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Sunburn for 2.20.17 – A month of Trump; Trey Radel’s campaign advice; Jeff Greene for Gov.? Happy President’s Day

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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


When Air Force One flew just a few hundred feet over a massive line of supporters of President Donald Trump on Saturday waiting to get into the hangar where he would speak minutes later at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport in Florida, making for a dramatic entrance by the American leader, hundreds of other protesters nearby were just gearing up.

Reports had the count of supporters inside the hangar around 9,000, while hundreds of protesters – possibly more than 1,000 – showed up.

Whether they were for him or against him, there was no shortage of opinion about the job Pres. Trump was doing so far, especially with regard to the last week.

“The whole thing screams insecurity,” Jessica Blair, 37, who was there to protest the president, told Florida Politics on Saturday from the rally. “It’s all smoke and mirrors, but people need to take this seriously. It can’t go on.”

Trump’s week included everything from a press conference in which he deflected questions about policy, speaking instead about his electoral college numbers from the November national election, to blasting the media, troubles with his cabinet picks (including the resignation of retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as the country’s national security advisor) and even the revelation by intelligence agencies that members of Trump’s campaign team had been communicating with Russian officials prior to the election. The event in Florida – held before he spending the rest of the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort south of the rally, was an attempt to put a positive spin on a bumpy few days. But at the rally on Saturdayhis supporters didn’t seem to care about the negativity and voiced their loyalty to his leadership, saying the media were the ones created the problem.

Bridget Foley, who voiced her discontent against the protesters, said Trump was doing exactly what she wanted him to do.

“He’s the best president we’ve had in years and these people out here who don’t like him just have their heads in the sand – they are probably paid to be here and don’t have anything useful to do because they don’t have jobs,” Foley said, as law enforcement officials moved in to try and separate a growing crowd of supporters and protesters. “The media – you guys – keep trying to demonize him with inaccurate lies.”

Minutes before inside, Trump capped a speech replete with points taken straight from his campaign stumping platform – jobs are coming, the wall along the border with Mexico will be built, the media is the enemy, etc. The same songs were played before and after the event that were played at every stop during his campaign. He took a moment to even mock the protesters outside the hangar.

Still, his supporters loved it, hanging on every word of his ‘Make America Great Again’ rally.

“I am here because I want to be among my friends and among the people,” Trump said, according to “This was a great movement, a movement like has never been seen before in our country or before anywhere else, this was a truly great movement and I want to be here with you and I will always be with you.”

His approval rating is currently at 40 percent, 21 points lower than the average for presidents in the February of their first term, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. It’s 11 points lower than Bill Clinton’s, who had held the previous low on record since Gallup began taking the polls after one month in office, with an approval rating of 51 percent, Gallup reported.

With all that the president has on his plate, it will be interesting to see how things play out over the next few weeks.

HOW TRUMP’S MELBOURNE VISIT PLAYED – FLORIDA TODAY9,000 hear President Trump’s game plan for transforming America – “During his wide-ranging speech … Trump promised that, within the next several weeks, he will introduce ‘a great health care plan that’s going to take the place of the disaster Obamacare.’” Palm Beach PostTrump in Palm Beach: Another golf club visit, national security adviser interviews – “He’s planning to speak with at least four candidates for national security adviser … Army strategist Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg, West Point superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen and ‘potentially more.’” Lakeland LedgerTrump hits the road, hoping rally speeches overcome troubles – “… the campaign-style rally, resurrecting the buoyant jobs promises that powered his election victory and pledging to ‘unleash the power of the American spirit.’” Miami HeraldTrump rallies supporters by renewing old promises, insults – “Trump … clearly relished being back in front of his supporters, welcoming the cheers and letting one supporter up on stage to offer praise for the president.” Palm Beach Post, Trump returns to campaign mode, brings Boynton man on stage – “Trump also threw in a few new elements — including bringing a Boynton Beach man … on stage with him after seeing TV reports that [he] arrived … at 4 a.m. to be first in line for the scheduled 5 p.m. rally.” Tampa Bay TimesFact-checking President Donald Trump’s speech in Florida – “Trump takes [ThomasJefferson out of context … misleads on saving the F-35 contract … wrong on vetting refugees … spins polls on optimism … spins immigration ban ties to Obama.”

