Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 2.7.17 – Trump hearts Florida; First CRC picks; Dana Young is upset; New Starbucks!!!

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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

DONALD TRUMP IN TAMPA: LET IN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO ‘LOVE OUR COUNTRY’ via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News –The visit was Trump’s first to the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base since he became president … The president addressed the energetic troops, vowing to put “America first” by focusing on the military. Trump told troops he would “load up” the Air Force base with new airplanes and equipment as president. National security, Trump said, is one of his top considerations — and keeping ill-intentioned people out of the country is part of the journey to keeping America safe. “We need strong programs … so that people that love us and want to love our country and will end up loving our country are allowed in … not people that want to destroy us and destroy our country,” Trump said.

TRUMP SAYS HE’LL BE ‘LOADING UP’ MACDILL WITH NEW PLANES via Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times – In his speech … Trump praised the leadership at MacDill Air Force Base, the troops and families there, and reiterated his support for the military. He said he will be “loading up” the base “with beautiful new planes” and equipment. He offered no specifics. MacDill, home to 16 K -135 aerial refueling tankers, is not on the short list to get the next wave of KC46 jets to replace the Eisenhower-era planes.

DURING TAMPA TRIP, RICK SCOTT AND TRUMP DISCUSS OBAMACARE, CUBA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – During the stop, Trump met privately with Scott, who has been one of his most vocal supporters … the two discussed Cuba and the Affordable Care Act. “The governor reiterated he wanted to be helpful in any way he can in bringing democracy and freedom to Cuba,” said Jackie Schutz, Scott’s communications director. “America needs a better deal that does not coddle a dictatorship.” Scott has been vocally opposed to former President Obama’s push to normalize relations with the island nation. In his most recent comments on the issue last month, Scott warned state ports that he would push to cut funding if they began trading with Cuba.


TRUMP HEADED BACK TO FLORIDA TO GOLF WITH JAPANESE PM SHINZO ABE via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – First, Abe will meet with Trump in Washington Friday. “He’s coming to the White House and then he’d like to play golf, and we’re going to come down to Florida, Palm Beach, and we’re going to play golf,” Trump said … “We’re going to have a round of golf, which is a great thing. That’s the one thing about golf — you get to know somebody better on a golf course than you will over lunch.” No telling if Trump will play with the $3,700 driver Abe gifted him after the election.

— “The felonious Palm Beach socialite who partied with Donald Trump” via Jose Gambiet’s Gossip Extra

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING:  WHAT TRUMP CAN LEARN FROM FLORIDA’S JOB BOOM via Jared Meyer of Forbes – On Jan. 4, 2011, Scott was sworn in as Florida’s governor and immediately launched deregulation efforts by signing Executive Order 11-01, which he later reinforced with Executive Order 11-211. Since then, Florida has repealed over 4,700 individual rules and regulations that directly affected businesses—a reduction of more than 20 percent. First … it required all agencies under the direction of the governor to “immediately suspend all rulemaking” and requested the suspension of rulemaking by all other agencies. Second, it created the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform (OFARR) to oversee the state’s deregulation efforts. Following these actions, Florida led the United States in job creation. Florida’s experience in reining in bureaucracy, cutting job-killing regulations, and unleashing over 1 million private-sector jobs provides a replicable strategy for promoting economic prosperity. Based on the state’s experience, here are three key things other governors can do to reverse the tide of regulatory overreach.

HOT TAKE – PRESIDENT CHAOS COLLIDES WITH REALITY via Rick Wilson for the Daily Beast – His leadership rests on showmanship over substance, fear of the “other” over faith in our fellow Americans, and a revanchist politics like that puts the bully in bully pulpit like we’ve rarely seen. That’s a problem; the world is coming at Trump‘s White House, and fast. For those who have opposed Trump from the start, or those on both the right and left who still find him ideologically, politically and morally repugnant, take heart. No Administration can run at this pace for long, and the Cat 5 Chaos Hurricane of the first two weeks is unsustainable … as President he faces something to which he’s never been accustomed to in his personal, business or political life; accountability. That accountability comes not only in the awesome power to send men and women into war, but to the promises he made, to the people he now leads, and to the oath he swore. We know he’s not good with promises, and we know he’s not good with commitments, but he’s not just Donald Trump, alleged-billionaire playboy and smack-talker. He’s now the President of the United States.

