Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 3.21.17 – Chamber’s Capitol Days; CRC kicks-off; A-dot-Bean’s accuser; Big poll on gambling; Happy b’day Chuck Hinson!

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.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Happy birthday to Tampa Electric’s Chuck Hinson. You’ll be shocked (get it, shocked?) to learn that he turns 65 years-old today.


When the Legislature is in session, everyone has a day for advocacy and action.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has claimed the next two.

The statewide business lobby kicks off its 2017 Capitol Days at the Turnbull Conference Center at Florida State University today. The two-day event gives members a chance to hear from Chamber officials, as well as legislative and business leaders. It’s also a chance for members to advocate on behalf of issues important to them.

“The Florida Chamber’s Capitol Days connects Florida’s business community with members of the Florida Legislature, and the governor and Cabinet to help make Florida more competitive,” said Syd Kitson, the chairman of the board, in a video.

Kitson is among those who will welcome attendees to the annual event when the conference begins at 1 p.m. Attendees will also hear from Mark Wilson, the Chamber’s president and CEO, and Jerry Parrish, the Chamber’s director of research, who is expected to give a presentation about Florida’s scorecard.

Attendees will also hear from the Chamber’s legislative experts, including Frank Walker, the vice president of government affairs; Christopher Emmanuel, the director of infrastructure & governance policy; Brittney Hunt, the director of talent, education & quality of life policy; and Carolyn Johnson, the director of business, economic development & innovation policy. The first day will wrap up with a trip to the Capitol, where attendees will hear from members of the Florida Legislature before getting a chance to act as citizen lobbyists.

The conference continues Wednesday, with a panel discussion called “Is Florida Closed for Business?,” featuring Eric Silagy, the president and CEO of Florida Power & Light; Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; and Mike Grissom, the interim president and CEO of Enterprise Florida.

Also on tap for Wednesday: A discussion on insurance and legal reform, a presentation about the Constitution Revision Commission, and a panel on regulatory reform. Ken Lawson, the president and CEO of Visit Florida, and Carol Dover, the president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, will also be on hand for a discussion called “Florida’s Tourism Industry: Sunshine or Rainy Days Ahead?”

The final day of the conference is expected to wrap up with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, but not before one last speech. CFO Jeff Atwater, who is leaving his post at the end of the 2017 Legislative Session (whenever that might be), is scheduled to give the keynote address around 4:05 p.m. Wednesday.


Floridians are down on the Koch brothers, but up on the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

They’re worried about healthcare and jobs, but are less concerned about immigration and global warming. They are so-so on President Donald Trump, split on Gov. Rick Scott and tepid on Sen. Bill Nelson.

Those are just some of the revelations of a new Chamber of Commerce statewide poll. The survey of 600 likely Florida voters was conducted from March 6 through March 14 by Cherry Communications. It has a margin of error of 4 percent.

The findings are expected to be presented to members of the Florida Chamber Political Institute when it meets at 9 a.m. today as part of  Capitol Days. Here’s 10 takeaways from the survey:

— Florida voters have mixed feelings about the new president. Overall, 43 percent of Florida voters said they have a favorable opinion of the New York Republican (and part-time Florida man), while 50 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are giving him top marks with 79 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him. The survey found 81 percent of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of him.

— Half of Florida voters approve of the job Scott is doing as governor, with 42 percent of voters disapproving. The poll fond 76 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents think he’s doing a good job; while 77 percent of Democrats still give the Naples Republican a thumbs-down.

— Nelson fared about the same when it came to his approval numbers, with 47 percent of Florida voters saying they approve of the work he was doing on behalf of his constituents in the U.S. Senate.

— Florida voters seem to be pleased with the direction of the state. Nearly half of respondents (49%) said they believe Florida is heading in the right direction. Republicans and no party affiliation voters, according to the polling memo, were “especially optimistic” with 72 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of no party affiliation voters saying things are heading in the right direction.

— A majority (81%) of voters say they are “about the same or better off financially” than they were a year ago. According to the polling memo, “party identification has virtually no effect on the attitudes about Floridians financial situation.”

