Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 3.29.17 – Budget fireworks; Mid-Session thaw on gambling; Netflix & chill bill; Vanna White at The Villages!; Spider Man trailer!!!

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.

WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS (BUDGET) PLACE

So now the lines of negotiation are being drawn over the budget, the one bill constitutionally required to be passed every session, and already lawmakers are entrenched.

As our Michael Moline reported Tuesday, a House panel committed $25 million to VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

That’s far less than the $76 million recommended by its Senate counterpart earlier in the day.

And say goodbye to a plethora of business subsidies and Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development organization, if the House had the final say.

But it doesn’t.

Kudos to Rep. Clay Ingram for the money quote: “If we were to go to conference right this second, I have no idea how it would turn out.”

No kidding.

Even Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is ticked off. He said the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee did a “political assault” on Fresh From Florida.

“Gutting the Fresh From Florida program will hurt Florida’s small farms the most, their ability to raise awareness for the high quality of their locally grown products and compete against lesser quality products from foreign countries,” Putnam said in a statement.

On the flip side, Americans for Prosperity-Florida is upset with the Senate for not being parsimonious enough.

Chris Hudson, its state director, opined in a press release that Enterprise Florida is in the “handouts” business.

“We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that Floridians know which members of the legislature support corporate welfare and the programs that give away their tax dollars to private businesses instead of better supporting real priorities like education and infrastructure,” he said.

Wait, isn’t that Gov. Rick Scott’s trick, going to members’ home districts and publicly shaming them for not voting his way?

So much stress! What’s the game plan to get to #SineDie in 60 days? Can we do it? Special session, anyone?

That’d be a lot easier to stomach if we still had our free candy and soda on the 5th floor. Alas, nothing—including shiny, happy feelings in the Rotunda—lasts forever.

FINEOUT EXPLAINS – THE LOOMING BUDGET BATTLE via Gary Fineout for his blog, The Fine Print — After listening to leaders in the House and Senate discuss their priorities, the expectations are that the rival budgets could be widely divergent in what they cut, what they keep and what they enhance. There are a multiple reasons for that, whether it’s Senate President Negron‘s push for increased money for state universities, or Speaker Corcoran‘s insistence that the state shutter its economic development agency Enterprise Florida.

But less noticed is that the House, Senate and Gov. Scott have chosen to include information that supports their arguments, while seemingly sidestepping other salient points. This could influence the tenor of the debate that is about to intensify. So it might be worthwhile and step back for just a second to recall how everybody got here and what’s important to remember for the budget battle that still lies ahead. …

DON’T CALL IT A DEFICIT: There is no budget deficit this year. Plain and simple. To understand the underlying budget situation, it’s important to realize this. In Florida a deficit occurs when the state collects less money than what is needed to pay for things that are in the budget. Florida’s tax collections are in fact growing. The main budget account – known as the general revenue account – is expected to grow in the current fiscal year by 4.4 percent, or $1.23 billion.  This same account, which relies on a variety of tax sources but primarily the state’s sales tax, is expected to grow $1.16 billion – or 3.9 percent – in the fiscal year that starts on July 1. …

THE SCHOOL TAX DEBATE:  If there is one item that could derail the entire budget process it’s the thorny annual dilemma over school property taxes. Here’s the problem: As property values rise, this translates into more money collected by local school districts that could be spent on public schools. In other words, if the value of your home goes up you will pay more in taxes in the coming year – unless the tax rate is lowered by an equal amount to offset the increase in values. Legislators don’t appropriate this local property tax money – BUT – they do draw up spending plans that assumes a mixture of both local and state funding. This is known as the Florida Education Finance Program or FEFP and districts that wish to draw down the state funding must collect a certain amount of money. (This is known as the required local effort or RLE.) … Scott has maintained that this isn’t a tax increase and his own budget recommendation relies on nearly $558 million in increased local school taxes to help pay for an overall 3 percent increase in per-student funding. …

BOTTOM LINE: Under the current schedule legislators are operating under the House and Senate are expected to pass their budgets during the second week of April. That week is already truncated because of religious holidays so it is highly unlikely that any negotiations or work can begin until April 17. That means legislators will have about 15 days to get everything worked out in order to get a budget finished on time. That’s because Florida law requires the budget to be finished 72 hours before the final vote. So that’s a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time.