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DAYS UNTIL: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 3; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 5; Valentine’s Day – 7; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 28; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Skits – 35; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 87; FSU vs. Alabama – 207; Election Day 2017 – 272; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 310.

ACTIVISTS MARCH AT MARCO RUBIO’S TAMPA OFFICE, CALLING TO REJECT BETSY DEVOS AS EDUCATION SECRETARY via Florida Politics –More than two dozen activists gathered in front of Rubio’s Tampa district office … urging him to reject DeVos as the next Secretary of Education when her name comes up for a vote … But they are not expecting him to do so. “Betsy DeVos is totally uneducated, and she’s totally biased,” said Sue Jenkins, a former Wisconsin schoolteacher who spends winters in Port Richey and summers back in the Midwest. She blasted DeVos for her dedication toward vouchers and privatizing education. “We privatize the schools; we pay them money. Somebody’s going to make a profit.” Many of those at the protest want Rubio to recuse himself from the vote because he received campaign contributions from DeVos. Then again, so have a lot of other Republicans in Washington.

JOHN MORGAN, CANDIDATE OR NOT, IS RESHAPING FLORIDA POLITICS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Morgan … wasn’t joking when he said it’s a travesty that so many people make so little money in Florida, where the minimum wage just went up a nickel — to $8.10 an hour. He said he will consult with Jon Mills, the University of Florida law school professor and former House speaker, about crafting a ballot measure to give voters the chance in 2018 to put a higher minimum wage — at least $12 an hour — in the state constitution. That’s a potential political game-changer in Florida on at least three levels. First, if such a proposal reached the ballot, it could greatly increase voter turnout in a midterm election where Democrats have a dismal track record of getting their base out to vote. Second, as the ultimate pocketbook issue, a “living wage” campaign would force every candidate for every office to take a position that could cost them votes. Third, it would force the business community to spend millions of dollars on ads opposing Morgan’s crusade, and that’s money that otherwise would be lavished on pro-business candidates for statewide office and the Legislature.

JORGE LABARGA APPOINTS TO CRC THREE CANDIDATES WHO WILL WATCH THE COURT’S BACK via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court … named three people who value “judicial independence” to serve on the powerful panel to revise the Florida Constitution. Labarga appointed Miami lawyer Roberto Martinez, Jacksonville defense attorney Henry Coxe III and former Democratic leader of the Florida Senate Arthenia Joyner to serve as his appointees to the Constitution Revision Commission, the 37-member panel assembled every 20 years to review the constitution and put proposals directly before voters in 2018. They each were chosen because they value an independent judiciary, Labarga told reporters … “extremely qualified people who care about our state” and said he looked for candidates with “wide-ranging knowledge about our system and appreciation for separation of powers and the independence of the judicial branch of government.”

— “Arthenia Joyner truly honored to be named to Commission” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics


While speculation hums along on the membership on the Constitution Revision Commission, there’s been not much buzz on who will be its executive director.

But there’s been quite a bit of interest in the Capitol, at least on the south side of the Plaza level, to put it back in the hands of an old pro: Billy Buzzett, who had the job back in 1997-98.

Don’t ask why. Ask: Why not?

Most importantly, Gov. Rick Scott likes the guy. He tapped the now 58-year-old lawyer – a fifth-generation Floridian – back in 2011 to head the Department of Community Affairs, the state’s growth management agency, just before it was made defunct.

“Billy is focused on helping me make government smaller, less intrusive and consistent with efforts to increase investments in Florida and spur job creation,” Scott said in a press release upon his appointment.

