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Sunburn for 4.5.17 – Hope has returned to the Florida Legislature

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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.

THERE IT IS.

When the final history of the 2017 Legislative Session is written, it is very possible that Tuesday, April 4, marked the turning point in the annual lawmaking period. Because of what transpired yesterday, it’s much more likely that the House and Senate gavel out on time rather than go in to an extended session or have to call for a special session to hammer out a budget agreement.

With Senate President Joe Negron and Sen. Rob Bradley agreeing to scale back the project’s acreage while still storing between 100 billion and 120 billion gallons of water by increasing the reservoirs’ depth to 14 feet, it’s now possible to game out how the 2017 Session concludes.

News of the compromise was first reported by the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas. And as soon as her story flashed across the Twitterverse, capital insiders knew a turning point had arrived.

“The amendment is just a recognition, again, of what the No. 1 goal of this legislation is. And that is to have additional southern storage to reduce and, hopefully, one day eliminate the discharges,” Negron said. “That’s the indispensible component of this issue.”

By “discharges,” Negron meant what Bradley calls the toxic, algae-laden “guacamole water” that issued from the lake in June, sickening both people and the tourism economy along waterways.

The total cost of the plan would shrink from $2.4 billion to $1.5 billion, saving money by building the project on land already owned by the state, or where private landowners agree to sell or lease to the state.

Honestly, none of those details are important to anyone not living near the Caloosahatchee River. What is important is that the Senate President appears ready to deal.

Richard Corcoran‘s House should and will go along with Negron’s new plan because it a) does not include any bonding during the first year and b) doesn’t include exercising an option to purchase land from U.S. Sugar.

In exchange, the House should get its top priorities: a lot of funding for charter schools and not much funding for Enterprise Florida or VisitFlorida. The House will also probably get some sort of legislation that puts a hurting on the judicial branch, while both chambers — each led by attorneys inclined to support the trial bar — will back a host of other legislation — AOB “reform,” workers’ comp — that basically favors the folks at the Florida Justice Association over the good people of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, clearing the impasse over the Lake O. proposal may also pave the way for something to be done about gambling. A court ruling on Tuesday — one that could lead to more gaming expansion, if only by default — is the latest reminder that bureaucrats and judges are regulating the gambling industry, not lawmakers. With some extra bandwidth afforded by Negron’s willingness to compromise on Lake O., it’s possible another compromise could be reached on the Seminole Compact, slots, and the so many other issues which have been left unattended by the Legislature.

Horse-trading will abound on any number of issues.

Of course, it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows. There are a thousand different ways the 2017 Session could implode.

First of all, Governor Rick Scott says he will not accept a budget that zeroes out funding for Enterprise Florida. His ally in the Senate on this issue, Sen. Jack Latvala, is in charge of one-half of the appropriations process and could be an obstacle. But maybe Latvala goes along to get along with a low budget number for EFI if the House gives in to him on the rest of his budget priorities.

After all, what will it accomplish for Scott if he vetoes the budget only to see a unified Legislature override said veto?

U.S. SUGAR TAKES A VICTORY LAP (without rubbing Negron’s nose in it): “This amendment makes significant progress and demonstrates that the Florida Senate has begun taking seriously the concerns of residents from communities south of Lake Okeechobee. The decision to no longer take 60,000 to 153,000 acres of farmland out of production is a positive step forward. While the amendment improves the bill, there are significant concerns related to the arbitrary timelines for the southern storage reservoir, which appear to conflict with the current timing of the federally-authorized projects in the Integrated Delivery Schedule. We agree with Senator Negron that science should continue to guide this bill, and we look forward to providing additional input on developing science-based solutions that actually will reduce the harmful discharges and build real solutions that work for all of our communities.”

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DAYS UNTIL: NFL Draft – 22; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 29; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 29; MLB All-Star Game – 97; FSU vs. Alabama football game – 150; Election Day 2017 – 215; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 253; First Day of 2018 Legislative Session – 277.

— “After 5 straight losses for governor, Democrats ready to try something new” via Joe Henderson for Florida Politics

— “Gwen Graham will have some explaining to do for Democratic base” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

CHRIS KING VOWS TO BRING ‘PROGRESSIVE ENTREPRENEUR’ SPIRIT TO GOVERNOR’S RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – King introduced himself to Florida Tuesday evening as the “progressive entrepreneur” promising to bring bring a head for hard work, return on investment and financial stewardship but also a heart to Tallahassee. King, a 38-year-old Winter Park businessman with no experience in politics, kicked off his campaign for the state’s highest office at an Orlando rally with 400 to 500 people, a musical warmup, several advance speakers and an ice cream truck, in the parking lot of the 11-story Hillcrest Hampton House, an affordable-housing senior tower his Elevation Global Initiative company developed.

