Takeaways from Tallahassee – Knives are out

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran is sticking to his goal of slashing $1 billion from the state budget this year.

The Land O’ Lakes Republican, in a media availability Thursday, said there are “tons of things that we do in the budget every year,” also known as recurring spending, that lawmakers don’t question.

Call it the copy-paste way of budgeting.

“We take a budget that pre-existed, it’s considered sacrosanct, and we consider the growth over that budget,” he said. Corcoran wants to shake up the system.

“Senate President (Joe) Negron has said the same thing: Just because (something) was put in 20, 30 years ago, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be re-examined and whether there is still a purpose” for any given funding item.

Gov. Rick Scott, expected to release his budget Tuesday at the annual Associated Press Pre-Legislative Session planning meeting, is asking for more than $600 million in tax cuts.

“I feel confident that the House will be able to come up with a billion to $2 billion worth of cuts,” Corcoran told reporters. “And I think those cuts are, in many cases, projects.”

Yes, the good ol’ hometown project, or “Christmas tree” item, “so named because they were strung onto the budget like so many lights and ornaments,” as The New York Times once put it.

Corcoran now requires such local funding requests to be filed individually for all to see before the sausage starts getting made.

As of Thursday, 43 requests were filed, according to LobbyTools, worth over $66 million.

They include, for example, $1.4 million for the City of Hialeah’s Elder Meals Program from Republican state Rep. Manny Diaz, and $3 million for the Florida Community Catalyst Project, to “stabilize neighborhoods … impacted by increased foreclosure,” from Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa.

Any projects that do make it into the 2017-18 budget will be one-time only and not recurring, Corcoran has said.

The problem is when an influential legislator gets a project approved, it becomes a legacy that repeats year after year, he added Thursday.

But, when asked, Corcoran seemed less interested in doing away with legacy tax breaks to favored industries.

In 2013, Negron tried to decrease automobile fees, paying for it by getting rid of a then 26-year-old tax break to insurance companies which at the time was worth around $225 million. The insurance industry helped kill that effort in the House. Fees were later reduced without scuttling the tax break.

Negron has said he’s again looking to eliminate the deal this year, a 15 percent tax credit on the salaries that insurers give their full-time workers here in the state.

“I’m all for tax cuts,” Corcoran said. “I was talking about pork barrel spending … I think you’re absolutely confusing apples and oranges.”

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Michael Moline, Jim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.

Now, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Rumble in Tallahassee — A poll released this week showed 59 percent of Floridians said they favored using “tax dollars and other incentives to attract business to Florida,” while 34 percent said they opposed using taxpayer money for incentives. There’s just one caveat: OnMessage Inc. conducted the poll for Let’s Get to Work, the political committee behind Gov. Scott’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns. It was released the same day Enterprise Florida CEO Chris Hart was set to testify before a key Senate panel and highlighted Scott’s fight over economic incentive money with House Speaker Corcoran. Case in point? Respondents were asked to select a statement that came closest to their opinion of the Carrier manufacturing deal negotiated by then President-elect Donald Trump. According to the survey, 55 percent agreed with the statement that said, in part, “this is exactly the kind of thing we need our government to be doing, making it easier to grow jobs and stay in America.” According to the polling memo, 37 percent of respondents agreed with a statement that read: “Others, like Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, say that it is wrong for government to provide this kind of assistance to businesses, and they call it corporate welfare.”

Smash the tax — Gov. Scott announced this week he is proposing $618 million in tax cuts aimed at encouraging job creation, adding jobs and building opportunities in the future. The tax cut package includes reducing the tax on commercial leases by 25 percent in 2018; four sales tax holidays, including a 10-day back to school holiday and a one-day camping and fishing holiday; and a one-year sales tax exemption on college textbooks. “When we cut taxes, it helps businesses create jobs — jobs that ultimately help the poorest, most disadvantaged families in our state,” he said in a statement. “I made a promise to keep fighting for jobs until my very last day as Governor, and I ask the Legislature to join me in fighting for the future of our students, our small businesses, our veterans and our families by cutting $618 million in taxes this year.” Scott could face pushback from lawmakers, who have warned of the tight budget facing Florida in the coming years.