— When it comes to the top concerns for Floridians, healthcare and the economy are No. 1. The survey found “Healthcare/Obamacare” and “Jobs and the Economy” were tied with 14 percent, followed by education. Immigration and global warming are issues that “still concern Florida voters,” according to the polling memo. The survey found 8 percent said immigration was their No. 1 concern, while 7 percent selected global warming.

— Just 13 percent of likely Florida voters have a favorable opinion of the Koch brothers. One-third of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of the two men, who are tied to the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. According to the survey, 20 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of the two men.

— Personal injury lawyers don’t fare much better: 67 percent of Florida voters said trial attorneys benefit the most from a lawsuit, while 16 percent said the victim benefits the most. The survey found 72 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independent voters believed trial attorneys saw the most benefit from a lawsuit.

— Here’s another hit for trial attorneys: 71 percent of Floridians think “making money is the driving force for personal injury trial lawyers,” according to the polling memo. The survey found 80 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents said they thought personal injury lawyers were “just in it for the money.”

— Wondering if there was any good news? If you’re the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the answer is heck yeah! The survey found 54 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the statewide business association, compared to 11 percent percent who have an unfavorable view of the group.

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CARLOS BERUFF: CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION WON’T WASTE TAXPAYERS’ MONEY OR TIME via Florida Politics – The newly-formed Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) won’t spend time on changes that can’t pass at the ballot box, its chairman said Monday. “If the public doesn’t feel overwhelmingly supportive of (a proposed amendment), then why do it?” said Beruff, the Manatee County homebuilder appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. The panel held an organizational meeting in the Capitol … The 37-member panel meets every 20 years to suggest rewrites and additions to the state’s governing document, but its suggestions have to be approved by 60 percent of voters during the next statewide election. When asked if he’ll authorize polling to know what will make the cut and what won’t, he said, “That’ll probably be part of the plan but I’m not sure.”

RICHARD CORCORAN: ‘WE’RE READY’ FOR A SPECIAL SESSION via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – He made the remark to the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club … in a luncheon speech about the House’s insistence that Enterprise Florida be abolished. He called EFI an “absolute cesspool” that’s “unreformable.” What’s needed, Corcoran said, is “a true and fair and just free market system,” a remark that brought applause from the audience of about 200 people. Here’s Corcoran, verbatim, on the need for a special session if necessary to abolish Enterprise Florida: “So last year, we zeroed them out. We said we’re not giving you any more incentive money and we thought that was the end of story. And this summer, we said OK, now that we’ve zeroed them out and we’ve said this is a horrendous program, why are we leaving the law on the books? Might as well delete that, too. And so we deleted that and now we’re in the current furor that you have. But I can assure you, they will be zeroed out again. And if we have to go to special session, we’re ready. Because we’re right.”

AFP-FL LAUNCHES DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT LAWMAKERS WHO BACKED BILL TO KILL ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Florida Politics — The statewide organization launched a direct mail campaign Monday in districts of state lawmakers who supported a proposal (HB 7005) Enterprise Florida and other economic incentive programs. The mailer, according to the organization, is meant to “educate citizens in the districts of legislators that voted to eliminate corporate welfare.” “Corporate welfare is the result of government, at any level, picking winners and losers by redistributing our hard-earned tax dollars to big business and special interests. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The leaders of the Florida House that have voted for H.B. 7005, vote to level the playing field for Florida’s small businesses and taxpayers,” said Chris Hudson, the organization’s state director, in a statement.

FIRST ON #FLAPOL – DOROTHY HUKILL CANCER-FREE, WILL MISS REMAINDER OF 2017 SESSION OUT OF ‘ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION’ via Florida Politics — In a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, the Port Orange Republican said her team of physicians informed her that “post treatment tests show no remaining cancer and they are optimistic of a cancer free full recovery.” While Hukill said she hoped that would signal the end of her treatment, her doctors recommended “one more round of radiation treatments in an abundance of caution.”… In her letter to Negron on Monday, she said additional radiation treatments will unfortunately mean she “will be unable to return to Tallahassee prior to the completion of the 2017 Regular Session. “During this time, I will continue to be part of the legislative process from the District and I look forward to returning to Tallahassee soon,” she wrote. … Negron said Hukill will continue to manager her “district offices, staff, bills, and committee responsibilities remotely during this time.”

