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Sunburn for 4.18.17 – All the King’s men & women; Rick Scott hearts Lake O.: Latvala magic at Tiger Bay; Brad Drake is a hero

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

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

— 2018 WATCH — 

FIRST IN SUNBURN – CHRIS KING ADDS KEY STAFF — The Orlando Democrat will announce today he has filed several key positions, including a COO, finance director and South Florida regional director.

Zach Learner, who served as the voter protection director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Florida and the 2014 Charlie Crist campaign, will serve as COO and general counsel, leading day-to-day operations. Raymond Paultre, who most recently served as an adviser to Stephen Bittel’s successful race for the FDP chair, will serve as King’s director of strategic engagement. Stephanie McClung, who served as the finance director for Crist’s congressional campaign and the Florida state finance director for Ruth’s List Florida, has been tapped to serve as King’s finance director; while Juanica Fernandes, who most recently served as Enroll America’s Central Florida Regional Organizing Director and the director of Central Florida’s enrollment coalition, has signed on as the regional finance associate. Amanda Sands, who most recently served as digital director for New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern, will serve in the same capacity on King’s 2018 team. King announced he brought Raul Martinez Jr., who served as senior staff on the 2016 Clinton campaign in Florida, chief of staff to Rep. Joe Garcia, and leader of Florida Hispanic outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, on as his South Florida regional director.

“I’m encouraged that so many smart, talented campaign veterans are ready to join me in building a new approach to our politics,” said King. “Our campaign will reflect the diversity, energy and possibility of Florida, and with these additions we’ve taken a great first step in meeting that goal.”


STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN – PART 1: Poll shows good news for John Morgan, but will he run” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s not that we don’t respect our blogging colleagues at the Orlando Political Observer or Gravis Marketing, which conducted this poll; it’s that EVERYTHING we’ve heard from sources supposedly close to Morgan indicate he is less and less inclined to run for governor. From talk of him cutting some major deal with Google to his weariness with the prospect of living in Tallahassee, the chatter increasingly points to Morgan getting as close as he can to taking the plunge, only to back off at the last minute. It would be a quintessential Morgan marketing effort. Of course, the same people close to Morgan who say he’s unlikely to run also say that if he’s provoked enough by Democrats and/or Republicans, he’ll jump into the race. Republicans afraid of facing Gwen Graham or Chris King in 2018 are some of the biggest proponents of a Morgan run.

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN – PART 2:Conservative groups pushes Ron DeSantis to run for governor” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – A better headline for this story is “Pollster Tony Fabrizio pushes Ron DeSantis to run for governor,” because that is what’s at play with this story. Fabrizio, fresh off his masterful work for Donald Trump, is shopping for a client to run in Florida’s expensive GOP primary. That the story, about some organization no one in Florida has ever heard of (The Madison Project) releasing a poll favorable to DeSantis, appeared first on The Resurgent — the blog ran by Fabrizio’s go-to blogger Erick Erickson — is all the proof you need of Fabrizio’s involvement. DeSantis looks good on paper, but he underwhelmed on the statewide stage while running for Marco Rubio‘s U.S. Senate seat. He should just pull the trigger on an Attorney General run.

BILL NELSON, ‘SCARED AS A JACKRABBIT,’ ANTICIPATES SHOWDOWN WITH RICK SCOTT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times Nelson, the only Democrat holding statewide office, has led a charmed political life, winning three Senate races against weak Republicans. But that may be coming to an end. He wants a fourth term, and his likely opponent is Republican Scott. “The way I approach an election, I assume nothing,” Nelson says. “I run scared as a jackrabbit.” He should. Scott, who has won two close races for governor, looks more battle-tested than Nelson, has more money in the bank and is a perpetual campaigner. On the road constantly, the governor held several roundtables in recent weeks and urged local leaders to save Enterprise Florida from that “job-killing” House speaker, Richard Corcoran. So it surely was coincidental that, with no notice, Corcoran invited Nelson to address the House while the senator was in Tallahassee. As Nelson left, he and Corcoran warmly shook hands. The message to Scott wasn’t very subtle. If Scott and Nelson face each other in 2018, they will be at the top of their parties’ tickets. It will fall to both of them to generate enthusiasm to drive up turnout and help candidates for governor, all three open Cabinet seats and the Legislature.