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A MONTH OF TRUMP, BY THE NUMBERS via The Associated Press

A by-the-numbers look at some of Donald Trump’s early activity as president:

—24: Executive orders and memoranda signed. That includes orders to withdraw the United States from Trans-Pacific trade deal, impose a federal hiring freeze and reduce regulations related to the health care law enacted under former President Barack Obama.

—1: Executive orders blocked. An order to ban travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations was blocked by federal judges. Trump is expected to issue a new order next week.

—4: Bills signed into law. They include a bill to halt regulation blocking coal mining debris from being dumped in nearby streams.

—6: The average number of tweets per day from personal account @realDonaldTrump.

—25.1 million. Twitter followers for @realDonaldTrump.

—15.5 million. Twitter followers for official account @POTUS.

—4: Visits from foreign leaders. (Britain, Japan, Canada, Israel.)

—1: Cancelled visit from foreign leader. (Mexico.)

—1: Supreme Court nomination. Judge Neil Gorsuch.

—2: Failed personnel choices. Andrew Puzder withdrew as the nominee for labor secretary; Michael Flynn was ousted as national security adviser.

—14: Cabinet-level nominations approved, out of 24 total.

—39: Percent of respondents who approve of Trump’s job performance in Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb. 7-12.

—3: Weekend trips to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.


— “Good job, Mr. Trump (There, we said it!) — Alex Acosta is a great cabinet pick” via the Miami Herald

— “What you need to know about the enemies of the American people the president warned you about” via Mike Wilson of the Dallas Morning News

TRUMP’S FLORIDA VISITS PUTS SMALL AIRPORT IN TAILSPIN via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press – … his frequent Mar-a-Lago visits have flight schools and other companies at a nearby airport in a financial nosedive. The Secret Service closed Lantana Airport Friday for the third straight weekend because of the president’s return to his Palm Beach resort, meaning its maintenance companies, a banner-flying business and another two dozen businesses are also shuttered, costing them thousands of dollars at the year’s busiest time. The banner-flying company says it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts already. The airport, which handles only small, propeller-driven planes and helicopters, is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, well within the 10-mile circle around the resort that’s closed to most private planes when he’s in town. Trump flies into Palm Beach International Airport, which is 2.5 miles from Mar-a-Lago, and remains opens as it handles commercial flights. The Lantana owners are pushing compromises they say will ensure Trump’s security while keeping their businesses open.

TRUMP’S ORDER SPARKS FEARS IN SW FLORIDA THAT EVEN TRAFFIC OFFENDERS MAY BE DEPORTED via Alexi Cardona and Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News – Trump‘s deportation priorities define a “removable alien” as someone who has been charged with “any criminal offense,” even if he or she has not been convicted, or someone who has committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense. Trump’s executive order “opens the door for almost anyone to be considered a priority,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director for the American Civil Liberty Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It’s very broad,” she said. “Anything goes. So, I think that’s what’s so scary.”

TRUMP IN HIGH SPIRITS AT DANA-FARBER GALA via Shannon Donnelly of the Pam Beach Daily News – So what if his executive order on immigration is creating a backlash among the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s medical professionals, who are urging organizers to find a less politically charged venue for the event. It’s a party, and POTUS and his FLOTUS — she dressed in eye-catching magenta — were both in high spirits, having just returned from a triumphant rally in Melbourne and what pundits are describing as the first political rally of the 2020 campaign.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Bill Nelson is kick off a day-long swing through the capital city at 1 p.m. at the Frederick S. Humphries Science Research Museum at Florida A&M University, 151 S. Martin Luther King Blvd, where he is expected to speak to students about the future of the space program, the importance of STEM education, and his experience aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. He will hold media availability at 1:45 p.m. outside the Frederick S. Humphries Science Research Center, before traveling to the Florida Capitol. Nelson will hold media availability at 3 p.m. on the 4th Floor Rotunda, before attending a 3:30 meeting with the Senate Democratic Caucus in 200 Senate Office Building. Nelson will meet with the House Democratic Caucus at 4 p.m. in 316 Capitol Building.