Easy money — The Florida Senate fast-tracked its gambling proposal, voting unanimously to approve Senate Bill 8 just one hour into what was supposed to be a four-hour meeting. The bill ensures “substantial positive impacts for many years,” said Sen. Bill Galvano, the bill’s sponsor. While the bill appears poised to sail through the Senate, it could face a tougher road in the House. Speaker Corcoran said this week the House isn’t in the same place as the Senate when it comes to gaming, saying it wants, among other things, a constitutional amendment banning the expansion of gambling. “We need a long-term solution that we could make, the representatives who are closest to the people, and not seven judges … then that’s a victory for the state,” Corcoran said.

Frack no — Supporters of a ban on fracking got some GOP love this week, when Republican Sen. Dana Young filed legislation to ban fracking, saying she was fulfilling a campaign promise to her constituents. The decision to file the bill comes after Republicans tried for several years to pass bills to put a moratorium in place while the practice was studied but ultimately regulate the industry. Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer, Republican Rep. Mike Miller, and Democratic Rep. Even Jenne have all filed ban bills this year.

Intrigue at the DEP — DEP Secretary Jon Steverson announced his resignation this week, reportedly leaving his post for a job at Foley & Lardner, according to a Scott spokesman. The governor seemed unfazed by Steverson’s departure, telling reporters this week it’s “just part of the process.” But his rumored decision to join Foley & Lardner means Steverson will join one of the firms representing the state in a nearly 20-year-old court fight with Georgia over water use. It also comes as his agency was poised to ask the agency for $13 million to pay legal bills in the still unresolved case. The issue was supposed to be taken up by Joint Legislative Budget Commission this week, but the request got pulled and sent to an appropriations subcommittee to see if the spending was justified. As for Steverson’s replacement, the Scott and the Florida Cabinet are set to discuss his interim replacement during a conference call next week.

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Rep. Ramon Alexander and Rep. Patricia Williams want to encourage Floridians to give people a second chance.

The two Democrats filed legislation recently to encourage businesses to give felons who have served their debt to society a second chance with a stable job. The proposal (HB 275) will offer businesses a state work-opportunity tax credit if they hire an individual convicted of a felony within the last three years.

Under the proposal, a large company would be able to claim tax credits for up to five available tax credits for up to five eligible employees equaling 50 percent of wages paid to the employees each taxable period.

“I’m extremely proud to offer this legislation that will help to offer those who have served their debt to society the opportunity they deserve to become a contributing member of their community,” said Alexander. “It’s extremely important that the state act as a partner with our business owners to facilitate the successful reintegration of former offenders back into the workforce.”

They aren’t the only ones looking to offer a helping hand to those who have served out their sentences. Rep. Shevrin Jones filed a bill (HB 31) known as “Ban the Box.” It would remove the section of an application that requires applications to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony. The bill would apply to any state-owned agency or business, and would not prohibit the employer from completing a background check.

“Every citizen, not only in the great state of Florida, but throughout America, deserves a second chance,” he said. “I firmly believe that automatically denying someone an interview based on their previous actions deprives them of that second chance.”

More jobs are coming to Southwest Florida.

Gov. Scott announced this week that Best Home Services in Naples would create an additional 80 jobs in 2017. The family owned and operated air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and drain company is based in Naples and voted one of the best in customer service in Southwest Florida.

“In Florida, we understand how important companies like Best Home Services are to creating new opportunities for our families. It is great to see so many people pursuing the American Dream in Southwest Florida thanks to the job they have with this great company,” said Scott in a statement. “Just like Florida, Best Home Services is a true melting pot and has employees from nine countries, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico. I look forward to seeing Best Homes Services’ continued success right here in Florida.”

Next time you see Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson give him a high-five.

Simpson was named Legislator of the Year by the Florida Chapter of the National Waste & Recycling Association.

The Trilby Republican has been recognized for his continued commitment to the natural gas vehicle rebate program. The program allows public and private entities to apply for rebates to purchase or convert vehicles to natural gas. A longtime supporter of the waste and recycling industry in Florida, Simpson has been previously honored as “Legislator of the Year” by the organization.