High praise from this governor.

Buzzett graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and practiced for several years before getting his law degree from Florida State University, his bio says.

His other bona fides include being assistant general counsel to then-Gov. Bob Martinez, staff attorney to the House Judiciary Committee, an administrative law judge, and vice president of the St. Joe Co. He’s an FSU trustee, and liked and respected on both sides of the aisle.

“He’s a smooth operator, say both friends and enemies, totally unflappable,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote of him in 2011, quoting Manley Fuller of the Florida Wildlife Federation that Buzzett “could sell snow to the Eskimos.”

The commission’s E.D. job is part-dealmaker, part-peacemaker and full time on managing personalities and keeping the trains running on time.

All the more reason why Buzzett is – again – the right man for the job. And judging from the Capitol cognoscenti, it’s practically his to take or turn down.

***The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. They’ll share the plan on Wednesday with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services. Learn more at***

GOV VISITS JAXPORT LOOKING FOR SUPPORT via Kent Justice of News4Jax – Scott gathered business and union leaders at the Jacksonville Port Authority Monday afternoon to talk about the $10 billion investment he proposes for transportation, including $178 million targeted for Florida’s 15 seaports … Calling this his “Fighting for Florida budget,” Scott told people that if they agreed with supporting the port, they should contact their state lawmakers.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE GRETNA RULING NOW THAT JUSTICE JAMES E.C. PERRY’S WORK IS DONE? via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – So now what happens to cases like the Gretna ruling on which the court, including Perry, hear oral arguments last June but which has not yet been released? The court must decide of the Florida Legislature intended to allow counties to expand slot machines anywhere in the state in 2010 when it modified a statute that was initially intended to allow Hialeah Park to operate slot machines. “I haven’t thought about that yet,” [Chief Justice JorgeLabarga said … “I’m pretty sure most of those questions are done and whatever he signed will be released soon. As far as new cases that are going to be heard — tomorrow and from here on, that will be Justice Lawson.” Labarga responded that there are “going to be some” cases from Perry “that he voted on — but I’m not sure.” If Perry has written his ruling but it is now being jettisoned because his retirement was cut short, what happens next? If Perry’s ruling had resulted in a 3-3 split, the court could ask [Justice C. AlanLawson to break the tie … As with any tie, the court could also call for a rehearing of the issue, or Lawson could review the arguments in the file and the videotape of the oral arguments and then render an opinion.

AFTER MASS SHOOTINGS, LITTLE CHANGES IN FLORIDA ON MENTAL ILLNESS AND ACCESS TO GUNS via Michael Auslen and Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Despite years connecting mental illness and mass shootings, lawmakers in both parties have been reluctant to pass major legislation taking firearms out of the hands of people diagnosed with severe disorders … Gov. Scott showed how quickly politicians can retreat after a call to action. “One thing we have to think about is if someone is adjudicated mentally ill, it just doesn’t make any sense that they should have access to a gun,” he told reporters a week after the Fort Lauderdale shooting. Scott, who often lobbies the Legislature on priorities like tax cuts, could weigh in on guns if he wants, but he’s right that it’s ultimately up to lawmakers to act. And there’s much they can do.

DOH HOLDS FIRST MEDICINAL MARIJUANA WORKSHOP IN JACKSONVILLE via Drew Dixon of the Florida Times-Union – Many complained not only about limited access to the drug, but also criticized the state for limiting the number of state-licensed cultivation centers to only seven facilities in the state. Some speakers at the workshop said they’re concerned about what they see as a state-sanctioned monopoly that could become a “cannabis cartel in Florida.” There were also multiple medical professionals on hand during the workshop and they implored the state to take steps to lower the cost of the drug. The public meetings are designed to get feedback from residents “regarding the implementation of Amendment 2,” the referendum overwhelming approved by Florida voters Nov. 8 that legalized the use of medical cannabis.