MARCO RUBIO ‘CONFIDENT’ RUSSIA PROBE WILL BE THOROUGH via Ledyard King of USA TODAY – “I am now very confident Senate Intel Comm I serve on will conduct thorough bipartisan investigation of #Putin interference and influence” the Florida Republican tweeted … Trump’s critics, among them some conservatives, hope Rubio is indeed committed to delving deeply into claims by numerous U.S. intelligence officials that Moscow played an integral part in helping the real estate mogul ascend to the Oval Office. But some of those critics have also been dismayed that Rubio has not taken a tougher stance against Trump, specifically when he had the chance to torpedo Rex Tillerson’s nomination as secretary of state. Despite being troubled by Tillerson’s close ties to Putin, Rubio voted for the former ExxonMobil CEO out of “deference” to the tradition that presidents should be able to name their top advisers.

TOM ROONEY WANTS CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL TO EASE RUSSIA SANCTIONS via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Rooney firmly believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a bad guy.” He co-sponsored bipartisan legislation filed last week that requires Congress to be notified if the president intends to rollback certain sanctions against Russia and establishes a review period, during which Congress could block the proposal. The bill is viewed as an effort to rein in President Trump, who has taken a much more conciliatory approach than many in Congress toward Russia. The forced resignation last week of Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, has added more intrigue to the questions surrounding Russia’s relationship with the Trump administration. Flynn came under scrutiny over a series of pre-inauguration communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

680 CUBANS RETURNED HOME SINCE END OF ‘WET FOOT, DRY FOOT’ via The Associated Press – Cuba’s government had long sought the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which it said encouraged Cubans to risk dangerous voyages and drained the country of professionals. The Jan. 12 decision by Washington to end it followed months of negotiations focused in part on getting Havana to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S. Cuban state television said that the returnees came from countries including the United States, Mexico and the Bahamas, and were sent back to the island between Jan. 12 and Feb. 17. It did not break down which countries the 680 were sent back from.

IMMIGRANT HAVEN OF MIAMI-DADE VOTES AGAINST SANCTUARY STATUS via Adriana Gomez Licon of The Associated Press – County commissioners in immigrant-rich Miami-Dade voted to uphold their Cuban-born mayor’s order to cooperate with federal immigration officials, drawing shouts of “shame on you” from those hoping to make their community a sanctuary city. The commissioners, voting 9-3, backed the order of Mayor Carlos Gimenez that was delivered after Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from the so-called sanctuary cities. “This is a country that opened arms to everyone, allowed opportunities to everyone. But this is also a country of law,” county commissioner Rebeca Sosa, also of Cuban descent, said before the vote taken in a special public session. “I am so sad to see that people are afraid of something that has nothing to do with immigration. This was just a financial decision.”

EX-US REP. TREY RADEL OFFERS CAMPAIGN ADVICE via Thyrie Bland of the – Radel was a speaker at a workshop for people who are running for office or have political aspirations … “The harshest reality of running for office, and I believe this applies to everybody … it’s money,” Radel said. “Money, money, money.” Radel took questions from the roughly 30 people in attendance, but he stayed away from discussing specifics about his downfall. “Democrazy: A True Story of Weird Politics, Money, Madness and Finger Food,” Radel’s book on his political experience, is set to come out March 28. Radel said candidates need money to market and brand themselves. He said the sources to get money from are friends, family, believers in your campaign and people who want something.

JEFF GREENE FOR GOVERNOR? via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – “I’ve been approached by a lot of people, and I’ve had conversations with people that have approached me,” said Greene, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate to Kendrick Meek after spending about $23 million of his own money. Though we hear Greene has been talking to political consultants about a potential run, Greene downplayed his interest … and said he is not actively looking at it.

VOTERS SHOULD PREPARE FOR LONG LIST OF AMENDMENTS IN 2018 via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – That’s because the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, the membership of which is just taking shape, will meet this year and conduct listening tours throughout the state. The members will then propose changes to the state constitution that would go on the ballot. To go into effect, 60 percent of Florida voters would have to approve the changes. Some of the amendments already being considered: Changing how Florida draws its legislative districts, expanding school choice and making it easier for felons to regain voting rights. The commission meets every 20 years. It met in 1977-78 after its creation, and then again in 1997-98. The first commission proposed eight amendments to the Constitution, while the next proposed nine.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sen. Bill Montford, Rep. Loranne Ausley, and other local elected officials will join in a 2017 Legislative Session preview at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 21), Holy Comforter Episcopal Schoolin the school’s Student Center, 2001 Fleischmann Road in Tallahassee. The event is free and open to the public.