— “Richard Corcoran’s invite to Bill Nelson a stick in Rick Scott’s eye, maybe more” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will attend the Speak Out Brevard Town Hall Meetings at 6 p.m. at Viera High School Auditorium, 6103 Stadium Pkwy in Melbourne.

SHOT:Political newcomer to run for Agriculture Commissioner” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

CHASER: This newcomer, Michael Christine, may want to learn how to correctly spell the title of office he is seeking.

PRO-TRUMP GROUP AIRING ADS BACKING BRIAN MAST ADVOCATING REPEAL AND REPLACE OBAMACARE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – America First Policies, an advocacy group formed by six of Trump’s top campaign aides, is starting a $3 million advertising campaign praising 12 select members of Congress who are working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, including Mast from Florida’s 18th Congressional District. “Obamacare is collapsing and bringing our health care system down with it, harming millions of American families,” said Nick Ayers, Chairman of the Board of America First Policies. “The time is now to repeal and replace this terrible law, but we need citizens to engage.” The issue advocacy campaign will be featured on broadcast or cable, on the internet and in phone calls in 12 districts, including CD 18, which stretches from Ft. Pierce to Palm Beach in Southeast Florida.

— 2022 WATCH — 

On Thursday, POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon reported about that Jacksonville Republican Paul Renner‘s hopes to be Speaker of the Florida House in 2022 was on the ropes after he “held an abrupt meeting of House freshman Republicans Thursday, just 15 minutes before the House was set to take the floor to pass its $81 billion proposed budget.” This story expands on that reporting, detailing how a single text message from one House Republican to another almost blew up the race. The post also includes a complete look at the proposed rules the freshman class is considering putting in place to guide how it picks a future leader and analysis of where the Speaker’s race currently stands. Read more here.

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SCOTT BACKS RESERVOIR PLAN FOR TROUBLED LAKE via the Associated Press – Scott said he supports spending $200 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike and also supports parts of Joe Negron‘s plan, including building a reservoir on the A-2 site south of Lake Okeechobee. The Governor also announced Monday that he wants state legislators to set aside $200 million this year to help repair the aging federally-operated dike that surrounds the lake. Click on the image below to watch Scott’s press conference.

EVERGLADES FARMERS SUPPORT SCOTT’S PLAN: “We commend Governor Rick Scott for following science and seeking real solutions to address the State of Florida’s environmental challenges,” said spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez. “Expediting repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike will ensure the health and safety of all those who live in the farming communities south of Lake Okeechobee while also providing relief to the coastal estuaries. We are pleased to see this discussion shift from political propaganda to focus on fact-based solutions and real collaboration with the state’s federal partners.  Like the governor, EAA farmers continue to support the comprehensive, science-based restoration blueprint found in CERP to address environmental preservation north, east, west and south of Lake Okeechobee in a way that protects local agriculture, homegrown food and rural jobs.”

SUGARCANE FARMERS COMMEND SCOTT’S LEADERSHIP: “Governor Scott is exhibiting tremendous leadership and showing he understands that the real science provided by the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection should be the basis for these critical public policy decisions,” said spokesman Ryan Duffy. “We support not taking any additional private farmland out of production and we support saving jobs. We will continue to work with legislative leaders to develop a bill we hope to be able to support.”


— @Rob_Bradley: Thanks to @FLGovScott for his leadership on fixing Lake O. No toxic discharges = jobs and tourism!

— @DSimmonsFL: Lake O needs our help and I applaud @FLGovScott for his leadership. Let’s all fight for Florida’s environment and add $200M today.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will host a roundtable discussion about Zika preparedness at 9 a.m. at the Duval County Department of Health, 900 University Boulevard in Jacksonville.

GOV’S OPIOID LISTENING TOUR GENERATES SKEPTICISM, CONCERNS via Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post – As other governors declare a state of emergency and increase spending on treatment, Scott has called for four 90-minute sessions, including one May 1 in West Palm Beach. The timing is an issue as well. The workshops in the first week of May take place at the same time as the final week of the annual legislative session, casting doubt on whether some key officials will attend. Still, Scott’s approach left some recovery advocates and family members wondering if it’s even worth attending. Some say they’re skeptical that 90 minutes is enough time to hear their concerns, much less allow state officials to provide them with information and spell out best practices, as a state news release suggests.

