installed. It also authorizes the Legislature to prohibit the devices from being considered when assessing the value of the property for tax purposes. “The voters of Florida spoke loud and clear that they expect the sunshine state to make the expansion of solar and renewable energy a priority,” said Brandes in a statement. “I have been committed to diversifying our energy portfolio, and I am excited about the opportunity to bring further investment in solar and renewable energy production. This legislation has broad, bipartisan support and I look forward to an early passage of this important bill in the 2017 Session.”

SOUTH FLORIDA HOUSE DEMOCRAT WANTS TO TOUGHEN PENALTIES FOR TEXTING WHILE DRIVING via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics –Weston Democratic state Representative Richard Stark [filed] bill (HB 47) that would allow law enforcement officers to pull drivers over for distracted driving as a primary offense, not a secondary one, as is current Florida law. “It’s nice for people to know that there’s a law, but the reality is that there’s no teeth in the law,” Stark said. Since the advent of cellphones over the past two decades, Florida has notoriously been behind the curve in passing legislation to deal with this technology and how it affects public safety. When the Legislature passed its current law making it a secondary offense to read or send a text three years ago, it came only after 40 other states had previously done so. “Most of the people I speak to publicly recognize that this is an issue that needs to be taken care, but having public support for something and having legislative support for something are two different things,” Stark says about the possibilities of his proposal passing in the 2017 session.

STATE WORKERS COULD LOSE OUT ON MILLIONS AFTER OVERTIME RULE DECISION via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – The Labor Department estimates 331,000 Florida workers are affected, and many of them are state workers. A number of state agencies already have requested more than $12 million combined for either pay raises or increased overtime budgets to comply with the rule, which was to have taken effect on Thursday. State workers who were supposed to be eligible for overtime won’t be, according an email sent Thursday from Jim Parry, an assistant general counsel for the Department of Management Services, to union representatives. “In summary, employees who were to be changed from an ‘excluded’ to ‘included’ designation for overtime purposes due to their pay falling below the new minimum pay required by the proposed regulations are being retained in their ‘excluded’ status,” the email reads.

JEB BUSH CALLS FOR AN EDUCATION ‘EARTHQUAKE’ WITH NEW ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESS via Caitlin Emma of POLITICO Florida – Bush … hopes a new presidential administration and Congress will usher in an “earthquake” when it comes to education and federal education funding. “I keep hearing there’s a big shakeup in Washington, D.C. and I hope that’s true,” he said at the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s annual summit. Bush founded the education reform organization in 2008. “This new administration and Congress have the real opportunity to bring wholesale disruption.” Bush also applauded Betsy DeVos, who has sat on the board of the foundation, as President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary. “What a phenomenal, strong woman,” he said. “She’ll do an extraordinary job as secretary of education.” People across the country are angry and anxious for a reason, Bush said. “The basic institutions in their lives don’t work, education being front and center,” he said. Bush named three major priorities moving forward: First, Congress needs to “cut strings that come with federal education funding and let states innovate with those dollars,” he said. Bush also stressed the need to direct more federal dollars to charter schools and allow states to expand education savings accounts, which allow parents to use tax dollars to pay for services, including private school tuition or therapy for students with special needs.

PERSONNEL NOTE: CHARLIE CRIST APPOINTS AUSTIN DURRER CHIEF OF STAFF via Florida Politics –Durrer has served in senior roles in both the legislative and executive branches over the past 15 years. He was a longtime aide and Chief of Staff to Congressman Jim Moran, a senior Member of the Appropriations Committee, and currently serves as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), overseeing the Department’s data technology mission. “Austin brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and a strong, steady hand to this important position. He’s an impact player who will build our team in Washington with a laser-like focus on serving the people of Pinellas County,” said Crist … “It’s an honor and a privilege to work for Gov. Crist on behalf of Pinellas County,” said Durrer. “He’s no ordinary freshman, and someone who has dedicated his life to looking out for the little guy. I look forward to helping advance his agenda of bringing common sense solutions to Washington, to bridge the political divide, serving as the voice for the people of Pinellas County on Capitol Hill.”

OFFICE ASSIGNMENTS DON’T GO WELL FOR CRIST via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times – As an incoming Democrat coming into his first term in a U.S. Congress controlled by Republicans, Crist knew he was going to get the dregs of offices … new representatives have no claim on the offices that are coveted for their locations, size or other features, so they get assigned the worst of the worst offices via a lottery … How did Crist do? About as bad as can be imagined. That last pick in the lottery pretty much means Crist will be looking at offices in the Longworth House Office Building or the Cannon Office Building. There’s no underground train connecting these buildings to the Capitol, so lawmakers will have to brave the elements.

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RICHARD CORCORAN OFFERS LOBBYIST ‘TRAINING’ TO ADJUST TO NEW LEGISLATIVE LIMITATIONS via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News – The lobbyist training will cover contract disclosure requirements for lobbyists who represent public entities as well as other rules. “The Rules are in effect now, and many lobbyists are submitting issue disclosures and working with House members to prepare Appropriations Project Requests,” Corcoran wrote to lobbyists Thursday. “We hope you are able to attend one of the training seminars to answer questions that arise as you operate within these new rules.” The House will also have livestream and YouTube videos as well as a public crowdsourcing to ensure ethics compliance.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Mary Andrews: Lee Memorial Health System

Ron Book: Palmetto Surety Corporation

Pete Buigas: Sero Action Fund

Liz Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: The Nemours Foundation

Chris Dudley, Jerry McDaniel, Paul Mitchell, Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: Florida State College at Jacksonville Foundation; Genex Services, LLC

Jody Finklea: Florida Municipal Electric Association

Natalie Kato, Lewis Longman & Walker: Florida Mosquito Control Association, Inc.; Southern Poverty Law Center

Jim McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: The Treatment Center

Tim Meenan, Sarah Niewold, Joy Ryan, Meenan PA: Ethos Group; Infinite Energy, Inc.

Jim Peluso: St. Johns River Water Management District

Ben Wolf, ISF, Inc.

Ed Woodruff: St. Petersburg College

WHAT JEFF SHARKEY IS READING – ELON MUSK’S SOLARCITY EXPANDING IN CLERMONT via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel –The company’s new Florida effort comes just weeks after the defeat of an Election Day amendment critics said would have stifled competition. The company … has begun installing solar energy systems in the Orlando area, will hire more people locally and expects to expand to other parts of the state “in the coming months.” SolarCity recently began making loans to help pay for the systems and installations available to any homeowner. The company right now employs 54 people, who have been working in Florida since last year, installing systems in new homes and military family housing from its Florida headquarters in Clermont. The company employs installers, salespeople and others who support operations there. CEO Lyndon Rive did not say how many people the company would hire in Florida, but said it could be hundreds, depending upon demand.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sen. Debbie Mayfield and Joey Redner. Belated wishes to Brian Bautista and Mitch Wertheimer.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.01.16

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

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

AND THE FIRST POLL OF 2018 TELLS US…

The 2016 hype has barely died down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start talking about 2018.

There’s been plenty of chatter about the gubernatorial race already. The will he or won’t he (or she) has been going on for weeks, and the list of potential candidates seems to grow by the day.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised big money, but the Republican hasn’t said whether he’s actually going to make a go of it. Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, is ready to run a 67-county strategy — if she runs, that is. John Morganis, at the least, enjoying flirting with the idea, as are several other Florida politicos.

If a new Gravis Marketing poll conducted for the Orlando Political Observer is any indication, Democrats might have a leg up come Election Day. The poll of 3,250 registered voters showed both Graham and Morgan would defeat several potential Republican foes.

In a hypothetical match-up, Graham would defeat Putnam, 37 percent to 34 percent. Put Attorney General Pam Bondi on the ballot, and Graham’s lead grows. The poll shows she’d receive 44 percent of the vote, while Bondi would get 36 percent.

She also holds an 8-point lead over CFO Jeff Atwater. In a hypothetical match-up between the two, Graham would receive 40 percent compared to Atwater’s 32 percent. The poll shows Graham would trounce outgoing Rep. David Jolly, getting 40 percent of the vote compared to Jolly’s 29 percent.

Morgan, an outspoken Democratic donor and medical marijuana proponent, also comes out on top in head-to-head match-ups. In a race between Morgan and Putnam, the Orlando Democrat would receive 39 percent compared to 35 percent for Putnam. The Gravis Marketing poll shows Morgan leads Atwater, 41 percent to 34 percent.

The bombastic attorney has a double digit lead over Jolly and Bondi in the Gravis Marketing poll. Morgan leads Bondi, 45 percent to 35 percent; and has a 11-point lead (42-31) over Jolly.

We wouldn’t take these numbers to the bank, though. The poll showed between one-quarter and one-third of respondents said they weren’t certain who they would vote for come 2018.

And why should they be? There are still 705 days until the gubernatorial election, after all.

BILL NELSON EARLY FAVORITE IN 2018 U.S. SENATE RACE — The Gravis Marketing poll shows Sen. Nelson could be poised to win re-election in 2018. The poll of 3,250 registered Florida voters showed the Orlando Democrat had a double-digit lead over Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott. In a hypothetical race between Nelson and Bondi, Nelson would receive 50 percent of the vote, while Bondi would receive 35 percent. The poll showed 15 percent of respondents said they weren’t certain who they would vote for. In a head-to-head match-up between Nelson and Scott, Nelson would receive 51 percent compared to Scott’s 38 percent. Scott is mulling a 2018 bid, telling reporters in November a run against Nelson was “an option.” In a hypothetical Nelson-Scott race, 11 percent of respondents said didn’t know who they would support.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make a law enforcement budget announcement at 9:30 a.m. at the Florida Highway Patrol, 133 S. Semoran Blvd. in Orlando.

HAPPENING TODAY — AIDES MEET AHEAD OF DEC. 6 CABINET MEETING — Cabinet aides for Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and CFO Jeff Atwater will meet at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room at the Florida Capitol. Aides are expected to discuss issues expected to come up during the Dec. 6 Cabinet meeting.

HAPPENING TODAY – ANALYSTS SET TO DISCUSS COMMUNICATIONS TAX — The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet at 2 p.m. in room 117 of the Knott Building to discuss issues related to the gross receipts tax and the communications service tax.

IN-STATE COLLEGE TUITION RATES FOR FLORIDA’S UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS COULD BE IN DANGER via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times — Heralded as a bipartisan victory when it passed, a Florida law granting in-state college tuition rates to undocumented students could now be in danger. A bill filed Wednesday by conservative Florida Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, seeks to erase that 2014 provision. Colleges no longer would have to waive out-of-state fees for undocumented students who attend Florida high schools. “It is certainly a big issue in my district among my constituents, who were frustrated and upset that the state would allow undocumented illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-supported in-state tuition,” he said. “So I think it’s important to file the bill and have a discussion on it.” … More than a decade of contention preceded the 2014 tuition bill. When it finally passed in a high-profile 26-13 vote in the Senate, Republican Gov. Rick Scott deemed it “a historic day.”

STUDENTS URGE COLLEGES TO ESTABLISH ‘SANCTUARY CAMPUSES’ FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida — Students from at least two higher education institutions in the state have started petitions urging administrators to declare their schools “sanctuary campuses.” … The term is modeled after “sanctuary cities” — municipalities that have adopted policies to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. As of Tuesday evening, a petition at New College of Florida had gained 783 signatures from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, according to its author, Ximena Pedroza. The Sarasota liberal arts school is the smallest in the State University System, enrolling about 850 students. … The petition lists eight demands of the administration, including that it “declare New College of Florida to be a sanctuary campus that will actively refuse to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations or raids.” … A separate petition calls on Florida International University’s leaders to make the Miami school enrolling 55,000 a “sanctuary campus.”

NEW HOUSE EDUCATION CHAIRMAN WHO OPPOSED SCHOOL RECESS PLAN ‘WILL TAKE A LOOK’ AT IT IN 2017 via Kristen M. Clark of the Miami Herald — After being one of only two Florida House members to oppose it last session, Miami Republican Rep. Michael Bileca said he’s open to considering a renewed effort to mandate recess time at Florida’s public elementary schools. But he indicated the proposal could still face some potentially tough scrutiny in 2017. “I will take a look at it,” Bileca told the Herald/Times. “The areas I had difficulty with were not changed (last session), so we’ll need to see what’s changed.”… In filing a bill on Tuesday, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, got the ball rolling to revive the Legislature’s recess debate for next session. Rep. Rene Plasencia, the Orlando Republican who advocated for the issue last spring, is drafting the House companion.

LAWMAKERS PREPARE DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO CANNABIS IMPLEMENTATION via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida — After an overwhelming majority of Floridians approved an expansion of medical marijuana in the state, lawmakers are preparing to hash out the regulatory set-up for the growing industry. …Republican State Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg is planning to fill a bill that would likely afford the greatest expansion of medical cannabis availability. It’s a bill that he said “rhymes” with one he filed last year. That effort failed. But this time, he said he has an army of voters backing him up. “This is as close to a mandate as the Legislature can get on this,” he said in an interview with POLITICO Florida. He added that he wants medical marijuana implementation that “looks, acts and feels medical.” While he wants to allow for products that patients can smoke and eat, he said he doesn’t want to allow cannabis products to be packaged like candy or in any way attractive to children.

BARBARA WATSON PROPOSES STATEWIDE COMMISSION TO REVIEW POLICE SHOOTINGS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Miami Beach Gardens Representative Watson filed a bill last week that would create special review commission to reveal fatal use-of-force incidents by law enforcement personnel. “I think there’s a loss of confidence with the community” when it comes to some cases of police shootings, Watson said … “And once the community knows the process and knows what level of that process the investigation is in, I think it kind of restores their confidence in the system this should be a parallel investigation, independent of the police department, and that they can move forward with confidence.” The proposal, HB 43, calls for a 15-member board selected by the attorney general, all of whom would serve a four-year term. The bill says that at least five members must not come from a local law enforcement agency, nor the Florida Departments of Law Enforcement, Corrections, or Legal Affairs. Obviously, that means that as many as 10 officials could be from those agencies. Sitting judges and members of the Legislature would not be allowed to serve on the committee. The bill calls for the head of a local law enforcement agency to contact the commission with 24 hours after a use of force has resulted in the death of a member of the public. That police chief or sheriff would also need to contact the agency within a week after an internal affairs report was completed regarding such an incident. If that report exonerated the officer(s) in question, the commission, after reviewing the case, could call on the Attorney General for “prosecution consideration if the use of force appears unlawful.” The commission would also have subpoena power, something eluding activists who in 2015 called for an independent citizens’ review board in Tampa. Many of those same activists said they intended to put a charter amendment on this November’s ballot to allow such subpoena power, but they failed to do so.

BILL AGAIN TARGETS ATTORNEY FEES IN PUBLIC RECORDS CASES via Florida Politics – New state Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer, is again behind the legislation (SB 80). He backed a version of the bill last session as a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House. The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.” It would also require a “complainant (to) provide written notice of the public records request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 business days before” suing. Records requests are not normally mandated to be in writing. The idea is to cut down on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits at taxpayer expense by eliminating guaranteed attorney fees in cases where public officials made an honest mistake, bill advocates have said, including the Florida League of Cities. Open government watchdogs, such as the First Amendment Foundation, have countered that the bill would instead affect legitimate actions against local governments and state agencies that unreasonably refuse to respond to record requests.

PARKINSON’S WON’T STOP ME, LARRY METZ SAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Metz, a Yalaha Republican who represents House District 32 in Lake County, revealed his diagnosis during [an] interview for an opening on the Florida Supreme Court. The 61-year-old, a lawyer in private practice, did not make the final cut. On Tuesday night, he told FloridaPolitics.com he didn’t “want to talk about it too extensively because it is a private health issue.” … “Obviously, it’s out there in the public domain because I disclosed it in a context I thought I needed to,” Metz said in a phone interview. But the disease “hasn’t stopped me from doing what I want to do.” Parkinson’s is a “chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time,” according to the Parkinson’s disease Foundation. The disease, which has an unknown cause, often manifests through trembling of the hands, legs and jaw. “I haven’t started taking medication for symptoms at this point, though there will come a time when I do,” Metz said. “It’s usually very effective and there are many examples of people that live with Parkinson’s disease for decades, finding themselves able to do their normal, everyday activities.”

CARLOS GUILLERMO SMITH BRINGS A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA TO THE FLORIDA HOUSE via Monivette Cordeiro of Orlando Weekly – What sets House District 49’s newest representative apart is how easily a bullhorn slips into his hand as he leads chants in a protest against Donald Trump, discrimination or efforts to stymie the minimum wage, all while wearing slim jeans and a fashionable blazer. And he’s also not afraid to be the lone voice of disagreement among friends. When President Barack Obama came to campaign for Hillary Clinton in Orlando, Smith joined with a small group to protest the trans-Pacific Partnership and then later went on to introduce the president to a crowd of thousands. “I’m going to find a way to leverage my unapologetic grass-roots identity with this new role,” he says. “If I have to motivate people to get involved by grabbing a bullhorn or knocking on doors, I’ll do that.” A longtime progressive activist, the 35-year-old Democrat is the first openly queer Latinx to serve in the Florida Legislature. Politics isn’t the first path he imagined his life taking. After being raised by a Canadian mother and Peruvian father in Boca Raton, he moved to Orlando and graduated with a business degree from the University of Central Florida in 2003 … The election of Donald Trump has been a tough pill to swallow for many Democrats in Florida, especially Bernie Sanders supporters like Smith who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in hopes they could push for progressive policies under her presidency. Still, under a President Trump, Smith hopes to collaborate with his fellow legislators when he can and push for progress, such as by fully funding the Bright Futures scholarship, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, safeguarding women’s reproductive rights, fighting structural racism and income inequality, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and expanding anti-discrimination workplace protections to include LGBTQ people.