King’s 27-minute speech placed him squarely in the center of most Democratic issues and values, from environmental protection [“I would put scientists back in charge of environmental agencies;”] to affordable housing [his business speciality;] from minimum wage increases, to investing far more in public education [“I will be a champion and advocate for public education;”] social and legal equality for all, to expanding health care access and investment in mental health. “If you’ve come here tonight and you are an advocate for public education or environmental protection or housing, or health care, I’m with you,” King said. “I want to be too.”

ADAM PUTNAM SAYS HE WILL PREVENT THE CALIFORNICATION OF FLORIDA via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times – In a fundraising letter sent out last week and signed by Putnam from his political committee, Florida Grown, California is described as a “failed big government model” that “powerful and angry special interests” want to apply to Florida. “Unsustainable debt, disastrous environmental regulations, unfunded pensions for public employees, and massive government work projects they can’t afford are a recipe for disaster,” the letter warns its readers. “I will work day and night to prevent that. The crippling left-wing policies of their Golden State must never take root here in our Sunshine State!” The letter never explicitly says in what capacity Putnam would prevent the Californication of Florida. Although Florida Grown has already raised $9.4 million, Putnam hasn’t officially declared to run for governor in 2018.

HOW FLORIDA BECAME GROUND ZERO FOR NATION’S PRESCRIPTION OPIOID CRISIS via Lenny Bernstein and Scott Higham of The Washington Post –  Florida’s lax laws, dishonest doctors and unscrupulous pharmacists had turned the state into ground zero for the nation’s prescription opioid crisis. One distributor that caught the attention of the DEA for sending drugs to Florida was KeySource Medical, a regional company based in Cincinnati. In 2010, it sent 41 million tablets of Mallinckrodt-made oxycodone to Florida, documents show. That was nearly 2.5 pills for every man, woman and child in the state. The DEA accused KeySource in June 2011 of trying to conceal the amounts of drugs it was shipping by splitting its orders and told the company to halt its oxycodone shipments. Mallinckrodt’s oxycodone cropped up again when the DEA looked at one of the nation’s three largest drug distributors, Cardinal Health, which was sending vast quantities to four pharmacies in Florida.

PROPOSAL TO DRUG TEST WELFARE APPLICANTS RETURNS TO FLORIDA via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – A divided House panel voted for a bill that would require applicants convicted of a felony drug charge or suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance to undergo a drug screening at their expense before receiving benefits. Rep. Chris Latvala, a Republican sponsoring the bill, said it was intended to ensure that people getting state funds are “not using that money for drugs. Under the bill, people applying for temporary cash assistance would have to pay up to $40 for the drug test. The state would not cover the costs, but it would reimburse those who pass the test. “I would assume they can borrow the money from a friend or a family member, but the state is not going to be responsible for paying for their drug test,” Latvala said. Democrats, however, decried the proposal, especially since a broader program had already been struck down by a federal court.

COURT RULING COULD RESULT IN EXPLOSION OF GAMBLING PERMITS via Florida PoliticsAn appellate court’s ruling promises to further muddy the legal landscape of gambling in Florida. A 1st District Court of Appeal opinion released Tuesday reversed the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and ordered the reinstatement of a South Florida casino’s application for a new “summer jai alai” permit. The department regulates gambling. Pari-mutuels, particularly in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, covet such permits because at a minimum they allow a facility to open a cardroom and offer simulcast betting. The decision promises to result in an wave of new applications, gambling experts say, and came on the same day the House was scheduled to take up the Senate’s already-passed omnibus gambling legislation for 2017.

HOUSE SEES SENATE ON GAMBLING BILL, RAISES THEM via Florida Politics The House amended the Senate’s gambling measure with its own bill Tuesday, setting up the legislation for conference. The difference between the two chambers’ approach was set up by Rep. Mike La Rosa, the St. Cloud Republican who chairs the Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee. He said the House effort “erects a firewall against the expansion of gaming in the future,” adding there would be “no more loopholes.” With the Senate OK with some gambling expansion, the stark contrast has led House Speaker Richard Corcoran to call a compromise this year “a heavy, heavy lift” and Sen. Bill Galvano to say he “couldn’t guarantee we’ll ultimately have a final resolution.”