INSURANCE OFFICE, NCCI REFUTE SUNSHINE LAW CLAIMS IN WORKERS’ COMP APPEAL via Florida Politics – The Office of Insurance Regulation and an organization that proposes workers’ compensation premium rates have filed legal briefs refuting arguments that they calculated Florida’s recent 14.5 percent rate hike in violation of the Sunshine Law. James Fee, a Miami workers’ compensation attorney fighting the increase, and a group of press and press freedom organizations, had argued … that the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, was obliged to open its internal deliberations to public scrutiny. “Just because an entity can create a collegial body that would be subject to the Sunshine Law, does not mean an entity is required to create a collegial body that is subject to the Sunshine Law,” the council’s attorneys wrote.

LAWYERS MARRIED TO MILITARY COULD BYPASS BAR EXAM IN FLORIDA via Florida Politics –The Florida Bar wants lawyer-spouses of military members stationed in Florida to be able to practice law here without having to take the state bar exam. The Bar, which regulates the state’s 100,000-plus licensed attorneys, filed its request with the Florida Supreme Court last week. The change would require court approval. Twenty-three other states, including Texas and New York, “have adopted a military spouse rule,” the Bar’s petition says. “Due to the unique mobility requirements of military families, lawyers licensed in a jurisdiction other than Florida often have to relocate to Florida with their spouse who is in the military,” the petition explains. “Currently, that lawyer is unable to engage in the practice of law in Florida” without passing the state bar exam.

FGCU DECLINES TO INTERVIEW FORMER TALLAHASSEE LAWMAKER via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda won’t be interviewed for the vacant president position at Florida Gulf Coast University … [She] failed to garner 10 votes from a search committee reviewing 129 applications to replace Wilson Bradshaw, who is stepping down June 30 … Rehwinkel Vasilinda is an attorney and has been a professor of Legal Studies and Applied Ethics at Tallahassee Community College since 1989. She represented Tallahassee in the state house 2008 to 2016 as a Democrat but bucked her party with her support of a bill to allow guns on college campuses. Within the first hour of a meeting to select up to 10 candidates for further examination Rehwinkel Vasilinda and another former Florida House member, Fort Myers’ Keith Arnold, were eliminated from further consideration.

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DANA YOUNG SAYS TALLAHASSEE’S ANGRY TONE DOESN’T HELP; OPPOSES KILLING ENTERPRISE FLORIDA, VISIT FLORIDA via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s constitution gives the Legislature one job — passing a balanced budget — so it shouldn’t be that hard, right? “Sounds pretty easy, but this year it doesn’t feel that way,” Young told about 70 people at Café con Tampa … “There is this angry, shrill tone tone coming out of Tallahassee and I truly don’t understand why, because I feel like we’re all on the same team and should be working together to get a budget passed. But this shrill screaming is discouraging.” Asked whether she supports the idea of killing Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, something the leadership in the House proposed this week, Young said no.

SENATE PANEL BEGINS WORK ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROBLEM via Florida Politics – A Senate committee got a preview of what a coordinated statewide campaign against human trafficking might look at Monday, when a prosecutor detailed Miami’s “victim-centered” attack on the scourge. Esther Jacobo, who runs the program for State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, said prosecutors … identify services gaps that make it more difficult to deliver children and young women and men from human traffickers. … The Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs gave her a sympathetic hearing. “At the end of the day, we know there’s a crisis in the state of Florida — not only here, but across the nation — when it comes to human trafficking,” said Rene Garcia, the Hialeah Republican who chairs the panel.

BILL ON UNANIMOUS JURY FOR DEATH SENTENCE CLEARS FIRST PANEL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The legislation (SB 280) was cleared unanimously by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. It’s sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy of Ocoee, the panel’s chair … a staff analysis said death penalty cases in Florida “have essentially ground to a halt.” In 2016, the Legislature passed and Gov. Scott signed a bill requiring at least 10 of the 12 members of a jury to recommend the death penalty. But the Florida Supreme Court in October ruled 5-2 that jury recommendations must be unanimous for capital punishment to be imposed. Significantly, the court said the law can’t be applied to pending prosecutions.