DUVAL DELEGATION ELECTS JAY FANT AS NEW CHAIR, AARON BEAN AS VICE CHAIR via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Duval County Legislative Delegation selected a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Jacksonville this week. The delegation voted unanimously to appoint Rep. Fant, a Jacksonville Republican, to serve as its chairman for the 2017 legislative session. “I am honored that my colleagues have entrusted me with the responsibility of leading our efforts to make the most of Duval County’s tremendous opportunities,” said Fant in a statement. “I look forward to working with them to make sure our constituents’ interests are vigorously represented in Tallahassee and we enact policies that will strengthen our economy and bring more jobs to our area.” The delegation also selected Sen. Bean to serve as its vice-chairman.

MORE FUNDING TO BATTLE HEROIN EPIDEMIC AMONG PALM BEACH COUNTY’S LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Palm Beach County unveiled a 43-page list of state legislative priorities Tuesday, which includes a call for more funding to battle the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. “This represents the diverse interests of the whole county,” said Rebecca DeLaRosa, director of legislative affairs for Palm Beach County. Commissioners are calling for increased funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment, a dedicated revenue source of homelessness programs and additional dollars to battle mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika. Addressing the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic is one of the county’s top priorities, officials say. Commissioners want the state to reimburse agencies that use the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, commonly referred to by its brand name Narcan. The creation of Westlake, Palm Beach County’s 39th city, prompted several items to be included in this year’s list. Developers used a tailor-made law to incorporate the city with only five registered voters. Other priorities include banning the use of e-cigarettes indoors in areas where tobacco use is prohibited, increasing penalties for people who use rental cars to commit crimes and allowing slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is supporting legislation called “Brittany’s Law” named in honor of 18-year-old Brittany Baxter, who was killed in April 2015 when a driver ran a stop sign. The 17-year-old driver had received eight citations in the 33 months he had been authorized to drive.

MARIA SACHS FACES SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Twenty-eight-year-old Matthew Damsky Monday filed sexual harassment charges against Sachs. He said the three years he worked for the 67-year-old Delray Beach Democrat left him with pain and discomfort. The case was first reported by Gossip Extra in June when Damsky filed a sexual harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sachs denied all the charges then and has repeatedly done so since. A Boca Raton native, Damsky resigned from Sachs’ staff in February after admitting to making about $50,000 in unauthorized charges on an office credit card.

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MIAMI STOP LIKELY ON TRUMP’S VICTORY TOUR via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Trump is expected to visit key states that helped win him the election, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida. Several sources have told the Miami Herald that Trump’s “thank you tour” is planning to hit Miami in the next few weeks, though a date isn’t firm yet. The president-elect is said to miss the energy of his massive campaign rallies.

MARCO RUBIO: ‘BUILDING A WALL IS A PHRASE’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “Building a wall is a phrase that is about securing the border and enforcing our immigration laws. And I think that’s something we need to move on first,” Rubio said … in an interview with Sean Hannity. “I’ve — I’ve said now for a long time that it is the key that unlocks the door to be able to do anything else on immigration.” Rubio’s comments reflect what other Republicans on Capitol Hill have said as questions have come up about the cost and feasibility of a wall, at least as Trumpdescribed it. Rubio said he generally agreed with Trump’s domestic agenda but carefully noted potential differences on foreign policy. “We’ll see how that develops. He’s had — as I said, he’s never held public office before, so he said some things on the campaign trail. We’ll see how that translates to foreign policy,” Rubio said. What are those concerns, Hannity asked, nothing Trump’s pledge to get  “rid of” the Iranian deal, “identify radical Islamists” and stay away from “foreign entanglements” like Iraq.

ANOTHER FLORIDIAN WHO WAS ‘DRUG CZAR’ HAS ADVICE FOR PAM BONDI via Steve Bousquet of the Miami Herald – That would be Bob Martinez, the former Republican governor and mayor of Tampa, who held the post in 1991 and 1992 in the last two years of President George H.W. Bush‘s term. When Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, Martinez headed back to Florida. In the alphabet soup of the federal bureaucracy, the Cabinet-level agency is known as ONDCP, the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Martinez, now a lobbyist at Holland & Knight’s Tampa office, knows the route to Senate confirmation. He schmoozed with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, then chaired by Democrat Joe Biden … completed the lengthy Senate questionnaire for high-level appointees; and won Senate confirmation on an 88-12 vote. He also endured his share of negative press coverage along the way, like the 1992 Orlando Sentinel editorial that said: “The drug czar office of Bob Martinez is a joke. It has neither the power nor the right people to fight the nation’s drug war.” He said the job required working with other federal agencies, law enforcement agencies, states and local governments, and to get drug treatment money to where it was needed most. “You do a lot of jawboning to get things done,” Martinez said. “It’s not something that’s direct. Policy is your domain.” Bondi is the subject of much speculation that she’ll be offered a job in Trump’s administration after working to help him win Florida.

BLAISE INGOGLIA TOUTS CONGRESSIONAL ENDORSEMENTS FOR RPOF CHAIR RE-ELECTION via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – In an announcement … Ingoglia noted 11 congressmen or future congressmen from all over the state who were willing to go to bat for his second bid at party chair. The congressmen had warm words on Ingoglia, who officially announced his candidacy for the position this week. Many of them honed in on the pivotal role Ingoglia played in Florida’s part of the GOP’s successful election results earlier this month. “The GOP enjoyed great success in Florida in 2016, and Blaise deserves credit for his leadership and vision,” said U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. “I believe he will be able to build on the success from the 2016 cycle and should be elected to another term.” Many of the wins — especially Trump‘s — were hard-fought battles for Republicans, but many ultimately emerged victorious to head to their offices in Tallahassee and in Washington. Grassroots support has been at the forefront of Ingoglia’s mission since taking the job and many attribute Ingoglia’s grassroots movement as a crucial aspect to the GOP’s overall success. “The organization Chairman Blaise Ingoglia put in place this past election cycle was crucial in delivering big wins from President-Elect Trump and Senator Rubio, our Congressional delegation, and the state Senate and state House,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho. “I am proud to support his bid for re-election and with his continued leadership our party will be more than prepared for the 2018 cycle.”

HAPPENING TONIGHT — NEAL DUNN HOSTS “PRIMARY DEBT RETIREMENT” FUNDRAISER — Incoming Rep. Neal Dunn is scheduled to hold a “primary debt retirement breakfast” at 8 a.m. Thursday at The Capitol Hill Club, 300 1st Street, SE in Washington, D.C. The event calls for a $2,500 contribution to be considered a PAC host and $1,000 contribution to be an individual host. The event will benefit Friends of Neal Dunn. Dunn defeated two other Republicans in the Aug. 30 primary in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. The doctor defeated Democrat Walter Dartland and Libertarian Rob Lapham in the November general election.

‘THE GIRL RESCUED AT SEA’ STEPHANIE MURPHY RIDES THAT HUMANITARIAN SERVICE INTO CONGRESS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – When she was six months old, her family fled Vietnam on a refugee boat. Stephanie, her mother, father, brother and dozens of mostly strangers, all yearning for freedom and better lives, went adrift when their boat ran out of fuel. Supplies were running low. This was on the South China Sea, in thousands of square miles of open water. Along came her hero, the U.S. Navy, which intercepted their little boat, provided fuel, food, water and other supplies, and helped them make the crossing to Malaysia. The Lutheran Church took it from there, getting them from a Malaysian refugee camp to America, where her family settled in Virginia. ‘The girl rescued at sea,” as a congressional campaign flyer dubbed her, will not forget the humanitarian assistance the sailors provided. Nor does she want to disappoint them … She helped organize the U.S. Navy’s rescue, relief and recovery assistance to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami that swept through south Asia, particularly Indonesia, in late 2004. “I always say it was the greatest honor of my life, to be able to work alongside uniformed men and women, knowing that they rescued me at sea,” Murphy said in an interview … “And then to be working alongside them, rescuing other people in Southeast Asia in the aftermath of such a devastating tsunami, the long hours, getting home in the middle of the night, and then turning on the TV, and seeing U.S. men and women in uniform delivering water and caring for the people who had been injured, it was incredibly satisfying, and something I’m so proud of.” She pledged a willingness to work across the aisle and that includes working with a Donald Trump White House, even though her campaign had demonized Trump in an effort to also demonize John Mica by association. “The campaign is over. And as I said throughout the campaign, I’m willing to work with anyone who is willing to work with me,” she said. “That’s the approach I’m going to take with this administration.”

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FLORIDA PRISON AGENCY ENDS YEARS OF DENIALS AND AGREES TO PAY WHISTLEBLOWERS $800,000 via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The prison agency also agreed to end lawsuits by three other department whistleblowers, closing a chapter in what has been one of the most tumultuous eras in state prison history. The agreement, filed in Leon County Circuit Court … exonerates investigators of the FDC inspector general’s office, Doug GlissonAubrey Land and John Ulm, after they came forward with evidence that they believed an inmate at Franklin Correctional Institution, Randall Jordan-Aparo, had been gassed to death by prison guards. The Aparo’s family has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the state. The agency does not agree to the allegations but does agree to pay Glisson, Land and Ulm each $133,333 and drop all pending internal investigations. Glisson and Ulm will also receive more than $4,100 in wages lost from a recent demotion, in return for agreeing to leave the agency. The settlement also ends the retaliation claims by employees James PadgettDavid Clark and Christina Bullins, who each will receive $50,000. The attorneys who handled the case, Steven R. Andrews and his son, Ryan Andrews, will be paid $250,000. “They didn’t offer up this settlement because they liked us,” said Glisson, a supervisor whose last day at the agency he has worked at for more than 20 years [was] Wednesday. “They really didn’t want this to go to a jury trial.”

FLORIDA SLAVERY MEMORIAL PROPOSED FOR CAPITOL via the Tallahassee Democrat – A Democratic lawmaker has proposed the creation of a “Florida Slavery Memorial” that would be built at the state Capitol complex. Rep. Kionne McGhee … filed the proposal (HB 27) last week for consideration during the 2017 legislative session, which starts in March. The Department of Management Services would be required to build the memorial after considering recommendations from the Florida Historical Commission, according to the bill. “It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the American Colonies and to honor the nameless and forgotten men, women, and children who have gone unrecognized for their undeniable and weighty contributions to the United States,” part of the bill says.

WHAT CHRIS HUDSON IS READING – DWAYNE JOHNSON’S ‘BALLERS’ MOVES TO CALIFORNIA FROM FLORIDA, WILL GET $8.3 MILLION TAX CREDIT via Dave McNary of Variety – “Ballers” is scheduled to shoot its next 10 episodes in California, where it will employ 135 cast, 209 base crew and 5,700 extras. The series will generate an estimated $33.5 million in “qualified expenditures,” defined as wages paid to below-the-line workers and payments to in-state vendors — making it eligible for a 25 percent tax credit for its first season in California, followed by a 20 percent credit for any successive seasons. “Ballers” is the seventh series to relocate to California under the state’s expanded tax incentive program, launched last year. “We’re thrilled to welcome another TV series and the long-term jobs it will create in-state,” said California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch. The 2015-16 fiscal year marked a major expansion of the seven-year-old tax credit program, aimed at halting the erosion of California-based production to states with bigger incentives such as Georgia and New York. The annual allocation rose from $100 million to $330 million, and applications are ranked on how many jobs they will produce, rather than being selected by lottery. The program expansion, enacted in 2014 by California lawmakers, covers five years and $1.65 billion in tax credits. The credit is set at 20 percent, but producers are eligible for an additional 5 percent “uplift” if they shoot outside the Los Angeles zone, commit to music scoring or music track recording in state, or to do visual effects in California. The commission also disclosed … that it had reserved tax credits for 22 recurring series that are already in the program from the most recent tax credit application period, held Nov. 14-29. Lemisch said the specific tax credit allocations have not been determined since it’s uncertain whether all of the series will be picked up. She estimated that the total allocation for “Ballers” and the 22 series would be around $75 million. “The industry responds very favorably whenever we’re able to level the tax credit playing field,” she added.

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE WILL BE A CIGAR PORCH AT THE GOVERNORS CLUB via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Despite years of delays, an outdoor deck in front of the private club at Adams Street and College Avenue “is still a go,” said general manager Barry Shields. The deck, which will hold 10 to 12 outdoor tables under the existing magnolia tree, had been hung up in permitting with the city of Tallahassee. “At this point, I’m still hoping that we’ll have it ready to go by the first day of session,” Shields said. The 2017 Legislative Session begins March 7. It’s been two years since a smoke-free happy hour was instituted in the club’s first-floor lounge, which had been beset with clouds of offending stogie smoke that sent some patrons fleeing. Smoking is prohibited in the club, except on the second-floor balcony, which hosts occasional cigar dinners, and in the lounge after 7 p.m. The building, at 202-1/2 S. Adams St., was built in 1926 to be a Masonic Lodge … After a time, it became an Odd Fellows hall, and Governors Club later took possession of the building. It opened in 1982, where it has been continuously operating since.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.30.16

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

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

IS DEMOCRACY IN TROUBLE?

I read about late last night and had to share it with Sunburn readers.

This big-picture story from The New York Times’ Amanda Taub on the state of democracy globally — and in the United States — is troubling. Particularly this passage, where Taub writes:

Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. Drawing on data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers found that the share of Americans who say that army rule would be a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ thing had risen to 1-in-6 in 2014, compared with 1-in-16 in 1995.

democracy

That trend is particularly strong among young people. For instance, in a previously published paper, the researchers calculated that 43% of older Americans believed it was illegitimate for the military to take over if the government were incompetent or failing to do its job, but only 19% of millennials agreed. The same generational divide showed up in Europe, where 53% of older people thought a military takeover would be illegitimate, while only 36% of millennials agreed.”

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DRIVING THE DAY – CHRIS HART TOP PICK FOR NEXT ENTERPRISE FLORIDA HEAD via Florida Politics – Hart, longtime president and CEO of CareerSource Florida, was recommended Tuesday to become the next head of Enterprise Florida (EFI), the state’s public-private economic development organization. EFI’s executive committee unanimously backed Hart; the full board meets Wednesday morning at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa in the Florida Panhandle. The leading candidate, Michael Finney, took his name out of contention to pursue a teaching position. Finney had been president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The other candidate is Richard Biter, a retired assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation. Hart, if approved, will be paid $175,000-$200,000 per year, down from former agency leader Bill Johnson’s salary of $265,000. The agency’s head also serves as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.

ABOUT THOSE SENATE COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS…

The Florida Senate’s ruling class has been crowned.

Senate President Joe Negron unveiled the final members of his leadership team and committee chairs Tuesday. Allies got prime posts. Freshmen senators snagged chairmanships. And for the second term in a row, a future Senate President is now the Majority Leader.

Here are seven things to know about the Senate hierarchy:

Call him “Leader” — Negron tapped Sen. Wilton Simpson to be the Senate Majority Leader for the 2016-18 term. The Trilby Republican is often credited with helping to end the fight for the Senate presidency between Negron and Sen. Jack Latvala, and appears to be handsomely rewarded. Simpson is in line to become the Senate President in 2020-22, as long as Republicans keep the majority. And he’s the second future Senate President to serve in the role in recent years. Sen. Bill Galvano held the position during the 2014-16 term, and is line to ascend to the presidency in two years.

Double duty — Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, will have her hands full for the next few years. Negron picked Flores, a longtime ally, to serve as his Senate President Pro Tempore, and on Tuesday announced she’ll be chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee and the Senate’s Banking and Insurance committee. She’s also the No. 2 on all-powerful Senate Appropriations committee, serving as vice-chair to Latvala’s chairman.

Rule-maker — Negron looked to another top ally, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, to chair the Senate Rules committee. A former Senate Majority Leader, the Fort Myers Republican will now play a big role in deciding which bills make it to the Senate floor. She’ll also be tasked with navigating the occasional — and sometimes sticky — rules dispute.

Pinellas power — One thing was clear Tuesday: Pinellas County lawmakers scored plum assignments. Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, had already been installed as the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee. But on Tuesday, Negron announced Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, would serve as chairman of the Senate’s Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations subcommittee. Need money for a project in Pinellas? The next two years might be the best time to ask.

High priority — It’s not a secret that Negron plans to make higher education and criminal justice a top priority for his time as president. He’s vowed to boost the state’s public universities and wants to put an end to what he has called the criminalizing of adolescence. To help accomplish his goals, Negron turned to Galvano and Sen. Randolph Bracy. Galvano will serve as the chairman of the Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee, where he’ll be responsible for finding cash for help fund Negron’s priorities. Negron tapped Bracy, a freshman Democrat, to chair the Senate Criminal Justice committee. Expect him to tackle policies that will help reduce the number of juveniles who end up behind bars.