DOH SECRETARY CELESTE PHILIP PRESSED ON OPIOID CRISIS AT SENATE HEARING via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – The Senate Health Policy Committee approved Philip to head the state Department of Health, but not before pressing her on the opioid epidemic and why Gov. Scott has not declared a public health emergency. Philip told the committee that the Department of Children and Families is the lead agency on mental health and substance abuse problems — not the Florida Department of Health. Philip said the agencies would travel to Manatee, Palm Beach, Orange and Duval counties and that the goal of the meetings was to “see what’s needed and what each of the different agencies that will be present can offer.” She added that “if there are specific activities that could be tied back to the role the department has in statute I think we would certainly be open to hearing what that would look like.

FLORENCE SNYDER: FLORIDA’S OPIOID CRISIS, PART 5 – HEY FLORIDA, TALK TO THE HAND! via Florida Politics – One hour isn’t much time for a Senate subcommittee “confirmation hearing” on the heads of the agencies as important to “health and human services” as the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration. But that’s what Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairwoman Anitere Flores allotted, and not one second longer. So, you’d think that AHCA’s acting secretary Justin Senior and DOH’s Interim Surgeon General Celeste Philip would each get a half-hour of the committee’s time … but you would be wrong. Senior’s “hearing” was a tongue-bath and tummy rub that consumed most of the hour. To be fair, the feds had just dropped 1.5 billion into the AHCA’s coffers. Maybe Flores & Friends think that cash came Florida’s way due to Senior’s executive brilliance, as opposed to Trump‘s synergistic bromance with Gov. Scott. Or maybe they were running out the clock to get Philip safely to the border of Munchkinland and out of Oz altogether before she stumbled over that pesky poppy field.”

SCOTT CHIEF INSPECTOR GENERAL RESIGNS via Florida Politics — Melinda Miguel, the state’s chief inspector general, is stepping down. Gov. Rick Scott announced Miguel, who has served as the governor’s chief inspector general since 2011, has resigned to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Her last day, according to the Governor’s Office, was Monday. Over the years, she served stints at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of Elder Affairs, Department of Education, and the Attorney General’s Office. In 2006, she was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the Council of State Agency Inspectors General, a role she served in for about a year. “Melinda has done a great job serving our state as Inspector General, and I’m extremely grateful for her commitment to ensuring government remains accountable to Florida taxpayers,” said Scott in a statement. Scott announced Eric Miller, who currently serves as the inspector general at the Agency for Health Care Administration, will serve as the Governor’s Chief Inspector General.

HOUSE TO INTERVENE IN SUPREME COURT CASE BETWEEN SCOTT AND STATE ATTORNEY via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The House is stepping into the legal battle between Scott and Aramis Ayala over the death penalty … the House’s lawyers asked for permission to file a brief with the Florida Supreme Court in support of Scott, who transferred 23 death penalty cases to another state attorney after Ayala said she would not seek the death penalty in Orange and Osceola counties. Ayala has asked the court to tell Scott he is acting outside his constitutional powers to reassign cases and give them back to her office. The court gave the House permission to file its brief.

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FIRST ON #FLAPOL – AMENDMENT COULD LIMIT THE NUMBER OF LOCATIONS ALLOWED TO DISPENSE MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Florida Politics — Sen. Frank Artiles filed an amendment  to the Senate proposal (SB 406) Monday that appears to place a cap on the number of retail facilities from which medical marijuana treatment centers can dispense medical marijuana. According to the amendment, medical marijuana treatment centers “may not dispense marijuana from more than 3 retail facilities.” The amendment does not limit “MMTC facilities that only dispense low-THC cannabis and sell marijuana delivery devices to qualified patients.” … A second amendment by Artiles would require the state to issue of the four remaining licenses to a “veteran business enterprise.” That amendment also calls on the state to “grant preferential and bonus scoring criteria for applicants that, at the time of the initial application, are veteran business enterprises … which meet the requirements to be awarded and registered as an MMTC.” … Senate records show Sen. Bobby Powell has filed an amendment meant to encourage minority participation in the in MMTC operations and subcontracting.