KIM DANIELS ACCUSED OF USING CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR PERSONAL EXPENSES via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – The allegations stem from 2015, when Daniels was running for re-election to the Jacksonville City Council. According to records obtained from the Elections Commission, an investigation was launched after a complaint was filed that year about a $4,000 expenditure listed on her campaign finance report. Daniels is accused of using the money to purchase a magazine advertisement promoting a book she wrote called “The Demon Dictionary.” The advertisement, published in Shofar Magazine alongside an article in which Daniels discussed Jacksonville politics, encouraged readers to purchase the book without any mention of her political campaign.

TWEET, TWEET: @AGGancarski: Campaign finance trouble bubbles up for Kim Daniels – This was “BREAKING NEWS” five days ago.

A LOOK AT AARON BEAN’S ACCUSER, CARLOS SLAY via Florida Politics – The Naples Daily News isn’t a usual go-to source on northeast Florida politics, but it dropped a blockbuster story about Sen. Bean … The claim: “Bean helped secure a $1 million special appropriation in this year’s budget for an early mental health screening program run by Catherine Drew, the wife of Nassau County Tax Collector John Drew. Bean and John Drew have been friends for more than a decade and have supported each other politically.” But equally blockbuster is the source of the story … Carlos Slay, a self-styled “public advocate” who lost a contentious race to Drew last year.

In June, the office of Angela Corey deemed Slay’s narrative “inaccurate, generally without merit, or otherwise made with reckless disregard for the truth … a circuitous impermissible stacking of inferences and innuendo.”

Slay is also a man with serious anger management issues. Slay has some credibility issues, and some with anger management as well, as multiple injunctions for protection against domestic violence suggest. Slay got thumped in his race for Tax Collector. But at least in terms of an ephemeral March 2017 news cycle, he scored a pyrrhic victory. Meanwhile, when it comes to the charges being levied against Bean: consider the original source.

TWEET, TWEET: @NateMonroeTU: Interesting. Details about the SAO report seem relevant here, at least to this Tallahassee neophyte.

TOUGH COLUMN – CUTTING FOOD STAMPS SOUNDS GOOD TO THE GUYS WEARING GUCCI via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times – Let’s start with the tax savings. There are none. At least none that will affect Florida’s budget. Other than administrative costs, the entire food stamp program is funded by the federal government. So, in essence, we are paying taxes to the IRS in Washington, D.C., and telling the agency to keep the change. If you are ideologically pure, you could applaud the idea that Florida is rejecting its federal allowance and saving money for America as a whole. But, somehow, I don’t think the rest of America cares. The great majority of Floridians will never notice if this bill passes or fails. It will not reduce their taxes, and it will not change their lives for better or worse. he only people who will care are the politicians who see this as an ideological victory. And the hungry children and seniors left in their wake.

BILL EXEMPTING CREDIT UNIONS FROM DECEPTIVE PRACTICES LAWS PASSES PANEL via Florida Politics – The committee substitute for House Bill 1347, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Shevrin Jones, would exempt state or federal credit unions from Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act under the assumption that credit unions get all the regulation and oversight they need from other, mostly federal banking laws and regulations. The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee unanimously approved it, after no one expressed any opposition. “The current statute provides exemptions for most regulated Florida industries… based on the idea that regulated industries are properly governed by their respective regulatory authorities and their respective corrective actions from those regulatory authorities,” said Democratic state Rep. Richard Stark, who presented the bill to the committee in Jones’ absence.

