Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 4.28.17 – Rick Scott angry; Budget deals shaking out; Kevin Rader for the win; Zika returning?

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.

YOU WON’T LIKE RICK SCOTT WHEN HE’S ANGRY

Gov. Scott did not look like he was negotiating.

The governor fired a shot over the bow of the Legislature, all but demanding full funding in the state budget for his 2017-18 priorirites: $200 million to begin fixing the dike at Lake Okeechobee, $100 million for VISIT FLORIDA, and salvaging Enterprise Florida from House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s wrecking ball.

“All three of those project impact jobs,” he said. “And whatever happens after this session—I’ll have 610 days to go—I’ll spend every day trying to get more jobs in this state.”

Scott met briefly with reporters Thursday after a series of meetings with state senators, including Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala.

But when asked specifically what he’ll do if he vetoes the budget and lawmakers override the veto, Scott basically said he’ll try again next year.

“I’ll do exactly what I said I’ll do,” he said. “I’ve been completely open on what I ran on. And people agree with me. They care about jobs, they care about education, they care about being safe. And that’s what I work on every day.”

The Governor spoke after legislative leadership announced agreement on budget allocations, the large pots of money that go toward funding major areas, such as education and health.

While the Senate largely has sided with Scott, Corcoran for months has lobbed linguistic grenades at the governor, including calling his favored business incentives programs, including the Quick Action Closing fund, “corporate welfare.”

Scott has endorsed a key element of Senate President Joe Negron’s Lake Okeechobee rehabilitation plan: Storing and treating water south of the lake. He has called upon the House and Senate to invest $200 million in repairs to the Herbert Hoover dike.

Richard Corcoran (seated, at left) and Joe Negron (at lectern) on Thursday address the first meeting of this year’s budget conference.

The state can afford the repairs because the $1.5 billion the Trump administration has provided to reimburse hospitals for charity care has freed up money for elsewhere.

“This is a golden opportunity to get this done,” Scott said Thursday. “It’s an environmental issue and a jobs issue.”

He continued to advocate for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency, saying he “could not believe legislators don’t understand the value of continuing to market this state.” Fewer tourists mean fewer jobs in the tourist industry, he explained. “I am shocked at anyone who thinks we should cut one dollar from VISIT FLORIDA.”

But Corcoran nearly sued the agency after it refused to disclose a promotional contract it inked with South Florida rapper Pitbull. The artist himself made the case moot by publishing a copy of the contract via Twitter, revealing he was promised a maximum of $1 million.

The speaker also has lambasted a promotional deal with superstar chef/restaurateur Emeril Lagasse for nearly $12 million.

Scott also said the state was losing deals for companies to move to Florida because he didn’t have money in the Quick Action Closing fund, a pot of cash Scott can use with the least input from lawmakers.

“We are still competing with 49 other states,” he said. “They want the jobs there, I want the jobs here. This legislature is turning its back on its constituents.”

SCOTT CALLS PROPOSED CUTS TO VISIT FLORIDA ‘IRRESPONSIBLE’ IN NEW WEB AD via Florida Politics — In the 60-second spot, released by Scott’s political committee Let’s Get to Work, the Naples Republican is shown saying “Florida’s been winning, now a group of politicians in Tallahassee want us to lose.” “That’s irresponsible,” he continues. “It’s real simple, if the politicians in Tallahassee say they don’t want to market our state and we lose tourists, then we’re going to lose jobs. The politicians in Tallahassee don’t get it. Ever job is important, every family is important to our state. There is not a job that’s expendable.”

VISIT FLORIDA RELEASES VIDEO WARNING OF IMPACT OF CUTS — Facing big cuts in the 2017-18 budget, VISIT Florida released a 2-minute video Wednesday called “The Story of Colorado Tourism – A Cautionary Tale.” The video, which the state agency noted was produced at “no cost” to Visit Florida, features Cathy Ritter, the director of the Colorado Tourism Office talking about the impact of the cuts to her office. In 1993, the Colorado Legislature eliminated the tourism budget. The next year, according to the video, the state went from the No. 1 summer resort destination to the No. 17 summer resort destination. More than 21 years later, the state has regained its market share but hasn’t returned to the top spot, according to the ad.

