Takeaways from Tallahassee — Maybe a little bit better? - SaintPetersBlog

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Maybe a little bit better?

It’s a favorite question in the Capitol around week 2 of a Legislative Session: When are we getting allocations?

For the uninitiated, allocations are the large portions of money that go to each budget subcommittee to fund the various parts of state government.

“We’re in the early stages of session,” Senate President Joe Negron said this week. “I know that we’re getting to a point where we can start making those decisions. But I don’t think we’ve made a decision on timing yet.”

He added that the Senate is “going to have a tax cut package,” including his plan to cut the communications service tax and pay for it by repealing a tax subsidy to insurers.

But Friday’s newest revenue estimate was cold comfort to 2017-18 budget writers: There’ll be roughly $115 million more than previously forecast — not a lot in the context of an $80 billion-plus state budget.

“They’re going to end up maybe a little bit better than what we were contemplating in September,” legislative chief economist Amy Baker said. “But it’s not materially different.”

Meantime, the House released its “bad-case and worst-case scenarios” also this week.

As Florida Politics’ Michael Moline reported, the state could “pay hospitals less to treat poor people. The state would build less affordable housing. There’d be fewer prosecutors and public defenders. (And) museums, historical preservation, and economic development would be slashed.”

That sure ain’t rosy. Stay tuned…

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:

Death penalty debate — State Attorney Aramis Ayala created an uproar this week when she announced her office would no longer seek the death penalty in cases, including the case of accused cop killer Markeith Loyd. The reaction was swift, with lawmakers and law enforcement officers alike criticizing her for her decision. Rep. Bob Cortes said he was outraged and said she owed the people “an explanation for this appalling decision.” Gov. Rick Scott called on Ayala to recuse herself, saying she “made it abundantly clear that she will not fight for justice for Lt. Debra Clayton and our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.” When Ayala didn’t recuse herself, Scott yanked her from the Loyd case and reassigned it to Lake County State Attorney Brad King. The incident came just days after Scott signed the 2017 death penalty fix into law.

Ad war — Gov. Scott’s battle with the Florida House is coming to a television screen near you. The governor’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, released a 30-second TV ad this week, hitting “politicians in Tallahassee” over their decision to go after Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. “The politicians are wrong,” the Naples Republican says in the advertisement. “There’s not a job that’s expendable. Every job’s important. Florida will compete.” The ad, which is expected to start running statewide next week, was released as Scott took part in a roundtable discussion with business, economic development and tourism leaders in Sarasota about the importance of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. Earlier in the week, Scott held a rally at the Florida Capitol to call on lawmakers to fully fund Visit Florida.

Stand Your Ground — The Florida Senate voted 25-15 to approve a bill this week that shifts the burden of proof to prosecutors during the pre-trial phase of “Stand Your Ground” cases. Sen. Rob Bradley, the bill’s sponsor, said if prosecutors don’t have the evidence to “prevail at this immunity hearing … the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to win at trial.” But the bill drew criticism from Democrats who worried about the consequences of the bill. It’s now up to the House to decide whether the change should move forward. The House measure has already cleared the same committee that killed it during the 2016 Legislative Session, and only has one more hearing before it heads to the House floor.

Big bill milestones — A proposal to create statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft got a boost this week when it passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The passage marked a major milestone for the legislation, which stalled in the upper chamber for the past two sessions. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, includes minimum insurance standards and background check requirements. The Senate Appropriations OK’d a bill requiring school districts to provide 20 minutes of recess each day to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. A similar bill stalled in the Senate during the 2016 Legislative Session. Also this week, the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee overwhelmingly approved a proposal that would make state attorneys and public defenders eligible for impeachment under the governor’s power.

Graham 2018? — Gwen Graham appears to be inching closer to a 2018 gubernatorial bid. The Tallahassee Democrat told Miami Beach voters this week that she plans to announce her decision on a gubernatorial run soon, saying she is “making sure everything is methodically planned out.” In February, Graham moved $250,000 from her congressional account, Graham for Congress, to Our Florida, a state political committee. Records show the committee’s chairwoman is Stephanie Toothaker, served as special counsel for former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, the former congresswoman’s father.