Democrats in charge — Bracy isn’t the only Democrat that Negron picked to head a Senate committee. In a show of bipartisanship, Democrats will be at the helm of three other committees. Sen. Lauren Book, a freshman member from South Florida and the daughter of legendary lobbyist Ron Book, will chair the Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee. Negron tapped Jacksonville Sen. Audrey Gibson to serve as the chairwoman of the Military and Veteran Affairs, Space and Domestic Security committee; while Tallahassee Sen. Bill Montford will serve as chairman of the Commerce and Tourism committee.

Pro-gun chairman — An advocate of expanding the rights of gun owners will now oversee the same committee that blocked concealed carry legislation in years past. Negron picked Sen. Greg Steube, a freshman Republican senator from Sarasota, to head the Judiciary Committee. Steube backed bills to expand the rights of concealed weapon permit holders while in the House, but many were blocked by then-Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee. Steube has said he’s planning to file a broad bill to expand the rights of concealed carry permit holders, and legislation has already been filed in the House.

— “Senate Democrats not completely shut out of power in Joe Negron administration” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

— “Senate education committees get makeover, new leaders via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida

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TOM LEE FILES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON PROPERTY TAXES via Florida Politics – Lee has filed a proposed constitutional amendment to keep “dramatic increases in annual property tax assessments” in check on vacation homes and other properties. “Failure to pass this joint resolution will result in one of the largest tax increases in the history of our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Florida voters will have the ultimate say on the 2018 ballot, but it is the legislature’s responsibility to act in a timely manner so these important provisions don’t expire.” The amendment, which would apply to Section 27 of Article XII of the state constitution, would protect limits now in place on annual tax hikes. Florida voters amended the constitution in 2008 to give property owners some protection, according to a statement from Lee’s office. “The amendment, set to expire in 2019, currently prohibits the assessment of certain non-homestead property, including second homes, rental properties, vacation homes, vacant land or commercial property, from increasing by more than 10 percent per year,” it said. “Sen. Lee’s resolution would extend this provision indefinitely.” Property owners affected by this provision in 2016 will save $776 million, he said.

HAPPENING TODAY – DUVAL LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION MEETS TO SELECT CHAIR — The Duval County legislative delegation will hold an organizational meeting at 1 p.m. in Jacksonville City Council Chambers, 117 W. Duval Street in Jacksonville to elect the incoming 2016-17 delegation chair and vice chair. The committee will also convene for its general legislative public hearing. The meeting is scheduled to go until 5 p.m.

INSURANCE OFFICE APPEALS RULING BLOCKING WORKERS’ COMP PREMIUM HIKE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has appealed a trial court ruling blocking a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums, putting that ruling on hold pending review by a state appeals court. The office filed its notice of appeal … with the 1st District Court of Appeal. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled … that the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, which proposes rates for workers’ compensation insurers in Florida, failed to open its deliberations to the public or provide its data to an actuarial expert retained by the plaintiff in the case. That, Gievers concluded, violated Florida’s open-government laws. Miami workers’ compensation attorney James Fee had challenged the rate hike in his capacity as a business owner who buys insurance for his employees. His lawsuit named NCCI and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. The rating agency said it also planned to challenge Gievers’ ruling. The increase, valued at $1.5 billion, was due to begin taking effect Thursday and would roll out over the next 12 months as business owners’ policies come up for renewal. The office approved the increase Oct. 5.

JUDGE FINDS FOR CORRECTIONS IN DRUG-TREATMENT VENDOR DISPUTE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – An administrative law judge is recommending dismissing a challenge to the Department of Corrections seeking outside substance-abuse treatment and other transitioning-back-into-society services in Orange County. Bridges of America, the Orlando-based nonprofit that runs the program, has for months been waging a legal and PR battle to keep its facility open, and another in Broward County. The Broward battle ended in a settlement. Corrections has been letting its agreements with vendors expire as part of a larger plan to reduce services “outside the walls.” The department previously announced a new program called Spectrum, which will offer many of the same services Bridges provides, but inside the state’s prisons. Judge Lisa Shearer Nelson last week found that the department’s invitation for bids was “not contrary to competition, arbitrary or capricious, and (does) not contravene the Department’s governing statutes, the agency’s rules or policies.” … “The successful vendor under the (request for proposal), should there be one, would still be providing a community release center,” she wrote. The order went back to the department, which is expected to adopt its findings. “The department is looking forward to continuing to work with Bridges of America to provide services to inmates and offenders in an effective and efficient manner,” Michelle Glady, FDOC spokewoman, said in a statement.

BONG BAN DOESN’T APPLY TO MEDICAL POT, ADVOCATE SAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Florida’s bong ban, as toothless as critics say it may be, now is preempted by the recently approved constitutional amendment on medical marijuana. That’s according to Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care. The group has fought for the ballot initiative, which first failed in 2014 before passing this year with 71 percent of the vote. State law prohibits devices such as “metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes,” commonly known as “bongs,” when used to smoke pot. But the amendment’s language says “medical marijuana treatment centers” can “sell (and) distribute” what it calls “related supplies,” so long as they go to “qualifying patients or their caregivers” and are registered with the state Department of Health. “The plain language of the amendment covers ‘related supplies’ and was written that way precisely because of poorly conceived pieces of public policy such as the law in question.” Pollara said. Lawmakers have tweaked the bong ban over the years, to include ever more inventive ways of smoking. They have outlawed “2-liter-type soda bottles” if used to smoke an illegal substance, and even have banned “balloons” and “duct tape” if used as drug paraphernalia. State Sen. Darryl Rouson … backed a bill when he was in the House that made the sale of all marijuana pipes a first-degree misdemeanor, with second and subsequent violations classified a third-degree felony. The Legislature passed the bill, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott and became law in 2013. But even Rouson has admitted that the amendment, if passed, would basically nullify any bong ban as it relates to medical pot.

FLORIDA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS DONALD TRUMP FOR HHS PICK via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The president-elect selected Georgia Rep. Tom Price, a critic of the Affordable Care Act, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. If confirmed by the Senate, he is expected to play a critical role in Republican efforts to repeal and replace the current health care law. “As a physician, Dr. Price understands the impact that government policies have on the delivery of care and we believe he will bring common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our health care system,” said Dr. David Becker, president of the Florida Medical Association. Price, a 62-year-old six term congressman and orthopedic surgeon, has chaired the House Budget Committee for the past two years. A conservative from the Atlanta suburbs, he has worked closely with House Speaker Paul Ryan to craft GOP budgets aimed at reducing the deficit. “President-elect Trump has made an excellent decision in nominating Dr. Price,” said FMA CEO Timothy J. Stapleton. “He has spent his entire career serving as an advocate for patients, as both a physician and a legislator. We look forward to working with him to improve our nation’s health care system.”

— “Trump adds Dennis Ross to transition team” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

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HAPPENING TODAY — STEVE SCHALE TALKS TO TALLAHASSEE TIGER BAY CLUB — The Democratic consultant is scheduled to speak at the Capital Tiger Bay Club at 11:30 a.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola in Tallahassee.

HAPPENING THURSDAY — NEAL DUNN HOSTS “PRIMARY DEBT RETIREMENT” FUNDRAISER — Incoming Rep. Neal Dunn is scheduled to hold a “primary debt retirement breakfast” at 8 a.m. Thursday at The Capitol Hill Club, 300 1st Street, SE in Washington, D.C. The event calls for a $2,500 contribution to be considered a PAC host and $1,000 contribution to be an individual host. The event will benefit Friends of Neal Dunn. Dunn defeated two other Republicans in the Aug. 30 primary in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. The doctor defeated Democrat Walter Dartland and Libertarian Rob Lapham in the November general election.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Eddie BorregoPhil Compton, former Rep. Keith Fitzgerald.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.29.16

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

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

FLORIDA CRIME RATE DROPS, BUT MURDER RATE RISES IN 2016

Florida’s overall crime rate is dropping, but reports of murders, rapes and car thefts increased during the first half of 2016.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Monday released statistics that showed that the overall crime rate decreased 3.4 percent over a six-month period this year.

But there were 561 murders in the first half of the year, a jump of 15.2 percent. The total includes the 49 people who were shot and killed at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Last year, there were 487 murders between January and June 2015.

There were 3,769 reported rapes in Florida, an increase of 1.9 percent over the first half of 2015.

Still, Gov. Rick Scott heralded the overall lower crime rate.

The crimes that went down last year include robberies, burglaries and aggravated assault.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at 9:30 a.m. at Atton Miami Hotel, 1500 SW 1st Ave in Miami.

RICK SCOTT’S SUPREME COURT CANDIDATES SELL THEMSELVES WITH ADJECTIVES: ‘ORIGINALIST,’ ‘CONSERVATIVE’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Scott‘s goal of reshaping the Florida Supreme Court drew closer … as the nominating commission controlled by the governor interviewed 11 candidates for his first appointment and each made a point of offering up their conservative credentials. The candidates to replace Justice James E.C. Perry were six women and five men and all are white … The appointment of a conservative to the seven-member bench will allow the governor to add another justice to the court’s conservative minority, now comprised of Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston. A former circuit court judge in Seminole County and graduate of Columbia Law School, Perry was appointed in 2009 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. As one of two blacks on the high court bench, he has frequently joined with the moderate members of the court’s majority in several cases that have invalidated laws passed by the Republican-led Legislature and the Republican governor.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Michael Joseph Rudisill echoed the sentiments of many of the candidates interviewed in the Orlando law offices of GrayRobinson when he vowed: “I will bring to the bench a core set of conservative principles,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in the Legislature or formerly in the Legislature” and “I know politics.” Alice Blackwell, a circuit judge in the 9th Judicial Circuit in Orlando, told the panel: “I’m conservative in my approach…I’m not an activist judge.” When asked to explain herself, Blackwell said, “to me, that means figuring out what do the words mean that are in the law.” Sandy D’Alemberte, former dean of the Florida State University School of Law, said he hoped that the nominees sent to the governor would not be selected based on judicial ideology but merit and integrity.

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA COMMITTEES MEET IN MIRAMAR BEACH — Several Enterprise Florida committees will meet Tuesday as part of the organization’s two-day meeting in at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, 4000 Sandestin Blvd. S., in Miramar Beach. The organization’s board finance & compensation committee, board audit committee, and board legislative policy committee will meet in the morning. The Enterprise Florida executive committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. (CST), followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors will meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

EIGHT MONTHS AFTER LOSING CONFIRMATION FIGHT, JOHN ARMSTRONG LEAVES DOH via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The state announced … Michele Tallent will officially take over the role of deputy secretary of health for administration after holding the job on an acting basis since January. Tallent, who previously ran DOH’s budget office and was Gov. Rick Scott’s top adviser on the health and human services budget, will oversee the administrative functions of DOH. Her salary is $120,999. “(Tallent’s) years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, the current surgeon general … Armstrong has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer diagnosed last year. He continued to receive a $119,000 paycheck and benefits while on medical leave. The state surgeon general and secretary of health from 2012, Armstrong left the job in March of this year, facing a state Senate that would not confirm him. Some senators criticized the department’s handling of medical marijuana policy, the removal of sick children from a state-run health insurance program and cutbacks in county health departments that accompanied apparent rises in new HIV cases.

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BLAISE INGOGLIA LAUNCHES FLORIDA GOP CHAIR RE-ELECTION BID via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Ingoglia, the current chairman of the RPOF and a state representative, officially announced his candidacy Monday. The Spring Hill Republican also announced the support of dozens of Republican leaders from across the state, including state committeemen and women from Miami-Dade, Pinellas, and Palm Beach counties. “Two years ago, when I announced I was running for RPOF Chairman, I did so after talking to many of you about the importance of emphasizing the grassroots in our elections and our party,” he said in an email to executive committee members across the state. “Your support launched us on an incredible journey that included a lot of lofty goals and expectations.” Ingoglia was elected chairman in 2015, after Republican activists rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked chairman. He’s hoping that same support will help him win another term as chairman. In an email formally announcing his candidacy, he said he was running again “with the support of many of our fellow RPOF members — the grassroots who knocked on doors and made the phone calls that pushed Republican candidates across the finish line.”

— “Does Florida’s Republican Party chairman Blaise Ingoglia already have a second term sewn up?” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

GOOD READ THAT DOESN’T DEMONIZE THE POLITICAL PROCESS — LUXURY BOX FUNDRAISER HIGHLIGHTS RICHARD CORCORAN’S DUAL ROLE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The arm of the Republican Party of Florida that runs House campaigns and is led by House Speaker Corcoran held a college football fundraiser … in a box owned by U.S. Sugar, a company that has one of the largest stables of contract lobbyists in the state. The fundraiser, which was held during a game between Florida State University and the University of Florida, is not unique, but is notable for the fact that Corcoran recently implemented a round of sweeping new House rules that largely focus on reducing the influence of lobbyists. It underscores the two hats Corcoran must wear as a legislative leader who has vowed to limit the role of lobbyists and a GOP leader who must raise money from them. Corcoran’s public comments on the new rules have been peppered with shots at the lobbying industry, which holds sway over every element of state government. Because RPOF paid for the suites used for the fundraiser, they were technically not U.S. Sugar’s for the game, which FSU won, 31-13. The party controlled who got tickets and access to the suite, according to Fred Piccolo, a Corcoran spokesman. Piccolo said that scenarios like this underscore the importance of the new rules, which includes a requirement that lobbyists disclose the specific interests they are trying to influence.

JANET CRUZ OK WITH NEW HOUSE RULES, BUT SHOT DOWN ONE PROPOSAL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Cruz is generally supportive of the ambitious new rules proposed by Speaker Corcoran that were unanimously approved by the entire Florida House last week … But she and other Democrats did draw the line on a provision that would have allowed members to bring guns to committee hearings and on the House floor. “We fought against that, and a few other pieces of the legislation,” Cruz said … That measure was not part of the basket of new rules approved last week. Corcoran worked with Lantana Democrat Lori Berman on the rule changes. office did not respond immediately for a request for comment. During the 2016 regular session, bills that would allow the open carrying of firearms as well as the carrying of firearms on college campuses were approved by the House but shut down in a Senate committee … The Tampa Democrat said she was initially “taken aback” by the volume of proposals presented by Corcoran, but admiringly calls the Land O’ Lakes Republican “a real scientist who plays it three dimensional” in terms of his deep thoughts on how to reform how Tallahassee operates.

BILL GALVANO SAYS MOFFITT CANCER CENTER COULD BE SITE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA RESEARCH FACILITY via Claire Aronson of the Bradenton Herald — With patients in Florida who suffer from debilitating illnesses soon to have access to medical marijuana, one state lawmaker says a research facility should open to study the drug’s effects on patients. “I think it’s highly appropriate to have a research component built into anything that we do so we can start building real evidence because we don’t have that,” Sen. Galvano, R-Bradenton, said during a Bradenton Herald Editorial Board meeting Monday. … As a supporter of medical marijuana, Galvano said he would like to work with Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on establishing a research facility, which would initially be cancer based. “Most of our evidence is anecdotal so I’m going to work to see if we can establish a real research facility for medical marijuana,” he said. “We are going to be able to better apply it to the marketplace. …You can’t just ignore some of these anecdotal types of stories as to how this positively impacted certain conditions.”

DAVID SIMMONS BUYS TV TIME TO THANK VOTERS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Simmons, re-elected in June when no one filed to run against him in Seminole County’s Senate District 9, is airing TV commercials in Orlando for three weeks thanking voters and urging people to put aside political differences and come together during the holidays. Simmons spent $150,000 on the effort, having Southern Campaign Resources of Tallahassee produce and place the 30-second spot on Orlando’s four major broadcast stations, WESH, WFTV, WKMG and WOFL. The ads started Monday. Otherwise Simmons, entering his final term in the Senate after eight years in the Florida House and six in the Florida Senate, spent very little of the $257,000 he raised for his campaign actually on campaigning. Lately, he’s closed out the account balance by buying the TV time, making some donations to the Florida Senatorial Campaign and several charities and kept a bare-bones staff and list of consultants on board. Simmons said he’s grateful for the opportunity. ”The reason I’m doing it is because it’s been a very divisive year, 2016,” Simmons said. “I thought it was appropriate to, No. 1, say thank you; and in the way of saying thank you to say this is the time to get together and put differences aside, and get to solving the myriad of problems we have, with the opportunities we have to work together.”

DURING SUPREME COURT INTERVIEW, LARRY METZ DISCLOSES HE HAS PARKINSON’S via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Metz, a Yalaha Republican, shared his diagnosis with members of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission at the end of his interview. “I don’t think it’s an issue,” Metz told the panel, adding he is not on medication for the condition. “But I did not want to not mention it.” Parkinson’s is a “chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time,” according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. It’s caused when certain nerve cells in the brain die. There is no cure, although the symptoms can be managed through medication. The disease, which has an unknown cause, often manifests through trembling of the hands, legs and jaw. The late U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno had the illness, as does actor Michael J. Fox. Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease, according to the foundation.

GUNS-IN-AIRPORTS BILL RESURFACES FOR 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A Florida House member has reintroduced legislation that would allow people to carry firearms inside airport terminals. Rep. Jake Raburn filed HB 6001 on Wednesday. The measure would eliminate the words “passenger terminal” of airports from a list of places where state law forbids people to carry guns. The measure also would eliminate language requiring that guns be “encased for shipment” in aircraft baggage holds. Raburn submitted his proposal for the 2017 legislative session. He proposed similar legislation during the 2016 session, but no committee ever debated the measure. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved a version of the bill introduced by Sen. Wilton Simpson.