SCOTT’S DEMAND FOR BUDGET PRIORITIES LEAVES CARLOS TRUJILLO UNFAZED via Florida Politics – House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo did not appear especially intimidated by Gov. Scott’s tough talk on the state budget Thursday evening. That $200 million Scott seeks to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike, for example?  Not likely. “That showed up about a week ago, and we’d already gone a far way down the road as far as crafting our budget,” Trujillo told reporters. …  “I think there’s merit in doing it. I don’t there’s merit in ever lending the federal government $200 million that they should be responsible for.” Trujillo sees no need to build a veto-proof majority. “We just have to pass a budget. If he vetoes it or he doesn’t veto it, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

TOUGH EDITORIAL – SCOTT POWERLESS IN HIS OWN PARTY via the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron are wheeling and dealing behind closed doors — and yes, that’s somehow legal in Florida — while crushing Scott’s top priorities. Scott can veto the entire budget, but the House and Senate would still have to come up with a new one before the July 1 deadline, or risk losing some state services. State parks could be shut down over the July 4 weekend. It would be a disaster for Scott. Scott’s veto could be overridden if Republicans convinced a few Democrats to jump on board, but then they’d have to give in to some Democratic priorities. Nobody in the GOP wants that. The entire Florida Legislature is dysfunctional. Corcoran promised all sorts of transparency yet is hammering out major policy in the dark. He’s turning out to be just another politician. But it’s amazing how Scott, a two-term governor with his eyes set on the Senate, is virtually ignored by his own party.

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HOW THEY GOT TO YES – BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, FLORIDA LEGISLATORS REACH BUDGET DEAL via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – … a sweeping deal on a new state budget and other high-priority items ranging from public employee benefits to building a reservoir to deal with toxic algae discharges. The move appears to ensure that the Florida Legislature will end its session on time next week. But by reaching the deal, top lawmakers jettisoned many of the highest priorities of Gov. Scott, raising the possibility that he may veto the entire budget and force legislators to return to the capital later this year. Scott sharply criticized legislators for ignoring some of his top requests, including using $200 million in state money to speed up repairs to the dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee. He also said the decision to slash money that now goes to the state’s tourism marketing agency would lead to fewer jobs. The budget will cut funding available to the tourism marketing agency Visit Florida from nearly $80 million to $25 million. Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, will remain intact for another year but it will not receive any money for incentives to lure businesses. Scott wanted $100 million for Visit Florida and $85 million for incentives.

BUDGET CONFERENCE MEMBERS, TENTATIVE SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED — House and Senate leaders named their budget conference committee members and announced a tentative schedule for budget conference meetings. Under agreed upon rules, conference committee meetings can meet until noon Saturday, after which time all issues will be bumped to the budget chairs. At noon Sunday, any unresolved issues will be bumped to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron. A list of the House conferees can be found here. List of Senate conferees can be found here.

— BUDGET & CONFERENCING HIGHLIGHTS —

MEDICAID CUTS WILL HIT $650 MILLION, SENATE CHAIR SAYS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Sen. Anitere Flores … the Senate’s health care budget chairwoman, confirmed that the state would cut its share of Medicaid payments by $250 million in the upcoming budget, which reduces federal matching dollars by more than $400 million. That’s more than was proposed by either the House or Senate in their original budgets. How each hospital could be affected is not yet clear. But hospitals — particularly safety net hospitals that care for a disproportionate amount of the state’s Medicaid and charity care patients — might be repaid for some of those cuts, Flores and House health budget chairman Rep. Jason Brodeur said.

