Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
CHRIS KING TO LAUNCH GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN TODAY
After more than a month of silent campaign building since he filed to run for governor, Orlando Democratic businessman Chris King is ready to come out into the limelight,
King announced he will be holding his campaign kickoff at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hillcrest Hampton House in Orlando. That is a senior affordable housing community his company renovated.
He is one of two Democrats to announce their candidacies to run for governor in 2018, along with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. But the silent mode of King’s campaign staff building since he filed his paperwork in February has left him behind three other potential candidates, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, and Orlando attorney John Morgan, when it comes to introducing himself, his views and his plans to Florida.
An advisory released by his campaign Monday morning says he “will call for a new kind of leadership, and movement of people ready for a new direction to ‘rise up so Florida can lead again.’”
That is consistent with the few remarks the developer of affordable and senior housing projects has made in the past.
“As many of you are probably aware, next Tuesday I will be launching my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor, and I look forward traveling all around this state getting to know so many of you,” King stated in a video presentation provided to a gathering of statewide Democrats Saturday night at the Florida Democratic Party’s DCCA Retreat.
“We can win this race in 2018, and I want to be the type of candidate that makes that possible and gets you excited again about what is possible in Florida,” King said.
King, founder and CEO of Elevation Financial Group, a private equity real estate investment company, characterized himself as a “progressive entrepreneur” in his video to the Democrats’ retreat.
In tweets he posted last week, he declared, “I’m running for Governor of Florida because politics as usual isn’t working.” He also tweeted, “Florida should lead the nation, but today we’re falling behind on jobs, wages, education, health care, and hope.”
So far, he’s putting together a team that includes Charlie Crist‘s former campaign manager Omar Khan to serve as his senior adviser, as well as adding other Barack Obama alumni Jeremy Bird, Hari Sevugan, Larry Girsolano, and Isaac Baker to his team.
— “Chris King looks to stand out in Democratic field for governor” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel
FIRST LOOK: The Chris King campaign kickoff video, “Rise and Lead, Florida,” combines testimonials with a hint of King the family man. The Democrat’s pitch includes creating more jobs paying higher wages. The video also highlights his work in affordable housing. Here’s a look:
THE REST OF THE FIELD
With King’s planned announcement today, we thought it a good time to check-in with the rest of the 2018 hopefuls — or likely hopefuls, as the case may be:
— Gillum has spent the last month trying to boost his name recognition across the state, including hosting a roundtable about the Affordable Care Act in South Florida on Friday. Although the Tallahassee mayor has spoken at a few Democratic gatherings throughout the state, such as the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida in Tampa in early March, he didn’t attend the Florida Democratic Party’s County Chair Association Meeting in St. Petersburg this weekend. On Twitter, Gillum’s spokesman said he was getting “inducted into the FAMU Hall of Fame” and that was why he wasn’t at the event.” Although Gillum was first out the gate, he continues to be plagued email problems. Just last week, the Tallahassee Democrat reported another overtly political email sent from Gillum’s office surfaced, this time inviting people to a fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party.
— When is Graham going to make her decision? Soon, or at least that’s what the former congresswoman has been saying for the past few months. During a meet-and-greet in Miami Beach in mid-March she said was going to make an announcement soon and wanted to make sure “everything is methodically planned out.” During a breakfast in Quincy last week, she said she was “in the planning stages right now, and we’ll have an announcement very soon.” So what does that mean? Well, the Tallahassee Democrat recently launched Our Florida, the state political committee expected to fund a 2018 gubernatorial run, and transferred $250,000 from her congressional coffers to the state committee. The committee is chaired by Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney with Tripp Scott who served as special counsel for Bob Graham, the former governor and U.S. Senator (and Rep. Graham’s dad). Now, the only thing left to do is wait for “soon” to roll around.
— Levine seems to be taking this idea of a listening tour seriously, traveling the state to attend several local Democratic meetings in recent weeks. In March, the Miami Beach Democrat traveled to the Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco and Palm Beach counties to meet with Democrats and talk about issues important to them. He also sounded off on Airbnb’s attempts to flood the South Florida market, and shot back against state lawmakers looking to deregulate vacation home rentals. But … then again you have to wonder how much Levine is listening, when he’s reportedly blocking critics on social media. And he’s getting a bit of a Trumpian reputation for his off-the-cuff remarks on social media.