BILL WOULD DIVEST TIEBREAKING POWER FROM DUVAL SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – The Duval County School Board, when fully-staffed, is a seven-person body. However, just one resignation or absence can turn the DCSB into a six-person panel. And, in the event of a controversial or closely contested issue, a 3 to 3 tie is quite likely. The board wasn’t at full strength earlier this year, after Rep. Jason Fischerresigned to run for the state house, and during that period a rift surfaced between Ashley Smith-Juarez (the chair of the board at the time) and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Smith-Juarez had suggested Vitti take his talents elsewhere, and while there never was a vote to release Vitti from his contract, the situation illustrated the pitfalls of a shorthanded board … especially if a chair had the tiebreaker in addition to her own vote. A local bill that may get pushed next session in Tallahassee, if a Jacksonville City Council resolution passes, may change that perceived imbalance of power. Resolution 2016-782, sponsored by Councilman Aaron Bowman, would express support for a J-Bill that would amend the Florida statute so that the vote of the Duval County School Board Chair would not break a tie. In 2006, the legislature adopted a measure for Orange County that dictated that, in counties with between 800,000 and 900,000 people, the school board chair’s vote breaks the tie. Councilman Bowman said that it is his understanding that the entire Duval County School Board supports this measure.

WITH PAY RAISES LIKELY A VICTIM OF TIGHTENING STATE BUDGET, UNION SAYS “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – With prospects of a pay raise for Florida’s 113,00 state workers looking iffy at best, the public employees union told legislative leaders … “enough is enough.” … “Every year, we are told that there is enough money to spend on giveaways to big businesses and enough pork to grease the wheels for re-election back home,” the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said in a statement. “But when it comes to helping state workers putting food on the table there is suddenly a budget crisis that prevents it,” AFSCME said, days after House Speaker Richard Corcoran … laid out a stark picture for next year’s spending plan. “Enough is enough,” the union said. “In a budget of $80 billion there is more than enough to invest in our state’s future by investing in those that will make it happen.” Senate President Joe Negron also acknowledges that state money is tightening. But his budget chief, Sen. Jack Latvala …  has already declared that his “highest personal priority” will be to approve some kind of state worker pay raise. Latvala also is a supporter of including a pot of money in the state budget as business incentives, designed to lure companies to Florida. Corcoran is dead set against that, and killed the approach last year when Gov. Scott wanted a $250 million incentive package. The state’s full workforce has drawn only one pay hike in the last decade, increases in 2013 of $1,400 for workers making under $40,000 a year and $1,000 for those making more. The last straightforward, 3 percent pay raise came in 2006. Even the increase three years ago, for many, only partially offset what they’d lost when in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature ordered state workers to contribute 3 percent of their pay to their state pension fund.

FORMER CMS ADMINISTRATOR PHYLLIS SLOYER DIES via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Sloyer, the former administrator of the state’s Children’s Medical Services program and a longtime health care advocate for children, has died while on a vacation cruise with her husband and family. Sloyer’s death was announced on Facebook by her brother, Philip DeVliegher. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. “I am shattered and my heart is broken as I grieve the loss of my dear sister Phyllis,” DeVliegher wrote. “She set the example of intelligence, strength, courage and compassion. Phyllis dedicated her career to improving the lives of sick and special needs children and today the world lost an incredible advocate. I love you forever. Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations, posted on Facebook that Sloyer was a “wonderful colleague and friend to me and many in our field. She will be missed by us all.” Sloyer, who held a doctoral degree in public health administration, was considered the face of the Children’s Medical Services program, having implemented and managed it until 2011 when she was forced to retire. Sloyer was one of a number of high level employees purged from the state health department between 2011 and 2012 after the election of Gov. Rick Scott.

PERSONNEL NOTE: MICHELE TALLENT BECOMES DEPUTY SECRETARY AT DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH via Florida Politics – Tallent, a budgeting whiz, becomes the Department’s full-time deputy secretary for administrative services after acting as interim since January. The department announced the move in a Monday press release. “Her years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services,” said State Surgeon General and Health Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip in a statement. Tallent oversees the Divisions of Administration, Disability Determinations and Medical Quality Assurance, and Office of Information Technology. She served as director of the department’s Office of Budget and Revenue Management from March 2014 until becoming acting deputy secretary for administration in January 2016. Tallent also was Health and Human Services budget chief in the Governor’s Office.

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

DICTIONARY.COM’S WORD OF THE YEAR IS ‘XENOPHOBIA’ via Leanne Italie of the Associated Press — You might have thought about it, heard it. A lot. You might have even felt it: Dictionary.com’s word of the year is “xenophobia.” While it’s difficult to get at exactly why people look words up in dictionaries, online or on paper, it’s clear that in contentious 2016, fear of “otherness” bruised the collective consciousness around the globe. The Brexit vote, police violence against people of color, Syria’s refugee crisis, transsexual rights and the U.S. presidential race were among prominent developments that drove debate — and spikes in lookups of the word, said Jane Solomon, one of the dictionary site’s lexicographer. The 21-year-old site defines xenophobia as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.” … Searches for xenophobia on the site increased by 938 percent from June 22 to June 24, Solomon said. Lookups spiked again that month after President Obama’s June 29 speech in which he insisted that Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric was not a measure of “populism,” but rather “nativism, or xenophobia, or worse.”

SUCCESS BRINGS QUESTIONS ABOUT COACH JIMBO FISHER’S FUTURE via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Florida State’s Fisher says he would rather be talked about than not, even if it is about his coaching future. Fisher was frequently asked about his interest in LSU the past two months after Les Miles was fired. Those questions were put to rest Saturday after Ed Orgeron had the interim title removed. This has been the second straight season Fisher’s name has been mentioned about openings. He doesn’t think it will be the last. “When you’re successful, people do that,” Fisher said after his No. 12 Seminoles defeated No. 15 Florida 31-13 Saturday. “When I was at LSU, Coach (NickSaban had it every year. Every year I was ever around him he was going to 32 different jobs. It was 10 times worse as far as jobs and things.” Besides Saban, Fisher mentioned another one of his former bosses when it comes to dealing with coaching rumors. Fisher is quick to point out that Bobby Bowden had to deal with such questions during his first 10 years coaching Florida State. The difference though between LSU and other openings was Fisher’s history with the school. He was the offensive coordinator there for seven seasons before coming to Florida State. Fisher said the only time he brings up his future with the team is when he was asked directly by players or recruits. He also added that there weren’t too many questions about whether he was remaining at Florida State. “I’m straight honest with them. They can read my body language. They can read me. If they ask, I tell them. They know,” he said. “There’s a trust factor, and I trust them, and hopefully they trust me.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Freddy Balsera.

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.28.16

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 NEWS FROM THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND

Before we get into all of ‘Castro is dead’ stuff, here are three items worth sharing…

SHE SAID YES! via the Facebook page of Floridian Partners’ Cory Guzzo: “Two big wins yesterday. I got on one knee and @LibbyWhitley said yes plus the Noles put a beat down on the Gators. Good start to this engagement!”

SHE SAID YES, TOO! The world of politics has brought two more love birds together. Former legislative assistants Katherine San Pedro and Brian Delburn are now engaged. Now both legislative affairs directors in Miami, (she’s with AT&T, he’s with Tenet), they met in 2012 as LAs in Tallahassee. She’s Cuban American, he’s from Alabama, and they dated long distance for more than two years until Delburn made the move for love in December 2014. Their favorite city to visit is New Orleans, which Delburn visited often as a child. There’s an old tile street reference just off St. Louis Cathedral for the road “Calle De San Pedro” where they take an obligatory picture every visit, except this time, Delburn added a special message at the end.

engagement

WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Madison DeSantis, the daughter of Casey and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who wrote on Facebook. “Casey and I are so happy to welcome our daughter Madison, who was born 7 lbs, 7 ounces and very healthy. Mom and baby are doing great. What a blessing!”

NOW, ON TO FIDEL… 

THE OFFICIAL WORD via Granma, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party: Dear people of Cuba: “It is with deep sorrow that I come before you to inform our people, and friends of Our America and the world, that today, November 25, at 10.29pm, Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed away. In accordance with his express wishes Compañero Fidel’s remains will be cremated. In the early hours of the morning of Saturday 26, the funeral organizing commission will provide our people with detailed information regarding the posthumous tributes which will be paid to the founder of the Cuban Revolution. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!”

THE OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD OBIT (A TRUE MUST-READ) – FIDEL CASTRO IS DEAD via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald – Castro, who towered over his Caribbean island for nearly five decades, a shaggy-bearded figure in combat fatigues whose long shadow spread across Latin America and the world, is dead at age 90. His brother Raul announced the death late Friday night. Millions cheered Fidel Castro on the day he entered Havana. Millions more fled the communist dictator’s repressive police state, leaving behind their possessions, their families, the island they loved and often their very lives. It’s part of the paradox of Castro that many people belonged to both groups. Few national leaders have inspired such intense loyalty — or such a wrenching feeling of betrayal. Few fired the hearts of the world’s restless youth as Castro did when he was young, and few seemed so irrelevant as Castro when he was old — the last Communist, railing on the empty, decrepit street corner that Cuba became under his rule.

TWEET, TWEET: @mattdpearce: Every time newspapers haul out amazing obits they wrote a decade ago, it’s like uncorking a bottle of wine the vintner hardly makes anymore.

CHRONOLOGY OF THE CASTRO ERA Click here.

— “Behind the scenes: How the Miami Herald’s ‘Cuba plan’ became a reality” via Aminda Marqués Gonzalez of the Miami Herald

— “In Havana, Fidel Castro’s death lays bare a generation gap” via Damien Cave and Hannah Berkeley Cohen of The New York Times

— “Florida Coast Guard not preparing for large Cuban migration” via the Associated Press

RICK SCOTT STATEMENT: “I join Cuban-Americans and Floridians across the country who are incredibly hopeful for the future of Cuba.  After decades of oppression, the Cuban people deserve freedom, peace and democracy.  I have met so many Cubans who have come to Florida to flee the tyranny, brutality, and communism of the Castro brothers’ oppressive regime and now is the time to look at policy changes that will demand democracy in Cuba.  Today’s news should usher in an era of freedom, peace and human dignity for everyone in Cuba and the State of Florida stands ready to assist in that mission.  I spoke to President-elect Trump this morning to let him know that the State of Florida will help his administration in any way to support a pro-democracy movement in Cuba.”

COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF REACTIONS FROM FLORIDA POLS Click here.

FLORIDA TWEETS

— @AdamPutnam: Florida is richer for all the families who arrived after Fidel took all they had. More to be done. Cuba libre!

— @LopezCantera: Has it finally come? FIDEL IS DEAD! I pray this is beginning of a free and democratic Cuba.🇨🇺 Wish my Abuelo & Abuela were alive to see this

— @RepCurbelo: The passing of the dictator marks the end of a long, horrifying chapter in #Cuba‘s history. The #Cuban people need our solidarity #Castro

— @SenReneGarcia: Hopefully with the death of the oppressive tyrant #Castro our family’s can finally witness the beginning of an open and free Cuba.

— @JoseFelixDiaz: Tonight we close a dark chapter in the history of Cuba – a day after Thanksgiving – we give thanks and pray for a free Cuba

— @JulioGonzaelezMD: A despot died last night. ¡Viva Cuba libre! With great hope for the future of human rights in #Cuba.

— @RepMannyDiazJr: The death of the despot dictator and thug Fidel Castro marks the end of an era, you will see an emotional response 56 years in the making.

— @DaneEagle: Praying for a #FreeCuba and for all families past & present torn apart by this evil regime. Here’s to paving a better way forward

— @AdamHasner: Castro put his political opponents to death via firing squads. Folks who are romanticizing him should stop and think about that

— @AlbertoMartinez: Here’s all you need to know about Fidel Castro: He was a truly evil monster, among history’s worst.

— @DiazLeyva: A chapter in the tragedy of the #Cuban Revolution has ended. Repression continues. We stand in solidarity with the Cuban people. #Freedom

— @TheRickWilson: Fidel Castro was an evil monster vomited forth from hell to torment the people of Cuba. Don’t sugarcoat it, don’t pretend. Face it. Evil.

— @PatriciaMazzei: For years, the mantra for @MiamiHerald reporters going on vacation was, “Don’t call me…unless Fidel dies.” Happened tonight.

— @JimDeFede: In many ways Fidel’s death is anticlimactic. He lost power long ago. But his death brings a needed emotional release to Cuban-Americans

MUCH UNCERTAINTY AHEAD IN U.S.-CUBA RELATIONSHIP

In death as in life, Castro has divided opinion: a revolutionary who stood up to American aggression or a ruthless dictator whose movement trampled human rights and democratic aspirations.

Raul Castro is 85. Their Communist Party shows no signs of opening up greater political space despite agreeing with the United States to re-establish embassies and facilitate greater trade and investment.

As Barack Obama leaves office in January, his decision to engage rather than pressure Havana in the hopes of forging new bonds could quickly unravel. Trump has hardly championed the effort and Republican leaders in Congress fiercely opposed Obama’s calls to end the 55-year-old U.S. trade embargo of the island.

“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families and of the Cuban nation,” Obama said.

He offered neither condemnation nor praise for Castro, who outlasted invasion and assassination plots, and presided over the Cuban missile crisis, which took the world to the brink of nuclear war.

“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” Obama said, adding that U.S.-Cuban relations shouldn’t be defined “by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends.”

Donald Trump didn’t pass off his evaluation to the historians.

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” Trump said in a statement. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”

Trump expressed hope that Castro’s death would mark a “move away from the horrors” toward a future where Cubans live in freedom. But he said nothing about Obama’s project to reset ties, and even hailed the election support he received from veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that was backed by the CIA.

Such a statement probably will irritate Havana, coming after a two-year period of intense diplomatic discussions with Washington that have done more to improve relations between the countries than anything in the past 5 ½ decades.

SCOTT SPEAKS WITH DONALD TRUMP, PLEDGES FLORIDA’S HELP TO ‘SUPPORT A PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN CUBA’ via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO – … saying Castro’s death should bring a “new era” of freedom to the communist island nation only 90 miles from Florida’s shores. Scott did not lay out any specifics on how the state could assist in such efforts or what else was discussed with Trump. The governor’s public schedule Saturday was dominated by meetings with Cuban-American lawmakers and leaders from South Florida. He spoke with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, along with U.S. Rep.’s Ileana Ros-LehtinenMario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo. Scott expressed optimism over Cuba’s future following Castro’s announced death Friday night. The longtime dictator died at age 90, though his 85-year-old brother Raul remains in power as president. “I join Cuban-Americans and Floridians across the country who are incredibly hopeful for the future of Cuba,” said Scott. “After decades of oppression, the Cuban people deserve freedom, peace and democracy.” He said “now is the time to look at policy changes that will demand democracy in Cuba.”

MARCO RUBIO: TIE US.-CUBA CHANGES TO DEMOCRATIC REFORMS ON ISLAND via the Associated Press – The Florida Republican said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that Castro’s death will not by itself usher in major democratic changes. Rubio says current Cuban President Raul Castro is dedicated to protecting the communist system created largely by his brother. Rubio … has opposed much of the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations pushed by President Obama. But Rubio also says he’s not against all such reforms, only those in which the U.S. or the Cuban people get little in return. Rubio says he believes Trump will closely re-examine U.S.-Cuba relations once he takes office in January.

YEARS OF PLANNING PAY OFF FOR CNN AND MIAMI HERALD’S COVERAGE OF CASTRO’S DEATH via Al Tompkins of Poynter – Shortly after Castro‘s death, the Herald’s website was flush with stories about the Cuban dictator, reflecting Miami’s connection with the island. For decades, Herald staffers have known about the “Cuba Plan.” “At one point it was super print-focused,” Executive Editor Mindy Marques told Poynter. “We talked about special print editions, we had it organized around the time of day, what we would do in terms of print.” The plan changed as news consumption habits changed over the decades, taking into account how the story would break online. The politics of Cuba also forced big revisions to the Herald’s “Cuba Plan.” “At one point we planned for an abrupt death that would have resulted in an exodus from the island,” Marques said. “We began planning how we could get with the Coast Guard when people take to the seas. But when the baton was passed from Fidel to Raul, it blunted that.”

Newsrooms have treated rumors of Castro’s death with caution because there have been so many false reports over the years. “It seemed at one point every six months a rumor would start,” Marques said. “Inevitably, somebody would find a picture of him and it would be debunked. We have not had a false alarm in a while. I don’t remember one this year.” The misleading reports did have an upside, though. “The only good thing about those false alarms is we would dust off the plan, go through it again, update them,” she said. The news broke too late for the print editions of the Herald and other East Coast papers, but CNN had a newsflash as Raul Castro made the announcement. The news came on Cuba’s government TV in a dimly lit studio with portraits of Communist leaders in the background.