— “Autism law enforcement training heads to Florida House floor” via Sascha Cordner of WFSU

“DON’T FEAR THE DEBATE?” – Anders Croy, the Communications Director for the House Democrats, update: “In the spirit of transparency, the House Democratic Caucus would like to provide you with a quick update on the breakdown of bills that have been heard in committee as we kick off Session tomorrow morning. We’ll be keeping a running count each week as we proceed through Session. As of Tuesday, 537 bills have been placed on the calendar in the Florida House. Of those, 429 are sponsored by Republicans, 73 are sponsored by Democrats, and 35 bills have bi-partisan prime co-sponsors. To put that in a percentage, 79.9% of the bills that have been heard are Republican bills, 13.6% are Democratic, and 6.5% are bipartisan.

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LATEST LAKE OKEECHOBEE ALGAE BLOOM HAS SCIENTISTS CRYING FOWL via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – A small blue-green algae bloom sighted in southern Lake Okeechobee had scientists wondering if another nasty, algae-choked summer could lie ahead for the St. Lucie River. A photo of the bloom along a boat ramp at Pahokee on the lake’s southern shore by Barry Rosen, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, was shared via email by numerous environmental scientists. Toxic algae from a massive bloom in the lake was discharged into the St. Lucie last summer, resulting in thick mats of noxious goo in the water at Stuart. “(It) looks like the mild winter is favoring early bloom formation on Lake O … or maybe this was happening at this time last year to this degree and was not observed,” James “Jim” Riley, an environmental engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, wrote in an email. “Would like to stay ahead of the news media on this situation.” Too late.

POLL: MOST VOTERS DOWN ON EXPANDING GAMBLING via Florida Politics – The vast majority of Florida voters—84 percent—“want to reduce or hold the line on gambling” and 60 percent also “are less likely to support a candidate … that votes to expand gambling,” a new poll released Monday shows. The latest Mason-Dixon poll included questions on gambling, according to a press release from No Casinos, Florida’s anti-gambling expansion group. The anti-expansion “feeling among Floridians carries across all regions of the state: North Florida (87 percent), Central Florida (92 percent), Tampa Bay (81 percent), Southwest Florida (84 percent), Southeast Florida (78 percent),” the release said.

TWEET, TWEET: @SLRoss528: this is an outlier from every credible poll I’ve seen in the last 7 years

HOUSE GAMBLING BILL SET FOR WAYS & MEANS TODAY via Florida Politics – The House of Representatives’ omnibus gambling bill will again be heard this Tuesday [today], records show. The bill (HB 7037) is on the agenda for the Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Bradenton Republican Jim Boyd, on Tuesday. Though it includes a renewed blackjack agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the legislation overall “freezes” the current ambit of gambling in the state, as Rep. Mike La Rosa has said. He chairs the Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee, which already OK’d the measure 10-5. The Senate’s gambling bill (SB 8) has cleared all its committees and awaits a hearing on the chamber floor.

***There are two gambling bills in the Florida Legislature. One holds the line; One is a massive expansion. WATCH to learn more.***

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss a bill that would make changes to the state’s public assistance program when it meets at 8 a.m. in 404 House Office Building. The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will discuss a bill meant to crack down on “sanctuary cities” when it meets at 12:30 p.m. in 12 House Office Building. The Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to discuss a bill that would get rid of an insurance industry tax credit to pay for a cut in the state’s communications services tax when it meets at 9 a.m. in 401 Senate Office Building. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will discuss a bill preventing local governments from restricting the use of vacation rentals when it meets at 2 p.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will discuss a proposal to require drug tests for public assistance applicants during its meeting at 4 p.m. in 401 Senate Office Building.