— “Senate offers an additional $1 billion in health care cuts as budget talks begin” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

‘BIG WIN’: FLORIDA BEACHES SCORE $50 MILLION IN STATE BUDGET via Alexandra Glorioso and Eric Staats of the Naples Daily News – … but a bill to overhaul the way the state manages its coasts faces an uncertain future. “It’s a big win to get $50 million in the budget for beaches, big win,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, who made beach funding a top priority this legislative session. Lawmakers often have provided less than the $30 million required in state law each year. Latvala’s bill to reform the state’s beach management system overwhelmingly passed the Senate but has stalled in the House.

— “Senator warns “we are in cut mode” on environment spending” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

— “Senate makes 1st budget offer for justice departments” via Legislative IQ for LobbyTools: The Department of Corrections would get $2.4 billion under the Senate’s offer, about the same as the House proposal. Funds for repair and maintenance were not proposed, but Tim Sadberry who presented the budget said that Sen. Aaron Bean has indicated this area as a high priority and is hopeful additional funding can be provided.

— House’s 1st offer on Pre-K-12 education: It totals a little more than $15 billion for PreK-12 Education, about $340 million more than the Senate is offering.

HOUSE MAKES FIRST OFFER ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools –  The House offer is $1.95 billion, less than a $100 million difference between what the Senate passed … The sticking point is over HB 5301 to restructure the state’s IT services. The House kept its position to cut the Agency for State Technology.

SENATE OFFERS TO CULL $21 MILLION IN PROJECTS AS HIGHER ED CONFERENCE OPENS via Florida Politics – Sen. Bill Galvano delivered the bad news first as the House and Senate opened conference negotiations on higher education spending Thursday evening. The Senate would have to cut at least $21 million in projects from its version of the budget to reach the level agreed upon with the House, he said. …  “I just want to manage expectations in that regard. Because when you are starting with a significant reduction, its highly unlikely that a placeholder is going to move in the upward direction, as opposed to either staying where it is or in a downward direction.”

STATE WORKER RAISES IN HOUSE, SENATE BUDGETS via the Tallahassee Democrat – State workers would get across-the-board raises for the first time in roughly a decade … Sen. Jack Latvala … confirmed that the raises are included in both House and Senate budgets …

A HIDDEN TAX ON HARD-WORKING MOTORISTS? TAX COLLECTORS THINK SO via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Every session, private agencies that renew car registrations and licenses seek a greater foothold in the nation’s third-largest state, a lucrative market. They succeeded in getting language in a must-pass tax cut package that allows them to charge drivers a new “convenience fee.” (Republicans in Tallahassee don’t like to use the word “tax.”) The measure sailed through the House on a 117-0 vote … The bill now awaits a final vote in the Senate … “It’s laughable,” said Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, a former Republican legislator who opposed the amendment, as did Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, a former Democratic lawmaker. Because the amendment doesn’t specify how much the fee can be, Fasano speculated, the sky’s the limit. A dollar? $2.50? $10? “You have no idea what they’re going to charge,” Fasano said.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Budget Conference Committee on Transportation, Tourism, & Economic Development/Transportation & Tourism will meet at 9 a.m. in 110, Senate Office Building. The HHS conference is also scheduled to meet.

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WHAT BARBARA PETERSEN IS READING – HOUSE CONSIDERS LETTING ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE SECRET MEETINGS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – (A) bill going to the state House floor on Friday would effectively thwart significant aspects of that constitutional guarantee and potentially render it meaningless by allowing local elected officials — from city and county commissioners to school board members — to meet behind closed doors and discuss public matters in secret. The proposed law (HB 843) from Naples Republican Rep. Byron Donalds would exempt from open meetings requirements any gatherings between two members of a local, county or state agency board or commission. Those officials wouldn’t have to give any notice about their meeting and they wouldn’t have to keep any records of what they discuss. (The exemption would apply to boards or commissions with at least five members.)