YET…

screw-up2

IN TAMPA, AGREEMENT THAT CASTRO WAS ONE OF A KIND via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics –There was no harsher a critic of the Castro regime in Cuba than Ralph Fernandez. Yet the Tampa attorney who represented a number of former political prisoners in Cuba over the past several decades says that nobody ever challenged the U.S. government as the longtime Cuban leader … “The guy stood up to America like no one could. He represented a shrimp of a country, just a dot on the map, and he was just in our face, and he became the advocate for an entire Third World,” Fernandez said Saturday morning. “We have to acknowledge that he was the most eloquent, articulate speaker of the Spanish language of all time. He was brilliant. He was evil. He was one of a kind.” But Fernandez also compares Castro to some of the most evil men who ever walked the earth. “It’s great news, but it’s way late. Now he’s gone off to spend time with his friends: Adolf HitlerJosef Stalin, and Pol Pot and the rest of the gang, if there’s a hell, he should be there for eternity.”

Al Fox is perhaps the best known advocate in Tampa for advocating for opening up relations with the Cuban government. Since creating the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation in 2001, he’s taken more than 100 trips to the Communist island, and he is fierce in criticizing those who deride Castro’s Cuba as a wasteland for its people. “He took a country that 70 percent of all the land was owned by foreigners, and he gave it to the people,” Fox said. “And he took a country where only the elite were educated, and only the elite had proper medical care, and today you have a country of 11.5 million, and the people of Haiti, El Salvador, Nicarguua, Honduras –  they all wish they could live like a Cuban lives, but the perception out there is the complete opposite.”

— “Pain of communist Cuba still vivid for Tampa woman” via Laura Morel of the Tampa Bay Times

IN TAMPA, SOME HOPE DICTATOR’S DEMISE SYMBOLIZES DEATH OF AN IDEA via Paul Guzzo, Kathleen McGrory and William Levesque of the Tampa Bay Times – The death of the former Cuban president brought jubilation to the city’s community of Cuban exiles with dancing and cheering Saturday in the street near a West Tampa club, Casa de Cuba, that serves as a gathering place. Theirs was a restrained response in comparison with the all-night revelry of Miami’s Little Havana. But many of Tampa’s immigrant families had left Cuba long before Castro rose to power. For them, it was less personal.

Some hope his death will herald an improvement of both personal and business ties between the United States and Cuba. “This is something everyone has been waiting for — waiting for change, waiting for the dictator to be gone,” said Rafael Pizano, whose father, Roberto Pizano, spent 18 years in a Cuban prison and was tortured for his efforts to oust Castro. “But now he is dead. I want to see what will happen with Cuba now. Will it remain a dictatorship or will it transition to a democracy that respects the people and works for the people?”

Tampa has had a complicated relationship with the Cuban dictator from his earliest days. Almost 170,000 people of Cuban ancestry live within a two-hour drive of Tampa International Airport, a concentration second only to Miami and New York. Castro visited Tampa exactly 61 years ago, spending five days and staying at the home of a Cuban native at 1614 14th Ave. His travels took him to cities with heavy Cuban-American populations to raise money to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Tampa figured prominently in the 1950s efforts by Castro supporters to run guns to the guerillas fighting Batista. The news Jan. 1, 1959, that Castro’s revolution had ousted Batista was greeted with unrestrained joy in Ybor City and West Tampa. Drivers blared horns and waved Cuban flags with cries of “Cuba Libre!” That joy would in the coming years turn to despair after it became clear to many that Castro’s turn to communism marked the replacement of one repressive dictator with another. But Saturday, the cheers returned.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

DAYS UNTIL: Premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 17; Inauguration Day – 52; Pitchers & catchers start reporting for Spring Training – 78; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 109: Election Day 2017 – 343: Election Day 2018 – 707.

SMART TAKE – RICK SCOTT MAY SERVE AS A MODEL, AND WARNING, FOR DONALD TRUMP via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – He was opposed by the Republican establishment. During a contentious campaign he spoke forcefully about the need to crack down on immigration. And he used millions of his own money to bolster his political career. President-elect Trump? No, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida. While they are oceans apart in temperament and public demeanor, Scott and Trump were both political neophytes who came from a business background and won elections despite being viewed as longshots unable to convince voters to look past their controversial histories. Scott and Trump, who is vacationing this week at his home in Palm Beach, are also longtime friends. “One of the reasons I always believed he would win Florida … is that Florida had already elected someone similar to him,” Scott said when discussing Trump’s nearly 113,000-vote victory in the Sunshine State…

And as the country gets ready for a Trump administration his friend and political ally Scott may prove a valuable example of the challenges that lie ahead. After being in office for five years Scott has been forced to drop campaign promises, alter his stance on key issues and deal with an ongoing divide with members of his own party. But Scott has also shown that it can be wrong to underestimate him. There are key differences between Scott and Trump, points out Brian Burgess, who started working for Scott when he created a group to oppose President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and would later serve as Scott’s first communications director. Burgess calls Scott reserved and extremely disciplined, while Trump is more a showman who speaks off the cuff.

TRUMP TAPS FELLOW FLORIDA RESIDENT WILBUR ROSS FOR COMMERCE SECRETARY via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Ross, 78, has a home near Trump in Palm Beach and also resided in New York. He’s a billionaire “king of bankruptcy” investor known for buying companies on the cheap. “Part of the reason why I’m supporting Trump is that I think we need a more radical, new approach to government — at least in the U.S. — from what we’ve had before,” Ross told CNBC in June. For 24 years as a banker at Rothschild, Ross developed a lucrative specialty in bankruptcy and corporate restructurings. He founded his own firm, W.L. Ross, in 2000 and earned part of his fortune from investing in troubled factories in the industrial Midwest and in some instances generating profits by limiting worker benefits.

TRUMP SPENT THANKSGIVING ASKING: MITT OR RUDY? via Emily Smith of the New York Post – The talk at Trump’s Thanksgiving dinner at his Florida club was all about if he should pick Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani for secretary of state. The president-elect held court at his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago club at a large table with family members including wife Melania and sons Ericand Barron … Trump took a prime table next to the fireplace in the club’s living room, but spent a lot of time greeting members and asking who they think should be his top diplomat. The spy said, “Donald was walking around asking everybody he could about who should be his secretary of state. There was a lot of criticism about Romney, and a lot of people like Rudy. There are also many people advocating for [former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.] John Bolton.” Guests joining Trump … Christopher Nixon Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon, who we are told is being lined up to be Trump’s ambassador to China. Also there was Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, CEO of Newsmax Media Christopher Ruddy, boxing promoter Don King, interior designer William Eubanks and political consultant Mary Ourisman. Attracting almost as much attention as the president-elect was chiseled romance-novel hunk Fabio, who was seated at a table near Trump, and “was asked for pictures nearly as often as Trump himself.”

TRUMP’S WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL PICK NARROWS PAM BONDI’S OPTIONS via Peter Schorsch – Gathered with family at his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach estate for the holiday weekend, Trump named his White House counsel and in doing so, ended the hope of Attorney General Pam Bondi serving in that position.

Although Bondi had been mentioned as a possible Attorney General pick and remains the leading candidate for Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or Drug Czar, the former Hillsborough County state prosecutor was said to have had her eye on serving as Trump’s chief legal counsel.

“She’s a lawyer and she’s loyal,” said one source close to both Bondi and the president-elect when asked after Jeff Sessions was named Attorney General in which position Bondi might serve.

The possibility of Bondi serving under Sessions as a deputy attorney general is a non-starter for her, sources close to Bondi say.

This leaves Drug Czar as the only and natural place for Bondi to land, although it’s not necessarily a lock that Bondi will trade Tallahassee for Washington, D.C. Still, Bondi’s vigorous crackdown on Florida’s pill mill industry and her hot war efforts against the use of synthetic drugs, along with her early support of Trump’s candidacy and her own political skills, likely means the position is hers if she wants it.

— “If Bondi leaves, here’s early short list for attorney general’s job” via Steve Bousquet offlori the Tampa Bay Times

FLASHBACK: Jesse Panuccio was first mentioned as a possible successor to Bondi in the 11.14.16 edition of Sunburn.

WILL TRUMP OFFER JOE GRUTERS A JOB IN HIS ADMINISTRATION? via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News — Although he’s just been sworn in as one of the newest lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives, Gruters’ eyes could be focusing elsewhere as he ponders life beyond Tallahassee and in Washington, D.C., toying with the possibility of a job with … Trump. … While Gruters tells Sunshine State News he hasn’t accepted any official offers to take a job in the Trump administration just yet, he didn’t rule out the possibility. Trump has to fill more than 4,000 jobs, only a handful of those personally. “We will wait and see what happens,” Gruters told Sunshine State News. “I believe in Trump and the movement he created and any way I can help the movement, here in Washington or anywhere else, [I will.]” It clearly sounded like interest.

— “Gruters likely to retain GOP chair position” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

WHAT WILL FLORIDA EDUCATION LOOK LIKE UNDER A TRUMP PRESIDENCY? via Colleen Wright and Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – School choice appears to be a central theme of Trump‘s agenda for K-12 education. That much is clear, based on the few details he shared during the campaign and his announcement that Betsy DeVos will be his pick for Secretary of Education. But with little else to go on, those who follow education in Florida say there is no telling how schools will be affected by Trump’s presidency. DeVos, a prominent figure in Michigan, is nationally known for pushing to expand and deregulate charter schools, and working to steer public money toward vouchers that allow students to attend private schools. She also has strong ties to Florida, where she sits on the board of Jeb Bush‘s Foundation for Excellence in Education, a strong proponent of school choice. Trump has pledged $20 billion in federal dollars that would follow students to whatever school they choose — public or private … the money would be distributed to favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws. …  Key observers suggest that the future of education policy, both nationally and in Florida, is in a wait-and-see mode. Even those most involved in these issues didn’t want to speculate publicly, saying Trump did not make clear during the campaign what he has in mind. “Not sure if or how the Florida model plays into the Trump plan or vice versa,” said former Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson, a member of the president-elect’s transition team.

— “4 ways Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan could affect Palm Beach County” via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post

— “President-elect Trump should intervene in APR Energy dispute” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

— “What Brevard County wants to see from President Trump” via FLORIDA TODAY

SPOTTED at #2 on this Breitbart story “Beware: Meet Top 6 #NeverTrump GOP insiders“: Al Cardenas, former Florida GOP chairman.

JEB BUSH CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TO PASS TERM LIMITS via Harper Neidig of The Hill – Writing in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the former Florida governor said that the GOP should use its newfound power to remake the way the government works. “Americans, by wide majorities, agree that Washington is broken, so let’s send power back to the people and back to the states,” Bush wrote. “Republicans should support convening a constitutional convention to pass term limits, a balanced-budget amendment and restraints on the Commerce Clause, which has given the federal government far more regulatory power than the Founders intended.” … He called on Republicans, who will soon control the White House and Congress, to better define their stance in opposition to an overbearing federal government. “The GOP has no excuse for failure,” Bush wrote. “We are in charge of both the executive and legislative branches in Washington, and we dominate in the states like never before.” “We have the power to set the agenda, and we have the responsibility to govern, not merely on behalf of the voters who supported President-elect Trump, but for all Americans.”

MEANWHILEHillary Clinton now leads Trump by 2.2 million votes nationally, according to the Cook Political Report. David Wasserman forecasts Clinton’s final lead will be roughly 2.5 to 2.7 million votes, or about 2%.

TWEET, TWEET: @RealDonaldTrump: In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

MANY IN FLORIDA COUNT ON BARACK OBAMA’S HEALTH LAW, EVEN AMID TALK OF ITS DEMISE via Abby Goodnough of The New York Times – Trump and Republicans in Congress are vowing to repeal much or all of the health law, a target of their party’s contempt since the day it passed with only Democratic votes in 2010. If they succeed, they will set in motion an extraordinary dismantling of a major social program in the United States. But for now, with open enrollment for 2017 underway, people are steadily signing up or renewing their coverage, and in conversations last week in South Florida, many refused to believe that a benefit they count on would actually be taken away.

Florida helped hand Trump the presidency when he narrowly won the state, but it has also provided more customers for the federal health insurance marketplace than any other state. This makes Florida a window to the complex and delicate task Trump and congressional Republicans face in deciding whether to scrap the entire law, which has brought coverage to more than 20 million people, and what to replace it with. Even though Gov. Scott fiercely opposes the law, more than 1.5 million Floridians were enrolled in marketplace plans as of March, the last time the Obama administration released data. And some of the problems that have plagued the marketplaces in other states have been less of an issue here: The premium increases and overall prices have been lower than average, and at least in urban areas, a number of insurers are still participating.

***November marks National Home Care Month, which recognizes more than 68,000 Florida nurses, home care aides, therapists, and social workers who provide cost-effective, high-quality health care in the patient-preferred setting. These caregivers represent more than 2,500 home care agencies that serve 180,000 Floridians at home every day. Last year alone, the Florida home care industry created 109,000 jobs at a $3.92 billion net economic growth to the state. Celebrate the home care industry’s contribution to Florida’s families and economy at HomeCareFLA.org***

CAPITOL HOLIDAY DISPLAY WOULD PAY HOMAGE TO POLICE SHOOTING VICTIMS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A South Florida activist and former blogger has again filed to erect a “Festivus” pole in the state Capitol this year as a holiday display. But this year’s pole has a politically charged twist, according to Chaz Stevens‘ application to the state. “The all black, six-foot-tall Festivus-inspired pole will contain the names of all unarmed black men killed by police in 2016,” Stevens wrote. The application has not yet been acted on by the Department of Management Services, which oversees state property. For the last few years, reviewing and approving holiday displays in the Capitol’s plaza-level rotunda has been a thorn in the side of state administrators. The only other application for the 2016 holiday season is from the First Coast Freethought Society in Jacksonville. It wants to display a poster that “explains the astronomy producing the winter solstice and the historical reasons for celebrating at this time of year,” its application says. Other past displays have included a crèche from Florida Prayer Network/Florida Nativity Scene Committee; a 9-foot-tall menorah; a placard with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” with “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food” by American Atheists; and a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” display by Secular Student Alliance and Pastafarian Peter Wood.

JOE NEGRON SHARPENING SALES PITCH FOR LAKE O LAND-BUY AS HOUSE LOOKS TO TIGHTEN SPENDING via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – With new House Speaker Richard Corcoran already calling for reducing state spending, his freshly minted counterpart, Senate President Negron, may have to polish his sales pitch to win his signature priority — a massive land buy south of Lake Okeechobee. Negron has proposed a $2.4 billion plan to buy 60,000 acres, mostly in western Palm Beach County, for a reservoir that would stem the need for discharges which he said “poisoned” the waterways of surrounding communities. “We’ve made a lot of progress, because no one says that the status quo is acceptable,” Negron said, hours after being sworn-in at this week’s organization session of the Legislature. Negron plans to seek $65 million in taxpayer money to bond $1.2 billion over 20 years, using voter-approved Amendment 1 money that produces more than $700 million a year for conservation.

REPEALING PIP, IMPLEMENTING AMENDMENT 4 TOP PRIORITIES FOR JEFF BRANDES IN 2017 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The St. Petersburg Republican said repealing the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system will be one of his top priorities during the 2017 legislative session. The decision to file the bill comes just a few months after a study revealed Floridians could save an average $81 a car if the state drops the system. “We believe that PIP is not the right product for Floridians going forward,” said Brandes. Brandes and Rep. Bill Hager filed legislation in 2016 to repeal the law, which requires drivers to buy $10,000 PIP coverage. The proposal, which would have ended the requirement by 2019, did not receive a hearing during the 2016 legislative session. Brandes is hoping 2017 is different, and thinks a recent analysis that showed consumers could see a savings if the program is repealed will help his cause. Florida is one of 10 states that has personal injury protection auto insurance, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The program was intended to provide injured drivers up to $10,000 in medical coverage in lieu of establishing fault, but in recent years the number of PIP claims have increased. In fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported Florida led the nation in PIP Questionable Claim referrals in 2009. And not only was it the highest in the nation, a National Insurance Crime Bureau report found Florida had twice as many claims as the next highest state, New York. In addition to repealing PIP and implementing Amendment 4, Brandes said he will once again take a look at local pension reform. “We don’t file easy legislation … we file things to do with real problems,” he said. “We think pension obligations are a huge untold story in politics, that they are taking down states and nations.”

BROWARD LAWMAKER HEALING AFTER SPINAL CORD INJURY TOOK AWAY HIS ABILITY TO WALK via Kristen M. Clark of the Miami Herald — In early October, Shevrin Jones abruptly lost the ability to walk. The affable 33-year-old state representative from Broward County ruptured part of his lower spinal cord during an accident at the gym, causing a nerve injury that his doctors told him should have left him paralyzed. After emergency surgery, a follow-up procedure and rigorous physical therapy, Jones not only walked again far sooner than expected — seven weeks later, he walks now with assistance only from a cane. “I thought there was a point I’d never walk again,” Jones said. “Through my faith, my determination and by the grace of God, I’m much better.”

NCCI VOWS TO APPEAL COURT RULING ON WORKERS COMPENSATION via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida — The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which sets workers’ compensation rates, will appeal Wednesday’s ruling by Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers to strike down a 14.5 percent increase in rates slated to take effect on Dec. 1. “We continue to believe that NCCI and the Florida OIR have fully complied with the law,” said Dean W. DimkheAmy Bogner, a spokeswoman for the Office of Insurance Regulation, also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, told POLITICO Florida in an email that it was “in the process of reviewing it to determine next steps.” In her 73-page ruling Gievers — who once ran for insurance commissioner — said that the NCCI violated Florida’s sunshine law in developing the proposed rate increases.