DOES AIRBNB DECREASE HOUSING VALUES, AS MIAMI BEACH MAYOR SAYS? via Amy Sherman of PolitiFact – Philip Levine went on a Facebook rant against Airbnb after a conservative publication criticized city officials for supporting fines against the short-term rental company. He said officials in New York, San Francisco and Miami also don’t support Airbnb. Why? “Because it destroys neighborhoods, buildings, decreases real estate values and increases costs for workforce housing!!!!!” he wrote in a March 2 Facebook comment … Some research and news articles have argued that Airbnb has decreased the rental supply and therefore is driving up prices, but it’s questionable whether all of those units can be described as “workforce housing” in already expensive areas with a lack of affordable housing. Levine did not point to evidence proving that Airbnb has decreased real estate values. It’s too soon to fully assess the impact of Airbnb on housing markets, and that’s difficult to do when it only represents a small fraction of the housing supply in any city or region. We rate this claim Mostly False.

PROPOSED ALL ABOARD FLORIDA REGULATIONS: DRIVEN BY SAFETY CONCERNS OR POLITICS? via Ed Dean of the Sunshine State News – State Sen. Debbie Mayfield, an opponent of the rail project, has introduced “The Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act.” Mayfield’s proposal would make high-speed rail companies pay for the installation of safety measures, including fencing along certain areas of the track that could be dangerous for pedestrians. Mayfield’s bill also makes train companies develop safety measures focused on train engineers and gate malfunctions. The bill is gaining traction in Tallahassee as it cleared the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously. Weighing in on the safety issue, Citizens Against Rail Expansion (CARE) Chairman Brent Hanlon says Mayfield’s bill will ensure people will be safer at high speed rail crossings across the state. “This legislation will address public safety concerns in any community across the state,” Hanlon insisted. But some question the merit of this legislation. “Is this bill really about safety or is it about politics?” Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish asked. Parrish, who supports AAF, added, “enough is enough.”

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SETTLEMENT REACHED IN GULF POWER’S BID FOR $106.8 MILLION BASE RATE INCREASE via Florida Politics – Gulf Power Co. will settle for nearly $62 million per year in increased rates for its customers in Northwest Florida, rather than the $106.8 million it had planned to seek from the Public Service Commission, environmental groups announced Monday. The deal would guarantee the utility a return on investment to Gulf Power’s stockholders averaging 10.25 percent — more than the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers before the PSC, had argued was justified. …  The monthly fixed charge on residential would have climbed from the existing $18 to nearly $50. According to the company, the average monthly bill will climb from $144 to $151. … PSC Chairwoman Julie Immanuel Brown said the commission would hear arguments on the merits of the agreement on April 4, and could vote on it then.

RICK SCOTT DEFENDS AYALA DECISION, STILL ‘LOOKING AT OPTIONS’ via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – “The first thing I did is I asked her to recuse herself, and I talked to her and she said she wasn’t going to so I moved the case to Brad King,” Scott told reporters in the Capitol. “Last week she said she was fine with that, today she’s changed her position. And so, the case has been assigned to Brad King and that was the right decision.” Some Central Florida lawmakers have called on Scott to suspend or remove Ayala from office because she declared she wouldn’t seek the death penalty. Scott, though, isn’t going that far yet, but he’s not ruling it out either. “With regard to her actions we’ll continue to look at our options. Right now I’m focused on Markeith Loyd,” Scott said.

BOB CORTES CALLS FOR SCOTT TO SUSPENDAYALA, REASSIGN ALL HER CAPITAL CASES via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Cortes, who was among the first critics of Ayala’s “no death penalty” policy announced last week, said in a letter to Scott that he has learned Ayala already is withdrawing death-penalty charges in other cases besides the one that has dominated news since her announcement that of alleged cop-killer Markeith Loyd. Among them, Cortes said, is that of Larry D. Perry, who faces charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse of his son in 2013. Cortes, whose District 30 includes Maitland and other parts of north Orange County in Ayala’s 9th Judicial Circuit, advised Scott that it is “obvious these cases will not be handled in the manner they should be by the current state attorney. “I respectfully ask that you suspend State Attorney Aramis Ayala from her position,” he wrote.