FIRST GAMING CONFERENCE LASTS FIVE MINUTES via Florida Politics – Senate and House members selected a chair (Sen. Bill Galvano), a vice-chair (Rep. Jose Felix Diaz), received a side-by-side printout comparison of the two gambling bills this year, then spoke to reporters for longer than their actual meeting. The next meeting of the conference will be no earlier than Thursday, Galvano said. The aim is to hammer out differences between the two bills: The Senate is largely for some expansion of gambling in the state; the House wants to hold the line. “I don’t want to raise anybody’s expectations,” Galvano said of the negotiation, at the same time adding that “inaction is not an option.”

IN TIGER BAY SPEECH, JACK LATVALA TEES OFF ON HOUSE  via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In a take no prisoners speech that lasted nearly an hour … Latvala lived up to his reputation as one of the Senate’s biggest flamethrowers, hammering the House, some legislative rivals, and a wide range of policy issues. The speech at Tallahassee’s Capital Tiger Bay Club began with a laundry list of things Latvala said he was “hopeful” the Legislature could focus on, including boosting higher education, addressing the state’s pending water shortage, and creating high-wage jobs — before he unloaded on what he described as “an all-out assault on economic development programs.” It was a reference to the House proposal to slash funding for Visit Florida and to abolish Enterprise Florida, both mostly taxpayer-funded economic development and marketing programs. “Someone could tell me I could be elected to the House for life and I still would not do it,” he told the crowd.

NO FURTHER HEARINGS ON GUN BILLS IN SENATE JUDICIARY AFTER ALL via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Earlier this month, Senate Judiciary chairman Greg Steube [said] he wasn’t giving up on holding a hearing for some of his more controversial gun bills this year, which proposed to eliminate some “gun-free” zones in Florida. But it appears the Sarasota Republican is backing off. His committee will meet for the final time Wednesday and, while it’s a packed agenda, there are no gun bills slated to be heard.

BILL TO REMOVE LIMIT ON NUMBER OF TRAUMA CENTERS MOVES IN HOUSE via Florida Politics – A bill that would do away with a cap on how many trauma centers can open in Florida cleared its latest committee Monday … GOP state Rep. Jay Trumbull of Panama City … said the motivation for the bill was to end the flow of litigation against the state’s Department of Health, which now is charged with reviewing the need for new centers and approving them. Almost every time a new application is filed, the department is hit with some kind of legal action, usually from neighboring hospitals that already operate a trauma center. Records show 31 cases have been filed since 2014, most at the administrative hearing level, and the state has spent over $900,000 on outside attorneys in the last year and a half.

BIGGER WINE BOTTLES COULD BE COMING TO FLORIDA via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Current law generally makes it illegal to sell wine “in an individual container holding more than 1 gallon.” A typical bottle is 750 milliliters, roughly a fifth of a gallon. Jeff Brandes … offered an amendment to a booze-advertising bill (SB 388). The amendment, adopted without objection, repeals the bottle-size law. It would allow wine bottles of all sizes, including the “Nebuchadnezzar,” which hold 15 liters, or the volume of 20 standard wine bottles. The bill would even allow the mammoth 50-liter “Sovereign” — the equivalent of a whopping 67 standard wine bottles.

BILL SPONSOR BOWS OUT OF FIGHT OVER SHORT-TERM VACATION RENTALS via Florida Politics – The Senate sponsor of legislation crimping local restrictions on Airbnb and other home vacation rentals abruptly cried uncle Monday — confusing a committee room full of lobbyists, plus a few committee members. Sen. Greg Steube acquiesced in a late amendment by Sen. Jeff Brandes that essentially gutted his bill. CS/SB 188, as amended, passed on a vote of 5-3. … The amendment persuaded some Community Affairs Committee members, but not all. “I’ve told so many cities and other folks that I was a ‘No’ on the bill, and now it’s changed and I’m trying to figure it out,” Republican Aaron Bean said. “I’m going to say ‘No’ kind of quietly.”

RARE TIE VOTE DEFEATS MOVE TO KILL SPORTS SUBSIDIES via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – In an political issue rife with Tampa Bay tensions, the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee killed a bill (SB 236) by Sen. Lee that would have wiped out a 2014 program to give subsidies to qualified sports entities. Lee called it a “giveaway program” that’s bad for taxpayers, and he testified that $390 million has been set aside for stadium improvement projects but no money has been spent. His bill was in trouble from the outset because his nemesis on a number of issues this session, Sen. Jack Latvala … is on the tourism panel and supports keeping the program. Latvala was joined by two allies, Republican Sen. George Gainer and Democrat Bill Montford, to kill Lee’s bill. Siding with Lee, and voting to end the subsidy program were Sens. Dana Young; Travis Hutson and Jose Javier Rodriguez(Lee himself is not on the committee).