SURTERRA, TRULIEVE VIE FOR STATEWIDE MARIJUANA MARKET via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – Trulieve, the brand name for Hackney Farms of Quincy, opened the state’s first dispensary in Tallahassee in July. Surterra followed a month later with its first wellness center in Tampa. Surterra and Trulieve are miles ahead of the pack. A year since the licenses were awarded, they were the first to begin distributing their product to a portion of the nearly 1,000 patients who are authorized to receive medical-grade marijuana in Florida. And they are the first to open dispensaries in more than one city with plans to expand statewide. The two companies plan to tap into what will likely be a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business with 250,000 or more potential patients. That potential patient pool becomes even larger with the recent passage of Amendment 2, which makes medical marijuana accessible to a broader range of patients. “We want to make sure patients across Florida don’t have a problem accessing this medicine that is allowable under the law,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve. After the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 2014, the Department of Health created an application process to determine who would win the right to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana in Florida. Of the more than 70 nurseries identified by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as meeting the criteria, only 28 applied. They each paid a nonrefundable $60,000 application fee, had to prove that they could cultivate low-THC marijuana, were in continuous existence for 30 or more years and were certified to cultivate more than 400,000 plants. The winning nurseries had to put up a $5 million security bond. The deadline for the application process was July 8, 2015. Those that applied were scored by three officials, and the top five were awarded dispensary licenses — one for each of the five regions. The five were approved last November.

WHAT ASHLEY WALKER IS READING – ORLANDO GRAPPLES WITH AIRBNB, OTHER RENTAL NETWORKS via The Associated Press – Orlando is one of many cities across the country grappling with how best to regulate services such as Airbnb, HomeAway and FlipKey, which help homeowners rent out their property on a short-term basis to travelers seeking an alternative to traditional hotels. Though there are hundreds of local listings on these sites in the Orlando area, the city and Orange County consider short-term rentals a code violation in the large majority of residential areas. Both governments currently cite short-term renters only after receiving complaints. Coming up with a policy to more specifically govern these services is complicated by a 2011 state law that restricted cities’ abilities to regulate vacation rentals, officials say. “The unintended consequence was that it ties the cities’ hands from passing new short-term rental ordinances,” said Orlando’s chief planner, Jason Burton. “… We can’t even have that conversation because the state has preempted us.” In a statement, spokesman Ben Breit said Airbnb has “a very positive and productive working relationship with policymakers” in Orlando and Orange County, citing the company’s recent pact with the county to collect hotel tax from its users. Currently, city code defines leases of less than 30 days as vacation rentals, a commercial use banned in all but a few of Orlando’s residential districts, such as Lake Eola Heights, which permits them as bed and breakfasts, but only if the owner lives on-site. Orange’s rules are similar; short-term renting is allowed in about 4 percent of the county. The city and county have received about 15 complaints each in the past six months. Gripes include cars parked along roadways, noise or lost renters arriving at the wrong door.

WHAT KELLY COHEN IS READING – ORLANDO, THE DAY AFTER via Sean Flynn of GQ (with a h/t to Daniel Lippman of POLITICO)  In a year of uncompromising tragedy, the Orlando shooting-a terrorist attack that left 49 dead and 53 wounded, a crime of inhuman design-stands out as among the most difficult to comprehend. This story is not about what happened that night but, rather, what happened in the days and weeks and months that followed, as a community-a community of unbreakable young men and women-found it within themselves to forge ahead.

ENTWINED IN POLITICS, CHRISTIAN ZIEGLER SEEKS STATE POSITION via Zac Anderson of Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Ziegler’s life has been deeply entwined with GOP politics ever since he signed on with Congressman Vern Buchanan’s first campaign a decade ago. Until recently, though, Ziegler mostly stayed in the background. The 33-year-old Sarasota resident worked outside the spotlight to bolster the GOP locally and statewide. He’s been an insider and a role player in a world where competition for the top jobs can be fierce. But over the last few years Ziegler has quietly amassed more clout within the state party and worked to become a public advocate for conservative principles, building up to his recent announcement that he will compete to lead the Florida GOP as its next chairman. In the process he is taking on an incumbent party chairman, Blaise Ingoglia, and stirring up a latent conflict between Ingoglia and Scott that has roiled Florida GOP circles. … If he succeeds, Ziegler would take over one of the most important political party jobs in the country, leading the GOP in a mega state that can swing presidential elections and often is on the national political radar. That might seem like a tall task for someone barely 10 years removed from his first foray into politics as a young campaign intern, but Ziegler’s allies say he shouldn’t be underestimated. “He’s been working very hard behind the scenes and politics is a young man’s sport,” said former Sarasota GOP Chair Eric Robinson.

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

FIRST IN SUNBURN – PRIME STRATEGIES ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP WITH TEXAS STAR ALLIANCE — Prime Strategies is joining forces with Texas Star Alliance. The firm announced a strategic relationship with Texas Star Alliance, a top government affairs firm with deep legislative and political expertise in Austin and throughout Texas. “Texas Star Alliance is a top-tier firm stacked with talented professionals with an encyclopedic knowledge of Texas and the unique considerations for anyone trying to do business there,” said Patrick Maloy, the managing partner of Prime Strategies, in a statement. “The bottom line is Texas Star Alliance delivers excellent results for their clients. We are excited about offering their capabilities to our clients and working with them in our national practice.” Established in 2010, Texas Star Alliance is a full service public affairs firm with expertise in direct lobbying, strategic communications, business development, and public relations, among other things. “We at Texas Star Alliance are pleased and honored to establish a strategic relationship and close partnership with Prime Strategies,” said John R. Pitts, the founder and managing principal of Texas Star Alliance, in a statement. “We offer an unparalleled suite of services and level of expertise to our clients, and partnering with Prime Strategies, which exhibits these same skills and is demonstrating significant strategic growth, was an easy decision that will deliver meaningful results for our expanding client base.” The relationship part of Prime Strategies’ vigorous expansion strategy. In addition to Texas, the firm, which launched in February 2016 and an affiliate of Floridian Partners, has an active presence in Florida, California, New York, and Washington, D.C. Last month, Prime Strategies, merged with Los Angeles-based Urban Associates.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALBERTO MOSCOSO MOVES TO FDEM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Moscoso, formerly press secretary for the Department of Corrections, now is communications director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Moscoso, who also holds the title of Public Information Officer, started the new job Nov. 18 … “We are excited and proud to welcome Alberto,” said Bryan Koon, the state’s director of emergency management. “His experiences serving both our country and our state will provide our team with the diverse skill set essential to accurate and effective communications during times of crisis.” At Corrections, Moscoso “developed and honed the skills of strategic public relations, crisis communications and relationship development with media and community partners.” That department has long had a contentious relationship with the press, including, most recently, a public spat with POLITICO Florida over its report that the agency misled the public about plans to eliminate transitional programs for prisoners and probationers.

PERSONNEL NOTE: DAVE MURZIN JOINS LIBERTY PARTNERS OF TALLAHASSEE AS NW FLORIDA DIRECTOR via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “We are honored to have Dave join forces with the Liberty Partners team.” said firm owner and President Jennifer Green in a statement. “This strategic partnership gives us the opportunity to continue to work with a longtime friend and colleague in a region of the state where we all have a strong connection.” A former state legislator and longtime legislative staffer, Murzin has experience in both the public and private sector. Murzin served in the Florida House from 2002 until 2010. While in the House, Murzin was appointed by former House Speaker Larry Cretul to the Florida Council on Military Base and Mission Support. He also served on the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council, was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to both the Joint Select Committee on Hurricane Insurance and the Property Tax Reform Committee, was appointed by former House Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the Joint Property Tax Reform Committee, and served on the Escambia County Utilities Authority Administrative Advisory Committee. Before serving in the Florida House, he served as a top staffer to Jeff Miller, a former congressman and member of the Florida House, and former House Majority Leader Jerry Maygarden.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Mark Anderson: Northeast Florida Fair Association

Anthony Cammarata: Office of Financial Regulation

Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, Adams Street Advocates: SEIU 1199 United Health Care Workers

James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Aurora Diagnostics

Sean Pittman: Florida Association for Care and Ethical Services

Ron Watson: Midwives Association of Florida

SPOTTED: Capitol City Consulting’s Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Jr., Scott Ross, Chris Schoonover, et al, on the Florida House’s new web page detailing lobbyists’ appearances. CCC is the first major firm to embrace Speaker Corcoran’s transparancey reforms.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the weekend to my dear friend Mac Stipanovich, as well as Jennifer Krell Davis, POLITICO Florida’s Dan Ducassi, Rep. Jason Fischer, Corcoran & Johnston’s Jeff Johnston, Dan Gelber, Adam Hasner, the Palm Beach Post’s John Kennedy, Ben Pollara, former Rep. Charlie Van Zant, and Mark Zubaly. Celebrating today is Rebecca De La Rosa and Joel Searby.

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Sunburn for 11.23.16 – Happy Thanksgiving

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

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

FIRST AND FOREMOST let me wish each reader a very happy Thanksgiving. All of us who work to produce Sunburn are enormously grateful for your readership.

THIS IS WHAT MICHELLE AND I ARE MOST GRATEFUL FOR … Ella Joyce Schorsch, Thanksgiving 2016. Picture here.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sunburn will be off Thursday and Friday to celebrate the holiday with our families. We’ll see you bright and early next Monday.

TWEET, TWEET: @AnthonyPedicini: Turkey just won’t taste the same without a “Sunburn”!

SUNBURN READERS SHARE WHAT THEY’RE THANKFUL FOR…

Albert Balido: I’m thankful for the opportunity this county has afforded this son of Cuban refugees. Only in America!

Brian Ballard: How much fun it is to have all of my girls home for thanksgiving. As they get older having the three of them together is a real gift.

Sarah Bascom: Family, friends and good health.

Aaron Bean: Family, freedom, men and women who defend it and the opportunity to make America great again

Brady Benford: Happy, healthy kids and a Cubs World Series win!!

Taylor Biehl: I am thankful for the good health of my parents and soon to be in-laws; I am thankful for the working relationship I have with my friend and mentor, Jeff Sharkey.  I am thankful to have my brother, Jordan, and his fiance, Sarah, here in Tallahassee. I am thankful for our clients that entrust in us; I am most thankful for my loving fiance, Mackenzie — the woman that makes me want to be a better man each and every day.

Christopher Brown: New reader here and new Floridian as well…we moved here six months ago. While always being thankful for my great family, I’m particularly thankful this year that I don’t live in New Jersey anymore, thankful I don’t have to pay excessive taxes to New Jersey and New York anymore and thankful I won’t have to worry about pulling 40 inches of snow off of my roof this winter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Chris Carmody: Patrick, Lauren and that Gator win against LSU.

Kevin Cate: I’m thankful professionally for my brilliant teammates at CATECOMM and all of our clients playing to win, not just to avoid losing. Personally, I am extraordinarily thankful for my enchanting wife and my three smart, loving children.

Jon Costello: I’m thankful for so much. My boys, my wife, the health of my extended family. I’m truly blessed with amazing friends that are family. Bottom line I’m thankful that I have built a life filled with people I care about.

Steve Crisafulli: I am thankful for family, friends, health and the opportunity to live in a free and prosperous nation.

Charlie Crist: All my incredible Family. Starting with my wife Carole, no one worked harder this past year, she is simply amazing! I love her with all my heart. And, of course, I am most grateful to our God and his Son, Jesus Christ. We are all so Blessed as Americans! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Ana Cruz: I am most thankful for being raised by a compassionate and loving family who taught us to not only embrace our own diverse heritage but those of our neighbors and friends. Our thanksgiving dinners have always been a true reflection of our upbringing, filled with family, friends and friends of friends who had no place to go. In Cruz household the saying has always been the more the merrier, and we love it that way!

Claudia Davant: I am thankful for my awesome family, the greatest of friends, lots of good wine and Blue Collar Radio. Not necessarily in that order.

Blake Dowling: I am thankful to live in our great nation and not in a conflict zone. Also, very thankful to be named CEO of Aegis this year, and thankful for the opportunity to contribute to your various publications over the years. Finally, thankful my family is happy, healthy and safe in 2016. Thanks for getting the news out there and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Charlie Dudley: I am thankful for my health; family; freedom; colleagues at Floridian Partners and Prime Strategies and our wonderful clients.

Chris Dudley: I’m thankful for a wonderful wife and two amazing little boys.  And I’m thankful to wake up everyday and do a job I love, for clients I love, in a state I love.

Tre Evers: Donald Trump’s twitter feed, Ozzy’s Boneyard on Sirius radio and the 455 horsepower engine in my car.

Cesar Fernandez: Thankful for surviving wedding planning so far! Getting married in 25 days!

Marty Fiorentino: I’m thankful for my family and our incredible country and democracy that creates a transfer of power unlike any other in the world.

Trimmel Gomes: I’m most thankful for the ability to live the American Dream even as we stare into an uncertain future. As an immigrant from Georgetown, Guyana, I am thankful for the tough lessons I’ve learned and amazing experiences I’ve gained from striking out on my own to develop my media relations consultancy and podcast production company, Gomes Media Strategies. It is with great thanks to friends, family and their continued encouragement that keeps me pushing forward. I’m especially thankful for the ability to create a space where everyone can come together and share their diverse views and opinions on The Rotunda.

Gwen Graham: Given that this is a period of transition for me, I have been particularly aware of how much I have to be thankful for past, present and future. I am thankful for my wonderful family that is the foundation of my life. I am thankful for my husband who will beat cancer this year.  I am thankful for my three kids who are a source of pride and love everyday. And, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of North Florida. It has been such an honor to wake up everyday and work hard on your behalf. I look forward to whatever the future holds. Happy Thanksgiving to all Sunburn readers.

Jennifer Green: I’m thankful every day that I was raised by parents who were strong in their faith and convictions, that I am surrounded by friends and family who love and appreciate me as much as I do them, and that I have clients who trust me enough to listen to my advice and place the the future goals of their businesses and organizations in my hands.

Michael Griffin: I’m thankful for the great people I surrounded myself with on a daily basis. Whether in person or virtually, I am blessed to know some of the greatest, most well intentioned people around. I’m also most thankful for my wife, Melanie.

Joe Gruters: For the Americans voters who elected Donald J. Trump as their next President, for Jameis Winston for giving me a reason to cheer for the Buccaneers again, for the voters of Florida District 73 for allowing me to serve and for my wife, Sydney, for allowing me to do all I do!

Shawn Harrison: First is family, and second is validation from my community that they want me to continue to speak for them in our Capitol.

Jeff Hartley: I know it’s cliche but I’m thankful for my family and friends. A wonderful wife and a perfect daughter. They keep me afloat through everything, good times and bad. Also for an amazing group of people I work with everyday and all year in the office and at the capital.  Its makes going to work fun and enjoyable year round.

Brecht Heuchan: I was thinking about all the stuff I’m thankful for, a loving wife, healthy kids, remarkable friends, supportive clients… my list is long but it all comes down one thing – I’m thankful for God’s redemption because like most of us, i don’t deserve what I have, and often take it all for granted.

Bob Henriquez: I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve the people of Hillsborough County for four more years.

Chuck Hinson: Thankful that Jen and I have our children with us for Thanksgiving.

Justin Hollis: Thankful for my family of little ones that are growing too fast and the food grown from Florida farmers you can purchase at your local Publix.

Brian Hughes: While my default is usually to be grateful for clients and victories, I’m most thankful for Rachel Perrin Rogers. She’s a great legislative staffer, a phenomenal mother, and a wonderful wife. My life is enriched by having her in it.

Nick Iarossi: I am most thankful for my wonderful and very patient wife, Debbie and my two loving daughters. My happiness begins and ends with them. I am also thankful for all the dedicated people who work at Capital City Consulting to make our firm successful, as well as, all the interesting and talented people at the Capitol who make this profession enjoyable and challenging. Finally, I am thankful for our clients that place trust in our firm to advocate on their behalf.  I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Blaise Ignoglia: As Party Chair I am thankful for all of the hard work the grassroots of the Republican Party of Florida did this election cycle to deliver historic wins up and down the ticket. As State Representative, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Hernando County in Tallahassee again. As a husband, I am thankful that my amazing wife Julie who allows me to do all of the above.

David Johnson: Let’s be thankful for the women and men in the US military, our first responders, the domestic and international intelligence services and the American Allied forces who work to protect freedom here at home and around the world. Please remember them today and every day, for there are no Norman Rockwell paintings without their efforts and good work.

Jonathan Kilman: I am incredibly grateful for the abundant opportunities that come my way, and for the perpetual support of family, friends and colleagues in my life. I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and a year of tremendous success and happiness!

Darrick McGhee: When considering what I am thankful for, the easy answer is LIFE. And although the aforementioned is true, I am also thankful for the happiness and health of my wife and kids. As one who grew up with financial hardships, this year (like in previous years) I find myself reminiscing about the sacrifices my mother made to put food on the table for her two sons. To now consider where I am in my life and profession, I am very thankful that I will be able to host many family members, especially that same mother and allow her to see that her many sacrifices were not in vain.