— Speaking of someone with a “yuge” social media presence: John Morgan hasn’t said yes or no, but he sure seems like he’s having a lot of fun considering it. The Orlando attorney has been toying with the idea of running for months, and a few weeks back even retweeted a story about former Sen. Jeremy Ring saying he planned to wait until after the 2017 Session to decide whether he’ll run for CFO saying “the feeling is mutual.” But Morgan, who backed the 2014 and 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendments, is getting a lot of press for someone who is just thinking about thinking about running. Last month, he was featured in a New York Times article about some folks pondering a run in a post President Donald Trump world.
But does all this early hype really matter? Sure, early announcements and shadow campaigns mean the potential to raise more dough and name recognition. But with 19 months until Election Day, the voters don’t really seem to give a hoot about the governor’s race.
A new poll from — conducted March 28 through March 29 by Gravis Marketing for The Orlando Political Observer — found 36 percent of Democratic voters said they were uncertain who they would vote for in the primary. The survey also showed many voters were still “uncertain” in several hypothetical head-to-head general election showdowns.
The poll found 24 percent of Democrats said they would pick former Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary; while 23 percent said they would pick Gillum. Morgan received 9 percent support, followed Graham with 8 percent support, and Levine with 1 percent.
As for Republicans, they didn’t do much better: 63 percent of Republicans said they were uncertain who they would vote for in their primary. The poll found 21 percent GOP voters said they would pick Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, while 5 percent support went to former Rep. David Jolly and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Sen. Jack Latvala received 4 percent, followed by former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker with 2 percent.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gillum will continue his campaign for Florida governor with a speech to the Florida General Baptist Convention, 10:30 a.m. at the Main Ballroom, Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista South, 4955 Kyngs Heath Rd, Kissimmee.
— “At County Chairs Retreat, Florida Dems plan to wage war with GOP in 2018” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News
CAN A MODERATE ‘OLD WHITE GUY’ BEAT CONGRESSWOMAN STEPHANIE MURPHY? via Peter Schorsch Florida Politics – David Simmons, the 64-year old Seminole County state Senator, is considering his first congressional run at an age when most Americans are considering retirement. Simmons’ candidacy likely appeals to NRCC operatives who may be inclined to overlook his rather bland, dull, and prematurely aged look in light of his hefty bank account. However, can Simmons’ compassionate voting record withstand a bruising primary campaign likely to favor conservatives? In 2014, the Florida Legislature did something I thought impossible: It granted in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. Simmons was an unapologetic “yes” vote. That will make it tougher for Murphy to attack Simmons as anti-immigrant, but harder for Simmons to survive his primary. Similarly, Simmons backed Medicaid expansion in the Senate — effectively enlarging and entrenching Obamacare — a move that’s unlikely to endear him to conservatives but may insulate him from Murphy’s attacks … policy similarities offer Simmons a fighting chance — if he can make it out of the GOP primary.
FIRST ON #FLAPOL – ZUCKERBURG’S IMMIGRATION REFORM GROUP LAUNCHES FLORIDA CHAPTER via Florida Politics – FWD.us, founded by Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates among others, is gathering a coalition of business, community and faith leaders to push for immigration reform. The group favors equipping law enforcement with the tools necessary to stem further illegal immigrants from coming into the U.S. so they can focus on more dangerous criminals and security threats. The group also wants an overhaul for the legal immigration system so top-flight talent can come to the states and make the country more competitive in the global market. FWD.us is also looking for lawmakers to create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants in the country without a criminal history. Their plan would give immigrants who pass a criminal background check, pay fines and go through a probationary period the opportunity to apply for full citizenship years down the line.
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DAYS UNTIL: NFL Draft – 23; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 30; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 30; MLB All-Star Game – 98; FSU vs. Alabama football game – 151; Election Day 2017 – 216; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 254; First Day of 2018 Legislative Session – 278.