SPEAKER SUES FLORIDA LOTTERY OVER ‘IMPROPER SPENDING’ via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – … saying it was guilty of “wasteful and improper spending” for signing a $700 million deal for new equipment. The legal action caps off weeks of tension and sniping between the Republican governor and Corcoran’s GOP House majority after the speaker said he was out to kill state government’s business incentives programs, what he calls “corporate welfare.” Gov. Scott says they help create jobs. The suit is what’s known as a “quo warranto” writ, filed against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action … he was suing the Lottery “for signing a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.”

THE NINE LITTLE WORDS THAT COULD CAUSE A LEGISLATIVE TRAIN WRECK via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Negron [says] he and Corcoran are making progress, but stumbling blocks remain, including a standoff over nine words in House Rule 5.14: “An appropriations project bill may only request nonrecurring funds.” That’s a cornerstone of Corcoran’s plan to transform and add transparency to how individual lawmakers’ spending priorities work their way into the budget every year. But it’s a non-starter in the Senate. Recurring money is generally used for fixed annual costs, such as paying state workers’ salaries. Nonrecurring or one-time money, from a lawsuit settlement or an unexpected uptick in lottery ticket sales, is like a salary bonus and generally pays for one-time expenditures like water projects. Corcoran insists on using nonrecurring money for appropriations projects so that they have to be justified every session by every Legislature. Negron disagrees. “Projects that are put forward by members of the Legislature should not be given short shrift and disadvantaged,” he said. “It seems self-defeating.”

EX-ENTERPRISE FLORIDA HEAD SAYS HOUSE GOP VIDEO MISLEADING via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – A propaganda video that Speaker Corcoran is using to build support for killing Enterprise Florida includes a heavily manipulated quote that makes it appear that even the former head of the agency has turned on it, when he hasn’t … former CEO of Enterprise Florida Gray Swoope appears to say “Enterprise Florida may have lost its way.” But the quote is a trimmed version of the sentence he actually said and takes him out of context, Swoope [said]  The quote is taken from a television interview from 2013 in which Swoope actually makes the case that Enterprise Florida was getting the job done and deserved credit for helping the state rebound economically. Swoope said in the context of the interview it was clear he was talking about the agency losing its way before Scott hired him in 2011 to help change the organization. “I, 100 percent, believe in the model,” Swoope said of what he thinks about Enterprise Florida now.

LOCAL OFFICIALS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE AS GOVERNOR, HOUSE DEBATE INCENTIVES via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – While Gov. Scott and the Florida House feud over whether economic incentives and tourism marketing are working in Florida, business leaders in Jacksonville and elsewhere are quietly working to find middle ground. On principle, they agree with Scott. “The issue, in my opinion, is jobs,” JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis said. “And when we bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Florida, it affects every single worker in this community. Whether they live on the Southside or in the Northwest community, they are going to be affected positively by the deals that we are going to bring into this community.” Where Davis and Scott disagree is on strategy … the governor has criticized Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of HB 7005 and accused Speaker Corcoran of pushing the controversial proposal because of his own personal ambitions after his term ends in 2018.

SHAWN HARRISON STUCK BETWEEN TALLAHASSEE POWERS via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – Harrison is “caught between a rock and a hard place,” as Mayor Bob Buckhorn put it, in the internecine GOP feud over business incentives and tourism marketing. That probably makes prospects dim for Harrison to push through appropriations he wanted for University of South Florida, and projects for New Tampa and the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority. The rock: Gov. Scott, who wants to continue funding the Enterprise Florida Inc. and Visit Florida and has the option of vetoing appropriations requested by legislators who don’t go along. The hard place: Speaker Corcoran, who adamantly opposes Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida and can squash any House member’s legislative initiatives … legislators are saying privately that Scott has threatened to veto their appropriation requests if they don’t vote his way on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida … Harrison said he’s taking his stance against Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida purely on the merits and hasn’t felt political pressure from either direction. He said he hopes negotiations will lead to a compromise, which would ease the squeeze.