The association has also named Reps. Halsey Beshears and David Santiago as “Legislators of the Year.”

Rep. Roy Hardemon wants to strengthen the state’s laws when it comes to sex crimes.

The Miami Democrat recently filed a bill (HB 317), which would ensure that anyone convicted of sexually assaulting someone who is unconscious, asleep, or incapable of giving consent because of intoxication will get more than just a “slap on the wrist.”

“Unfortunately, right now many sexual assaults go unreported because the victims believe that their attacker won’t be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” said Hardemon in a statement.  “This bill will guarantee that the punishment fits the severity of the crime.  There is never any excuse for sexual assault and survivors should never have any doubt that their attacker will be held accountable for their despicable actions.”

The bill, according to Hardemon’s office, is similar to one recently signed into law in California after the Sanford University rape case where a judge sentenced Brock Turner to six months in prison and three months of probation after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault. The woman was unconscious at the time of the attack. Turner was released early.

Where do lawyers turn when they need advice? Another lawyer, of course.

The Florida Bar, through a partnership with the Young Lawyers Division, launched a new website — Lawyers Advising Lawyers — this week. The site features a peer-to-peer program that gives members across the state access to veteran attorneys who can help answer procedural and substantive legal questions across more than 50 practice areas.

“At The Florida Bar, we continue to identify new opportunities to leverage technology in a way that provides greater resources for our members, and adds more value to their practices,” said Florida Bar President William J. Schifino, Jr. “Lawyers Advising Lawyers is the latest example of this effort, and is breaking down geographic and generational barriers, while putting information directly into the hands of those who need it most.”

To apply to become a volunteer adviser or for more information, visit www.lawyersadvisinglawyers.com.

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Want to make First Lady Ann Scott happy? Grab a book.

Scott kicked off “2017 Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!” at Fort Lauderdale High School this week. Joining her was the 2017 Teacher of the Year, Department of Education and Florida Lottery officials, and award-winning novelist Brad Meltzer.

The first lady has made literacy a top priority since Gov. Scott took office in 2011, visiting all 67 counties and sharing her passion for reading with Floridians.

“Literacy is a fundamental skill that students must continually develop to accomplish their academic and career goals,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “We are fortunate that first lady Ann Scott uses her platform to motivate Florida’s students to love reading as much as she does, and I hope that all of our state’s parents and educators will echo this powerful message.”

Give these educators a hand.

Gov. Scott recognized eight educators with the Governor’s Shine Award during the Florida Cabinet meeting this week. The award is presented to teachers and administrators in Florida who make significant contributions to education.

“These outstanding teachers go above and beyond to educate students in our state,” said Scott. “I applaud these educators for their dedication to helping our students learn and ensure they are prepared for higher education and careers.”

According to the Governor’s Office, all of the teachers are language arts teachers and are 2017 District Teacher of the Year. The honorees were: Sarah Dobes from Pinellas County, Kristi Imhof from Escambia County, Maryann Kelly from Collier County, Rachel Moree from Indian River County, Susan Perkins in Sumter County, Teryl Sampson at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, Precious Symonette in Miami-Dade County, and Charlotte Wadsworth in Okaloosa County.

Speaking of teachers: Rep. Joseph Abruzzo wants them to get a pay raise.

Abruzzo, a Boynton Beach Democrat and former senator, filed a resolution this week calling for a constitutional amendment to give the state’s public school teachers a raise.

“No one works harder for the benefit of our children than our classroom teachers and it’s time we recognized their value with a well-deserved raise,” stated Abruzzo, the Democratic Whip. “We must also acknowledge that with Florida facing a growing teacher shortage, it is more critical than ever before that we are paying our teachers a salary competitive with the rest of the country. If we are going to recruit and retain the best available talent to teach our children, people deserve to know that they will not need to work a second job just to make ends meet.”

If enacted, the state would be required to raise the average salary of starting and veteran full-time schoolteachers to coincide with the national average by 2019.

Daniel Chen got a “good work” for his good deeds.