AFP … SAYS “SENATE GOES TO THE MOVIES AND SPORTS CLUBS ON TAXPAYER DIME”: “We are disappointed in Florida Senators that passed on an opportunity to eliminate a corporate welfare program dedicated to handing out taxpayer dollars to privately owned sports teams,” said AFP state director Chris Hudson. “This is an absurd use of taxpayer resources that should be dedicated to legitimate functions of government. … “After successfully fending off Hollywood special interests last year, the Senate is unfortunately pushing to risk using tax dollars to get into the movie making business once again. … The Senate should not be picking winners and losers between a transient industry and the critical needs of our citizens.”

… LAUNCHES NEW DIRECT MAIL PIECE FOCUSED ON BUDGET — The new piece is meant to highlight the differences between the House and Senate budget proposals. The mail pieces urge Floridians to call their senators and tell them to “cut wasteful spending and focus on real priorities.” “As both chambers gear for budget conference, we hope that the Florida Senate will abandon attempts to increase Floridians’ property taxes, cut over $700 million in pork, and join the House in eliminating funding for Enterprise Florida,” said Chris Hudson, state director for AFP-FL. “We are going to educate Floridians about the stark differences in spending between the House’s and the Senate’s proposed budgets.”

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SENATE PANEL BACKS EXPANDED GARDINER SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY via Livi Stanford of – SB 902, by Sen. David Simmons … would expand eligibility for the program to include children who are deaf or visually impaired, as well as those with rare diseases or traumatic brain injuries. It defines rare diseases as those affecting populations of fewer than 200,000 in the United States. In what became a theme for the meeting, Simmons said the program does not hurt public schools but assists them. “The Gardiner scholarships have shown that there is no one size that fits all to helping these children and these families with these kinds of challenges,” he said. “These are extreme challenges, challenges which those who have faced them, most have stood up and met those challenges. This is one tool that we as a government can, in fact, help these children and these families.”

RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE OVERHAUL READY FOR SENATE FLOOR via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee passed a bill that makes changes to the organization of the Rural Economic Development Initiative … REDI, tasked with facilitating economic development in rural areas, would see a series of changes to its membership under SB 600, including three membership positions appointed by the Senate president, House speaker and executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. The bill directs the appointments to consider “the state’s ethnic, racial and gender diversity,” according to a staff analysis. The chair would have the ability to create committees as needed to address any issues that come up. A similar House bill (HB 333) has two more committee stops.

SOME VETS NOT HAPPY BILL PENALIZING MEMORIAL VANDALS MAY BE STALLED IN SENATE via Sascha Cordner of WFSU – The bill makes it at least a third degree felony to deface memorials honoring the memory of Veterans, First Responders and astronauts. Today, the minimum penalty is a second-degree misdemeanor charge. Rep. Brad Drake is sponsoring that effort in the House … after unanimously passing three House committees, it’s now headed to the floor. But, it has not been heard in any committees in the Senate. Its first stop would be the Senate Criminal Justice Committee chaired by Sen. Randolph Bracy … Sen. Greg Steube – the bill’s Senate sponsor—says he’s tried to get the bill on Bracy’s agenda to no avail. For Pensacola resident Cal Daniel, a young war re-enactor—stiffer penalties are warranted. He says he’s visited several areas where tombstones and memorials were vandalized. “And, as a historian, I quickly realized that underage or not, these were premeditated,” said Daniel.