RICK SCOTT OP-ED: REPUBLICANS CANNOT GIVE UP ON HEALTH CARE via USA Today — Repealing the failure of Obamacare and replacing it with a plan that actually provides affordable and quality health care for families is something that I focused on long before I became Governor. In 2009, when I was a private citizen, I launched Conservatives for Patients’ Rights because I was concerned about the ramifications Obamacare could have for our nation. And, what I fought hard against immediately came true. Under Obamacare, costs have skyrocketed and families cannot keep the doctors they like. Obamacare was sold on a lie, plain and simple. In the wake of the demise of the House Republican health care reform effort in Washington, some are saying we should quit trying to do anything about our nation’s health care system. Abandoning the effort to improve our nation’s health care system is not an option. … While efforts like tax reform are important to strengthening our national economy, our country will never see the kind of growth we need as long as Obamacare is in place. Our businesses and entrepreneurs will never fully thrive as long as they are burdened by the costs of Obamacare. Washington needs to stop worrying about getting a grand bargain done, and start delivering on their promise to help American families by repealing Obamacare.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a “Fighting for Florida Jobs” roundtable at 10 a.m. Florida State College in Jacksonville’s Advanced Technology Center, Room T140, 401 W. State Street in Jacksonville. He’ll then highlight job growth at 2:15 p.m. at Boston Whaler, 100 Whaler Way in Edgewater. Media interested in attending should contact Susan Haywood from Boston Whaler at 386-428-0057 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RICHARD CORCORAN OP-ED: SCOTT IS ‘A GOVERNOR WHO WON’T HELP US’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – “We’ve got problems in the Senate, and we’ve got problems with a governor who won’t help us take this burden off the backs of our small businesses,” Corcoran told the Times/Herald. “If the governor would get more active and start traveling the state, talk about the stuff that’s really going to cost us jobs.” Repeating a familiar theme, Corcoran said: “Handing over million-dollar contracts to Pitbulls and Emerils and the insider dealing that goes on is not how we bring tourism here.” After placing Enterprise Florida on the political chopping block, Corcoran now criticizes Scott for trying to rescue the program. Scott’s office issued a response that focused mostly on Corcoran’s effort to abolish Enterprise Florida. “It is important to know that the bills fast-tracked through the Florida House have been job killers and detrimental to Florida’s active military, veterans and their families by eliminating the Florida Defense Alliance,” the statement said.
“DON’T FEAR THE DEBATE?” – Anders Croy, the Communications Director for the House Democrats, emails: “In the spirit of transparency, the House Democratic Caucus would like to provide you with a quick update on the breakdown of bills that have been heard in committee as we kick off Session tomorrow morning. We’ll be keeping a running count each week as we proceed through Session. As we reach the halfway point of session, GOP sponsored bills make up 77.33% of the total bills that have been placed on the calendar for a hearing in the Florida House.“
PAM BONDI’S OFFICE TO EMILY SLOSBERG: LOCAL GOVERNMENT CAN’T OUTLAW TEXTING WHILE DRIVING via Florida Politics – The Legislature can’t create an exception for Palm Beach County to make texting while driving in a school zone a primary offense there, Attorney General Bondi’s office said in a recent letter. The answer came in response to a question from state Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat elected last year. The letter, dated Feb. 3, was part of an Attorney General’s Opinions Digest released Monday. Slosberg wanted to know “whether the Legislature may provide express authority for the Palm Beach County Commission to pass an ordinance making ‘texting while driving’ in a school zone in Palm Beach County a primary offense.” Nope, said Lagran Saunders, director of Bondi’s Opinions Division. (It’s now a secondary offense, meaning a driver has to be pulled over for something else first.) “To enact legislation granting authority to Palm Beach County to solely enact an ordinance making texting while driving in a school zone a primary offense would be contrary to this express legislative intent of a uniform system of traffic regulation and would violate the Florida Constitution,” the letter said.
LEGISLATURE COULD ERASE PART OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TESTING LAW via The Associated Press – State senators crafted the proposal together amid arguments over how much testing should be allowed in the state’s public schools. The Senate Education Committee voted for the bill … The measure (SB 926) would eliminate four end-of-year exams that are now required in civics, United States history, geometry and Algebra II. The legislation would allow school districts to use pencil and paper tests instead of requiring students to take tests online. The bill also pushes back the date of when the state’s high-stakes test is given to the last three weeks of the school year. Florida’s main tests are now given anywhere from late February to early May.
LEGISLATORS PUSH FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO AID ANTI-ABORTION GROUP via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – The Florida Pregnancy Care Network is a private, nonprofit tax-exempt organization created in 2006. It has supported clinics across the state that, according to a Senate bill, offer an array of “wellness services” intended to help pregnant women “improve health or prevent illness and injury.” The programs supported by the network do not include abortion referrals or adoptions … Now lawmakers want to carve out a special place in state law for the program, guaranteeing its funding each year and tucking it in a state agency for oversight. “If you are pro-abortion, you don’t like this bill,” said bill sponsor Sen. Aaron Bean. “If you are pro-life, you like this bill.” The Legislature approved $4 million for the network in the current budget.