TAX BREAKS FOR ‘HIGH CRIME’ UNIVERSAL? GET REAL via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel – Four years ago … Universal Orlando — a theme-park company booming with the success of Harry Potter — had taken more than $2 million in tax breaks intended for impoverished “high-crime” neighborhoods. It was ridiculous … Universal was taking advantage of an incentive plan designed to encourage businesses to invest in failing, crime-plagued neighborhoods and using it to pad its $150 million in annual profits — all with the blessing of Florida politicians. Well, after the news broke, citizens fumed. And legislators, who fear fuming voters, quickly talked of reforming this obviously flawed system. But if you had been holding your breath for reform … legislators didn’t do squat. And now, Universal and its hotel partners have sucked up another $5-plus million in incentives … all for running high-end hotels and high-tech rides in an area once designated as “high crime.” This, my friends, is why citizens hate the incentives game.

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HOUSE REPUBLICANS WRITING HEALTH CARE PLAN AHEAD OF ANY FEDERAL CHANGES via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – Florida legislators are capitalizing on the uncertain fate of “Obamacare” to resurrect a controversial overhaul of Florida’s health care system nicknamed “CorcoranCare.” Named for Speaker Corcoran, the Republican proposal first surfaced four years ago, and would change the way Florida’s health care is delivered. The proposal would create a private prepaid plan for all patients to see primary-care doctors and would redirect Medicaid money to help subsidize private health insurance for poor people. Republicans in Congress say they plan to change Medicaid — the federal-state health program for the poor — and scrap “Obamacare” over the next year.But their colleagues who run the Florida Legislature say they’re moving ahead now with their own reforms. “We’re not waiting for the feds to act,” said state Senate President Joe Negron.

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE EAGER TO BRING IN HIGH-PERFORMING CHARTER SCHOOLS via Erin Clark of – As representatives from some of the nation’s top-performing charter schools discussed how their programs were successfully closing student achievement gaps, members of the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee had a different “how” question in mind: How can we get you to come to Florida? The subcommittee heard this week from representatives of three out-of-state charter networks … Daniel Fishman, vice president of growth for IDEA public schools based in Texas … said that IDEA was also in the middle of making 2020 plans, but wasn’t leaning toward Florida. “I would say currently Florida is not a top contender because of some of the policy conditions, but I would say that we’d very much like to consider it strongly … if the conditions are such that we think we can successfully open schools,” Fishman said. “If there was reform, change in the state, could those dates be moved up?” [State Rep. MelPonder asked. “Florida’s really looking to make some positive change and embrace the vision to accelerate the charter program. Could that change?”

LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN SENATE WOULD TIGHTEN PROTECTIONS AGAINST AOBS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Legislation sought by regulators, insurance, and business interests to reform assignment of benefits agreements finally dropped — and the first thing it would do is bar attorney fee awards to contractors who use those contracts to sue insurers. “Notwithstanding any other law, as to suits based on claims arising under property insurance policies, attorney fees may not be awarded … in favor of any person or entity seeking relief against the insurer pursuant to an assignment agreement,” the bill says. The measure also contains provisions shielding policyholders from abuse. For example, they could rescind any such agreement within seven days and would be shielded from liens by contractors seeking the difference between what the insurer pays and the cost of repairs.

DAN RAULERSON AND DENNIS BAXLEY SAY “LET THEM EAT STEAK” via Florence Snyder of Florida Politics – In 10 years as head of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC), Stephen Auger didn’t do much to solve the chronic, critical problems of people who work hard, play by the rules, and still can’t afford a decent place to live. But he won the hearts and minds of millionaire senators like Baxley and Raulerson, who think that buying steak dinners for people who do business with FHFC is a good use of taxpayer money. If government was really “run like a business,” Auger would have been gone years ago, when a Tampa Bay Times reporting team [found] an embarrassing pile of misfeasance and nonfeasance.  But Auger held on to his $183,000 job until December, when the legislature’s own auditors weighed in on FHFC’s miasma of mismanagement. Highlights include $443,000 in criteria-free staff bonus payments and a $52,000 “lender appreciation” dinner which featured broiled lobster tails, filet mignon and a nice “display” of tasty “imported and domestic cheeses.” Raulerson and Baxley delivered a depressing and not terribly subtle warning. It may be a cold day in Florida before we see another “nitpicking” audit of public officials like Auger who party like Marie Antoinette.