PANEL APPROVES BILL TO REQUIRE GAMBLING WARNINGS ON LOTTERY TICKETS via Florida Politics – Lottery tickets, and places that sell them, could come with a warning: “Gambling can be addictive,” under a bill approved by the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries. Senate Bill 1370 may go where some Florida lawmakers are uncomfortable to follow, declaring the state’s lottery games to be a form of gambling. As a result, the bill got a few no votes, including one from Democratic state Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville.

HOUSE AMENDS SENATE’S ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ BILL via Florida Politics The House on Tuesday began consideration of a Senate bill changing the state’s “stand your ground” law to make it easier to claim self-defense. But the House soon amended the measure (SB 128) to change the burden of proof to overcome self-defense to “clear and convincing evidence,” a lower threshold than the Senate’s “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The burden would be on “the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution,” usually prosecutors, requiring a separate mini-trial, of sorts.

CENTRAL FLORIDA REPUBLICANS KEEP UP CALLS FOR ARAMIS AYALA’S SUSPENSION via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – “What happens in all cases in the future that may qualify or may have aggravated circumstances for a death penalty case?” said Rep. Bob Cortes. “Will the governor have to step in and issue executive orders for each case in the future? Is this best serving the interests both of victims, defendants and the residents of the 9th Judicial Circuit?” Cortes said his call for her suspension has to do with respect for the law, not race. “I disagree that this has anything to do with [race]. If the state attorney had been white, black, Hispanic – I’m Hispanic myself so for me to be targeting her race? It has nothing to do with it.”

RICK SCOTT SAYS DECISIONS RELATED TO ARAMIS AYALA ‘NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS’ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “State Attorney Ayala’s complete refusal to consider capital punishment for the entirety of her term sends an unacceptable message that she is not interested in considering every available option in the fight for justice,” Scott stated … When asked, Scott had the following response. “First off, this has nothing to do with politics. It has all to do with — think about the victims. This was about three weeks ago now when the State Attorney in Orlando said that she wouldn’t pursue the Markeith Loyd case to the fullest extent of the law. It just personally bothered me.”

FLORIDA’S VENGEFUL GOVERNOR via Randolph Bracy for The New York Times Scott’s executive orders appear to be without precedent in Florida … meant to punish the state attorney, Aramis Ayala, Florida’s first black elected prosecutor, for announcing she would no longer seek the death penalty because it was not in the best interest of her jurisdiction … Ayala rightly argued that capital punishment does not deter crime, nor does it protect police officers. Instead, it often leads to protracted appeals, and rarely delivers closure to the victim’s family. “Punishment is most effective when it happens consistently and swiftly,” she said. “Neither describe the death penalty in this state.” The governor’s action also got ahead of the normal judicial process. Pre-emptively calling the death penalty “justice” wrongly presumes the defendants should be executed without consulting the families of the victims or considering any mitigating evidence about the accused. While I may not agree with Ayala’s decision to reject the death penalty in all cases, I strongly affirm her right to make that choice. As a black man, I see the death penalty as a powerful symbol of injustice in which race often determines who lives and who dies, especially in Florida. Ayala demonstrated leadership when she made her decision. “An analysis of the death penalty must be pragmatic,” Ayala concluded. “It must be realistic and not simply theoretical, impulsive or emotional.”

LAWMAKERS HOLD EMOTIONAL PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT DOZIER LEGISLATION — Sen. Darryl Rouson was joined by Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, Rep. Chris Sprowls, Rep. Tracie Davis, former Gov. Bob Martinez, USF Professor Erin Kimmerle, and former students of the Dozier and Okeechobee reform schools during an emotional 30-minute press conference Tuesday morning. The press conference gave former students a chance to tell their stories, and gave members a chance to make remarks and apologize for the abuses that occurred at the reform schools. “Today is the next step for this Legislature to honor their memory and to declare with honesty, conviction and clarity that these types of atrocities and tragedies should never occur again,” said Rouson.

‘SINGLE WORST CASE:’ BILL COMPENSATING BARAHONA TWINS’ SURVIVORS GETS COMMITTEE APPROVAL via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In a case of two young children who endured torture, sexual abuse, violence, murder and attempted murder by an adoptive family while the Florida Department of Children and Families did nothing, a House committee voted to support a $5 million settlement. The money would go to Victor Docter Barahona, now 16, who survived the physical and mental abuse, torture and attempted murder, and to other beneficiaries including blood relatives of his and his twin sister Nubia Docter Barahona, whose equally-horrific young life ended with her murder at age 10 in 2011. “This is for me the single worst case that I’ve ever seen,” said state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican, who sponsored House Bill 6523 along with state Rep. Katie EdwardsJorge and Carmen Barahona, who fostered the twins and then adopted them, are awaiting trial on first-degree murder and numerous other charges in a Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The 2011 case led to national outrage and alarm toward, and reforms of, the Department of Children and Families, including reforms pushed by Diaz.