Besides the above-mentioned topics there’s other issues at play, including pay raises, more money for charter schools etc. The clock is ticking.

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HOUSE BUDGET WOULD ADD ‘EMERGENCY’ $200 MILLION FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS via Florida Politics – The House public education budget would be extra kind to charter schools next year, pumping $200 million into charters specifically targeting children stuck in persistently low-performing classrooms. The money would provide grants to “charter school networks with a proven track record of serving specifically low-income students and successfully closing the achievement gap,” said Manny Diaz Jr., chairman of the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. … “This is intensive care,” he said. “This is one of those intensive tools to go after that.” Diaz wants to give more money to teachers, too, including $200 million to make Best and Brightest Scholarship bonuses available to more teachers.

HOSPITALS FACE MEDICAID CUTS IN FIRST DRAFTS OF STATE BUDGET via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida state lawmakers proposed cuts to Medicaid that could take as much as $621.8 million away from hospitals next year. The proposals, put forward by the House and Senate health care budget subcommittees are meant to reduce the state budget, but they have hospitals on edge. In the House, Rep. Jason Brodeur recommended cutting the state’s share of Medicaid by $238.6 million. However, Medicaid is mostly funded by the federal government, so every dollar the state cuts has more than double the impact. The House proposal would take $621.8 million total from hospitals. Sen. Anitere Flores… recommended more modest cuts in the Senate: $99.3 million from the state budget, or a $258.6 million total hit.

LIBERAL GROUP ATTACKS ANITERE FLORES OVER BUDGET via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – A left-leaning political group is attacking Flores over potential state budget cuts moving through her legislative subcommittee. Florida Strong, a nonprofit that went after Flores and other Republicans during last year’s election, mailed some of Flores’ constituents, urging them to call Flores’ office and oppose the cuts. It’s Florida Strong’s first flier of the annual lawmaking session, spokesman Charly Norton said. “We are focusing on legislators’ priorities this session and plan to continue shedding light on misplaced priorities that run counter to Floridians’ best interest.” Flores chairs an appropriations subcommittee that considers budget proposals — in some cases, even if Flores isn’t the one behind them or doesn’t agree with them.

CARY PIGMAN CLEARED IN STATE ETHICS CASE, RESIGNS CHAIRMANSHIP via Florida Politics – State Rep. Pigman did not misuse his official position to retaliate against a school principal in his district, an administrative law judge ruled this week. In a 22-page order, Judge June C. McKinney recommended that the Florida Commission on Ethics dismiss its case against the Avon Park Republican, first elected in 2012. He still faces a DUI charge from an unrelated incident last week. Pigman, also a doctor of emergency medicine and Army Reserve physician, had been accused of “linking his efforts to obtain legislative funding for the Okeechobee School District … to retaliate or attempt to retaliate against an employee of the School District.” That employee was elementary school principal Tracy Maxwell Downing, the ex- sister-in-law of Pigman’s former secretary, Libby Maxwell, with whom he had been having an affair and to whom he is now married. In an unrelated move, Pigman stepped down Tuesday as chair of the House Health Quality Subcommittee, after being charged last week with drunk driving on Florida’s Turnpike.

HOUSE MARIJUANA BILL DRAWS SUPPORT FROM ANTI-MEDICAL MARIJUANA CROWD via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – The House proposal to implement Florida’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment cleared its first committee Tuesday by a 14-1 vote, drawing praise from some early critics of the amendment. “It is my concerned opinion that this bill should be advanced,” said Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation, a group funded by wealthy developer Mel Sembler, who has donated millions opposing medical marijuana constitutional amendments. She listed her worries about what implementation has looked like in other states and added “I want to see my state protected.” … (Ben Pollara) pointed to the bill’s backing by Drug Free America, which had vigorously opposed the amendment, as a clear indication that the bill is not what voters were looking for when they cast their ballots in favor of the amendment.

HOUSE COMMITTEE PASSES WATERED-DOWN RECESS BILL via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News – The Florida House K-12 Innovation Subcommittee passed a watered-down version of a bill to require recess in public schools … Lawmakers unanimously approved a committee substitute bill for the original proposal, HB 67, which would blend recess and physical education classes as part of Florida’s 50 minute per week requirement for physical education. The original proposal would have required school districts to provide a mandatory 20 minutes of recess each day when P.E. classes aren’t held — adding up to 100 minutes of recess time each week for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. That change to the bill is especially controversial among physical education experts, who say adding recess in addition to physical education has several benefits, including improving memory, attention and concentration.