‘SCHOOLS OF HOPE’ COMPROMISE REACHED via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Specifics of the proposed deal were not released, as some of it was still being finalized, House and Senate pre-K-12 education budget chairmen said late Thursday. But the general description of the agreement was enough to earn initial support from some House Democrats, who had — until very recently — staunchly opposed the concept. “We’re happy they listened to us and a lot of the ideas we had in committee,” said Broward County Rep. Shevrin Jones, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee, who helped negotiate the compromise on the Democrats’ behalf. “We’re happy with the direction they’re going in.”

SENATE AND HOUSE MOVE CLOSER TO DEAL ON GAMBLING BILL via Florida PoliticsThe Senate capitulated to the House on several issues Thursday as part of ongoing negotiations to strike a compromise on gambling legislation, while holding firm on others. But the latest offer includes a key provision desired by Speaker Corcoran, OK’ing up to 1,500 slots machines in “facilities in referendum counties” with a requirement “to surrender to the state one active pari-mutuel permit.” Still, it looks like a final deal will be far from the ‘no expansion’ position the House took earlier this year.

PLAY ON? LEGISLATORS MAY APPROVE FANTASY SPORTS via The Associated Press – House and Senate Republicans negotiating a comprehensive gambling bill that focuses primarily on casino gambling are including in the legislation proposals regarding fantasy sports. Senate negotiators offered their support for a House bill that says betting on fantasy contests would be allowed as long as the sponsor of the contest is not a participant. Some Republican legislators tried unsuccessfully last year to legalize fantasy contests.

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SENATE SENDS GROVELAND FOUR RESOLUTION TO THE GOVERNOR AND CABINET via Florida Politics – The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to apologize to survivors of the Groveland Four — African-American men who were brutalized in 1949 following a false accusation of rape. The senators first voted, 36-0, to sign on as cosponsors, then voted the resolution out on a voice vote. “This is a great miscarriage of justice,” sponsor Gary Farmer said. “This is Florida’s version of the Scotsboro Boys. This is our To Kill a Mockingbird. We cannot change the hands of time. We cannot go back to this terrible event and undo it. But we can acknowledge our wrongs. And we can bring peace, and healing, and closure to the families who have suffered so long.” … The resolution, CS/HCR 631 declares that injustice was done toward Charles GreenleeWalter IrvinSamuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, offers an official apology on behalf of the state of Florida, and urges Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet to pardon Irvin and Greenlee, who lived long enough to be convicted and imprisoned.

FATE TAKES A HAND IN WHISKEY & WHEATIES BILL AS AMY MERCADO CARES FOR HER PARENTS via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Sometimes fate plays that unexpected card that makes all the difference, such when the Florida House of Representatives narrowly approved the controversial “whiskey & Wheaties bill, allowing whiskey to be sold in grocery stores. Earlier that day a 30-year-old Monticello man driving in Tallahassee … slammed his SUV into the back of a car stopped at the light. Victor and Carmen Torres … parents of Rep. Amy Mercado. Mercado rushed to the hospital to be with her parents … In her absence, the House approved Senate Bill 106 by one vote: 58-57, sending it to the desk of Gov. Scott. “I have been against the bill from the beginning, so if I was in the chamber today [and not in the hospital with my parents] my vote would have been a no and made it a tie,” Mercado wrote on Facebook. “Therefore, my one vote could have killed the bill.”

INTERESTS FOR AND AGAINST ‘LIQUOR WALL’ LEGISLATION REACT TO PASSAGE via Florida PoliticsThe reaction to the Florida Legislature’s repeal of the state’s “booze wall” law continued long after Wednesday’s vote … Floridians for Fair Business Practices, a business coalition that included Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods Markets and others who favored the measure, issued a statement saying “the legislation finally removes an archaic regulation which has no basis in today’s modern society” … But ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, which has long opposed the legislation, said the Prohibition-era law still “prevent(ed) minors from unlawful access to liquor.” “The protection of minors and small businesses lost by a single vote in the House today because of members who bowed to enormous political pressure and financial influence from Wal-Mart and Target,” said Charles Bailes III, chairman and CEO of the Orlando-based chain. Gov. Scott on Thursday would only say he will “review the bill.”

