Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

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While the governor has signed a number of bills, he still has one of the biggest ?the $70 billion budget. He doesn? have to sign it this week, he has until the next week, but, of course, he could. The governor has been meeting regularly with staff, combing through a budget that he has warned he is likely to trim down.

But with the legislative session over, attention is generally turning to campaigns. While we?e more than a year from the 2012 election, campaigns for the U.S. Senate are underway, and the presidential candidate parade to the crucial swing state of Florida begins for real this week as Tim Pawlenty kicks off his campaign and promptly heads to Tampa and Miami.

The U.S. Senate candidates to face off against Sen. Bill Nelson, Republicans Adam Hasner, George LeMieux and Mike Haridopolos, will be at a TaxWatch event Tuesday and Wednesday in Coral Gables.

State lawmakers and U.S. representatives have a harder time getting going because they don? know what their districts will look like yet.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty kicks off his 2012 presidential campaign Monday in Des Moines but campaign officials say the Republican will then hit Florida on his first national campaign swing next week. T-Paw plans a meet and greet Monday at a Tampa home and a Facebook town hall meeting and press availability Tuesday in Coral Gables.

Of course, it? been widely reported that some Christians believe the rapture will be this weekend. If that happens, everything here is subject to change. According to the News Service

MONDAY, MAY 23, 2011

TPAW TO TAMPA: Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty holds a meet-and-greet at the Tampa home of GOP fundraiser Martin Garcia. The event is arranged by Republican strategist Kathleen Shanahan.

REGIONAL BIZ PLAN FOR TAMPA BAY: SRI International? Center for Science, Technology and Economic Development presents a business plan it was asked to develop by the Tampa Bay Partnership and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Katherine Johnson, Senior Economist, will present the final research study, “A Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay” during presentations on Monday and Tuesday. (Monday, 11 a.m., Rasmussen College, 18600 Fernview St., Lutz; Monday, 2 p.m., Franklin Templeton, 100 Fountain Parkway, Building 100, St. Petersburg; Tuesday, 9 a.m., Stoneybrook Golf and Country Club, 7515 Grand Harbour Parkway, Bradenton.)

SCOTT, KOON DISCUSS HURRICANE SEASON: Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, along with Major General Emmett Titshaw of the Florida National Guard and Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon will be available to the media to discuss the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season and the state? preparedness efforts. (Monday, 10:15 a.m., Emergency Operations Center, 2575 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee.)

PUTNAM TO MEET WITH CUSTOMS, AG INSPECTORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will meet Monday with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials while touring the agricultural and plant inspection facilities and operations at Miami International Airport. (Monday, Time TBA, Miami International Airport, Miami.)

TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011

MIAMI GETS A NEW MAYOR: Voters in Miami-Dade go to the polls Tuesday to choose a replacement for former County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was recalled in March. A recent poll for local media showed Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and former County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez as the front-runners in the race. Other candidates include former Rep. Marcelo Llorente; musician Luther “Luke” Campbell; former transit director Roosevelt Bradley; former Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Cancio; Farid Khavari, a minor candidate for governor in 2010; and political neophytes Wilbur “Short Stop” Bell, Jeffrey Lampert, Eddie Lewis and Gabrielle Redfern. Voters will also choose a replacement for former Rep. Esteban Bovo, who resigned from the Legislature to run for county commission. The three candidates to replace Bovo are Frank Lago, Jose Oliva and Rafael “Ralph” Perez.

PSC MEETS ON WATER RATES/FPL REQUEST: The Public Service Commission meets to consider a number of rate requests for water and other utility services. Proposals include one from Florida Power & Light for the PSC to approve a demand side management program enacted to encourage conservation on the consumer end of energy distribution. (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)

PAWLENTY IN CORAL GABLES: Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty holds a Facebook town hall from Coral Gables on Tuesday, followed by a press availability. (Town hall: Tuesday, 1:30 p.m., Avail: 2:15 p.m., Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.)

TAXWATCH SPRING MEETING DRAWS CANDIDATES, CANADY: Florida TaxWatch will hold its Spring board meeting in Coral Gables Tuesday and Wednesday. Guest speakers will include the three Republican senatorial candidates, CFO Jeff Atwater, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, legislative leadership, agency heads and others.
List of speakers on Wednesday:
10:30 a.m. Representative Erik Fresen
11:15 a.m. Representative Dwight Bullard12:30 p.m. Florida House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera3:30 p.m. Senate President and and U.S. Senate Candidate Mike Haridopolos4:00 p.m. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters
(Tuesday and Wednesday, Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.)


DEADLINE FOR EDUCATION COMMISSIONER APPLICATIONS: Wednesdy is the official deadline for applications for Florida Education Commissioner. Search firm Ray & Associates has been retained to find the state? next education commissioner to place outgoing Commissioner Eric Smith. His resignation is official June 10. Applications have been slow to trickle in, possibly due to Florida? open records laws, which would make the names of applicants public, search firm officials said. Gary Ray, head of the search firm, said last week he expects the most highly-qualified candidates to apply near the deadline. The State Board of Education will be interviewing candidates June 1. (Wednesday)

CAPITAL TIGER BAY ROUNDS UP SESSION: Members of the Capitol press corps discuss the just-ended legislative session in the Capital Tiger Bay Club meeting this week. (Wednesday, 11:45 a.m., Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center, Tallahassee.)

TROXLER AT SUNCOAST TIGER BAY: The state is losing one of its best-known columnists as Howard Troxler prepares to depart the St. Petersburg Times for a life of leisure in the North Carolina mountains. First, though, Troxler will discuss Florida politics one more time, addressing the SunCoast Tiger Bay Club on Wednesday. (Wednesday, 12 p.m.,. St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.)

FLA INSTITUTE OF OCEANOGRAPHY DISCUSSES DEEPWATER HORIZON LATEST: Scientists from Florida? universities and marine research institutions will gather at the University of Central Florida May 25-26 to share the latest observations andfindings on the impact of last year? Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico? ecosystem. Organizers say it? the first time scientists representing the 20 institutions that make up the Florida Institute of Oceanography have gathered to collectively present the status of their scientific inquiries into the nature, fate and extent of the oil? impact on the Gulf environment. The research ?27 projects spanning a variety of potential impacts of the oil – were paid for last year with $10 million provided by BP.
A list of funded projects is at
(Wednesday, 3 p.m., Fairwinds Alumni Center, University of Central Florida, Orlando.)

TAXWATCH SPEAKERS ON THURSDAY: On Thursday the TaxWatch meeting continues in Coral Gables. Schedule:
9:30 a.m. Florida House Speaker Designate Will Weatherford
11:00 a.m., Former U.S. Senator and U.S. Senate Candidate George LeMieux12:15 p.m., Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady12:30 p.m., Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater1:00 p.m., Former Florida House Majority Leader and U.S. Senate Candidate Adam Hasner

THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011

SUPREME COURT OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court releases regular opinions. (Thursday, 11 a.m.)

MEDICAID HMO RATES: The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting to discuss Medicaid reform managed-care rates. (Thursday, 2 p.m., 2727 Mahan Drive, AHCA Building 3, Conference Room A, Tallahassee.)

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2011

HOSPITAL DISTRICTS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: The Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts, a panel created earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott to study public hospitals, will hold its first meeting. (Friday, 10 a.m., 2727 Mahan Drive, AHCA Building 3, Conference Room A, Tallahassee.)

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.