DESPITE CITY AND COUNTY PROTESTS, VACATION RENTAL BILL GAINS GROUND via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Despite opposition from Miami and Miami-Dade and a group of beach communities, a Florida House subcommittee passed a bill that prevents cities and counties from passing any new ordinances that restrict vacation rentals of private homes. The 9 to 6 vote by the Careers & Competition Subcommittee sends the controversial bill to the 30-member Commerce Committee, which is top-heavy with lawmakers from South Florida where opposition to short-term vacation rentals has been most intense. The bill (HB 425), sponsored by Rep. Mike LaRosa prevents local governments from imposing new restrictions on vacation homes. Local ordinances that were in effect June 1, 2011, could remain, but restrictions adopted after that date, including laws based on a 2014 legislative compromise, would be declared “void and unenforceable” by the state and wiped off the books. “This industry has been under attack,” LaRosa testified. “Individuals’ private property rights have been violated.”

BILL JEOPARDIZING SFRTA FUNDING PASSES FIRST COMMITTEES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – An omnibus bill that in part dictates how the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority can be funded passed the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee. A provision in HB 865 would require the Department of Transportation to withhold funding for the SFTRA unless the transportation institution rescinds a $511 million contract it awarded earlier this year. An amendment was offered by Rep. Kristin Jacobs … that would have stripped the language in the bill relating to SFRTA funding. The amendment was initially adopted, but eventually failed after a second vote was taken.

COMMITTEE REJECTS BILL THAT WOULD STOP FUTURE EXPRESS LANES via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – A bill seeking to end Florida’s practice of developing tolled express lanes was rejected by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. Various members of the committee cited some reasons why they would not want to see Florida stop developing special lanes that could give higher-speed options through typically congested areas to high-occupancy cars or drivers willing to pay tolls for that privilege, and House Bill 777 went down. Part of the debate centered on those who believe such tolled specialty lanes — dubbed HOT lanes, express lanes or Lexus lanes — are the only practical way to add capacity to crowded expressways, versus those who see them as unfair. But sponsor Rep. Matt Willhite argued that his bill was a safety measure, citing accident statistics and anecdotes suggesting that they’re a public safety hazard, more trouble than they’re worth.

FANTASY SPORTS BILL CLEARS FIRST PANEL via Florida Politics – With no debate, a bill to exempt fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation was OK’d by a House panel Tuesday. The measure (HB 149), sponsored by Sanford Republican Jason Brodeur, cleared the Tourism and Gaming Subcommittee. It would clarify that fantasy contests “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and are not games of chance and thus potentially illegal gambling. The legislation specifically includes games based on “athletes in the case of sports events.” A Senate version goes further, creating a separate office to oversee fantasy sports companies operating in the state.

— “Mid-Session thaw: Gaming bill is headed to conference” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

NETFLIX, HULU TAX EXEMPTION BILL PASSES FIRST SENATE COMMITTEE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Internet video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube would not be subject to taxation under the communications service tax, a bill (SB 1636) that passed unanimously the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee …  A staff analysis said some states and cities are starting to apply taxes to streaming video to make up for decreasing CST revenues. The bill “exempts internet video service from the definition of ‘communications services,’ and therefore from the communications services tax.” Bill sponsor Sen. Frank Artiles, said there is a “tremendous amount of confusion” over which companies should be collecting CST tax of streaming video.

HOUSE ADVANCESPILOT PROGRAM TO TREAT MENTAL HEALTH VERSUS JAIL via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – A House committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill to begin the Forensic Hospital Diversion Pilot Program in the Panhandle’s Okaloosa County. Rep. Mel Ponder, who sponsored HB 1051, introduced the measure to the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee. The bill intends to alleviate overcrowding in the state’s prison corrections system with a significant percentage of individuals with mental health needs. Often, those individuals go ignored while incarcerated. Ponder cited fully one-quarter of Okaloosa’s inmates had some sort of mental health need, with the county ranking first in the region for such an issue. “When I heard we were the No. 1 county in northwest Florida, it just lit my fire even more,” he said.