POLITICAL CLASH OVER REGIONAL TRANSIT DIVIDES TAMPA BAY SENATORS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Sen. Latvala … offered a bill (SB 1672) in a Senate committee to create a revamped Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, the latest in a decade-long and so far ineffective effort to craft a regional approach to transit, including a light rail system linking Tampa and St. Petersburg. But Sens. Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee overrode Latvala with an amendment that strips the authority of its independence by requiring legislative approval for any local spending on a light rail system and barring the authority from spending money to advocate for light rail in a voter referendum. The amendment passed easily in the Senate Community Affairs Committee, which Lee chairs. “Voters of Hillsborough County and Pinellas County have rejected these in the past,” Brandes said. “My goal is that this doesn’t become an opportunity for Greenlight Pinellas 2.0,” referring to the latest rejection of a transit plan by county voters.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Kionne McGhee and the Alliance for Safety and Justice will hold a press conference and prayer vigil focused on criminal justice reforms that advocate for alternative options to incarceration for first-time and non-violent offenders at 12:15 p.m. on the fourth floor Rotunda near the House side.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — Medical marijuana will be on the table when the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittees meet today. The full appropriations committee is set to discuss Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues’ bill (HB 1397) to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment when it meets at 9 a.m. in 212 Knott. The Senate subcommittee is slated to discuss Sen. Rob Bradley’s proposal (SB 406) when it meets at 4 p.m. The House Ways & Means Committee will hold a workshop on the communication services tax when it meets at 10 a.m. in 17 House. The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss a proposal (SB 766) that would crack down on the use of skimming devices used to obtain credit card information when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in 27 Senate Office Building. The “Best and Brightest” teacher-bonus program (SB 1552) is up for discussion when the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 1:30 p.m. in 412 Knott. A proposal (SB 554) to give craft breweries a boost will be discussed when the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 4 p.m. in 110 Senate Office Building.

HAPPENING TODAY – LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS APPRECIATION DAY — Take a minute to thank a state law enforcement officer, Tuesday. The Florida Benevolent Association will host its annual Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second floor Rotunda.

TWEET, TWEET: @Daniel_Sweeney: Tomorrow is Florida Keys Day! Key Lime Pie, cocktails, seafood. Best county day of the session.

LARGE COUNTIES PUSH BACK ON HOUSE’S PROPOSED $200M CHARTER SCHOOL INCENTIVE via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Miami-Dade County Public Schools is “actively lobbying against” HB 5105, a spokeswoman said, and Duval County schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti sent a lengthy letter to the Florida Senate … urging lawmakers to “please use logic and reject” the House’s bill. The Senate has yet to formally discuss the “schools of hope” legislation that the Republican-led House passed last week along party-lines. The legislation seeks to attract specialized, out-of-state charter schools to come to Florida and compete with struggling traditional schools so that students currently attending such schools have another option … school district administrators — echoing some of the opposition expressed by House Democrats — say they have concerns about the proposal.

TEACHERS UNION CALLS FOR PROPER FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN NEW ADS via Florida Politics – The statewide education association released two advertisements in response to several measures being advanced by the Legislature. The proposals, education officials said, would under fund public schools and harm public school students. “Students are at the center of everything we do. That’s why we are fighting for students and for better public schools,” said Joanne McCall, the FEA president. “We’re fighting against too many tests that do nothing to help our children and working to ensure that schools and students have the resources they need for success.” The House voted 70-44 to approve a $200 million plan to shift students from chronically failing schools to charter schools run by private organizations. The bill, a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, would offer up money to build what are being called “Schools of Hope” in neighborhoods across the state, many in urban and poor areas.

JEB BUSH’S EDUCATION FOUNDATION PRAISES ANITERE FLORES IN WEB AD via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The ad from the Foundation for Florida’s Future proclaims that “Sen. [Anitere] Flores is working to give teachers more time to teach” and directs viewers to a webpage, which offers the foundation’s explanation of the original versions of SB 926 and HB 773 — Flores’ and Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr.’s testing legislation. The foundation had a hand in crafting the legislation, according to Flores, and has a stake in ensuring its passage. The legislation is a way for Republican lawmakers to delicately respond to intensifying complaints from parents and teachers upset about overtesting and the “high stakes” associated with those statewide exams. The education accountability system Florida uses stems from Bush’s legacy of linking student assessment scores to school grades and funding.

BRAD DRAKE: HERO – State Rep. Drake’s quick thinking may have saved a child from drowning on Sunday. Drake, a Eucheeanna Republican, was attending an Easter get-together at the home of Mary Beth and Ryan Tyson, Associated Industries’ Vice President of Political Operations. Their son John David, who has Down syndrome and can’t swim well, fell into the backyard pool. Drake instantly dived in and pulled the 6-year-old to safety. “He has such a big heart and always had such a heart for John David,” Mary Beth Tyson told Florida Politics. “Years after his birth (Drake) is still wearing a ‘Down syndrome awareness’ bracelet in honor of John David.”