What do you do when a basketball legend comes to the Capitol to lobby on HIV/AIDS?

Challenge him to a game of one-on-one, obviously.

That was case this week when Magic Johnson met with Florida lawmakers this week on behalf of Simply Healthcare Plans. The Basketball Hall of Famer is an investor in the company, whose contract is up for renewal. And while Johnson met with House and Senate members to talk about the importance of testing and HIV/AIDS awareness, lawmakers took some time to snap photos, get his signature and bask in the five-time NBA champion’s shadow.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson signs autographs after meeting with the Senate Democratic Caucus this week.

Sen. Lauren Book introduced her newborn twins to Johnson; while he and Senate President Joe Negron chatted about baseball (Johnson is the co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Negron is an avid Atlanta Braves fan).

Members produced balls to sign, and Sen. Randolph Bracy, a basketball standout at College of William and Mary, asked Johnson if he was ready to hit the court.

“I told him I wanted to get a game of one-on-one,” he said.

Johnson chuckled, saying they wouldn’t “have enough time” for game this visit.

You might want to call him Professor.

Sen. Jack Latvala gave advocates of economic development in the western Panhandle a quick lesson in legislating during a meeting of the Commerce and Tourism Committee this week.

Warren Yeager, a former county commissioner who oversees development projects in Bay County financed by the BP oil spill settlement, spoke in favor of allotting a percentage of the money to each county.

That seems to be where the House is headed, but the Senate bill doesn’t provide for it.

Latvala moved to salve any fears. He said he’s seen as many as five House bills on the topic, adding that it’s early in the session.

“Part of that process is to negotiate with those folks down at the other end down there. If you give them everything they want right up front, then there’s no reason for them to negotiate,” Latvala said. “So, as you express your concerns, just understand that some of us have been around doing this for a while, and we’re going to be prepared to represent your interests.”

Come on, get happy, Florida.

According to a new report from WalletHub, only one Florida city ranked in the Top 50 happiest places to live in the United States. The report, which compared 150 of the largest cities in the United States across 30 key indicators, ranked Cape Coral as the 44th happiest place to live in 2017.

The Southwest Florida city was ranked 28th when it came to “community and environment” and 43rd when it came to “emotional and physical well-being.”

Orlando earned a place in the No. 57 spot, followed by Port St. Lucie in the No. 60 spot. Pembroke Pines was ranked 65th, while Tallahassee landed in the No. 76 spot on the WalletHub list. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah Jacksonville, Tampa and St. Petersburg were all ranked in the 100s.

According to the WalletHub report, the happiest place to live in 2017 is Fremont, California.

But wait: Floridians are happy!

The annual Gallup-Healthways survey of 189 cities across the country showed the Naples region scored the highest when it comes to community well-being. This marked the second year the Southwest Florida community topped the list.

Naples wasn’t the only Florida community ranked as one of the highest well-being communities in the Gallup-Healthways report. The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area was ranked sixth, while Port St. Lucie came in No. 30.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area was ranked No. 35, followed by Cape Coral-Fort Myers in the No. 38 spot. The Tampa Bay region landed in the 115 spot and Tallahassee was ranked 120th.

According to the annual report, overall well-being reached a record high in 2016.

Florida was ranked 11th overall when it came to the state’s well-being.

The Florida Court & Comptrollers is all about Sunshine.

The statewide association pledged to continue to support open government this week in recognition of 2017 Sunshine Week.

“As Constitutional Officers and public trustees, we hold our offices to a high standard and know that providing citizens access to public information ensures dependability, clarity, and openness in government,” said Nassau County Clerk and Comptroller and FCCC President John Crawford in a statement. “Our recognition of Sunshine Week serves to reaffirm the commitment we have to uphold open government in all of Florida’s 67 counties and defend each citizen’s right to know.”

The Florida First Amendment Foundation honored Brevard County Clerk Scott Ellis with the 2016 2016 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award in recognition of his commitment to open government during its annual luncheon this week.