LAWMAKERS COULD CUT AYALA’S OFFICE BUDGET OVER DEATH PENALTY STANCE via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Rep. Scott Plakon, a member of the House Judicial Appropriations Subcommittee, had previously recommended a 10 percent cut to all 20 judicial districts across the state as part of a budget exercise. Now, they could slash the Ninth Circuit even more. “In light of recently reported events taking place in the State Attorney’s office of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, our team feels it prudent to revisit our recommendation to the committee as regards to their budget,” Plakon told the committee. “Previously, we used more or less an across the board approach and now believe a more targeted approach might be more appropriate.” Plakon would only say he wants to take another look at the budget recommendations, and said he hasn’t looked at the specifics of how much he would cut or where.

MORE THAN 100 JUSTICES, JUDGES, LAW PROFESSORS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR AYALA via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – They signed a letter to Gov. Scott expressing their support Orlando State Attorney Ayala‘s right to decide not to pursue death penalty cases and urging the governor to back off. The signatories include former chief justices of the Florida Supreme Court Harry Lee Anstead and Gerald Kogan joined with three dozen current or former judges and prosecutors and approximately 90 law professors. “We are deeply troubled by your effort to relieve State Attorney Aramis D. Ayala of her constitutional and statutory duties in the Markeith Loyd case. We believe that this effort to remove State Attorney Ayala infringes on the vitally important independence of prosecutors, exceeds your authority, undermines the right of residents in Orange and Osceola counties to the services of their elected leaders, and sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter declares.

SOME NOT BUYING STATE ATTORNEY REPORT CALLING MENTALLY ILL INMATE’S DEATH ACCIDENTAL via Sascha Cordner of WFSU – Back in 2014, then Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews promised he’d fire anyone involved in the death of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution. Guards took Rainey to the showers after he’d smeared human waste all over himself. And, later, after multiple firings and resignations, Crews along with lawmakers spoke of the important need for reforms … now some five years after Rainey’s death, Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has decided to close the investigation without filing any criminal charges. Fernandez-Rundle also deemed there was no malice or premeditated intent to kill on the part of the correctional officers. And, she further concluded the shower used in the Rainey incident has never proven to be unsafe, adding there were no burns on the body—according to the Medical Examiner. But, George Mallinckrodt calls that “flimsy.” The psychotherapist was a former mental health counselor at Dade CI. He says it also doesn’t add up—given reported accounts of some of the prison guards, medical personnel, and inmates who say Rainey’s skin was peeling off on contact.

COURT: FLORIDA DAIRY’S SKIM MILK IS SKIM MILK, NOT IMITATION via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press – A small, all-natural dairy isn’t being deceptive when it calls it’s skim milk “skim milk,” a federal appeals court ruled in a victory for the creamery that’s fighting the state’s demand to label the product “imitation” because vitamins aren’t added to it. The ruling overturns a decision … when a federal judge sided with the Florida Department of Agriculture, which said the Ocheesee Creamery couldn’t label it’s skim milk “skim milk” because the state defines the product as skim milk with vitamin A added. The state instead said that if the creamery wanted to sell the product, it should label it as “imitation” skim milk. But that didn’t sit well with a dairy whose whole philosophy is not to add ingredients to natural products. So instead of complying, the creamery has dumped thousands of gallons of skim milk down the drain rather than label it as an imitation milk product. “The State was unable to show that forbidding the Creamery from using the term ‘skim milk’ was reasonable,” the three-judge, Jacksonville-based panel wrote in its ruling.

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APPOINTEDPatti Ketcham to the Florida Real Estate Commission.

CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE ANNOUNCES NEW HIRE – Jake Stofan will be an on-air reporter for Mike Vasilinda’s Capitol News Service, the company said Monday. Stofan, a Jacksonville native, graduated from the University of North Florida last year with a multimedia journalism degree. He went on to work at KVRR in Fargo, North Dakota before accepting a job at Capitol News Service, starting next month. The self-described political junkie said he’s “incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity to cover legislative matters that are shaping the future of his home state.”