HOUSE POISED TO REINSTATE FEDERAL RESIGN-TO-RUN REQUIREMENT via Gary Fineout for his blog, The Fine Print – The state changed the law in 2007 when Gov. Charlie Crist, then a Republican, was in office and there was buzz that he could wind up seeking higher office. In essence the change meant that Crist or any other elected official didn’t have to resign from their current office if they planned to run for president, vice president, U.S. Senate or Congress. The argument at the time – which was when Marco Rubio was House speaker (but after Corcoran had left as his chief-of-staff) was that Florida should do what it could to help its rising stars seek higher office without forcing them to give up their existing posts. This is a practice common in many other states. … (The House) election bill doesn’t just stop there – it has a few other changes sure to draw fire, including a proposal to force cities to have their elections at set times instead of whenever the city wants to schedule it. The bill would also not allow someone to run as a independent candidate (technically NPA – no party affiliation) if they are actually registered with a party.

***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. Learn more here.***

‘RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES’ MEASURES DIVERGE, BUT ADVANCE via Kristen Clark and Louis Jacobson of the Tampa Bay Times – A fast-tracked bill in the Senate (SB 436) — one of President Joe Negron’s top priorities — passed its second and final committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, shortly before a House panel unanimously advanced its own version (HB 303). The House conversation was in stark contrast to the Senate’s discussions, where that chamber’s measure has polarized members. The bills were once identical, but the House Pre-K-12 Quality Subcommittee amended its bill to make it more narrow than the Senate’s — removing some of the more controversial elements, such as a requirement that school districts adopt a Florida Department of Education-crafted policy that “establishes a limited public forum for student speakers at any school event.” Such a provision would allow students of different faiths to, for example, pray at school assemblies.

SENATE PANEL OKS FORMALIZING NON-ABORTION PREGNANCY CENTERS INTO LAW via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – After a brief but divisive debate, the Senate Health Policy Committee advanced a bill that would enhance an existing state pregnancy services program that excludes abortion referrals. SB 1130, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean … would for the first time place into Florida statute a program that provides state funds to a network of pregnancy centers. The program has been operating since 2005 outside of statute, with funding provided on an annual basis during budget negotiations. The Pregnancy Support Services program has fielded 5,796 hotline calls and provided 120,929 services to 24,184 women and families, Bean testified. “In statutes, we can further direct the Department of Health to firmly establish the program rather than relying on a proviso that could be changed every year,” Bean testified.

HAPPENING TODAY – FSBA DAY AT THE CAPITOL — The Florida School Boards Association will host its 30th annual FSBA Day in the Legislature from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The annual event is meant to enhance the organization’s advocacy on education issues under consideration by the Florida Legislature, and includes legislative briefings, advocacy training and the opportunity for education leaders to meet with state lawmakers.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a round table to discuss economic development programs aimed at Florida’s military and defense communities at 2:15 p.m. at the Florida Army National Guard Building, 13433 Crossover Street in Jacksonville.

MUST-READ: DID FLORIDA DCF CREATE MEDIA FRENZY AFTER FOSTER CHILD’S SUICIDE TO DISTRACT FROM AGENCY ERRORS? via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – Naika Venant’s mother vehemently refutes narratives by the state agency in a March 13 report, including suggestion she ‘allegedly’ commented on Facebook Live thread taunting daughter while watching and did nothing; lawyer says agencies ‘abysmally failed’ Naika. Gina Alexiswanted to clear the air on many issues she claimed were misreported in the press or by the agencies tasked with the safety and well-being of her daughter through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) – Our Kids of Miami-Dade Monroe and the Center for Family and Child Enrichment (CFCE). She was frank in discussing her daughter’s gravitation toward age-inappropriate sexual behavior, her attempts at trying to rid her daughter of poor behavior picked up in foster homes when reunited with Naika and the frustration of being re-admitted to a system that controlled their every move and set unrealistic expectations at times. And Alexis was beholden to Naika’s rebelliousness, she said, which included sometimes lying about abuse to authorities when she wouldn’t get her way or when she was punished because she knew her mother was deathly scared of DCF.

