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Sunburn for 5.2.17 – Gwen Graham’s ready to launch; Adam Putnam, Matt Caldwell make 2018 plans official; Joe Negron optimistic on budget

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.


Graham is ready to make it official.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee is expected to announce her 2018 gubernatorial bid on Tuesday. The announcement will make Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, the third Democrat to enter the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Her entry has long-been expected. When she announced she wouldn’t run for re-election in 2016, she told supporters in a video announcement that she was “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Since then she has dropped plenty of hints about her plan, even saying she would be poised to run a 67-county strategy. And she’s been slowly building the framework, traveling the state meeting with Democratic clubs and chatting with voters about their priorities.

Then-Congresswoman Gwen Graham spent one of her “work days” last year at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City.

In February, she launched Our Florida, a state political committee expected to fund her 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 to her father.

The committee had about $186,903 cash on hand at the end of March, state records show.

Her federal campaign coffers aren’t completely empty. According to federal campaign finance records, Graham had about $1 million left in her federal account at the end of the first quarter.

The Democratic field is becoming more crowded by the minute. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King have already announced their runs, while Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando attorney John Morgan are still considering a run.

State records show Gillum has raised $569,940 for his political committee, Forward Florida, since February 2016. The political committee had more than $105,000 cash on hand at the end March.

Gillum raised $241,736 in March for his official campaign, state records show.

King, who filed to run in March, brought in nearly $1.2 million in March. However, that sum includes $1 million King gave his own campaign.

State records show Levine put $2 million of his own money into his political committee, All About Florida, in March.

LOOK FOR EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, to be an early endorser of Graham’s campaign.

GRAHAM’S POLITICS MOLDED BY FATHER, FLORIDA LIFE via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsGraham is a woman who grew up in politics, daughter of legendary Democrat Bob Graham who served as governor when she was in junior high and high school, and as U.S. Senator through much of her adulthood. It’s as close to Florida gets to a Democratic royal family: Her grandfather was a state senator; her uncle, publisher of The Washington Post. The Grahams have been established in South Florida for generations, though she has spent most of her life in Tallahassee. From her father, she shares moderate positions on many economic issues and deeply-held liberal viewpoints on Florida’s environment and justice, and a strong alliance with organized labor. The National Journal rated her the most independent member of the Florida delegation.

Her voting record in Congress showed that mix of moderate economic and foreign affairs politics. And she cast some votes progressive Democrats hold against her, supporting new leadership against U.S. House Speaker. Nancy Pelosi, and for the Keystone XL Pipeline, keeping the military prison open at Guantánamo Bay, and for an attempt to suspend debt relief to Iran. But on other issues such as her efforts to help restore Apalachicola Bay and the Everglades, to support veterans seeking jobs, women’s rights, children’s issues, she’s been reliable for Democrats. Consequently, only a handful of the strongest right-wing or left-wing groups scored her exceptionally well or horribly bad on their respective political agendas, while others often crossed over to give her at least a little, but restrained love.


— Orlando Sentinel – Graham’s daughter steps into politics“Her grandfather once ran for governor. She was 13 when her father told her that he was going to run for governor. She graduated from high school in Tallahassee and raised her own children there. She considered running for School Board recently … She may not be forever 39, but a new political generation of Grahams is born.”

— New York Times, In Florida, a chance for Democrats to win one back – “Graham, a self-described ‘glass half-full’ person and mother of two sons and a daughter, said she decided to run last year after she got fed up with Congress’s inability to function. She contrasted that with what she described as her father’s ability to find common ground with Republicans and not demonize his opponents.”

— POLITICO’s profile: Gwen Graham – “Graham knows a thing or two about politics … Echoing the typical mantra of congressional challengers, she is calling Washington dysfunctional and pledging to be an outsider and agent of change … while this is Graham’s first run for office, she’s no stranger to the campaign trail.”

— Tallahassee Democrat, Gwendrew: Is 2018 the year of the Tallahassee governor? – “Voters have a chance to make history with either of the two Tallahassee hopefuls. If Graham were elected, she’d become Florida’s first female governor. If Gillum were elected, he’d become the state’s first African-American governor. If either were elected, they’d be the first person from Tallahassee to take up residence in the Governor’s Mansion since LeRoy Collins more than a half-century ago.”