SENATE PANEL PASSES MEDICAL MARIJUANA PLAN via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – With more dispensaries and more options for actually consuming cannabis, the plan approved by a Senate panel could be more in line with Florida’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment than the far more restrictive House plan. The bill sponsor, state Sen. Rob Bradley said his bill “fully implements the will of the voters and does so without playing games or being cute.” But getting the House and Senate to come together and agree on a single version will be difficult. Even getting the Senate to a single version wasn’t easy. Five senators filed bills to regulate Florida’s medical marijuana industry, but Bradley’s bill, approved unanimously by the Senate Health Policy Committee, incorporated many ideas from the other bills in a flurry of amendments.
BOTTOMS UP: BEER, BOOZE BILLS CLEAR SENATE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – Let freedom pour: Bills aimed at changing beer and booze regulations in Florida have cleared their latest review panel. The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee OK’d measures that would allow beer distributors to give free branded beer glasses to bars and restaurants, authorize beer companies to advertise in theme parks and let craft distillers sell more bottles directly to consumers … Now, it’s capped at “two bottles per person per brand per year at one location” … GOP Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota told fellow senators, “You can go to Wal-Mart and buy as many shotguns as you want. I just think the government telling a business how many pieces of product they can sell is archaic. It’s not good public policy.”
SENATE AOB REFORM BILL BARS INSURERS FROM CHARGING LITIGATION COSTS TO CUSTOMERS via Florida Politics — A Senate committee voted Monday to give the insurance industry more control over contractors operating under assignment of benefits agreements, but also to prevent them from factoring their litigation costs into the premiums they charge. HB 1218 would leave alone Florida’s one-way attorney fees, which requires insurance carriers to cover policyholders’ legal fees if the latter prevail in a legal challenge over a claim. But the bill would tighten regulation of the agreements, also known as AOBs. Banking and Insurance chairwoman Anitere Flores expressed disappointment that the bill’s many critics offered no amendments to make it better. She said she no longer was willing to accept insurers’ guarantee that their approach would reduce rates. “This is the issue du jour that property insurance companies have said is the rate driver. We went through sinkholes, we went through a variety of different issues. And as we have fixed those issues, the only people who have been hurt have been consumers, and those who have benefitted are others,” Flores said.
— “Anitere Flores slams insurance industry for “smearing” her” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times
SENATE PANEL OKS WORKERS’ COMP BILL OPPOSED BY INSURANCE INDUSTRY via Florida Politics – The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted 7-1 Monday to approve legislation that would require workers’ compensation carriers to compete on price rather than propose premium levels through a common ratings agency, and that would allow workers to pay attorneys hourly rates if they take insurers to court.The ‘No” vote was by Sen. George Gainer, a Republican from Panama City. The next stop is the Appropriations Committee. SB 1582 by Rob Bradley … also would change the way compensation judges award attorney fees in litigation over claims. Attorneys could receive as much as $250 per billable hour. Bradley argued the measure would strike the best balance possible between workers and employers and insurers. “The old system cannot work anymore because the (Florida Supreme) Court said it’s unconstitutional. So we have to find another system,” Bradley said.
CLOCK RUNS OUT ON VACATION RENTAL BILL, BUT ITS ONLY TEMPORARY via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – With nine minutes left in a two-hour hearing Monday, senators finally got around to the only bill that drew a crowd. The lack of time guaranteed that the meeting would end with no vote on the vacation rentals bill (SB 188), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube that pits private property rights against local home rule in a tourist-friendly state that’s a big market for Airbnb and HomeAway vacation rental platforms. … Steube appeared to have no better than a 5-3 vote in the eight-member Senate Community Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Tom Lee.. While that’s enough to keep the bill moving, it falls short of a resounding endorsement. Lee said the bill would be rescheduled for the week of April 17, with next week’s abbreviated schedule devoted to the budget. “It will be back,” Lee said.