EYE SPECIALISTS ARE SECRETLY SELLING PATIENTS, CRITICS SAY via Richard Minter and Joseph Hammond of the American Media Institute – The dark side of patient co-management or share-care, which some ophthalmologists and optometrists describe as dangerously inadequate. Rather than just the practice of an optometrist referring a patient to an ophthalmologist for care, co-management is a fee-sharing arrangement where ophthalmologists perform surgeries and optometrists provide post-surgical care. Co-management means big money for optometrists, who are not medical doctors. “In most places in the U.S., cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure,” says Jaime Membreno, a Kissimmee-based ophthalmologist. “If you say out of 100,000 cataract surgeries (which cost can cost between $600-$2000), that 20 percent are co-managed, that’s generating something like $50 million per year.” While referrals are commonplace across medicine, giving a fee to a professional making a referral (co-management) is not common outside of eye care. The practice is largely confined to postoperative cataract care, where optometrists refer patients to eye surgeons in return for getting a fee for supervising the patient’s recovery. The problem is that non-doctors, such as optometrists, often cannot treat surgical complications as doctors can. Optometrists and ophthalmologists … said that due to Florida’s large elderly population co-management is rampant — and the fee-splitting is usually not disclosed to patients.

FLORIDA LOTTERY APPEALS CONTRACT CASE via Florida Politics – As expected, the Lottery filed a notice Tuesday that it was appealing a decision against it earlier this month that invalidated a $700 million contract for new equipment. A Tallahassee judge agreed with House Speaker Richard Corcoran that the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the deal last year. The multiple-year contract involved new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. The Lottery is booming — it sold more than $6.2 billion in tickets last year, records show. But Judge Karen Gievers said the deal broke state law by going “beyond (the Lottery’s) existing budget limitations.” She faulted the agency for, among other things, not first seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding.

MEANWHILE … VANNA WHITE TO APPEAR AT THE VILLAGES FOR NEW LOTTERY SCRATCH-OFF TICKET via Jerry Fallstrom of the Orlando Sentinel – White will pitch the lottery’s new $10 Wheel of Fortune ticket. She will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Spanish Springs Town Square to sign autographs, pose for photos and answer questions from audience members. There also will be live entertainment and giveaways starting at 10 a.m.White — a “Wheel of Fortune” mainstay since 1982 — drew crowds of fans during an appearance a year ago on a rainy Saturday at Lake Sumter Landing to trumpet a $5 Wheel of Fortune scratch-off ticket.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians. PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more.***

HOW BILL NELSON SHOOK UP THE GORSUCH NOMINATION FIGHT via Marc Caputo of Florida Politics –  By announcing on Monday his intention to filibuster Gorsuch, Nelson raised questions about the judge’s path to 60 votes and revealed newly shifted political fault lines in the confirmation fight. Faced with the prospect of a primary challenge in the event he didn’t filibuster and the likelihood of a tough general election campaign against Gov. Scott either way, Nelson chose to lock down his left flank. … Nelson’s announcement on Gorsuch — more than 10 days before he had a chance to vote — was widely praised by liberal and Democratic activists as well as his three potential opponents. Those who follow Nelson closely say they’re not surprised by his decision. The party is shifting left and so is he.

HAPPENING TODAY – MIKE HUCKABEE TO KEYNOTE LEGISLATIVE PRAYER BREAKFAST — The former Arkansas governor is scheduled to give the keynote address at the annual Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition/Concerned Women for America annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Huckabee will hold media availability at 7:15 a.m. outside Meeting Room C.

POLL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR OPEN PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN FLORIDA via Florida Politics – Robopolling from a coalition of groups that advocate creating an open primary system in Florida found strong support from voters having such an initiative on the ballot next year. The survey was conducted on behalf of three groups seeking an open primary system in Florida: Open Primaries, Tim Canova‘s Progress For All and Florida Fair and Open Primaries. It found 73 percent of respondents saying taxpayer-funded primaries should be open to all voters. Also, 72 percent support a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to individuals who have completed their sentences for nonviolent criminal offenses. The poll also found that 74 percent of Floridians want independent voters — 27 percent of the Florida electorate — included in primary elections.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS CONCERNED ABOUT CRC AHEAD OF FIRST MEETING IN ORLANDO via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – The League is a part of a coalition of groups along with Planned Parenthood, Equality Florida and others who “fear proposed rules and rushed meetings create roadblocks to meaningful public participation” and not that “The first public hearing of the CRC, set for Wednesday evening in Orlando, was scheduled with almost no public notice, without any coordination with commission members to determine their availability to attend, and before adoption of rules of procedure.” The first meeting of the CRC is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. at the University of Central Florida as part of its “Floridians Speak, We Listen” tour. Both Conservative and Progressive groups have been trying to mobilize supporters for a high turnout.