Tim Meenan: I am thankful that Peter Schorsch ferrets out and summarizes, on a daily basis throughout the year, all the political inside scoop that’s fit to print!

Paul Mitchell: Thankful for the three greatest gifts any man could ever wish for: Chase, Bennett and Spencer Mitchell – my three boys.

Caitlin Murray: Hmmm… not to sound too cliché, but probably the most amazing support system ever- my family. Especially my parents AND their inspiring 42 years of marriage.

Rich Newsome: I’m thankful to have heard Richard Corcoran‘s speech about cutting corporate welfare and other budget fat. And REALLY thankful to have the chance to sit in the gallery during the next two years, have some popcorn, and watch the whole rest of the fourth floor lose their minds as it all unfolds.

Sarah Niewold: I am thankful for working with a team that has become family, a pup that excitedly welcomes me home each day, and Orangetheory fitness to help rescue me after I eat too much food and drink too much wine during the holidays. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving!

Kirk Pepper: A job that doesn’t feel like work, beautiful, talented children, family that are friends and friends that are family.

Fred Piccolo: A wonderful, beautiful wife who has embraced this adventure in Tallahassee. Supportive and encouraging parents who taught me faith and fortitude. Two brothers who are best friends and partners in crime. A job that is challenging and rewarding. Two bosses I respect and can have fun with. Friends who are steadfast and loyal. A grandmother who speaks her mind – even when it’s hilarious. The best dog a guy could ask for and a President-elect who will Make America Great Again.

Scott Ross: I’m thankful for my beautiful wife Ashley, my daughter Kendall, our dogs Kacey and Walker and the 11.5 years we got to spend with our dog Riley. Thankful to live in the freest country in the world where we can raise our children to believe anything is possible.

Ron Sachs: Thanksgiving always has been my favorite holiday. Everyone has so much to be grateful for — and this day reminds us to keep an attitude of gratitude omnipresent, not just one day a year. Personally, I am grateful for the friends who are our family of choice, and for family who love each other enough to be loving friends, too. In a really painful year with personal losses of loved ones among those closest to me, I’m thankful for how we helped each other through — with the love of others — as we hope to help others in their same sad times. I deeply appreciate living in a country which so values freedom that our wide differences of opinion may test and stress us, but they will never really tear us apart. I’m grateful for those who hold themselves out for public service — elected and appointed — and who almost always are in it for all the right reasons. And, I’m grateful for the greatness of our free enterprise system, which enabled us to start, grow and sustain a business more than 20 years ago that does excellent work for our clients, gives back as much as possible to our community, and helps our work family take care of their own families. Happy Thanksgiving to All.

Karen Skyers: I am thankful for my children, my grandchildren, my godparents, my sisters, friends, health, my career, my mentors and mentees. I am thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had over the past year and those to come. I am most grateful for having loving parents who stood together against all odds and raised my sisters and I with love, compassion and respect for all others.

Chester Spellman: I am thankful for my wonderful wife, three healthy kids and the opportunity to serve the people of Florida through my position at Volunteer Florida.

John “Mac” Stipanovich: I am thankful that I have lived long enough to  graduate from being an enduring pain in the ass to being an endearing eccentric.

Steve Vancore: As a business owner, I am extremely thankful that so many clients put so much trust in our hands.  As a father and husband, I am grateful that my family put up with long hours at the office and the nights away from home…and now I am grateful that I get to spend the next few weeks in my own bed.

Michael Williams: For healthy kids, a great wife, and Dalvin Cook.

Frank Zilaitis: I am thankful for House Speaker Richard Corcoran. I suspect/hope he is a closet Objectivist implementing the ideal political party platform and policies: www.theamericancapitalistparty.com. The Florida House has a golden opportunity to take the lead in restoring liberty in Florida. Best to you and your colleagues Mr. Speaker!

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WHY THANKSGIVING STILL WINS, IN ONE PARAGRAPH via Michael Schaffer of The New Republic – “…It’s a holiday to be proud of: Humble without being morose, generous without being opulent, old without being irrelevant, intimate but also all about community. At a time of income inequality, the feast that is its central organizing event is made of ingredients that are democratic. In an era of suspicion, it celebrates immigrants. During a period of polarization, it’s something we all agree on. It can be religious if you want, but it doesn’t have to be: Thank the Almighty, thank your friends, thank your lucky stars—it’s all good.”

AS WE CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING, REMEMBER OUR HIGHER CALLING: HELPING THE NEEDY via Rao Musunuru for the Tampa Bay Times – One does not have to be a socialist to want to help the poor and needy. And one does not have to be deeply religious to feel the pain of the poor and sick … The United States of America is the most generous country in the world. Most of us like helping. Do we do enough, though, especially to meet the local needs? The muscular middle-aged man begging on the street corner on a Sunday morning may not fit the description of the needy. How does one decide whom to help? It will be very obvious, if one observes closely … let us think of both ends of the life spectrum — children and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable. Let us give our thanks to God for this Thanksgiving by sharing what little we can with the unfortunate. Also, may we make a habit of it throughout the year and enjoy the endless happiness of helping.

COST OF THANKSGIVING DAY MEAL DOWN IN 2016 via Florida Politics — According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is $49.87. That’s a 24-cent decrease from the 2015 average of $50.11. The survey found a 16-pound turkey will cost $22.74, or about $1.42 per pound. That’s a 2 cents per pound decrease from 2015. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates consumers will pay about 30 cents less per whole turkey this year compared to last year. “We have seen farm prices for many foods – including turkeys – fall from the higher levels of recent years,” said John Newton, the director of market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “This translates into lower retail prices for a number of items as we prepare for Thanksgiving and confirms that U.S. consumers benefit from an abundant, high-quality and affordable food supply.”

HERE’S WHAT YOUR PART OF AMERICA EATS ON THANKSGIVING via Walt Hickey of Five Thirty Eight — Thanksgiving — when we give thanks and celebrate a tale about the welcoming of foreign refugees to American shores — is once again upon us. For some, it’s a day of mass media consumption, with a parade and three NFL games. … Sure, we’ve hit the point where the Santa Claus float at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commemorates the start of the third week of Christmas music on the radio, but at least turkeys are cheap, right? And that’s what Thanksgiving is really about: food. So, in the spirit of the things that bring us all together, let’s peel apart this holiday and carve this nation up into factions like a bargain-bin bird. Who eats what where?

The Southeast prefers their carbs in the form of mac and cheese — 35 percent of respondents in that region include the dish on their Thanksgiving menu versus 20 percent of the country overall. … Every region enjoys pumpkin pie. But beyond that, there are three Americas: The America that disproportionately has apple pie (New England and the Middle Atlantic), the America that has pecan pie and sweet potato pie (the assorted South), and the America that consumes cherry pie (the Midwest and West).

COST OF THANKSGIVING DAY MEAL DOWN IN 2016 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is $49.87. That’s a 24-cent decrease from the 2015 average of $50.11. The survey found a 16-pound turkey will cost $22.74, or about $1.42 per pound. That’s a two-cent-per-pound decrease from 2015. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates consumers will pay about 30 cents less per whole turkey this year compared to last year. The America Farm Bureau Federation’s shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk. All the quantities will serve a family of 10, with leftovers. While the cost of turkey is down, a few dinner table staples did increase. The price of a dozen brown-and-serve rolls increased to $2.46; while 12 ounces of fresh cranberries will cost an estimated $2.39. The Farm Bureau also found the cost of a half-pint of whipping cream is $2 and a three-pound bag of fresh sweet potatoes is $3.60.

GAS PRICES DROP AHEAD OF BUSY THANKSGIVING TRAVEL SCHEDULE — AAA projects 43.5 million Americans will take a road trip this Thanksgiving, and drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. The national average price is $2.14, and represents a savings of 3 cents per gallon compared to one week ago and 9 cents per gallon on the month. According to AAA, pump prices “are only five cents higher than compared to last year.” The organization said retail averages have fallen steadily since Nov. 6.

48.7 MILLION AMERICANS TO TRAVEL THIS THANKSGIVING via AAA – AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of 1 million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. Why the Increase? This year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. Despite incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline during the past couple of months, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year. “This is the most traveled holiday of the year, and as usual, there is an emphasis on road trips,” said Joseph J. Richardson Jr., President and CEO of AAA – The Auto Club Group. “If you are one of the 43.5 million people on the road, we urge you to be patient in traffic and limit distractions while behind the wheel.” The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27 – the same duration as last year. The most popular travel dates are the Wednesday before the holiday and the Sunday after. The vast majority—more than 89 percent—of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 3.69 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 1.44 million travelers. In Florida, AAA estimates 2,531,080 people will travel, an increase of 4.9 percent; of that, 2,293,620 will travel by auto, an increase of 5 percent.

WHAT’S THE WORD FOR TURKEY IN TURKISH? via Gretchen McCulloch of Slate.com – … turkey in Turkish is hindi … the word for turkey in Hindi is टर्की … transcribed ṭarkī in the Latin alphabet … Turkeys are native to the Americas, but the Europeans first encountering them thought that they looked like a kind of guinea fowl, another large, ungainly, colorful-faced kind of bird … Europeans received most of their guinea fowl imported via Turkey … original guinea fowl kept that name, but the new kind of guinea fowl (which weren’t actually guinea fowl at all) ended up with the other version: turkey fowl, which became just turkey … first turkeys brought to Europe also generally came via Turkey: The birds had originally been domesticated by the Aztecs and were brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadores, who traded them to the rest of the continent via North Africa and, yes, Turkey.

FLORIDA’S UNIQUE TURKEY SPECIES GOBBLES ON via David Flesher of the Orlando Sentinel … An elusive variety of the giant bird will be gobbling, clucking and flying at surprisingly high speed through South Florida’s fields and forests … Osceola turkey, also called the Florida wild turkey … a subspecies unique to the state’s peninsula. Smaller and darker than its Northern cousins, the Osceola can be found at the southeastern end of Everglades National Park, at the far western edge of Broward County, in the forests of northwestern Palm Beach County and throughout the peninsula up to about Jacksonville. The state’s native turkey has turned into an unlikely tourist draw, attracting hunters seeking to complete their “grand slam” of all five North American turkey subspecies. At the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area in northern Palm Beach County, hunters killed 103 turkeys in the last three seasons … Their speed would surprise anyone who thinks of turkeys as waddling blobs of meat and feathers. A wild turkey can run up to 25 miles per hour and briefly achieve a flying speed of 55 miles per hour, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

turkeys-at-everglades-park

FIRST THANKSGIVING ACTUALLY WAS IN FLORIDA via Ben Brotemarkle of WTSP/10 News – Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, colonists in St. Augustine shared a feast of thanksgiving with Native Americans. “Not until 42 years later would English Jamestown be founded,” said eminent Florida historian Michael Gannon. “Not until 56 years later would the Pilgrims in Massachusetts observe their famous Thanksgiving. St. Augustine’s settlers celebrated the nation’s first Thanksgiving over a half century earlier, on September 8, 1565. Following a religious service, the Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe.” Hosting the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States is one of many “firsts” for the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in America … “Our nation’s first city government, first school, first hospital, first city plan, first Parrish church, and first mission to the native populations.”

FSU RESEARCHERS TALK TURKEY: NATIVE AMERICANS RAISED CLASSIC HOLIDAY BIRD LONG BEFORE FIRST THANKSGIVING via Kathleen Haughney of Florida State University News — Hundreds of years before the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans were raising and feasting on America’s classic holiday meal. Florida State University Associate Professor of Anthropology Tanya Peres and graduate student Kelly Ledford write in a paper published … in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports  that Native Americans as early as 1200 – 1400 A.D. were managing and raising turkeys. This is the first time scientists have suggested that turkeys were potentially domesticated by early Native Americans in the southeastern United States. “In the Americas, we have just a few domesticated animals,” Peres said. “Researchers haven’t really talked about the possibility of Native Americans domesticating or raising turkeys.” Researchers knew that turkeys had been a part of Native American life long before the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE WARNS OF WILDFIRE DANGERS AHEAD OF THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service issued a fire danger warning this week, and encouraged Floridians to take extra precaution over the Thanksgiving holiday. Dry conditions sparked wildfires in many areas of the state, threatening 32 homes within the last month. The Florida Forest Service encouraged Floridians to avoid burning yard debris on dry, windy days and never leave a fire or outdoor heat source unattended. Deep frying your turkey? According to the Florida Forest Service said turkey fryers and grills should be set up at least 10 feet away from your home and away from overhanging branches and natural areas. “As we join friends and family this Thanksgiving, let’s all take extra care while outdoors, whether frying a turkey or grilling out for a big game,” said Putnam.

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JOE NEGRON REAFFIRMS POLICY GOALS AS HE TAKES OVER AS FLORIDA SENATE PRESIDENT via Kristen M. Clark of the Miami Herald — As Negron officially took over control of the Florida Senate on Tuesday, the Republican from Stuart outlined once again his priorities for improving higher education, stopping harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee and reforming juvenile justice. Negron first detailed those plans in his designation speech almost a year ago, but now he’s in a position to personally drive that agenda for the next two years. … Negron also said he wants to defend the right of free speech on public college and university campuses — pointedly noting he hopes Florida’s institutions “will continue to reject the culture of coddling that has consumed some campuses around our country the past few weeks and months.” “Dating back all the way to antiquity, institutions of higher education have always served as forums for free speech and the open exchange of ideas,” Negron said. “No one has a right to shut down speech simply because it makes someone feel uncomfortable. We should train students to articulate and defend their ideas in an open and responsible way that prepares them for the real world.”

IN FIRST SPEECH AS SPEAKER, RICHARD CORCORAN CALLS TEACHERS UNION VOUCHER CHALLENGE ‘DOWNRIGHT EVIL’ via Jessica Bakeman of POLTICO Florida — If it wasn’t already clear the conservative state House of Representatives resents teachers’ unions, new speaker Richard Corcoran plans to plainly target them during his opening remarks as he takes over the chamber. “The teachers union is fixated on halting innovation and competition,” Corcoran will say, according to his prepared remarks, which were distributed to reporters. “They are attempting to destroy the lives of almost 100,000 children, mostly minority, and ALL of them poor. This flies in the face of research. It defies common sense. It is downright evil.” …FEA is fighting a voucher-like tax-credit scholarship program that lets poor kids attend private schools. State trial and appeals courts have ruled the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue over the 15-year-old program, in which corporations save on their tax bills by funding the scholarships. But, led by the FEA, the plaintiffs have appealed to the state Supreme Court. “Tell the teachers union they’re wrong,” Corcoran will say, referring to the lawsuit.

SENATE AND HOUSE NOT THAT DIFFERENT, NEGRON SAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Negron said his approach to budgeting isn’t that different from Corcoran … In sweeping changes to the House’s traditional way of doing business, Corcoran said senators would need House sponsors for special spending requests, such as hometown projects, often derided as “turkeys.” But Negron, who along with Corcoran is a former Appropriations chair, said he “would encourage senators to find someone in the House” to support a budget item, and “we’ve always done that,” he said. “The chances of an appropriation surviving this process are higher if both chambers are doing it,” said Negron …  He also suggested those who lobby the Legislature for appropriations for paying clients have as much of a First Amendment right to cajole lawmakers as residents who seek money to build a senior center. “The Capitol … should always be open for comment,” Negron said. “… I believe that lobbyists and others and constituents have every right to redress grievances and to work in the process. And I believe all of us have a responsibility, myself included, to get information from many different sources to make a decision about voting and on budget decisions.”

FLORIDA SENATE LEADERS RESIST CORCORAN’S CALLS FOR CHANGE IN CAPITOL via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – “Too many lobbyists see themselves as the true power brokers of this process,” Corcoran told the House during a one-day organizational session. “Too many appropriations projects are giveaways to vendors and the decision of whether they get in the budget has more to do with their choice of lobbyist than the merits of the project … It all ends, and it all ends today.” Despite Corcoran’s reformist zeal, he controls only one side of the Capitol. The Senate … has very different ideas. “Lobbyists and others and constituents have every opportunity to redress grievances,” Negron told reporters … the Senate will resist new House rules … requiring that lawmaker-sponsored spending projects be filed as stand-alone bills by next March 7, the opening day of the session. “We shouldn’t put ourselves in a straitjacket,” Negron said. “The Capitol should always be open for business.” Negron’s priorities are juvenile justice, the environment and higher education. He’ll propose a $1.2 billion borrowing program to buy land to increase water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, where harmful lake discharges have polluted the fragile Everglades and triggered devastating algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The program is part of the implementation of the land and water initiative known as Amendment 1, a ballot measure passed by voters two years ago. Negron avoided directly criticizing Corcoran, but a leading Democrat did the job.