— Tampa Bay Times, Gwen Graham’s husband has cancer, delaying her decision on governor’s race“Every part of me wants to run for governor, that’s what I feel passionate about, that’s what I know I need to do for the state of Florida, but things happen in life that could take me off that path. I hope not.”

HOW CONSERVATIVE WAS GRAHAM IN CONGRESS? NOT VERY ACCORDING TO A LEADING CONSERVATIVE GROUP via Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze – The American Conservative Union (ACU) … used the Americans for Conservative Action (ACA) to rate individual legislative voting record. The assumption to this point has been that Graham represents the establishment mainstream position, while Gillum represents an establishment, progressive position. Potential candidate John Morgan represents an insurgent progressive position while \King, an announced candidate doesn’t register ideologically. Graham voted with the “conservative” position just twice in 24 scored votes – granted those two (the closing of Guantanamo and the Iran Nuclear Deal) were high-profile pieces of legislation where opposition had ramifications for the ability of the United States to engage in productive diplomacy abroad. But on domestic issues, Graham’s score was perfect from a liberal perspective based on the ACU’s votes. This is something to ponder no doubt, but inconclusive until we see the 2016 scores.

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PUTNAM ENTERS 2018 GOVERNOR’S RACE AS ODDS-ON FAVORITE TO WIN GOP NOMINATION via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I get to call Florida home,” Putnam, 42, said in a written statement. “It’s our responsibility as Floridians to keep our economy at work, to increase access to high quality education, to fiercely protect our personal freedoms, to keep our state safe, and to welcome our veterans home with open arms.” With more than $4 million in his political committee account, statewide name ID among Republicans and longtime Florida roots, Putnam is the odds-on favorite to become his party’s nominee in the eyes of Tallahassee insiders and Republican Party activists. The expectation of Putnam’s candidacy has kept other top-name Republicans from seeking the seat that Gov. Scott is leaving due to term limits.

AMANDA BEVIS MOVES TO CAMPAIGN: An email announcing Putnam’s candidacy on Monday came from [email protected] Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida confirmed that Bevis, who has been a Deputy Chief of Staff in Putnam’s Ag. Commissioner office, has transitioned to the campaign. Bevis is also the wife of Associated Industries of Florida honcho Brewster Bevis and the mother of two adorable young boys.

Adam Putnam, seen here with the flag of Florida behind him, brings name ID and government experience to the race — which in the Age of Trump could come back to bite him.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “The paperwork is in…” via Putnam campaign consultant, Justin Hollis. Really, “the paperwork is in…,” that’s how you tell supporters you’re running for Florida governor? Why not “Please clap!”


ANDREW GILLUM LAYS OUT THE WELCOME MAT via Geoff Burgan, Communciations Director, Gillum for Governor: “The Gillum for Governor campaign welcomes two former Members of Congress to this race – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham. We’re excited to offer our different approach to solving the challenges Florida faces on healthcare, the economy, public education, protecting our environment, and commonsense gun safety reforms. At this critical time, Florida needs a new, fresh direction and we look forward to debating the best way to achieve that. In fact, we’re especially excited to contrast our ideas with Mr. Putnam, who is essentially running to continue Governor Rick Scott’s seven years of failed policies that have hurt Florida families and created an economy that has left too many behind.”



MATT CALDWELL FILES TO RUN FOR AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida PoliticsCaldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, had long been expected to enter the race … he had “every intention of filing to run in August.” But with the 2017 Legislative Session nearing an end and a special session becoming more unlikely, Caldwell decided to pull the trigger sooner, so he can start focusing on the statewide campaign. “We’re just going to get out of session and start focusing on grassroots,” said Caldwell.