Chen was presented with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award during the Florida Cabinet meeting this week. The 17-year-old Wellington high school student is the founder of Bricks Busting Boredom, a nonprofit that collects new or gently used Legos to donate to children’s hospitals in the Palm Beach County area.

“We are grateful for the impact Daniel has had on the children and families being served at the Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital and the surrounding area,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman. “Volunteer Florida applauds Daniel for his civic engagement and celebrates his continued efforts to improve the lives of children and families in his community through service.”

Chen wasn’t the only young person getting an “attaboy” from Gov. Scott and the Cabinet this week.

The governor awarded Terrence Donnelly with the Young Entrepreneur Award. The 30-year-old is the co-founder and CEO of Teeps, a mobile phone application development company.

“It’s great to see entrepreneurs like Terrence follow their dreams of starting a business in our state,” said Scott. “It takes dedication and hard work to start a business, and Teeps is on the path of continued growth and success.”

Crestview cyclists, take note: There’s a business ambassador in your community.

Gov. Scott presented Chained Concepts Bike Shop with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award this week. Miguel Davila, the Okaloosa County bike shop’s owner, opened Chained Concepts in 2014 and specializes in cycling training, fitting and equipment.

“It’s great to see a fellow veteran pursue their dreams in Florida and make an impact in their community,” said Scott. “I’d like to thank Miguel for his service to our country and for creating jobs for our families.”

Attorney General Bondi continues to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Bondi, who has made combating human trafficking a cornerstone of her time in office, presented a resolution recognizing January 2017 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month at the Cabinet meeting this week.

“I am dedicated to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and this Human Trafficking Awareness Month I am asking all Floridians to take an active role in the fight to end this form of modern-day slavery,” she said in a statement. “Floridians should know how to spot a trafficking victim and who to contact to report the crime.”

Bondi also honored several Floridians for their dedication to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and helping victims recovered. Dr. Brook Bello, the founder and CEO of More Too Life, was named Survivor Advocate of the Year; Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Brenda Mezick was named Prosecutor of the Year; The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay was named Community Advocate of the Year; and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Jeffrey Vash was named the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

The Florida Chamber Foundation has the magic number for you: 2 million.

That’s the number of net new jobs needed by 2030 to keep pace with the state’s growing population. According to a new report, the state will add 6 million more residents by 2030 and attract more than 150 million annual visitors. The report also finds the state will need 20 percent more water and demand 76 percent more energy.

“Though many of the jobs Floridians will hold in 2030 have not yet emerged, Florida has a strategic opportunity to prepare for these shifts by leveraging its many assets and changing demographics to make decisions that will have generational benefits and create economic opportunities for millions of Floridians,” according to the report.

The Florida Chamber Foundation is in the midst of Florida 2030 initiative, aimed at ensuring Florida well positioned to address the future.

The robots are coming; hopefully, they’ll pick up the dry cleaning on their way.

Sen. Jeff Brandes filed legislation this week to allow delivery drones to operate in Florida. The bill focused on ground drones, or personal delivery devices. The units are defined as a “motorized device for use primarily on sidewalks and crosswalks at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour, which weighs 50 pounds or less excluding cargo.”

“This technology could revolutionize home delivery and will usher in new business models,” he said. “This type of innovative technology should be embraced by policymakers, and I am excited to focus Florida on the future.”

London-based Starship Technologies makes a six-wheeled model that is beginning to make deliveries in California and Washington, D.C.

Congratulations, Amanda Bowen!

The Manufacturers Association of Florida announced this week that Bowen would become its new executive director. Bowen, who previously served as the organization’s communications director, will take over for Nancy Stephens, who served as the organization’s executive director for 13 years.

“We are very pleased to announce Amanda’s transition from Communications Director to Executive Director,” said President Al Stimac. “Her work with MAF has opened up new opportunities and partnerships for the association that we are excited to expand upon. Florida’s manufacturers are eager to engage with educational programs, and Amanda’s drive for workforce enrichment aligns well with MAF’s mission and future goals.”

Bowen has served director of communications for the group since 2015 and represents it on the Florida SBDC Advisory Board. She previous served as a regulatory supervisor at the Florida Department of Health.