FLORENCE SNYDER: WHY CHILDREN DIE — PART 2; CLUES IN THE CLAIMS BILLS via Florida Politics – Claims bills are the state’s reluctant, belated, grudging way of saying “we’re sorry” for the malfeasance and malpractice that ruined someone’s life. In a functioning system, simple mistakes and honest errors are caught quickly and generally capable of remediation for a sum less than $200,000. That’s the cap on damages that can be paid to an injured person without the legislature’s specific permission in the form of a claims bill. We do not have a functioning system. We have, instead, claims bills for victims who’ve spent years stonewalled by taxpayer-funded lawyers working for “leadership teams” whose political skills exceed their managerial competence. Sometimes, if the publicity gets bad enough, the state will admit wrongdoing, spare the victim a jury trial, and support (or pretend to support) a claims bill.

BILL GALVANO DROPS SUPPORT FOR ANTI-HAZING PROGRAM HIDDEN IN STATE BUDGET via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily NewsGalvano, who chairs the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, was seeking more taxpayer money for the Educational Management Services’ anti-hazing program in next year’s budget. The program, based out of the Miami office of lobbyist Fausto Gomez, received $1.5 million this year tucked inside Florida Polytechnic University’s $34.5 million budget, a secret appropriation that was not identified in the state budget. But Galvano said he was withdrawing the budget request after learning … the program didn’t serve as many students as a similar anti-hazing program. “I reviewed the information we have on the program with staff,” Galvano said in a text message. “It does appear to have a very limited impact.”

GREG STEUBE’S BOOKING PHOTO PUBLISHING BILL CLEARS SENATE FLOOR via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – SB 118 … would require booking photos to be removed within 10 days if the subject of the photo requests its removal. An amendment was adopted on the floor that would allow the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to “administratively seal the criminal record of a person found not guilty or where the charges against that person have been dismissed,” according to Steube. The provision is in lieu of court-ordered expungement allowed in previous language.

HOUSE GETS ONE STEP CLOSER TO PASSING STATEWIDE REGS ON UBER, LYFT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Legislation to regulate transportation network companies (TNC) in Florida advanced on its second reading through the Florida House. The bill sponsored by Chris Sprowls and Jamie Grant (HB 221) requires ride-sharing companies to have third-parties conduct local and national criminal background checks on drivers. Although critics say that the measure should include Level II federal background check requirements, Sprowls said that database is smaller than the one that Uber and Lyft will have to use in Florida. “The National Certified Background check has up to 500 million records,” he said. The proposal would prohibit from becoming ride-share drivers if they have three moving violations in the prior 3-year period; have been convicted of a felony within the previous five years; or have been convicted of a misdemeanor charge of sexual assault, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, hit and run, or attempting to flee a law enforcement officer within the past five years.

DEMOCRATS FORCE LGBT RIGHTS VOTE ON HOUSE FLOOR via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Rep. David Richardson tried to add language to a bill regulating rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft (HB 221) that would prevent the companies from discriminating against drivers and riders, specifically listing “race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.” Democrats forced a recorded vote on Richardson’s amendment, which failed 70-44. “It’s not going to give me as a member of the gay community protection and afford me the opportunity to use a transportation network company,” said Richardson, one of two openly gay members of the Legislature. Sprowls said he was working with other lawmakers to require ridesharing drivers follow the same nondiscrimination laws as taxicabs and other public accommodations. However, those laws do not outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

VOTING ACCESS BILL WATERED DOWN AFTER REQUEST FROM DUVAL ELECTIONS CHIEF MIKE HOGAN via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Absentee ballots would be accepted at early voting sites under a proposal that has received unanimous support in two House committees and is scheduled for a floor vote in that chamber … But the measure was watered down in the Senate after a last-minute maneuver linked to Duval County Supervisor of Elections Hogan, who won election by defeating the legislator sponsoring the House bill. Sen. Aaron Bean said that at Hogan’s request he filed an amendment to Senate Bill 726 that allows supervisors of elections to opt out of the practice of accepting vote-by-mail ballots at early voting sites.