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — As Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s bold stand against the death penalty sparks outrage, Trimmel Gomes latest episode of The Rotunda features the man standing on both sides of the controversy, Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee. As Chairman of the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Bracy sponsored the bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law requiring a unanimous jury for the death sentence. But Bracy also criticizes Florida’s death penalty process as inconsistent and inadequate. Gomes then discusses Sen. Aaron Bean’s secret budget appropriation for a friend as reported by Arek Sarkissian of Naples Daily News. Plus a recap of the “sometimes” annual Press Skits with publisher, Peter Schorsch.

MUST-READ OP-EDTSO CONCERT PAYS TRIBUTE TO TEREZÍN VICTIMS via Steve Uhlfelder for the Tallahassee Democrat – Next Saturday night, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, joined by FAMU Concert Choir, will tell the inspiring story of the historic performances by Nazi prisoners of Verdi’s “Requiem” at Terezín concentration camp. This event has special meaning to me, because Terezín is where my grandparents died. It was a terrible place where Jews from Europe were herded before being sent on to their death in other concentration camps. In Terezín itself, Jewish prisoners were killed or died of hunger, disease and despair. This place of genocide is located in a beautiful region of the Czech Republic, surrounded by green hills and quiet rivers. My grandparents were among the first group of Jews to be transported there from western Germany … I had been able to make the trip to Terezín that was too difficult for my father, and pay respects to his parents as he was never able to. My father would be comforted to know that the memory of his parents – and the lessons of the Holocaust – will never be forgotten.

SHARERS RATHER THAN AUTHORS MORE IMPORTANT ON SOCIAL MEDIA via David Bauder of The Associated Press – The person who shares a news story on social media is more important than the story’s actual source in determining whether readers believe it, a study by the Media Insight Project has found. In a previous study, consumers said they paid greater heed to where the story originated. But the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, set up an experiment that found something different. News organizations are keenly interested in research that tracks consumer habits in a rapidly changing media world. Facebook was the top non-television source for election news cited by both supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential campaign, according to the Pew Research Center. Businesses grew to churn out false stories that people would share online.

***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.***

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – It’s All-American day at the Governors Club with a Tuesday lunch buffet that includes KC steak soup; egg salad; macaroni salad; seasonal greens; three dressing sections; fried chicken; meatloaf with brown gravy; garlic Yukon mashed potatoes; glazed carrots and green beans.

AFTER NCAA BERTH, FLORIDA ST. TOP SCORERS WEIGH DECISIONS via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Florida State made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, but whether the Seminoles (26-9) can return next season will depend on the decisions of their three leading scorers. Dwayne BaconJonathan Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes said after Saturday’s 91-66 loss to Xavier in the second round that they had not reached a decision and had no timetable. All three though are expected to put their names into consideration for the NBA draft. If all three depart, sophomore Terance Mann would be the leading returning scorer (8.4 points). Even with Bacon and Isaac, coach Leonard Hamilton extolled his team’s depth throughout the year as he used 12 players per game. Freshmen guards Trent Forrest and CJ Walker each averaged over 12 minutes per game and will be counted on more next season.

WHERE’S THE LINE? THEME PARKS AIMING TO ELIMINATE THEM via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – At Universal Orlando Resort’s new “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” ride, waiting in line has been replaced by lounging on couches and listening to a racy barber shop quartet sing until it’s time to enter the ride. Universal is leading the theme-park charge into “virtual lines” that give visitors options for exploring a park or watching live entertainment instead of the tedium of looking at someone’s back as you inch forward step by step to the thrill ride … Later this year, when Universal opens its new Volcano Bay water park in Orlando, visitors will be given wristbands that will alert them when it’s their turn to get on a ride. “I think it represents the future of what we’re going to be doing in themed entertainment,” [Universal creative director JasonSurrell said. “I kind of joke that this is the first step on a journey that will eventually lead us to a generation that doesn’t even know about theme park lines. It will be ‘What do you mean, wait in a queue? What’s that, Grandpa?'”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to future Speaker Paul Renner (wait, did we just say that aloud?). Also celebrating are great Floridians, Fran Haasch, Richard Gonzmart, Mary Repper and Ken Walters.

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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