SUGAR GROWERS PLAY HARD BALL: TELL LEGISLATORS THEY WON’T WILLINGLY SELL THEIR LAND via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Sugar cane growers and other farmers who own some of the largest parcels of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area told the Florida Senate … they will not willingly sell their land to build a water-holding reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, setting up a possible standoff in the power struggle over the future of Everglades cleanup. The owners, which include sugar giants U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, said in a letter delivered to the Florida Legislature Tuesday, that they “do not support any governmental acquisition of additional farm lands south of Lake Okeechobee to solve issues that are being caused north of Lake Okeechobee and in Martin County. The letter is signed by 12 individuals representing 14 companies who farm in the EAA. Their argument: any attempt to buy land to store water south of Lake Okeechobee “simply cannot store enough water to stop the discharges from Lake Okeechobee when our region is inundated from heavy rains.”

REGGIE FULLWOOD FACES LIGHT SENTENCE, BUT WANTS TO AVOID PRISON via Florida Politics – In 2016, former Jacksonville state Rep. Fullwood was arrested and charged with using campaign funds for personal expenses: 10 counts of wire fraud and four counts of failure to file federal tax returns. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of failure to file. Guidelines, assert Fullwood’s lawyer in a sentencing memorandum, call for a 15- to 21-month stretch. However, Fullwood seeks a “non-custodial” sentence in Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. Fullwood has suffered because of the trial, according to his lawyer. His wife is divorcing him. Despite this setback, and a family history of alcohol and drug abuse, Fullwood is back on the straight and narrow. If allowed to serve a non-custodial sentence, the former state representative would be installed as associate editor of the Jacksonville Free Press.

ST. PETE CHAMBER RELEASES LEGISLATIVE WISH LIST FOR 2017 SESSION via Florida Politics – Among the leading matters for the Chamber are transportation, the unification of PSTA-HART, tourism, and state regulation of vehicles for hire — including a bill (SB 340) from state Sen. Jeff Brandes setting rules to promote the growth of transportation network companies (TNC) such as Uber and Lyft. However, at the top of the wish list is a call for greater diversity, with the Chamber supporting the Florida Competitive Workforce Act … The Chamber also wants to keep Enterprise Florida – as is or with some modifications … As for education, the Chamber gives thumbs-up to several local proposals, including $10 million For the St. Petersburg College Student Success Center, and $2.5 million for “STEM academic programming” … The University of South Florida St. Petersburg gets a pair of requests, with $1.5 million for the USF College of Marine Science Coastal Ocean Initiative … There’s also $2 million for the USF College of Marine Science Biogeochemical Laboratory Renovation … The Chamber asks lawmakers to pass the funding request from Kathleen Peters (HB 2005) for $3 million to smoke test the city’s sewer pipes for leaks, remodel lateral clean-outs with removable plugs, and install and seal manholes. The Chamber also opposes any efforts to prohibit a professional sports franchise from leasing public land to build stadiums or renovate stadiums already on public lands.