‘WHISKEY & WHEATIES’ MEASURE POSTPONED AGAIN via Florida PoliticsA bill that would allow retailers to sell hard liquor in the same store as other goods was temporarily postponed for the second time on the House floor Tuesday. Hialeah Republican Bryan Avila, who’s carrying the measure (HB 81), didn’t stay on the floor for questions after the daily session. As one lobbyist involved with the issue explained later, “The vote’s just that close.” A companion measure already has passed the Senate. It’s a top priority for Miami-Dade Republican Sen. Anitere Flores and big-box retailers, including Walmart and Target. But it’s opposed by Publix and a raft of independently-owned liquor store owners across the state. Dozens of them were in the Capitol this week, wearing T-shirts saying, “Save Jobs & Small Businesses: Vote No.”

CORRECTION: Tuesday’s Sunburn incorrectly reported Auburn University license plates, authorized in Senate Bill 1374, was approved by the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee. In fact, an amendment removed the plates. The item also said state Sen. Dennis Baxley for presenting the bill. The bill was actually presented by Doug Broxson. We regret the errors.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

OPHTHALMOLOGISTS RELEASE NEW VIDEO IN EYEBALL WARS – A Facebook video produced by Florida Society of Ophthalmology president Dr. Adam Katz counters recent testimony from Florida Optometric Association chair Ken Lawson supporting HB 1037, the House Bill seeking to allow optometrists to perform laser surgery. The minutelong video disputes the optometrists’ claim that the “noninvasive” laser they seek only “stimulates” the eye. Katz then uses the laser to pop a balloon. “There are no minor procedures when it comes to the eye,” the caption says.

TWEET, TWEET:

PSC APPROVES $62 MILLION RATE COMPROMISE FOR GULF POWER CO. via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The Public Service Commission bestowed its blessings upon a rate settlement that will allow Gulf Power Co. to raise prices by nearly $62 million per year, but give the utility less of a return on investment than it wanted. Gulf Power originally sought to charge its customers in Northwest Florida an additional $106.8 million. “I do believe the settlement represents a very fair balance of interests,” Chairwoman Julie Imanuel Brown said. “This settlement is rational and reasonable and, on balance, in the public interest,” Commissioner Donald Polmann agreed. The vote was unanimous.

***Smart employers know an inclusive workforce makes good business sense and helps secure Florida’s future. Only 30% of Floridians with disabilities are working. Explore the talent in the untapped 70%. Find out how at AbleTrust.org***

HAPPENING TODAY — GATOR DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Grab your orange and blue, and be on the lookout for Albert and Alberta Gator: It’s Gator Day at the Capitol. The annual event brings together University of Florida students, alumni, faculty, and administration to advocate on behalf of the university. There will be displays throughout the second and third floor rotundas and in the Capitol courtyard, and a “Gator Pride Spirit” contest. Want to participate? Wear your orange and blue and share a photo on Twitter with the #GatorDay hashtag.

HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Appropriations Committee will discuss its proposed $81.2 billion budget when it meets at 9 a.m. in 212 Knott. The Senate Appropriations will take up its proposed $83.2 billion spending plan when it meets at 10 a.m. in 412 Knott. The Senate only has the appropriations meeting on its schedule Wednesday, but the House has a few other things scheduled. The Ways & Means Committee will chat about fantasy sports when it meets at 9 a.m. in 17 House Office Building.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: LeadingAge Florida and nursing home advocates will hold a press conference to urge caution with a proposed prospective payment system plan at 8:30 a.m. in Room 333, the Capitol.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Health Care Association will hold a press conference support the proposed payment plan at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi will attend the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Commemoration ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room at the Capitol.

ASSINGMENT EDITORS: Rep. Robert Asencio and Muslim leaders will hold a press conference to celebrate religious freedom and encourage civic engagement at 12:15 p.m. on the fourth floor outside the House chamber.

HAPPENING TODAY – ANNUAL RED MASS CELEBRATED — Catholic leaders from across the state will converge on Tallahassee to celebrate the 42nd annual Red Mass at 6 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More, 900 W. Tennessee Street. Participants are expected to include Reps. Kathleen Peters and Danny Burgess, as well as the state’s bishops and archbishops.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: Circles of Care

Kenneth Bell, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: ASI Insurance Group

Jim Boxold, Andrew Ketchel, Ron LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Metro Development Group

Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Andrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: Evolent Health

Michael Cantens, Flagler Strategies: Second Sun

Marnie George, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida Recyclers Association; Pinch A Penny

Michael Harrell, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Pinch A Penny