LIONFISH TAGGING, HUNTING PYTHONS, DESIGNATING REEFS: BILLS PASS HOUSE COMMITTEE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – If anyone has ever tried to insert a passive integration transponder tag into a lionfish, they may have an idea of how seriously the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee is viewing control of invasive species. Under House Bill 587, lionfish become one of three invasive species animals, along with python snakes and tegu lizards, the state would seek to better control through a pilot project that includes state-sponsored hunting and fishing, and the requirement that pet shop owners tag any of the animals they sell. While Florida’s efforts to control pythons and tegu lizards are well-known, long-standing, and likely to use most of the $300,000 this bill would set aside for invasive species hunts, lionfish, native to Pacific Ocean coral reefs, are a different challenge altogether. Once released from someone’s aquarium, lionfish tend to make their way to the Great Florida Reef, where they attack and decimate native species of fish.
WHAT KEVIN CATE IS READING – AUBURN LICENSE PLATE PROPOSAL PASSES COMMITTEE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Senate Bill 1374 chiefly focuses on efforts to honor veterans in Florida with various highway designations and license plates. It also includes a provision giving legislative approval of an Auburn University specialty license plate. The bill, touted for its veterans’ angles and with nary a word spoken about the Auburn plate during [its] committee meeting, was unanimously approved by the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee. If the measure goes all the way through the Florida Legislature and gets signed by Gov. Scott, Auburn would become the first non-Florida college or university to get authorized for commemoration on the rear ends of Florida-registered cars and trucks.
JOE GRUTERS LAUNCHES AD TO HIGHLIGHT LEGISLATIVE WORK — The Sarasota Republican is has released a new advertisement aimed at highlighting some of the work he’s done during the 2017 Legislative Session. The 30-second spot focuses on his proposal to require employers to use the e-Verify system; bills dealing with abortion; and a proposal dealing with campaign finance reform. First elected in November, the ad features pictures of Gruters with his family, as well as a shot of Gruters with President Trump, who he was an early supporter of during the 2016 presidential election. Click on the image below to watch the video.
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KEITH MILLER: FLORIDA’S SMALL BUSINESSES NEED PROTECTIONS IN STATE LAW via Florida Politics – Florida cannot continue to lose our small businesses, their investments, or risk taxpayer dollars due to unfair corporate franchisor practices. It is an all-too-common story where local business owners are at the mercy of the more powerful corporations and are taken advantage of. In this instance, the California-based corporation was issuing directives to the Florida owners based on California demographics and sales patterns which simply did not fit the Florida locations. When these locations were unable to comply with the unreasonable demands, and sales goals, they were left with no choice but to walk away from their businesses, leaving behind millions of dollars in property, equipment and supplies. Owning and operating a successful business is challenging enough without the constant stress and fear that everything you’ve worked for can be taken away in the blink of an eye. 23 other states have already enacted laws to provide greater protection for small business franchise owners and Florida should do the same. Similarly situated businesses in Florida, such as automobile dealers, agricultural equipment dealers and beer distributors are protected under Florida law.
FACT-CHECK: IS HOUSE ‘SANCTUARY’ BILL UNLIKE ANYTHING ELSE IN THE COUNTRY? Via Allison Graves of PolitiFact – Rep. Larry Metz sponsored a proposal (HB 697) that would require county and local law enforcement agencies to comply with and support enforcement of federal immigration law or face stiff penalties. The bill has moved along party lines in a couple of House committee hearings. It needs a full vote in the House and approval in the Senate, where it has not been heard at all, before it can reach Gov. Scott’s desk and become law. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith has raised strong objections. “It will be the only law of its kind in the nation,” Smith said. Several states have come up with bills targeting so-called sanctuary cities. Among them, HB 697 in its current form is indeed unique in terms of the severity of the prohibitions and penalties against state and local entities that choose not to comply with federal immigration detainer requests. The Texas Legislature appears to have the next-closest version of this legislation. We rate this statement Mostly True.
MAYORS TO LEGISLATURE: HANDS OFF OUR CITY HALLS via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – “I have never seen the assault on local government on all fronts — our ability to self-govern, our ability to pass laws that are appropriate for our communities — as I have in this legislative session,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told a crowd of about 300 at an Economic Club of Tampa lunch. Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said bills pending in the state House will eliminate the ability of cities use community redevelopment funds to promote growth in blighted areas, as well as the ability of local governments to address gun violence or protect the rights of LGBT residents. Speaker Corcoran has said city and county officials have allowed the proliferation of “runaway regulations.” Local officials and the state also have clashed over efforts to pre-empt cities from regulating vacation rentals.