BEER ADVERTISING BILL READY FOR VOTE ON HOUSE FLOOR via Florida PoliticsA bill to allow beer companies to sponsor “events, activities, or cooperative advertising” at the state’s theme parks is ready for a final vote in the Florida House. The House on Friday will take up the Senate bill (SB 388), sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson of Elkton. It eases the state’s “tied house evil” law by allowing on-site ads, including a beer company sponsoring a concert or festival within a park. Universal Orlando has supported the bill.

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RESOLUTION TO REPLACE CONFEDERATE GENERAL WITH EDUCATOR PASSES THE SENATE via Florida Politics – A resolution to depose Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, CSA, from his place in the National Statuary Hall collection and install Mary McLeon Bethune cleared the Senate Thursday on a voice vote. SCR 1360 went to the House, where it’s future was uncertain. Smith is one of two historical figures whose likeness stands in the Statuary Hall collection, which is distributed throughout the U.S. Capitol grounds. The other is John Gorrie, an Apalachicola doctor who invented the ice machine. The Legislature voted last year to bid Smith adieu and create a citizens committee to propose a replacement. Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College, finished first in a poll.

SENATE PASSES HEALTH INSURER REGULATIONS, UNLIKELY IN HOUSE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate unanimously passed a bill (SB 102) to prohibit health insurers and health maintenance organizations from retroactively denying a claim after they have verified the eligibility of a patient. Members also unanimously passed SB 182 that prevents insurers from removing prescription medications from coverage after the contract is signed. But the House versions are still in the committee process with time running out.

HOUSE POISED TO BAN ‘SANCTUARY CITY’ POLICIES ACROSS FLORIDA via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – The bill (HB 697) debated on the full floor intends to force local officials into complying with federal authorities and threatens those who refuse to do so with hefty penalties and a potential oust from office. Florida would be able to withhold state funding from local governments who act as “sanctuary cities” under the bill. However, local jurisdictions that comply with federal law and hold detainees past their sentences would absorb detention costs without the promise of being reimbursed.

WHAT DAVE ARONBERG IS READING – HOUSE PASSES BILL CRACKING DOWN ON SOBER HOMES via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – … strengthening the state’s role in prosecuting criminal and regulatory violations. Rep. Bill Hager, who is sponsoring the measure (HB 807), hopes this is the next step toward stopping problems at substance abuse treatment centers in Florida. Under the bill, sober home operators who allow fraudulent marketing for their operation or run a facility without a license would face criminal penalties punishable by up to five years in prison … Attorney General Pam Bondi has prioritized this piece of legislation saying it will “help curb unscrupulous clinics and protect vulnerable Floridians.” The proposed legislation would be creating a certification program for sober homes based on the recommendations of a state-funded task force that investigated issues at sober homes last year.

LARRY AHERN BRINGS BACK CONTROVERSIAL BILL TO FIX PINELLAS CONSTRUCTION LICENSING BOARD via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – Legislation aimed at reforming the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board that died last month has suddenly been resurrected. State Rep. Ahern has brought the bill back to life as the Florida legislative session winds down. That came as a surprise to the Pinellas County Commission, which wants far stronger reforms, and the agency’s interim director, Gay Lancaster, who was appointed to clean up the agency’s operations. Lancaster said she has not heard from Ahern –– a pool contractor –– or any other member of the Pinellas legislative delegation about the bill. One of the reforms in Ahern’s bill would be to appoint a county commissioner to the agency’s governing board. But that’s not good enough for the commission. They believe the best way to reform the agency is to place it under county control.

WAR EAGLE’ TAG ONE STEP CLOSER TO REALITY — The Florida House began discussions about a bill (HB 1375) that includes provisions to create an Auburn University specialty-license plate in Florida. Sponsored by Rep. Jamie Grant, an Auburn graduate, the tag would include “War Eagle” — the traditional chant of Auburn fans. Not to be outdone, Rep. Travis Cummings, offered an amendment Thursday to create a specialty tag for the University of Georgia. The underlying bill makes several changes to the specialty-tag system. The House could vote on the bill in the coming days.