— “Decoupling aids gambling” via Paul Seago for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— “Florida may stop approving new hospital beds. Will that mean unequal access for rich and poor?” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) will hold a media roundtable to discuss its priorities for the upcoming legislative session, including Certificate of Need, Managed Care and Prospective Payment System legislation. Event begins 10:30 a.m. at the Florida Health Care Association, 307 W. Park Ave. in Tallahassee.

HEROIN CRISIS: COUNTY COMMISSIONER “DISAPPOINTED” BY GOVERNOR’S LACK OF “URGENCY” via Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post – A week after asking Gov. Scott to declare a public health emergency over the opioid crisis, Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said she was “pretty disappointed” with the response she received from Scott’s office earlier this week. While in Tallahassee, McKinlay met with staff members of the Scott’s to discuss her letter, which cited statistics from The Palm Beach Post and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about the sharp rise in overdoses, deaths and hospital costs. “I was pretty disappointed. They didn’t think a declaration was necessary,’’ she said.

FLA. INSURANCE CHIEF RESPONDS ON POST NO-FAULT STORY via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post – The state’s insurance commissioner, David Altmaier, expanded on earlier remarks that cautioned against excessive expectations for driver savings. Some context that helps explain the alphabet soup: An actuarial study last fall found state drivers could save an average of $81 per car, or close to $1 billion a year, if Florida killed its requirement that drivers buy $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage — even after assuming premiums for other coverage such as bodily-injury liability went up. A spokeswoman for the insurance commissioner said in a statement: “ if PIP were repealed, most of the costs would transfer to other auto insurance coverages and cause increases for those coverages. Then there are those costs that would be covered by mechanisms outside of the auto insurance market, such as by health care practitioners, health insurance and by the injured claimant and there would likely be a delay for reimbursements since it would now fall under a tort system and fault would have to be determined.”

FWC CONSIDERING 78-DAY RED SNAPPER SEASON via the Panama City News-Herald –  The commission approved a draft rule that would open the recreational season continuously starting the Saturday before Memorial Day through the Sunday after July 4. In addition, the season would be open Saturdays and Sundays starting in May and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, plus Labor Day. If the plan is approved in April, it would be identical to the one approved at the outset of the last year’s season. The 78-day season would apply only to recreational state waters, which cover from the shoreline to 9 nautical miles out. The seasons for for-hire vessels with federal licenses and anglers who want to fish deeper has yet to be announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

TROUBLED FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT TO USE CHARTER SCHOOLS via The Associated Press – A small rural county in Florida’s Panhandle is going to become the first district in the state to have all of its students attend a charter school. The State Board of Education voted to approve a turnaround plan for Jefferson County schools that calls for turning over day-to-day operations to a charter school management company in the fall of 2017. Jefferson County schools have struggled with declining enrollment, budget troubles and students being held back. State officials have demanded plans to address its problems. Under the proposal, two schools with less than 800 students total would be consolidated into one charter school.

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There’s one committee week left until the start of the 2017 Legislative Session, and you can bet lawmakers will be doing more than just debating the merits of their bills during their time in the capital city this week.

House Majority, the campaign arm of the Florida GOP, will host fundraisers for several House Republicans, all of which are running for re-election, this week.

On Feb. 21, there is a fundraiser for Reps. Chuck Clemons and Bobby Payne at noon at The Governor’s Inn, 209 S. Adams Street in Tallahassee.

That same day, there is a fundraiser for Reps. Danny BurgessBob Rommel, and Erin Grall at 5 p.m. at The Edison, 470 Suwannee Street in Tallahassee. Across town, there will be a fundraiser for Rep. MaryLynn Magar at 5:30 p.m. at The Florida Realtors, 200 S. Monroe Street.

On Feb. 22, there is a fundraising reception for Reps. Alex MillerGrallCyndi StevensonAmber Mariano, and Jackie Toledo. The event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Governors Club, 202 S. Adams Street in Tallahassee.

Miller and Toledo will be back at the Governors Club for a 5 p.m. fundraiser on Feb. 22. A few blocks away, there is a fundraiser for Rep. Jay Fant at The Florida Realtors starting at 5:30 p.m. It is also scheduled to host an event for Rep. Jay Trumbull at The Governor’s Inn at the same time.

House Majority is scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Burgess and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 at Clyde’s and Costello’s, 210 South Adams St. in Tallahassee.