HOSPITALS ORDERED TO PROVIDE SALARY AND LOBBYING DATA TO HOUSE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The House has advanced an $81.2 billion budget that would reduce payments to hospitals by more than $600 million next year. In what may be an attempt to bolster its political case for those cuts, the House is seeking information on hospital executives’ salaries and lobbying contracts. The deadline for hospitals to respond is by the close of business Friday, April 7. The request comes from House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s chief budget-writer, Rep. Carlos Trujillo. In emails sent out late last week by Trujillo’s staff director, JoAnne Leznoff, hospitals, including all members of the statewide Florida Hospital Association, are asked to provide extensive financial data, including: “Compensation received for all executive and administrative staff earning in excess of $200,000. Please provide the salary for each individual and associated job title.
SAFETY NET HOSPITALS DECRY MEDICAID SPENDING CUTS PLANNED FOR FLORIDA via Florida Politics – The cuts would undermine the state’s investments in training doctors, alliance members argued outside the Senate Office Building in Tallahassee. Under the Graduate Medical Education Startup Bonus Program launched by Gov. Scott two years ago, teaching hospitals draw $100,000 bonuses for every residency they add in key specialties. New residencies totaled 313 this year. “We cannot train tomorrow’s physicians when every year our hospitals must re-evaluate their budgets,” said Lindy Kennedy, vice president for government relations for the Safety Net Hospital Alliance. … The pressure on hospital budgets is coming from all sides —Scott’s proposed budget would cut $929 million from the Medicaid share formula, paying 58 cents for every dollar the hospitals spend, alliance members said.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Safety Net Alliance of Florida will hold a press conference to applaud trauma teams at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Lee Memorial Hospital, and Broward Health Medical Center for their heroic efforts in saving lives during recent mass casualty incidents at 10:30 a.m. in 231 Senate Office Building.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: First Lady Ann Scott and other state leaders will help launch Prevent Child Abuse Florida’s annual “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign at 10 a.m. at the Governor’s Mansion, 700 North Adams Street. She’s expected to be joined by Sen. Audrey Gibson, Rep. Al Jacquet, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, Surgeon General Celeste Philip, ACHA Secretary Justin Senior, DJJ Secretary Christina Daly and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.
HAPPENING TODAY — COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Government Operations & Technology Subcommittee will discuss a bill (HB 7071) that would revamp electric utility regulation when it meets at 8 a.m. in Morris Hall. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss a series of claims bills, including on (HB 6523) that would lead to paying $3.75 million in the settlement of the case involving Nubia and Victor Barahona when it meets at 8 a.m. in 404 House Office Building. The Senate Judiciary Committee committee will consider a proposal (SR 1440) that would apologize for abuse that occurred at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Jackson County during its meeting at 9:30 a.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will discuss a bill (SB 1370) that would require warning labels be placed on lottery tickets when it meets at 4 p.m. in110 Senate Office Building.
HAPPENING TODAY – FSU DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Pull out your garnet and gold, it’s FSU Day at the Capitol. The annual event will celebrate Florida State University’s preeminence and “all things garnet and gold.” The university will have displays and information tables set up on the plaza level, and second and third floor rotundas from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a pep rally from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Capitol plaza between the old and new Capitol. The event will feature FSU President John Thrasher, performances by the FSU cheerleaders, members of the Flying High Circus, and a pep band.
HAPPENING TODAY — FLORIDA POLY DAY AT THE CAPITOL — The Phoenix are taking on Tallahassee! Florida Polytechnic University students, faculty, students and leaders will head to the state Capitol for Florida Poly Day. The day-long event is meant to focus on promoting the state’s newest university, and school officials will set up display booths from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in the Senate Portico.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Environment Florida Research & Policy Center will release new data ranking Florida and other cities for installed solar power at 8 a.m. The report will be available at EnvironmentFloridaCenter.org.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Bob Cortes will hold a press conference on State Attorney Ayala at 8:45 a.m. in 333 House Media Room. He’ll be joined by Reps. Mike Miller, Rene Plasencia, Scott Plakon and Jennifer Sullivan.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Darryl Rouson and Rep. Tracie Davis will hold a press conference to discuss their resolutions to acknowledge the abuses at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys at 11:30 a.m. on the fourth floor between the House and Senate chambers. They’ll be joined by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, former Gov. Bob Martinez, and former students of Dozier and Okeechobee Reform Schools.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Paul Renner will hold a press conference to highlight military-friendly bills from the 2017 Legislation at 12:30 p.m. in the 333 House Media Room. He’ll be joined by several members of the Legislature, including Sens. Jeff Brandes and Greg Steube.