TAMPA BAY PARTNERSHIP ASSERTS NEW LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES WITH A STRONG MESSAGE ON TRANSPORTATION via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – The group’s 2017 policy agenda emphasizes regionalism as a key to connecting citizens and reducing traffic congestion. The Partnership is putting its corporate might behind creating a multicounty Metropolitan Planning Organization rather than the existing patchwork of individual county-based MPOs. “A regional MPO would make Tampa Bay more competitive in pursuing state and federal transportation funding, and facilitate in the process of making regional decisions about long-range transportation plans,” the group’s agenda explains in a recent white paper …The group also supports creating a regional structure for transit operations.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will discuss direct primary care legislation at 10 a.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. At 2 p.m., the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will discuss Sen. Rob Bradley’s bill to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee in 412 Knott; while the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee will discuss making texting while driving a primary offense for minors during its meeting at the same time in 301 Senate Office Building. Also happening at 2 p.m., the Senate Transportation Committee meets in 401 Senate Office Building to discuss red-light cameras. The House Appropriations Committee meets at 3 p.m. in 212 Knott to review the governor’s proposed 2017-18 budget. House members also have until 5 p.m. to submit appropriation project request forms.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Jason Brodeur will announce the introduction of the “Protect Florida Small Business Act,” which aims to protect small business owners who operate franchises in Florida, during a press conference at 10 a.m. on the 4th floor of the Capitol outside of the Senate Chambers.

ASSINGMENT EDITORS: The Florida Association of Community Health Centers will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. on the 4th floor of the Capitol to discuss the role its members serve in providing quality health care to local communities across the state. Participants will include FACHC President Andy Behrman, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, and Sen. Aaron Bean.

ASSINGMENT EDITORS: Moffitt Cancer Center will hold a press conference at noon at the Florida capital, 400 S. Monroe Street in Tallahassee to announce expansion plans to help the cancer center better meet needs of its patients continue to make scientific advances in the fight against cancer. Dr. Tom Sellers, Moffitt EVP and center director; Jon Gruden, ESPN analyst and Moffitt supporter; Barbara Popoli, breast cancer patient; Rep. Jamie Grant, and Sen. Dana Young are expected to attend.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Florida leaders will detail their concerns with the legal record of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee during a press conference at 12:15 p.m. the 4th floor of the Capitol.

HAPPENING WEDNESDAY – INDUSTRY LEADERS DISCUSS FUTURE OF TRANSPORTATION — The Charles Koch Institute, The James Madison Institute and Lyft will host a discussion at 6 p.m. Wednesday at The James Madison Institute, 100 North Duval Street in Tallahassee, to discuss the future of transportation in Florida and around the country. Sen. Jeff Brandes is scheduled to give the keynote address. The event will also include a panel discussion moderated by Jesse Blumenthal, manager of technology and innovation at the Charles Koch Institute, and featuring panelists Eli Dourado, director of technology policy program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Rob Grant, the director of government relations at Lyft, and Adrian Moore, the vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation.

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY BUFFET MENU – Tuesday’s Governors club buffet takes a delicious Southern turn with she crab soup; remoulade slaw; seasonal green salad; traditional potato salad with bacon; fried chicken with whiskey BBQ sauce; herb roasted pork loin macaroni & cheese; mashed potatoes; succotash; broccoli & cauliflower casserole and finished with a chef’s choice dessert.


DONKEY STATUE LEADS TO ALLEGED INJURY, LAWSUIT IN TALLAHASSEE via Florida Politics – A Tallahassee woman is suing a Mexican restaurant after she fell off its donkey statue and broke her back, according to a lawsuit. Kimberly Bonn‘s complaint, filed last week in Leon County Circuit Civil court, said she was having dinner at El Jalisco Southwood restaurant … Afterward, she got up on a “life-size statue of a donkey” … (but) where Bonn sat “was smooth and slick” and she slipped off. She fell “hard to the floor” and sustained a “fractured spine,” the suit said.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, a new bill sets up a major battle between Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House over plans to kill Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Trump’s pick for Education Secretary is in jeopardy with a possible tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Florida’s former Education Commissioner tells Gomes he believes Devos is the right person for the job and Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson should vote in favor. Also, Gomes looks back with Florida’s former jobs chief, Jesse Panuccio, as he joins the Trump administration to serve as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice.