All of the events are hosted by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Rep. Jose Oliva, and Rep. Chris Sprowls.

Democrats are also getting in on the fundraising action, Sen. Vic Torres and Reps Richard Stark, Joe Geller and Amy Mercado hosting a fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Realtors Association on Feb. 22.

House members aren’t the only ones raising cash before the 2017 Legislative Session kicks off next month. Sen. Debbie Mayfield is scheduled to hold a fundraiser for her Senate District 17 re-election campaign at 5 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Governors Club Boardroom, 202 ½ S. Adams Street in Tallahassee.

DID FSU PRESIDENT JOHN THRASHER VIOLATE LOBBY BAN? via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Thrasher‘s push for a special law school appropriation includes a 2015 form with Thrasher named as the requester and dated before the former senator’s ban on lobbying expired, records show. Thrasher denies he unlawfully lobbied the Legislature for the $1 million a year, and said he’s been careful to follow the rules as FSU president. But one gun rights group accused him of violating the ban during last year’s legislative session when Thrasher opposed a failed plan to allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry handguns on campus. The $1 million, tucked away secretly in this year’s $82.3 billion state budget, is among the special lawmaker requests that have surfaced in a battle between House and Senate leaders over how to write the spending plan. Thrasher’s name also was on another secret appropriation for the engineering college

JASON ALLISON TO JOIN FOLEY & LARDNER via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Allison, Florida’s Chief Information Officer, has told Gov. Scott he is resigning. “My years directing the Agency … and my prior service as your Technology Policy Coordinator have been some of the best in my life,” he wrote. “I cannot thank you enough for all of the opportunities and experiences you have provided me during my time in your administration.” Allison’s letter says he is resigning effective March 7 – the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session. A news release from Foley & Lardner says he is starting with the law firm the next day as a “director of public affairs in the Tallahassee office.”


Lester Abberger, Florida Lobby Associates: City of Winter Haven

David Ash, DLA Consulting: Transdev North America

Josh Aubuchon, Holland & Knight: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Fred BaggettGus CorbellaHayden DempseyFred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: GrowHealthy Holdings, LLC (GrowHealthy)

Slater Bayliss,The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: LiveNova PLC

Patrick Bell, Capitol Solutions: Gilchrist County School District; SEIU Local 1991; UFMDC (United Faculty of Miami Dade College)

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Association of Student Educational Tours

Ron Book, Ronald L. Book PA: Well Child

Jim Boxold, Capital City Consulting: CitiBank

David BrowningJerry Lee McDanielJim McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Strategic Health Services LLC

French Brown IVDavid ChildsBrittany Dover, Hopping Green & Sams: Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners

Matt BryanJeff Hartley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers

Emily Buckly, Jones Walker: Ingenios Health Co.

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: JPMorgan Chase Holdings LLC

David Catania, Greenberg Traurig: Starship Technologies

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: Miami Dade County Fair and Exposition

Christopher Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: LiveNova PLC; GVDB Holdings

Paula CobbJeff Littlejohn, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: Kyra Solutions

Lawrence Curtin, Holland & Knight: Tampa Electric Company

David Daniel, Smith Bryan & Myers: Microsoft Corporation; City of Pembroke Pines

Mark Delegal, Holland & Knight: Park Place Behavioral Healthcare

Angela Dempsey, PooleMcKinley: Port Everglades Pilots Association

Chris Dudley, Allyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: Strategic Health Services LLC, Public Consulting Group c/o MultiState Associates

Leslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: GrowHealthy Holdings, LLC (GrowHealthy), Bankers Life Insurance Company

Nicole Fried, Colodny Fass: Florida Independent Spirits Association

Gary Guzzo, Cory Guzzo, Floridian Partners: Herzog Transit Services

Thomas Griffin, Smith Bryan & Myers: Microsoft Corporation

Kenneth Granger, Capital City Consulting: Planet Technologies

Michael Harrell, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: State Farm Insurance Co.

Jeff Hartley, Smith Bryan & Myers: City of Pembroke Pines

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Pinch A Penny; State Farm Florida Insurance Co.; Conference of County Court Judges

William Helmich, Helmich Consulting: Florida Workers’ Advocates

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Microsoft Corporation, Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers.