Stephens, who served as executive director for 13 years and lobbied for manufacturers for 25 years, will continue to direct the organizations’ government relations and advocacy program.

Two Polk County corrections officers were recognized for their bravery this week.

Gov. Scott presented Officers Estevin Taylor and Bryan Childs with the Medal of Heroism for their brave actions to rescue a driver trapped inside a burning vehicle.

According to the Governor’s Office, Childs witnessed a car accident on his way to work April 4. The driver’s side door was jammed shut, and the vehicle had flipped onto the passenger side, trapping the injured driver inside. Childs contacted 911 when he saw a fire started in the car. When Taylor arrived on the scene, he used bolt cutters to break the windshield. The two men then pulled the driver from the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames.

“Officer Childs and Officer Taylor witnessed a single-car accident and, even as a deadly fire began, immediately took action to free the trapped driver,” said Julie Jones, the head of the state Department of Corrections. “Their actions in that moment showed true selflessness and bravery, and I could not be more proud of them.”

It’s time to restore Bright Futures. Or at least Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith thinks so.

Smith proposed legislation this week that would introduce expansions to the Bright Futures scholarship. The bill, called the “Restore Our Bright Futures Act,” returns the scholarship to the levels of the 2010-11 school year and make it easier for people to enroll in the program and go to college.

“The bipartisan work already happening in the Florida Senate to improve the Bright Futures scholarship should be applauded,” he said. “I urge my House colleagues to join me in working together to strengthen and expand Bright Futures, which has become out-of-reach for too many — especially for black, Latino and low-income students.”

His proposal comes after years of raising standards for the test scores required to get into the program, as well as increasing the number of volunteer hours one needs to work.

In the 2010-2011 school year, the requirement was a 1270 SAT score or 28 ACT score for the Florida Academic Scholars award, the highest offered by Bright Futures. Since then, the minimum scores required have gradually gone up — last year, one needed 1290 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT to get that award.

Hearings before the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee turned unusually warm and fuzzy during a discussion on a bill to expand the use of therapy animals during court proceedings.

Watching the debate unfold was Starla, an adorable King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, quietly sitting on the lap of Stephanie Perkins, director of the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Animal Therapy Program.

Republican Jason Brodeur’s HB 151 would expand the use of service or therapy animals, including “facility dogs” — the term of art for dogs used to calm witnesses offering testimony — to include cases of child abuse, abandonment or neglect.

According to Brodeur, children helped by these animals “thought that dog knew how they felt.”

TMH’s courthouse therapy-dog program fields 145 human-dog teams to courtrooms, said Chuck Mitchell, its manager.

“As such, we’ve got the largest program in the United States,” Mitchell said.

The committee approved the bill unanimously.

Love was in the air for embattled Visit Florida during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The tourism development agency has been in hot water since the details emerged of it secret, $1 million promotions contract with the rapper Pitbull.

The agency’s director stepped down and was replaced by Ken Lawson, formerly head of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Gov. Scott has called for changes in the way the agency operates.

Another view of the agency emerged during the budget committee meeting. One after another, owners of hotels, restaurants, and other tourism businesses praised the organization and its grant programs, marketing advice and training programs.

Sheldon Suga, a manager at Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, brought 1,000 letters from hotel housekeepers and desk clerks, charter boat captains and other tourism employees.

“Individuals who rely on tourism in this state,” he said. “They don’t have the ability to bring tourists to this state. Visit Florida does.”

The U.S. Supreme Court put a serious crimp in the Florida Supreme Court’s caseload clearance rate.

In Hurst v. Florida, the justices in Washington invalidated Florida’s death penalty because the law doesn’t require unanimous jury recommendations to put someone to death. Death row inmates filed appeals en masse.

The result is that the percentage of state high court cases lingering on the docket for longer than 180 days has doubled.

“That has completely held up the death penalty cases in Florida,” John Tomasino, clerk of the Florida Supreme Court, told the House Subcommittee on Civil Justice and Claims.

Since 2006, the Florida Supreme Court has left between 1 percent and 4 percent of its cases lingering past that deadline. In 2015, the percentage was 3 percent. It swelled to 6 percent in 2016.