SPOTTED in downtown Tallahassee: Blogger and provocateur Jacob Engels.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event — with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” — will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

DESPITE THRILLING FINISH, SUPER BOWL OVERNIGHT RATING DOWN FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR via Joe DePaolo of Mediaite – Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons pulled down a 48.8 overnight rating and 72 share, down from the previous two editions of the big game. Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 between the Pats and the Seattle Seahawks notched a 49.7 overnight. While last year’s game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers got a 49.0 overnight. It is likely that the Falcons running out to a seemingly insurmountable 28-3 lead did not help the final numbers. Social media buzz certainly helped bring some people back to their sets for the game’s dramatic conclusion. But apparently, it was not enough to top the last two Super Bowls.

AIRBNB FOLLOWS SUPER BOWL AD WITH CALL TO HOUSE 100K IN NEED via The Associated Press – An announcement on the rental service’s website said it plans to start with refugees, disaster survivors and relief workers, but wants “to accommodate many more types of displaced people over time.” The company also said it will donate $4 million over four years to the International Rescue Committee. Airbnb also touched on discrimination experienced by some renters. The company said it’s looking to achieve “greater acceptance in our community.” Airbnb’s Super Bowl spot showed faces of people of different races and included the line, “the world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

TOM BRADY SUSPECTS SUPER BOWL JERSEY WAS STOLEN AFTER GAME via Martin Rogers of USA TODAY – Brady looked flustered as he searched his locker area at NRG Stadium but was unable to locate the game-worn jersey that he donned in leading the Patriots to a 34-28 overtime victory. “It was right here. I know exactly where I put it,” Brady said as he called the security staff and team equipment managers to assist in the search. Brady, who was named the Super Bowl MVP for the record fourth time in his career, frantically looked through several bags and told nearby players that the iconic No. 12 was missing. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo told other players to look for the jersey, but the longer he searched, the more Brady seemed to grow concerned it had been stolen. “This is not good,” he said. “It was right here and now I don’t have it. Not good.”

SUPER BOWL GENERATES MIXED RESULTS FOR ODDS MAKERS via Regina Garcia Cano of The Associated Press – Gamblers wagered a record $138.5 million at Nevada casinos on the big game, almost $6 million more than last year. The unaudited tallies released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board showed sports books made a profit of more than $10.9 million on the action, about $2.4 million less than in 2016 and a far cry from the $19.6 the casinos cleared in 2014. Caesars Palace sportsbook director Frank Kunovic said the hotel-casino raked in a decent amount of money from bettors, but would have had a much better day if the Patriots missed the two-point conversion that tied the game. The play resulted in a seven-figure swing for Caesars’ bottom line when MVP quarterback Tom Brady‘s favored Patriots went on to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. Most bettors wagered for the Patriots to win by more than 3 points and the game’s total points to exceed 59. “Our saving grace was that we had a lot of people on the under,” Kunovic said, referring to the people who bet that the total points scored by the two teams would remain under 59.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Brad Drake and our friends Josh Burgin and Rachel Pienta.

GATORS REWARDED, SEMINOLES DISSED IN AP TOP 25 POLL via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics – The Gators had two huge wins over the week. A 39-point win over Missouri and a 22-point blowout of former No. 8 Kentucky facilitated Florida’s seven position climb in the poll. They are still two spots behind the Wildcats. Florida is on an incredible run of four straight wins of at least 22 points, three of which were by more than 30. They are playing like a strong NCAA Tournament contender. Florida State, on the other hand, was not rewarded for an impressive week. An 18-point blowout at Miami, followed by a nearly-perfect 48-point dismantling of Clemson, apparently made the voters yawn. Despite having a better conference record (8-3 versus 7-3), overall record (20-4 versus 19-5) and a victory over Louisville, the Seminoles are ranked 10 spots below the Cardinals! Despite having a better conference record (8-3 versus 7-3), overall record (20-4 versus 17-5) AND a victory at Virginia, the Seminoles are ranked two spots below the Cavaliers!

SPOTTED: Florida State fan Ron Sachs congratulates Florida State center Chatrice White (50), who had 19 points, after a game against Miami in Tallahassee Monday. Photo credit Phil Sears/AP.

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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