Call him a champion for Florida’s at-risk children.

Gov. Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman presented David Eischeid with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award this week.

“Volunteer Florida is proud to recognize David for his tireless commitment to Florida’s at-risk children and underserved families,” said Spellman in a statement. “We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize his service to children and families.”

Under Eischeid’s leadership, The Children’s Home Network established a new maternity home for pregnant or parenting teens within the foster care system.

Eischeid served as chairman of The Children’s Home Network’s board of directors from 2013 through 2016. Under his leadership, the organization established a new maternity home for pregnant and parenting teens within the foster care system; expanded its residential programs to serve children and youth needing relocation to other areas of the country; and expanded services into Osceola and Orange counties.

“I applaud David’s commitment to the well-being of Florida’s children and families,” said Scott. “His hard work with The Children’s Home Network has helped improved lives throughout his community.”

Rep. Clovis Watson Jr. is back on the job following an eight-hour surgery and a grueling six weeks of daily radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

His colleagues in the Democratic caucus welcomed back this week him with a big, blue and white sheet cake, and a whole bunch of hugs.

“It was pretty extensive, the surgery,” he said. “I had my last radiation treatment Friday of last week.”

As in three days before the welcome-back fiesta.

“I just couldn’t wait to get back,” he said.

Watson feels “a little weaker than usual,” but was strong enough to attend the caucus meeting where Rep. Kionne McGhee was elected Democratic leader for the 2018-20 term

The surgery was complicated because the cancer had spread to Watson’s nervous system.

“I will have to be tested every month for the next six years or so” — something he said he is “more than happy” to subject himself to.

Since then, he said, he’s been eating well and exercising.

“The best thing to do is move around. And coming back here helps me move around.”

Tallahassee’s springtime pollen storm is doing in Daphne Campbell.

“I’ve been coughing and coughing and coughing,” said the North Miami Beach Democrat.

She’d been suffering all week, Campbell said when asked why she missed a hearing on Sen. Anitere Flores’ bill to swap a tax break for insurance companies for one to aid telephone, cable, and satellite communications customers.

Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax Chairwoman Kelli Stargel delayed the hearing because only three of the five members were present.

Campbell also had been held up by a meeting with constituents.

“I was coming, but by the time I called it was already finished,” she said of the hearing.

Does she support the bill? She likes the idea of helping consumers, but hasn’t decided yet.

“I’m still working on the bill to see what is my position,” Campbell said. “I told Sen. Flores this morning the same thing.”

Maj. John Leroy Haynes got a round of applause for his service this week.

Gov. Scott presented Haynes with the Governor’s Medal of Merit during the Cabinet meeting this week. A Marines veteran, Haynes served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

A decorated veteran, Maj. Haynes served in the U.S. Marines during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

“Maj. Haynes possesses every attribute that members of the military strive for; he is the epitome of the American military member,” said Col. Glenn Sutphin, the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in a statement. “Not only has he defended his country in three wars, but he continues to advocate for his fellow veterans through public service.”

The governor also awarded 41 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal.

Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 would have a positive impact on Florida’s economy.

That was the key takeaway of a report released this week looking at the economic impact of tolerance. The report found there would be a significant positive impact on the state’s economy and labor force if it enacted an anti-discrimination law that included the LGBT community.

“The state is graduating some of the most talented students in the country and we need them to stay in Florida to boost the economy,” said John Tonnison, executive Vice President and CIO of Tech Data Corporation, and President of Florida Competes, said in a statement. “Competition is fierce for these future leaders, who look for both an inclusive work environment and a high quality of life. Florida needs to follow the lead of Fortune 500 companies and add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination law.”

Sen. Jeff Clemens and Reps. Ben Diamond and Rene Plasencia have filed bills to create the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. The proposals have 38 co-sponsors, but have not been scheduled for a committee hearing yet.

Rep. Diamond has his sights set on beefing up public education.

The St. Petersburg Democrat filed legislation to permanently fund an extra hour of intensive reading instruction for students at Florida’s 300 lowest performing elementary schools.