Lauren Claire Henderson, Cynergy Consulting: Multistate Assoc. Inc. o/b/o Consumer Technology Association

Ron Pierce, Natalie King, RSA Consulting: Goldcoast Eagle Distributing; Suncoast Beverage Sales

Paul Mitchell, Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: ExamWorks

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: The Stacole Company, Inc. d/b/a Stacole Fine Wines

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Knowledge Services

JAMES BUCHANAN BLOCKBUSTER FUNDRAISING FOR HD 71 BID Buchanan brought in a monstrous $138,000 haul in his first month in the race to replace termed-out Republican Rep. Jim Boyd. Buchanan’s campaign says more than four-fifths of that money came from inside the district, which covers parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties. “One month into our campaign and the amount of support from every corner of our community has not only been encouraging, but overwhelming and humbling,” Buchanan said in a press release. Buchanan, whose father is U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, is going up against Bradenton attorney Will Robinson in the Republican Primary for the right-leaning seat. Robinson loaned his campaign $100,000 in February and has not yet reported March numbers.

JIM ROSICA TALKS SESSION, FAKE NEWS AND LEGAL BACKGROUND via Patrick Slevin of SL7 Consulting — Rosica, a statehouse reporter for FloridaPolitics.com, chatted with Slevin about everything from the 2017 Session to fake news, and how Rosica’s legal background helps him on the job. On how having a working knowledge of law helps him: Early on, maybe 2012, I was in a gaggle with a lawmaker about some bill and he was saying something that didn’t ring true. He then spouted the old saying, “I’m not a lawyer, but…” I had to pipe up and say, “Well, I am a lawyer, and…” That didn’t go over well. Bottom line: It does help me figure out the signal from the noise. …On favorite legislative issue:  I tend to like booze bills. There was the growler bill a few years ago, and now the fight over free beer glasses. For the record, I’m more of a brown liquor guy. But there’s craft distilling bills up this year too, so I’m covered. And of course, I may have been the first reporter to cover the whiskey and Wheaties bill when it was first filed back in 2014. On fake news: So really, the “fake news” thing is the agitation by some who don’t like a particular story or line of coverage. Reporters have always dealt with accusations of bias, fair or not. But I honestly don’t think we deal with it as much in Tallahassee as the D.C. reporters do. I know I don’t worry about it, and it doesn’t sway how I write any given story.”

RUTH HERRLE DEPARTS NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA via Florida PoliticsHerrle and the News Service of Florida have parted ways, according to those with knowledge of the separation. She had been publisher of the Capital-based news provider since 2008, her LinkedIn profile says. It’s owned by the same company that runs State House News Service in Boston. “Her leaving was a Boston-thing,” said one insider, in reference to the holding company, Affiliated News Services. The company previously announced it was “reorganizing its management structure and welcoming Will Galloway, founder of The Capital Steps tracking, to supervise further growth.”

***The Senate Prospective Payment System plan will protect Florida’s aging seniors by incentivizing quality care. Learn more about how this reimbursement plan will promote improvement in Florida’s skilled-nursing centers. Learn more here .***

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU Wednesday’s Governors Club lunch buffet comes from the Pacific Northwest with Washington State salmon bisque; Washington trio apple salad – chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, celery, red delicious apple, Fuji, green delicious – spinach pear salad – spinach, pears, tomatoes, red onion, sunflower seeds – seasonal greens; three dressing sections; Oregon herb rubbed tri-tip; California drunken chicken; potatoes & wild mushroom au gratin; lime asparagus and broccoli & cauliflower au buerre.

BABIES ROMEO AND JULIETTE MAKE DEBUT IN FLORIDA HOSPITAL via The Associated Press – Two sets of new parents were surprised to learn their babies were part of a Shakespearean connection at a Florida hospital just two weeks after another pair of infants premiered as Romeo and Juliet on the same day at a hospital in South Carolina. Juliette Crouchwas born Friday morning at Leesburg Regional Medical Center, northwest of Orlando. Hours later, Romeo Kidd made his debut down the hallway. “I was completely shocked by it,” Marie Crouch said, adding that she’d heard about the babies born March 19 in a Hardeeville, South Carolina, hospital. Baby Juliet in South Carolina is spelled as Shakespeare wrote the name. “I had no clue the same thing was going to happen to us,” Marie Crouch said. In spite of the hospital rules, the two central Florida families began searching for each other. “I was going to walk down the hallway and say, ‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?'” Justin Crouch, Juliette’s father, said.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith, and Pinellas Co. Property Appraiser Mike Twitty.

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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