HAPPENING TODAY – STACEY WEBB ARTS FOUNDATION HOSTS INAUGURAL SESSION FUNDRAISER — The Stacey Webb Arts Foundation will host its inaugural session fundraise at 5:30 p.m. at the Southern Public House, 224 East College Ave., n memory of Webb, who died in 2015. All proceeds directly fund arts education for economic disadvantaged children. The foundation recommends a $30 donation.
CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION MEETINGS IN SOUTH FLORIDA MOVED TO LARGER SPACE via Florida Politics – Carlos Beruff, chair of the panel that is reviewing the state’s governing document, says he’s bumped this week’s meetings to bigger rooms “to maximize public participation.” The commission’s Thursday meeting will be at the Florida International University (FIU) Student Academic Success Center in Miami at 5 p.m. and the Friday meeting is now at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Acura Club (located in the FAU Stadium) in Boca Raton at 9 a.m. Full details are on the commission’s website. Additional public hearings will be announced soon. All hearings will be live-streamed by The Florida Channel.
FPL TO ADD ANOTHER 1,500 MEGAWATTS OF SOLAR OVER THE NEXT SEVEN YEARS via Florida Politics – The new power plants are in addition to the eight new solar facilities expected to come online by early 2018 and FPL said the new plants could save customers more than $500 million. The roadmap for the new facilities was filed with the Public Service Commission as part of the company’s 2017-2026 Ten Year Site Plan, which included the first-ever projection that solar power will outpace coal and oil combined as a percentage of the company’s energy mix by 2020. Details on where the newly announced plants will be located haven’t been finalized, though the company said a Miami-Dade plant looks promising for 2019.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO CONSIDER GULF POWER RATE HIKE – The Florida PSC will meet to discuss Gulf Power’s March 20 request for a proposed settlement reducing its rate hike to $62 million, down from an initial amount of nearly $107 million. Florida Industrial Power Users Group agreed to the settlement, and the Sierra Club announced it will not oppose it. The meeting begins 9 a.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way in Tallahassee.
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APPOINTED: Colonel John Domenech and Sheldon Suga to the District Board of Trustees of the Florida Keys Community College.
BRIAN BALLARD JOINS NATIONAL GOP FINANCE TEAM via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Ballard, who helped finance Trump‘s upstart campaign in Florida, has joined the national ranks of the Republican Party … he was named one of the Republican National Committee’s regional finance vice chairmen. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel appointed Ballard and several others to top finance positions. “Together this team will employ their extraordinary talent and understanding of Americans across the country to maintain and build upon our unprecedented fundraising success,” she said in a statement.
SAVE THE DATE: Longtime Marco Rubio friend Jose Mallea is holding a fundraiser Monday, April 10, in his bid for House District 116. Special guests include the Hon. Andrew H. Card, Jr. and Rev. Kathleene Card. Event begins 6 p.m. at Mission DuPont Circle 1606 20th St. NW. in Washington D.C.
ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, opponents continue to line up against Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to buy land South of Lake Okeechobee. Gomes explores the role of agribusiness in Florida’s economy with the University of Florida Extension Scientist Alan Hodges. Plus, a possible budgetary food fight in the Legislature is expected over a plan to change how nursing home facilities get Medicaid reimbursements. Gomes interviews Emmett Reed, executive director of the Florida Health Care Association about his efforts to improve the quality of the state’s nursing homes.
GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – Tuesday’s Governors Club lunch buffet offers a touch of the Old South with she crab soup, remoulade slaw, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, traditional potato salad with bacon, fried chicken with whiskey BBQ sauce, herb roasted pork loin, macaroni & cheese casserole, mashed potatoes, succotash and broccoli & cauliflower casserole.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dave DeCamp, my fraternity brother turned great lawyer Jorge Gutierez, Dan Pollock, Mike Synan, and Kevin Sweeny‘s much-better half, Beth.
GONDOLAS COULD BE DISNEY’S NEXT NEW RIDE via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – A construction notice has given more fuel to the rumor that Walt Disney World is planning to build a gondola system connecting Epcot, three Disney resorts and Hollywood Studios. An official notice of commencement filed in Orange County for the construction of “foundation and building infrastructure” at six different locations could be the gondola’s route … Walt Disney World remains mum on the rumor. The proposed gondola would connect Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts. It would help relieve an overloaded system of buses that transport guests around Walt Disney World Resort.