#CATESINEDIE PREDICTION: SESSION ENDS AT 7:24 P.M. FRIDAY — The state’s political elite has spoken, and the general belief is the Legislature will adjourn sine die relatively early Friday. The median #CateSineDie prediction, minus outliers, is 7:24 p.m. on Friday, May 5. Those outliers likely include the earliest prediction, which is at 1:15 p.m. today (wishful thinking?) and the latest prediction: 2:37 a.m. on July 17 (boo, hiss!). Need a refresher on the rules? Head to CateSineDie.com.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Kionne McGhee will hold a press conference to discuss his bill to establish a permanent slavery memorial in the Florida Capitol at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor in front of House Chamber.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Republican Party of Florida will kick off its two-day quarterly meeting at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 4500 W. Cypress Street in Tampa.

DWIGHT BULLARD WON’T RUN FOR FRANK ARTILES’ SEAT in Miami-Dade via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – “After much thought and personal reflection, I have decided at this time not to run for this office,” said Bullard, a Democrat who said he will focus on his role as political director for the New Florida Majority.

HOUSE DEMOCRAT PLANS TO RUN FOR ARTILES’ SEAT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – State Rep. Daisey Baez plans to become the first high-profile Democrat to run for (SD 40). Baez earlier this week was still uncertain about running for the seat, but she changed her mind after looking at the data for Florida’s 40th Senate District in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 36–32 percent. … Baez’s fellow Democratic state Rep. Robert Asencio might also seek the seat along with a handful of other possible candidates. Republicans might also have a large field, but legislative leadership is hoping state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who lives in the district, runs for the seat. State Rep. Jeannette Núñez also might run but, like Baez, doesn’t live in the district. Attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck, a Spanish-language Trump surrogate, has announced he’ll run as a Republican.

CHRISTIAN ULVERT SAYS HE IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING SD 40 RUN via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I’ve had a greater calling to serve in public office just because of the issues and the work that I do,” Ulvert told FloridaPolitics Thursday morning, just before he was scheduled to get on a plane to attend a family wedding out of state. … Ulvert said that if he is to run, he would center his campaign on three main issues – public education, health care and affordable housing. “Those are three things that I’ve faced personally and I can present a strong narrative to and talk to voters and really empathize and bring authenticity to the message because I’m living it,” he says. “I have lived it.”

INFIGHTING THREATENS SALE OF FLORIDA MARIJUANA DISPENSARY via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – According to the details of a lawsuit brought by politically connected Panhandle developer Jay Odom against his partners, the shareholders of the Chestnut Hill Tree Farm cannabis nursery in Alachua have splintered over the pending sale of the company’s assets to a new operator. A partnership between South Florida’s Delavaco Group and publicly traded Canadian cannabis conglomerate Aphria announced the planned acquisition this month, but infighting has jeopardized the chances of completing a sale by a June 1 deadline. Odom’s attorney, Barry Richard, downplayed the significance of the lawsuit in an interview as a “garden-variety business dispute.” But the overall value of Aphria’s deal to effectively buy a Florida cannabis cultivation and distribution license — one of only seven in the state, for now — has been valued at $177 million, and thousands of future patients could be affected. “Both sides are a little nervous,” Richard acknowledged.

KEVIN RADER CARRIES CAMPAIGN AGAINST LOBBYIST INTO CAPITOL LIFTS via Mike Moline of Florida Politics 

If you entered an elevator in the Capitol Thursday, you might have spotted a piece of paper resembling a wanted poster bearing the pixelated photo of a smiling woman.

“Senator Kevin Rader would like to know… Where is ‘Concerned Citizen’ Mary Beth Wilson,” the letter-sized document announced.

Surrounding the photo were six red question marks — three per side. In the top left corner, the Senate seal.

The woman pictured looked an awful lot like Lisa Miller, a lobbyist with clients including Demotech Inc., a company that rates Florida insurance companies.