***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***

KELLY MATHIS SEEKING REINSTATEMENT OF LICENSE, EXPUNGEMENT OF FLORIDA BAR DISCIPLINARY RECORD via Marilyn Young of the Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record – Mathis’ record on The Florida Bar website shows the legal battle he has been in for four years. The word “suspended” is in blue type on the left side, while “Not Eligible to Practice Law in Florida” is in red on the right, directly above Mathis’ photo. Those declarations are the result of his October 2013 conviction in the Allied Veterans of the World case, in which prosecutors said he was the mastermind of a $3 million gambling ring. Mathis was sentenced to six years but allowed to remain free on bond pending his appeal. His conviction was overturned three years later by the 5th District Court of Appeal. This month, the Attorney General’s Office decided not to pursue a second trial. Brian Tannebaum, Mathis’ Bar attorney, filed documents last week to get his client’s law license back and his record expunged, the latter of which would be unusual. The Bar doesn’t object to either request.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

David Ash, DLA Consulting Firm: Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

Bill Rubin, Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Elite DNA Therapy Services

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Banyan House Condominium, Inc.

Jose Boscan, Boscan & Associated: Waste Management Inc of Florida

Sarah BuskAl CardenasStephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Florida Conference of Circuit Judges

Bryan Cherry, Adams Street Advocates: DataLogic Software, Inc.

Justin Day, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc

Terry Deason, Radey Law Firm: Duke Energy Florida, Inc; Florida Power & Light Company; Tampa Electric Company

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting: Optimum Software Solutions, Inc.

Gary Guzzo, Floridian Partners:  Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick, Rob Johnson: The Mayernick Group: Arizona Facilities Supply, LLC

Jeff Littlejohn, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: Government Services Group, Inc

Kathleen Maus, Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Allison Mawhinney, GrayRobinson: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Mark Maxwell, SCG Governmental Affairs: DriversEd.com

John Stephen Menton, Rutledge Ecenia: HCA Healthcare

Heather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Elite DNA Therapy Services, National Busine

***Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Jason Brodeur are fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala and Rep. Brodeur that you support them and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – Wednesday’s Governors Club buffet takes a Caribbean vibe with conch chowder soup; yucca salad; seasonal greens; three dressing sections; tomato salad; carne asada- beef; chicken a la plancha; BBQ grilled salmon; arroz con gandules and black beans.

ESPN WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS COMPLEX CELEBRATES 20 YEARS via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising –Since it opened in 1997, the story of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort has been written through the athletes who have competed on its fields, courts and diamonds. Each year the complex hosts more than 100 annual athletic events. It has become a place where athletes challenge themselves, push their limits and make their sports dreams come true.

IRON MAN STEALS THE SHOW IN ‘SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING’ TRAILER – Our latest look at the webbed hero prominently features Robert Downey, Jr.’s veteran superhero, guiding and scolding the young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) who may be eager, but clearly has a lot to learn. If you ever wanted to see Spidey and Iron Man save the Staten Island Ferry together, you are very much in luck. The trailer also introduced us to Michael Keaton‘s Vulture/Adrian Toomes, who is wreaking havoc all over New York. Click on the image below to watch the trailer.

UNIVERSAL ANNOUNCES CONCERT LINE-UP FOR ROCK THE UNIVERSE via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising –  More than 14 Christian music artists will play Sept. 8 and 9 at Universal Orlando. This year’s line-up features GRAMMY award-winning singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin; two-time GRAMMY award-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae; and Casting Crowns, who’s held the position of Billboard’s top-selling Christian music act since 2007. The Coca-Cola Fan Zone returns with autograph sessions and opportunities to interact with Christian artists, such as Steve MalcolmHollyn and Kolby Koloff. Electronic Dance Music spins each night with GWAVI and DJ Promote. The event ends with a Saturday night candle lighting ceremony.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to two great Floridians, Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge and lobbyist Louis Betz.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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