OSCAR BRAYNON TO RICHARD CORCORAN ON THE NEW HOUSE RULES: WHERE’S THE REAL CHANGE? via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “I look at these rules and I think, he must be expecting criminals and unethical people to come to the House. I know I expect senators to come to the Senate,” [Braynon] said in an interview …  “If Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva really wanted to change the culture of the House, to me they wouldn’t be afraid to debate issues,” he said. “They wouldn’t stifle Democratic bills. They wouldn’t take good Democratic ideas and make them Republican bills. if they really wanted change, and they talk about openness, they would start doing these things instead of this foolishness claiming we’re cleaning up the process because people can’t fly on jets, or text lobbyists or get a promotion in a government job. “To me, that’s not a real change. Most of that is illegal or is not allowed anyway and if it is, it’s disclosed. Real change is changing the dynamic where bills are not heard, where ideas are stifled, where people are forced to vote against their conscience. If they change that, then he’s doing a real change. the rest of this is — since Trump got elected I guess I can say this — it’s bullshit.” In a nod to bipartisan cooperation, Oscar will present the Senate’s rules with it convenes today to swear in new members and most of the Senate rules are the same ones used by the Republican-controlled upper chamber in the past. “One of the reasons we didn’t change them is because we believe we elected senators of high regard and if my colleagues break the law, or violate the rules, we’ll deal with violating the statutes and the rules,” he said.

HOW TO GET AROUND RICHARD CORCORAN’S RULES – VOLUME 1 via Peter Schorsch

Among the changes is a requirement that members file individual legislation for each budget earmark they seek, reports Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Initially, there was some confusion about this rule change because it was unclear what would happen to an earmark in the Senate that had no accompanying bill in the House.

Corcoran said Monday the solution to that problem is senators will need to find a House co-sponsor for earmark requests just like any other bill, reports Dixon.

“They have to find one of the 120 members [of the House] to file that earmark or project for them, then it’s in play,” Corcoran said.

There would appear to be an easy workaround to this roadblock, err, reform.

A gang of Republican senators just needs to find some backbench, preferably term-limited Democrat member of the House who has no hesitation about pissing in Corcoran’s Cheerios.

Have this House member file a bill for every single possible earmark the Senate can conceive of, this way the upper chamber is in compliance with the House’s new requirements.

(The gang of senators needs to remember to lend this helpful House member a handful of Senate staffers to complete all of the new budgeting paperwork now required by Corcoran and Co.)

Since there’s no limit on the number of appropriations bills that can be filed by an individual member, it won’t matter if this helpful House member files one bill or a thousand. In fact, the more bills, the merrier for the Senate. After all, as Dixon noted in his reporting about Corcoran’s changes to the appropriations process, as long as a budget bill is filed by both the House and the Senate, it can remain in play until final budget negotiations.

Sure, this helpful House member may draw the scorn of Speaker Corcoran, but they’ll have a lot of friends in the Senate.

And that’s one way to get around Speaker Corcoran’s new rules.

Email peter@floridapolitics.com if you have suggestions for other hacks and workarounds.

AS THE LEGISLATURE ORGANIZES, WHERE’S PAM BONDI? via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s a big day in the Capitol as the state House and Senate elect leaders and organize for the 2017-2018 term — big enough that Gov. Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and most of the Florida Cabinet are on hand. But one member of the Cabinet isn’t here: Attorney General Bondi. She is working. Bondi called in to a meeting of the Elections Canvassing Commission with Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater … She could well be in New York helping with president-elect Donald Trump’s transition to the White House. Trump named Bondi to the executive committee of his transition team. She is also considered a frontrunner for an appointment in the new administration.

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY GIVES THUMBS UP TO NEW HOUSE RULES via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “We are especially eager to see Speaker Corcoran’s new house rules in action,” said state director Chris Hudson. “These new rules are a strong signal to Floridians that the legislature will focus on good stewardship and transparency as their guide throughout the next two years.” Included in the approved package of proposals are a requirement for lobbyists to submit paperwork the first time they meet with anyone in the House on an issue or a bill; requiring lobbyists to list the particular issues of a bill before they can lobby them, and a ban on lobbyists texting lawmakers during committee hearings. In addition to Corcoran’s election, the House and Senate voted for new leaders selected years ago. “We are excited to begin working on holding elected officials accountable for the 2017 session,” said Hudson. “We heard Senate President Joe Negron, Speaker Richard Corcoran, and leaders Janet Cruz and Oscar Braynon lay out aggressive agendas for the coming years. Our hope is that these lawmakers, and both legislative bodies, rise to the principled standards they laid out in order to advance freedom for Florida families and entrepreneurs.”

FAMILY FEUD MIAMI STYLE: LEGISLATORS RE-ELECT REP. JOSE FELIX DIAZ AS DELEGATION CHAIR AFTER PARTISAN BATTLE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Despite their attempt to flex their muscles, four Democrats crossed over and the group re-elected Diaz to the one-year post that has the power to make appointments to several local boards of directors. Diaz was challenged by the current vice chair, newly-elected state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez … He collected 14 votes to Rodriguez’s 9 while Diaz failed to vote. Democrats who voted for Diaz over their party’s candidate were Rep. Joe Geller of Aventura, Rep. Roy Hardemon of Miami, Rep. Nick Duran of Miami Beach and Sen. Daphne Campbell of Miami. “I think it’s still a united delegation,” Diaz said after the vote. “Every election gets like this. The best part about our delegation is that no matter what happens today at the election, we always work together throughout, so it’s going to be a good couple of years. I’m excited. I felt confident I had the votes, but we still need to come here and that we follow through with the right protocol.” … “I’m disappointed,” said Sen. Oscar Braynon … who voted for Rodriguez by proxy. “I think Pepe [Diaz] will be a good delegation chair but that’s not the point. The eternal question is, what do Democrats really want? We had a chance to have a position of power and elect a Democrat for the first time and we didn’t do it.”

CALL FOR COSTLY RE-DO OF PALM BEACH COUNTY STATE SENATE RACE NOW BEFORE JUDGE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Prospects for a costly and confusing election re-do in a Palm Beach County state Senate district now rest with a Leon County judge following a hearing which coincided with the Legislature’s organization session. Sen. Bobby Powell was sworn-in as a new senator at 10:32 a.m. Just over a half-hour later across the street from the Capitol, lawyers for Powell and political opponents Ruben Anderson, a Democrat and Ron Berman, a Republican, were battling over whether the primary and general election contests for Senate District 30 should be replayed. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, looking on in Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis’s courtroom, said a do-over of the two recently completed elections would likely cost taxpayers more than $1 million. Anderson was disqualified in July after his bank did not honor his campaign’s $1,781.82 check to cover the candidate qualifying fee. Florida law gives a candidate until the end of the qualifying period to correct such a situation. But Anderson had no remedy because his check was returned after qualifying closed.

ROBERT ASENCIO IS SWORN IN TO HOUSE DESPITE ATTEMPT BY DAVID RIVERA TO CHALLENGE HIM via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — After a ruling by the Secretary of State that Democrat Asencio’s 53-vote victory over former state Rep. David Rivera was legitimate, the Florida House swore in the Democrat and rejected Rivera’s seating challenge.  The House unanimously rejected the formal challenge for House District 118 Tuesday, during the House’s post-election organizational session, after the Florida Canvassing Board, headed by Secretary of State Ken Detzner certified the vote after a recount. After 10 hours of counting ballots, Miami-Dade County elections department last week declared that Asencio finished with 31,412 votes and Rivera 31,359 — a margin 15 votes closer than when the recount began. “There is no assertion and no evidence submitted that the Miami-Dade canvassing board…In other words, there was no allegation of any irregularity,” said Rep. Larry Metz, R-Umatilla, who moved to dismiss the seating challenge. The motion was unanimously approved.

2018 WATCH – HIALEAH LAWMAKER EYES FLORIDA SENATE SEAT IN TWO YEARS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Fresh off re-election to his third term in the Florida House … Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. is already planning his political future. Diaz opened a campaign account to run in 2018 for Florida Senate District 36 — which current state Sen. René García … will vacate in two years because of term limits. The north Miami-Dade County seat overlaps largely with Diaz’s House district — an area that includes Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Miami Lakes and Doral. Diaz is expected to have a powerful role in the Florida House for the 2016-18 term when it comes to education matters. He is likely to be named as an appropriations chairman for one of the subcommittees overseeing education spending. It is quite common for lawmakers to open campaign accounts almost immediately after being elected or re-elected, so that they can begin fundraising for their next campaign.

FLORIDA PTA DROPS OUT OF FEA VOUCHER LAWSUIT via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The move comes the same day new House Speaker Richard Corcoran … called on the Florida Education Association to drop the suit. The Florida PTA was one of several groups which participated in the lawsuit against Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides nearly 100,000 low-income and minority students with vouchers to attend private schools around the state. Groups opposed to the scholarship program have repeatedly taken their case to court, challenging the constitutionality of the program. The Florida Education Association, which represents nearly 140,000 teachers statewide, has led the charge against the program. The Florida PTA joined the FEA and other groups like the NAACP to fight against the scholarship program, much to the dismay of parent groups, students and lawmakers alike. The PTA has decided it no longer wants to be a part of the movement against the scholarships — at least in a legal sense — moving forward … the PTA still opposes the scholarship program, but “has decided to focus its efforts elsewhere.” Last month, the board of the parent-teacher group decided to drop out of the suit. Support for the lawsuit has dwindled over time. Last year, the Florida School Boards Association decided it wouldn’t appeal a Leon County judge’s dismissal of the case. That ruling was just one in a series of many judge orders saying the plaintiffs don’t have a standing to file a lawsuit. The FEA has pledged not to give up on its legal battle against the program despite losing one of its comrades along the way. “This doesn’t change the FEA’s resolve to have the merits of this case heard in a fair and open court,” FEA president Joanne McCall said in a statement.

CAPITOL HOLIDAY DISPLAY WOULD PAY HOMAGE TO POLICE SHOOTING VICTIMS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A South Florida activist and former blogger has again filed to erect a “Festivus” pole in the state Capitol this year as a holiday display. But this year’s pole has a politically charged twist, according to Chaz Stevens‘ application to the state. “The all black, six-foot-tall Festivus-inspired pole will contain the names of all unarmed black men killed by police in 2016,” Stevens wrote. The application has not yet been acted on by the Department of Management Services, which oversees state property. For the last few years, reviewing and approving holiday displays in the Capitol’s plaza-level rotunda has been a thorn in the side of state administrators. The only other application for the 2016 holiday season is from the First Coast Freethought Society in Jacksonville. It wants to display a poster that “explains the astronomy producing the winter solstice and the historical reasons for celebrating at this time of year,” its application says. Other past displays have included a crèche from Florida Prayer Network/Florida Nativity Scene Committee; a 9-foot-tall menorah; a placard with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” with “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food” by American Atheists; and a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” display by Secular Student Alliance and Pastafarian Peter Wood.

OIR NEEDS MORE MONEY TO COVER INSURANCE COMMISSIONER’S SALARY via Christine Sexton of POLTICO Florida — Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is asking the Florida Legislature to put some money where its mouth is. Atwater and Gov. Rick Scott on April 29 agreed that David Altmaier should replace longtime insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty, who resigned at Scott’s urging. The full Cabinet agreed to pay Altmaier $165,000, about $31,000 more than what McCarty earned. According to the Department of Financial Services legislative budget request, the Office of Insurance Regulation has not been given the additional funding needed to pay Altmaier the agreed-to salary. It asks for an additional $30,843 in rate and $35,521 in salaries and benefits to cover the increase.

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FPL’S MIKE SOLE, JOHN HOLLEY MOVE INTO NEW POSITIONS via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Florida Power & Light Co.’s Sole has moved from Tallahassee to Juno Beach to take a position with parent company NextEra Energy. Sole, who was Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary from 2007 to 2010, becomes vice president of environmental services at NextEra, replacing retiring Randy LaBauve … Sole had been vice president of state government affairs at FPL. He is being replaced by John Holley, who had been vice president of state legislative affairs since 2011. The changes were effective Nov. 1 followed by a transition period.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALBERTO MOSCOSO MOVES TO FDEM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Moscoso, formerly press secretary for the Department of Corrections, now is communications director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Moscoso, who also holds the title of Public Information Officer, started the new job Nov. 18 … “We are excited and proud to welcome Alberto,” said Bryan Koon, the state’s director of emergency management. “His experiences serving both our country and our state will provide our team with the diverse skill set essential to accurate and effective communications during times of crisis.” At Corrections, Moscoso “developed and honed the skills of strategic public relations, crisis communications and relationship development with media and community partners.” That department has long had a contentious relationship with the press, including, most recently, a public spat with POLITICO Florida over its report that the agency misled the public about plans to eliminate transitional programs for prisoners and probationers.

PERSONNEL NOTE: DAVE MURZIN JOINS LIBERTY PARTNERS OF TALLAHASSEE AS NW FLORIDA DIRECTOR via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “We are honored to have Dave join forces with the Liberty Partners team.” said firm owner and President Jennifer Green in a statement. “This strategic partnership gives us the opportunity to continue to work with a longtime friend and colleague in a region of the state where we all have a strong connection.” A former state legislator and longtime legislative staffer, Murzin has experience in both the public and private sector. Murzin served in the Florida House from 2002 until 2010. While in the House, Murzin was appointed by former House Speaker Larry Cretul to the Florida Council on Military Base and Mission Support. He also served on the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council, was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to both the Joint Select Committee on Hurricane Insurance and the Property Tax Reform Committee, was appointed by former House Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the Joint Property Tax Reform Committee, and served on the Escambia County Utilities Authority Administrative Advisory Committee. Before serving in the Florida House, he served as a top staffer to Jeff Miller, a former congressman and member of the Florida House, and former House Majority Leader Jerry Maygarden.

SPOTTED: Diane Roberts eats food and teaches writing in Atlanta. More here.

WHAT STEPHANIE SMITH IS READING – UBER, LYFT ON HOLD IN ST. PETE WHILE CITY TWEAKS BUSINESS TAX via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Council members appeared poised to approve the measure, first discussed at a council workshop in February 2015, before an Uber representative said his company was exempt from the tax because it didn’t employ any workers who received W-2 tax forms from Uber. Lyft officials had similar concerns. The Uber representative, Cesar Fernandez, managed Mayor Rick Kriseman’s 2013 mayoral campaign. City attorneys said the city’s tax code had been simplified in recent years, but its procedures had remained consistent: taxi and other vehicle-for-hire services were assessed the tax not by workers, but by individual vehicles. The current tax code wasn’t explicit on this point, conceded Heather Judd, an assistant city attorney, but she said the city would need only to clarify the code to legally assess the tax, which is pegged at $65 per vehicle. Council members agreed to defer the issue until next month when they could consider a revised tax code spelling out how taxis and ride-sharing companies would be taxed. Taxi companies who have contended that Uber and Lyft have operated illegally in the city for years, cheered council member Jim Kennedy’s request that Kriseman order police to begin enforcing the city’s existing ordinance, which requires fees and taxes of up to $265 per vehicle.

WHY DO THE DETROIT LIONS AND DALLAS COWBOYS ALWAYS PLAY ON THANKSGIVING? via Florida Politics – It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise … in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth … wasn’t quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934. Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving … The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL’s Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and that’s why the Lions still play on Thanksgiving.

THE 32 RULES OF THANKSGIVING TOUCH FOOTBALL via Florida Politics – A Nerf ball is OK but you should own a leather football … It’s two-hand touch. One-hand touch is for lazy people who buy turkey sandwiches out of vending machines. … Two completions is a first down. Not as simple as it sounds — just ask the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. … The ground is probably going to be squishy with cold mud, and someone in your family is going to fall down face-first and ruin his or her Thanksgiving outfit. This is not cause for alarm. This is the highlight of the game … It’s OK to play with kids but don’t baby them. Just because your 7-year-old niece is playing quarterback doesn’t mean you can’t intercept her screen pass and run it back for a touchdown. She’s got to learn sometime not to throw into triple coverage.

THANKSGIVING IN SPACE: TURKEY, GREEN BEANS & EVEN FOOTBALL via Marcia Dunn of The Associated Press – NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the station’s commander, is serving as Thanksgiving chef for the six-person crew. He showed off the specialties he’ll be preparing in a video this week. “It’s going to be a little bit different for us up here in space,” he said, “but I’m going to try to make it as much like home as we can.” On Thursday – a regular workday for the crew – Kimbrough will warm up pouches of sliced smoked turkey, candied yams, and cherry and blueberry cobbler. He’ll also add water to the bags of freeze-dried cornbread dressing, green beans and mushrooms and mashed potatoes. “You can’t have a Thanksgiving meal without green beans,” he noted. Mission Control promises to beam up some live football games – “to complete the experience,” Kimbrough said. NASA, meanwhile, is sharing its recipe for “out of this world” cornbread dressing. It’s straight from Johnson Space Center’s food lab, “no freeze-drying required.”

CYBER MONDAY TO BE BIGGEST SHOPPING DAY OF YEAR FOR FLORIDIANS via Doreen Christensen of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Cyber Monday is expected to overtake Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year for Floridians, according to a new AAA Consumer Pulse Survey. Of 400 state residents surveyed by the Tampa-based Auto Club Group, more than 75 percent of Floridians said they planned to begin holiday shopping in November, with 49 percent expected to click for deals on Cyber Monday. Black Friday came in a close second in the survey, at 48 percent. Only 19 percent said they would venture out for doorbuster deals on Thanksgiving Day or Saturday. Gifts at the top of shoppers’ lists include apparel (68 percent), gift cards (60 percent), toys (39 percent), jewelry (38 percent) and books (37 percent), according to AAA.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Brady Benford, Craig Chown, Julia Woodward, and my dear friend, Screven Watson.

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