Rader, a Democrat from Boca Raton, asked Gov. Rick Scott in February to look into whether Miller had posed as “concerned citizen” Wilson during a conference call between Demotech and industry figures.

A number of Tallahassee lobbyists were certain they recognized Miller’s voice, as Jeff Grady, president and CEO of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, reported on his blog (password protected).

Miller and Demotech president Joe Petrelli have strongly denied it.

Asked about the elevator sheet following the Senate’s session, Rader issued a non-denial denial.

“That wasn’t Lisa Miller. It was about Mary Beth Wilson,” he said.

But he acknowledged his hand in posting the fliers.

“It’s just a reminder that I would still like the governor to take a look into it,” Rader said.

LIQUOR LOBBYIST ARRESTED ON DUI CHARGE via Tallahassee DemocratA lobbyist and elected official who represents the liquor industry has been arrested for driving under the influence after losing his balance and nearly falling over during a field sobriety test. Eli Nortelus, 41, was arrested after 2 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Capital Circle NE and Park Avenue … At the beginning of the 2017 Legislative session, Florida Politics reported that Nortelus was let go from the Akerman Law Group because he represented a client that conflicted with one of the law firm’s clients on the ‘liquor wall’ bill.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Erin Daly Ballas, Public Affairs Consultants: CR833 LLC

Douglas Bell, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida Rural Economic Development Association

Douglas Bruce, Nicole Graganella, Trevor Mask, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass: Southeast Overtown Park West, CRA

Nathan Adams, Joshua Aubuchon, Kimberly Case, Mark Delegal, Holland & Knight: Efficiency Energy

Jorge Chamizo, Charles Dudley, Cory Guzzo, Floridian Partners: Kathleen Winters

Michael Harrell, Paul Hawkes, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Timothy Stanfield, Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Marsy’s Law for All

Brecht Heuchan, The Labrador Company: Tarpon Towers II

Doug Holder, The Legis Group: Benderson Development

Lila Jaber, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA: Q Link Wireless LLC

Mia McKown, Holland & Knight: Nicole Yontz; Tammy Johnson

— WEEKEND TV —

Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: It’s been a long debated controversial question. what constitutes art? What is considered creative expression? What happens when some deem art to be hateful and racist? Answer Suncoast’s Ruth Beltran & Gregory Cruz join the discussion about a piece depicting Sarasota’s Black community.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: This week’s panel includes former state representative and current Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, journalists Mike Deeson and Amy Hollyfield and attorney Brian Willis.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: This week’s Political Connections present look at the first 100 Days of the Trump administration. Featured interviews include Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Linda McMahon, Administrator of the Small Business Administration; Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy; Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation; Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education; Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President; and Omarosa Manigault, Director of Communications for the office of Public Liaison.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Host Kent Justice will be joined by Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney, as well as former Alvin Brown Chief of Staff Chris Hand and former state Rep. Mia Jones.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Steve Vancore and Gary Yordon will be joined Dr. Ed Moore, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the great Jenn Ungru. Best wishes this weekend to the St. Pete Chamber’s Travis Norton and photog extraordinaire Mark Wallheiser.

WILL ZIKA RETURN TO FLORIDA THIS SUMMER? YES, AND IT COULD BE WORSE via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times – “We are preparing for local transmission, and we are preparing for the worst-case scenario,” said Dr. Beata Casanas, an infectious disease expert and associate professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Scientists agree on one point: They need more money to research and fight the virus. Federal funding for Zika has mostly run out, with its future unclear. And new cases are already popping up in Florida. One reason this year’s threat might be greater than last year’s: There is evidence the Zika virus can survive in mosquito eggs. And mosquito eggs can lie dormant for months, if not years. “If they are already primed with the virus, they are ready for the next season,” said Derric Nimmo of the British biotechnology firm Oxitec, which has created genetically modified mosquitoes to help stop the spread of viruses like Zika. “The virus doesn’t have to be brought into the country.”

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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