EX-PSC REGULATOR, PARKS DIRECTOR LISA EDGAR CHARGED WITH DUI, HIT AND RUN via Carl Effers of the Tallahassee Democrat Lisa Edgar was arrested Saturday on DUI and property damage charges. Edgar, 53, resigned from her parks position in late February after two months on the job, citing an immediate family emergency. Before working as parks director, Edgar served on the PSC for three terms starting in 2005 and as the deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She was booked into the Leon County Jail on two counts each of DUI with property damage and hit and run causing more than $50 in damage. Florida Highway Patrol reports say at about 7 p.m. Saturday, troopers responded to a crash on Centerville Road near the intersection with Pisgah Church Road. The driver of the other vehicle told troopers he was traveling south on Centerville Road when a Mercedes-Benz, later discovered to be driven by Edgar, was unable to stay in its lane and hit his driver’s side mirror as it passed.

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FLORIDA’S LEADING ECONOMIST ON SPORTING EVENTS ISN’T AN ECONOMIST via Noah Pransky of WTSP — The state of Florida spends nearly as much money every year on professional sports stadiums as it does maintaining the state’s top tourist attraction, its beaches. However, 10Investigates found the author of so many economic impact reports that support public sports subsidies may not be the expert economist state leaders believe he is. The resume of Mark Bonn, Ph.D., a professor at Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality, boasts of dozens of reports compiled for municipalities all across Florida, including some statewide organizations. … But 10Investigates uncovered emails suggesting Bonn encouraged the gaming of numbers to help justify a large public stadium renovation project. And several established economists call Bonn’s work deeply-flawed, resembling marketing propaganda more than an economic analysis; which may be appropriate, since Bonn’s background is in marketing, not economics.

HOW A TINY FLORIDA NEWSPAPER BECAME A MUST-READ IN THE TRUMP ERA via Benjamin Freed of the Washingtonian – The [Palm Beach] Daily News or “Shiny Sheet,” as it’s known to locals for the higher-than-usual-quality paper it prints on — typically covers events at Palm Beach’s charity galas, local real-estate transactions and goings-on in town government. It’s only got about 5,000 subscribers, but it’s become required reading for a Washington that is still struggling to make sense of the 45th President. … The Shiny Sheet doesn’t score the big national-security or palace-intrigue scoops that deep-pocketed news organizations like The Washington Post and New York Times do, but its role as a chronicler of South Florida’s swells has allowed it to break its share of presidential news.

ON THIS WEEK’S ROTUNDA — As thousands of people marched in cities around the country to demand that President Trump release his tax returns, business owners call for the reform of the national tax code. Trimmel Gomes talks with Barney Bishop, immediate past president of Associated Industries of Florida. Gomes also interviews the chair of the Constitution Revision Commission, Carlos Beruff. Plus, Florida folk songwriter and performer Tom Shed tells the story of sex, race, and murder in Florida politics with the song “Bolita Sam” about the 1952 case of Ruby McCollum and Sen. Leroy Adams.

BIG SUMMER FOR DISNEY PARKS: PANDORA AND GUARDIANS OF GALAXY via Beth J. Harpaz of The Associated Press – The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! attraction opens at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim … Pandora – The World of Avatar is a 12-acre land opening at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom … But the creative designer behind the attractions says you don’t need to know anything about either movie to enjoy them. The premise of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is that the Guardian superheroes have been captured and riders must participate in an adventure with a character called Rocket Raccoon to free them. The ride incorporates multiple scenarios for resolving the storyline so that riders have a slightly different experience each time they go through it. At Pandora, there are two rides plus retail and dining components. Riders on Avatar Flight of Passage fly through the forest on the backs of creatures called banshees to participate in a tribal coming of age ceremony. Riders on the Na’vi River Journey move through the bioluminescent forest on a boat, guided by a mystical singing figure.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Ray Rodrigues, as well as the boss of the Orange Juice mafia, Shannon Shepp, and political consultant Terry Miller. Celebrating today is the reporter who broke my (work) heart, Christine Sexton, as well as Tony Duda and Ed Hooper‘s better half, Lee.

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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