House Appropriations subcommittees have begun looking for ways to cull the state budget, and it doesn’t look pretty.

The Department of Revenue proposed to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Operations and Technology trimming its tax collection, auditing, and criminal investigation efforts to meet budget cuts sought by House leaders. The Division of Administrative Hearings would close workers’ compensation appeals courts in Ft. Meyers, Port St. Lucie, and St. Petersburg. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would cut gambling prevention.

DOR executive director said Leon Biegalksi the cuts to tax enforcement would mean “reducing the number of collectors, the number of auditors, the number of criminal investigators that we have,” he said. “Collections would go down by almost $142 million.”

“Each agency goes before us and says, ‘If you have to cut, we are ranking how you should cut.’ It gives us a guide in what we can cut,” said Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the panel.

“It doesn’t mean we have to take any of these recommendations,” he continued. “What the cuts are is up to the subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee.”

A new angle in the workers’ compensation debate emerged during a hearing by the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee — a lot of the workers the system is supposed to help hate it.

Rep. George Moraitis Jr. recalled a meeting with firefighters who complained of their medical treatment under the system.

“We really need to have a solution that helps the workers,” he said. “Yes, we need to limit attorney involvement, to not have the wrong incentives. But to sit here and say the program was working well, I definitely disagree with that.”

Following the hearing, Chairman Danny Burgess noted a recent state Division of Workers’ Compensation survey in which nearly 66 percent of system stakeholders disagreed or strongly disagreed that the system strikes the right balance between employees and employers.

“It raised a lot of questions. The purpose of the grand bargain is to get the workers better and get them back to work,” he said.

CFO Atwater wants to make sure Holocaust survivors know Florida is here to help

In 2013, the Department Financial Services championed legislation a change in law that enabled the department to “educate Holocaust survivors regarding restitution programs still available in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Austria and Hungary, and also to provide them with help in filling out the applications,” said Atwater in his weekly newsletter.

The reforms also allowed the Department to seek repayment for Nazi-confiscated bank accounts, art and property; provide education about the existence of the restitution program to Holocaust survivors, and to assist survivors in receiving needed home health care services.

In 2016, Atwater said his agency helped more than 1,700 Holocaust survivors receive nearly $2.7 million in benefits they were owed.

Friday marked International Holocaust Day, a day Atwater said give Floridians and others around the world a chance to “remember, reflect and pray for the millions of innocent victims that were killed and the countless families that were destroyed under Hitler’s regime.”

Know a leader in the agriculture industry? Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam wants to hear about them.

Putnam is now accepting nominations for the Agriculture-Environmental Leadership Award, which was presented to environmentally innovative Florida farmers since 1994. The award recognizes enterprises that demonstrate leadership in developing and implementing progressive techniques to safeguards the environment and conserve natural resources.

Environmental practices to be considered include wildlife protection and habitat conservation; pesticide and nutrient management; water quality; soil and water conservation; and waste management and recycling.

Nominations must be submitted to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by March 1.

Florida State University wants to say a big “thank you” to military caregivers.

 The Florida State University College of Social Work will host a Military Caregiver Appreciation at 11:30 a.m. at the Salt Grass Steakhouse, 905 E. Gregory Street in Pensacola, on Feb. 10. The event is meant to honor the heroes at home, those caregivers of veterans and military service members.

Seating is limited, and submit RSVPs to Wendy Turney, FSU’s caregiver coach, at 850-645-0902 by Feb. 2.

Rep. Lori Berman is spending the weekend lending a hand.

Berman will join Farm Share to help alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering fresh and nutritious food and distributing it to those who need it most.

She’ll be on hand from 9 a.m. until noon, handing out food at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, 900 N. Seacrest Blvd. in Boynton Beach.

It’s Children’s Day at the Museum of Florida History!

The museum is hosting the 34th annual Children’s Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. This year’s theme is “Sharing History,” and will feature interactive activities that allow visitors to get a little taste of the state’s history.

“It’s a great opportunity for children and adults alike to get out and explore the diverse cultural resources available in our community,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner in a statement.

The event is free and open to the public.

Here’s this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.