“Reading is the single most fundamental skill toward building a quality education,” he said in a statement. “By permanently funding an extra hour of reading instruction for these students, we are making an investment in children who may otherwise be left behind. This bill demonstrates our commitment to helping those elementary school students most in need of our assistance.”

Diamond also filed a bill to give early learning coalitions greater local control by allowing coalitions to appoint at-large board members from their community and allow the coalitions to determine service priorities for eligible populations in the school readiness program.

“Local decision making will give Florida’s early learning coalitions the flexibility to better meet the needs of our communities and our children,” said Lindsay Carson, chief executive officer of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County.

For Sen. Kevin Rader, this resolution is personal.

The Boca Raton Democrat filed a resolution calling on the Senate to oppose a United Nations resolution that classifies Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas as legally invalid.

“It is personal because my family lives in Israel and I, my wife and kids constantly go back and forth,” said Rader, whose wife is the founder and executive director of the Neshamah Institute in Boca Raton. “The safety of everyone involved is at stake, not only for my family members but also the people of Israel.”

Filed in January, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to 6-2 to approve the resolution this week. Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston voted against the measure. It now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, the final stop before going to the full floor.

There’s a new painting in the collection.

The Museum of Florida History announced this week that the Museum of Florida History Foundation has donated a 1930s painting of St. Augustine’s fort Castillo de San Marcos.

The oil painting on canvas board is by artist Dolly Bee Breitenbaugh, and was completed in 1935. The painting portrays the historic Spanish fort in St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos. An early radio communications tower built on the grounds of the fort is included in the painting, and helps show how the city’s skyline has developed, but retained historical features.

Breitenbaugh painted the scene as seen from the Bridge of the Lions. The Kansas native was trained at the Kansas City Art Institute, and is believed to have painted the scene while on vacation in St. Augustine.

“It is very important for the Museum to collect a wide range of artifacts that interpret Florida’s history,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “Since 2000, we have worked with the Museums of Florida History Foundation to enhance the Museum’s permanent collection and exhibits.”

Welcome back, Sterling Ivey.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced this week that Ivey, a veteran of state government communications, has joined the team as communications coordinator. In that role, Ivey will serve as a spokesman and will responsible for things like coordinating interviews, news releases and internal communications.

Ivey has a long history with state government. He served as the communications director for the Department of Corrections and later the Department of State. He served as former Gov. Charlie Crist’s press secretary from 2008 until 2011, and even served a stint as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s press secretary.

Most recently, he served as the vice president of corporate communications for SunTrust Banks.

Add some more land to the state’s inventory.

Gov. Scott and the Cabinet this week approved the purchase of 3,846 acres of environmentally sensitive ranch lands in Polk, Hardee, Martin and St. Lucie counties. The purchases are part of the state’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which partners with Florida’s farmers and ranchers to preserve active agriculture operations.

“Florida’s population is projected to reach nearly 34 million by 2070, and this growth will put additional pressure to develop more and more of our world-renowned natural spaces,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “Partnering with Florida’s farmers and ranchers through conservation easements is a cost-effective way to preserve these invaluable pieces of our rural economy and environment for future generations.”

The purchase increases total land preserved through the program to 31,495 acres over 35 conservation easements.

Congratulations, James Stage.

The 23-year-old was presented with the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award during the Cabinet meeting this week. Stage is the CEO of Queralyze, an education platform software company designed to help students improve their research and writing skills.

“I’m proud to recognize James with the Young Entrepreneur Award today,” said Scott in a statement. “His innovative approach to education is helping students achieve their goals and better prepare them for a career. I look forward to seeing Queralyze continue to succeed in Florida.”

Gov. Scott & the Cabinet recognize Jame Stage for his entrepreneurship.

Stage wasn’t the only person to get a kudos from Scott and the Cabinet this week. The governor also presented three educators with the Governor’s Shine Award. The award is presented to teachers and administrators who make significant contributions to the field of education.

“Every day, Florida’s teachers go above and beyond to educate Florida’s students so they are prepared for higher education and careers,” said Scott. “I applaud these educators for their dedication to ensuring the success of Florida’s future leaders.”