Lila Jaber, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Florida Public Utilities Co.; Southern Company Gas

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: State Farm Florida Insurance Co.; State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Dean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: Memory Garden

Jim Magill, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Vertical Bridge Holdings, LLC

Allison Mawhinney, GrayRobinson: U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Georgia McKeown, GA McKeown & Associates: Adam Taylor; Florida Alliance of Information & Referral Services

Drew Messer, Vineyard Partners: Florida for Care

Alex Miranda, Flagler Strategies: City of Sweetwater; Florida Crystals Corporations, Organization for Safe Cannabis Regulation; AT&T; Miami Children’s Health System

Michael Murtha, Murtha & Associates: Regional General Hospital

Jim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: City of Okeechobee; Glades County Board of Commissioners

Keith Poliakoff, Arnstein & Lehr: MedicFP

Douglas Russell, D. Russell & Associates: Marifirst Wellness Solutions LLC

Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: Chapters Health Systems

Robert Shave, Capitol Energy Florida: Dennis and Graci McGillicuddy for the benefit of All Star Children’s Home; Englewood Event Center; Common Rights, Inc.

Linda Loomis Shelley, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: State Farm Florida Insurance Co.

John Wayne Smith, Peebles & Smith: Ecology and Environment Inc.

Timothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Pinch A Penny; State Farm Florida Insurance Co.

Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: Florida Dog Hunters and Sportsmen’s Association; Southeastern Dog Hunters Association

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: ARES Security

Jason Unger: GrayRobinson: Government Payment Service, Inc.

Jennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: Florida House Experience

Thornton Williams, Williams Law Group: Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group

APPOINTED: Dr. Ernest Hewett and Kenneth Hancock to the DeSoto County Hospital Board. Barbara Clowdus to Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee Counties, Inc.

PERSONNEL NOTE: AT&T NAMES DAN POLLOCK REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS via Florida Politics – In his new role, Pollock will work closely with leaders in Orange, Brevard, Seminole, Lake, Sumter and Marion counties on AT&T legislative and community efforts. He will be based in Orlando. Before joining AT&T, Pollock was president of Pollock & Associates, a Florida public affairs firm. His previous experience includes: Co-founder of, executive director of the Florida Greyhound Tracks Association and chief Senate aide to former Sen. Tom Rossin.

SPOTTED at the 12th annual ForEverglades benefit for the Everglades Foundation: Jimmy Buffet, Derek Cooper, Charlie Crist, Tonya and Eric Eikenberg, Andrew Kethchel and fiancee MacKenzie, Connie and Jack Latvala, Mike Sole, Ann and CB Upton.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER BACK IN LAUNCH BUSINESS — THIS TIME FOR BUSINESS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off into space from historic Launch Complex 39A … the first launch from Kennedy since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. This was a business launch in almost every sense, except in purpose. The Dragon capsule sent into orbit by the rocket is full of 5,500 pounds of equipment and goods for the International Space Station. SpaceX is trucking the goods into space on a NASA contract, and it began the mission from a NASA-owned launch pad, but this is a private business that has leased the launch pad and which is hauling the goods entirely for business. The rocket launch appeared perfect, blasting upward and into cloudy sky, disappearing 10 seconds after liftoff. “And liftoff of the Falcon 9 to the space station, on the first commercial launch from Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39!” announcer George Diller declared.

PRESIDENT’S DAY: THE GRAB BAG HOLIDAY THAT TOO FEW PEOPLE CELEBRATE via Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker — February 22 used to be Washington’s Birthday. It still is, of course, and that’s still its official name, but we no longer call it that, so we no longer have a holiday devoted exclusively to remembering the Father of His Country, a very great man. … Presidents Day is a solution to a bureaucratic problem. The problem is, or was, that February 12 is Lincoln’s birthday, and that used to be a holiday in many states (still is in some). Plus, a few recalcitrant states celebrated the birthdays of Jefferson Davis and/or Robert E. Lee. Anyhow, we ended up with too many holidays in February, which is bad for the Gross Domestic Product. So they all got smooshed together, and department store advertisers gave it its name. The horrible result is that we have a holiday that nominally honors, among others, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, and Richard M. Nixon.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to our friend in Las Vegas, Andy Abboud, WFSU’s Lynn Hatter, and CoreMessage’s Michael Williams. Celebrating today is Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

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.

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