Scott recognized Demetria Clemons, the principal of Sealey Elementary School in Tallahassee; Lukas Hefty, the engineering program coordinator at Douglas L. Jamerson Elementary School in St. Petersburg; and Brandon Wright, an Advanced Placement teacher at F. W. Springstead High School in Brooksville.

Two Florida colleges deserve a pat on the back

The Florida Department of Education announced this week that Broward College and Indian River State College have been awarded with the 2017 Aspen Prize Finalist-with-Distinction Award.

“I am incredibly proud that out of nearly 1,000 colleges throughout the country, two of our Florida Colleges have once again been recognized as national leaders for access, affordability and student success,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart in a statement. “This esteemed award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Broward College and Indian River State College students, as well as the faculty and leadership, who have clearly made students their top priority.”

Florida has had a winner or finalist since the inception of the award, which recognizes exceptional student outcomes in student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

“As Chancellor of Florida’s 28 colleges, I am proud of Broward College and Indian River State College for consistently offering an affordable education and achieving top graduation rates,” said Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega in a statement. “These distinctions of excellence further the successes of the Florida College System, which provides access to all Floridians seeking higher education as a pathway to the workforce.”

Government watchdog Florida TaxWatch released a report this week the cost of state education programs beyond the $19.7 billion spent on per student funding each year.

 The group highlights capital outlay, debt service and other K-12 services not included in the per student figure which add another $8.9 billion to Florida education expenditures.

 “Public education spending is a significant portion of state and local budgets and must be spent with care to ensure that taxpayers are receiving the best value for their dollar,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “It is critical that taxpayers have a clear understanding of how much education revenue is available, how that revenue is spent and what it is spent on.”

 State officials touted $7,090 in per student funding during the 2015-16 fiscal year, but TaxWatch says adding in other costs brings that figure up to $10,308.

 The group offers charter school’s as an option to save money on education, though it said the lower cost per student in those institutions comes from lower usage of buses, fewer English language learners, fewer children on free or reduced price lunch and fewer students with disabilities.

Give Uber a hand.

Attorney General Pam Bondi recognized the ride-hailing company this week for its “proactive efforts to fight human trafficking.” Bondi said the company’s drivers are uniquely positioned to help identify and prevent human trafficking, and applauded a driver who recently helped save a 16-year-old girl from sex trafficking.

“The company and its drivers, operating in more than 70 countries, are uniquely positioned to help identify and ultimately prevent human trafficking and can play a key role in the fight to stop traffickers across the globe,” she said in a statement.

Uber is putting resources in the hands of its driver-partners to help combat human trafficking.

The recognition came on the heels of Uber’s presentation at the Florida Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. During the meeting, Uber announced human trafficking information and resources were being pushed out to more than 40,000 Uber driver-partners in the state in both English and Spanish.

“We look forward to working more with General Bondi and Florida leaders on this issue,” said Stephanie Smith, the company’s senior manager for public policy. “General Bondi has fought to end human trafficking for years, bringing together government and private companies to help rid the state of this form of modern-day slavery. Her leadership on this issue has been inspiring.”

Gov. Scott is getting top marks from Keep Florida Fishing for his picks to two boards.

Scott announced this week he had recommended Phil Dyskow, former President of Yamaha Motors; Jeff Miller, owner of Millers Boating Center; and Col. James Brown, former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement officer to the Secretary of Commerce for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Scott nominated Chester Brewer; attorney Mike Kennedy; and consultant John Sprague for the open recreational seat on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

“Governor Scott has recommended six highly-qualified leaders to represent Florida’s important recreational interests on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which make critical decisions impacting the health of, and access to, our federal fisheries,” said Kellie Ralston, Florida Fishery Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association. “We applaud the Governor’s nominations and commitment to helping maintain Florida’s title as the ‘Fishing Capital of the World.”

Preemption bills could have a big impact on local government.

A new report from the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions showed two bills (HB 17 and SB 1158) would nullify a wide swath of local ordinances that impact commerce, like minimum wage, anti-fracking, wage theft, equality, environmental and consumer protection laws.

“We think it’s important that lawmakers understand the impacts of broad-brush state preemption on local businesses, workforces, and communities,” said Michael Alfano, campaign manager for Campaign to Defend Local Solutions. “We believe innovation and economic competitiveness are stifled when local voices and local government are silenced.”

The report notes that more than 60 percent of Floridians are covered by local human rights and equality ordinances, which would be terminated by the preemption bills. Local ordinances to ban fracking would also be null and void under the proposal, as would a Miami-Dade County wage theft law that has recovered more than $7 million in unpaid wages for workers from 2010 to 2016.

Attention, Rick Perry: Don’t answer your phone if you see a Florida area code.

Gov. Scott announced this week that Costentino, a natural stone, quartz, and recycled surfacing company, was relocating its Americas headquarters from Sugarland, Texas to Coral Gables. The move, according to the Governor’s Office, will create 85 new jobs and invest more than $1 million in the local community.

“I am proud to announce that Cosentino will be relocating their Americas Headquarters from Texas to Florida and creating 85 new jobs for our families,” said Scott in a statement. “This announcement would not be possible without the help of Enterprise Florida and shows the incredibly important role EFI has in out-competing other states like Texas to bring new job opportunities to our state. I am excited to welcome Cosentino to Florida and look forward to their future success.”

A family-owned company from Spain, Cosentino Group is a world-wide distributor of surfaces for architecture and design. The company currently employs 3,700 people worldwide, including 1,200 in the United States.

The company currently has three distribution locations in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Lauderhill. It plans to open a design center in the Miami Design District.

“Miami’s location offers key strategic advantages to continue targeting the Americas,” said CEO Eduardo Cosentino in a statement. “The entrepreneurial and innovative workforce in Miami better positions us to provide new products and designs that are both sustainable and advanced.

Florida TaxWatch as a new team member.

Miranda McLaughlin has joined the research institute and government watchdog as its communications coordinator, the organization announced this week.

“We are very pleased and honored to have Miranda as a part of the Florida TaxWatch team,” said TaxWatch President Calabro in a statement. “We feel she has just the right skills required to foster productive relationships with value-added, and timely information to the taxpayers and the media.”

McLaughlin recently graduated from Florida State University with a double degree in media/communications studies and English. Prior to joining TaxWatch, she held a leadership role at Union Productions/Club Downunder.

The tourism economy keeps Amy Baker awake at night.

Tourism contributes 13 percent of Florida’s sales tax receipts. Sales taxes represent around three-quarters of general revenues.

If anything should happen to tourism —

“That’s what I worry about the most,” said Baker, director of the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

As it happens, tourism is setting records just now, helping to compensate for a sluggish construction industry.

But what if Zika re-emerges?

“We’re just getting back to the point where mosquitoes are coming into the full season again,” Baker said.

There are no clear data on international tourism, but she’s hearing anecdotal evidence that overseas visitors began avoiding the United States since President Donald Trump began blocking travelers.

“We worry about all of that,” Baker said.

It’s official: #SuitsForSession 2.0 was a big success.

Volunteer Florida and Uber announced it collected 3,282 donations of clothing, shoes, belts and other items during the one-day service project at the Capitol this week. The items will be delivered to Chapman Partnership in Miami, Dress for Success Tampa Bay, ECHO Outreach Ministries in Tallahassee, Bridges of America, and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program in Tallahassee in the coming days.

Majority Leader Simpson and his staff drop off clothes for the 2nd annual #SuitsForSession service project.

“I had a chance to visit the #SuitsForSession display at the Capitol and the amount of donations was remarkable,” said Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson in a statement. “I am proud of those who came together to provide donations for job-seekers statewide.”

According to Volunteer Florida, 195 suits were collected and 75 bags of clothing were donated through the Uber app. Volunteer Florida said 2,072 women’s items were collected, while 1,013 men’s items were donated.

Didn’t get a chance to donate this year? Don’t worry, the #SuitsForSession 2018 is just around the corner.

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.
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