MIAMI GOP SEEKS UNICORN CANDIDATE TO SAVE DEM-TRENDING ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN SEAT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaLehtinen’s surprise announcement that she’s quitting Congress has left the GOP with a needle-in-the-haystack problem: finding a socially moderate Republican in a party where they’re in short supply. And even if Republicans find the right candidate for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat next year, there’s no guarantee he or she will run … On the Republican side, few generated buzz among GOP insiders like former Miami-Dade school board member Raquel Regalado, a social moderate like the retiring congresswoman. Many of the other big name Miami Republicans considering a bid — Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, state Rep. Jeanette Núñez and state Sen. Anitere Flores — are more conservative than Regalado. And they all sound slightly less enthusiastic than she when it comes musing about a potential bid so early. On Sunday, Florida Democratic insiders quickly began talking up the chances of state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who has a record of winning tough races. Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez — who had been courted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and met with its political director recently in Miami — as well as University of Miami academic adviser Michael A. Hepburn and businessman Scott Fuhrman, who lost to Ros-Lehtinen last year.

RENE GARCIA ‘SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING’ RUNNING TO REPLACE ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN IN CONGRESS via Kevin Derby and Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State NewsGarcia kept the door open to running, saying he was taking a look at the job after Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not run again in 2018. Garcia said he would make a final decision after the Legislature adjourns at the end of the week. The South Florida Republican interned in Ros-Lehtinen’s office from 1993-1997. The experience … greatly shaped how he legislates and runs his own office in Tallahassee. “I’m waiting for this session to be over with, but I interned at Ileana’s office for quite some time,” Garcia said. “I modeled my office exactly after hers. She has done an excellent job in constituent services and has been a true voice for so many. To follow in her footsteps would be an honor for me but, to this point, I have to wait until session is over with to make a decision.

DCCC PUTS VERN BUCHANAN AND MARIO DIAZ-BALART NEAR THE TOP OF ITS ‘2018 RETIREMENT WATCH LIST’ via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Sarasota’s Buchanan and Miami-Dade’s Diaz Balart are listed second and third, respectively. “Given the negative national environment for the Republican Party, the DCCC knows that there are more retirements to come, particularly in districts that tend to vote for Democrats in other elected positions,” says Tyler Law, national press secretary at the DCCC. While Buchanan barely survived to win his very first run for his seat in 2006 against Democrat Christine Jennings, he has not since faced a serious challenge. He crushed Democrat Jan Schneider last fall, winning by almost 20 percentage points. In response to the DCCC, Buchanan spokesperson Gretchen Anderson quipped, “Good to see they still have a sense of humor over there.”

DAISY BAEZ FILES TO RUN TO REPLACE FRANK ARTILES IN SD 40 via Florida Politics — Baez, who was elected to the Florida House in November, filed her paperwork to run for Senate District 40, her campaign announced Monday. Baez will likely compete in a special election for the newly vacated seat. “I’m running for State Senate which is where I believe the most good can be accomplished on behalf of Floridians,” she said in a statement. “The people of Miami-Dade deserve to have high quality public schools for their children, good-paying jobs that provide economic security for working families, and access to quality, affordable healthcare. I look forward to continuing my steadfast advocacy on behalf of Florida families in the State Senate.”

THIRD REPUBLICAN FILES FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 51 via Orlando Rising – Republican Tim Tumulty announced he would run again for House District 51, where he unsuccessfully challenged Republican Rep. Tom Goodson last year. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to develop a deep understanding of our community,” said Tumulty. “As the former Mayor of Cocoa Beach, I saw firsthand how the decisions made in Tallahassee have a direct impact on our community and our way of life.” Goodson switched to the reliably Republican HD 51 from HD 50 last year after former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli termed out of the Legislature. He beat Tumulty with 61.7 percent of the vote in the August 2016 Republican Primary. Goodson is now termed out, making way for Tumulty and a pair of other Republicans to duke it out for the Space Coast seat. So far, Thomas O’Neill and Taylor Sirois are the only other candidates to enter the race.

LEGISLATIVE HOPEFULS FILE — Dozens of candidates have already thrown their hat in the race for House and Senate races in 2018. Democrat Preston Bartholomew Anderson is challenging Republican Rep. Jayer Williamson in House District 3. Republican Brigittee Smith is challenging Republican Rep. Charlie Stone in House District 22. Libertarian Joseph Hannoush filed to run in House District 25, challenging Republican Rep. Thomas Leek. Democrat Tryan Rayaad Basil filed to run against Republicans William McBride and Rep. David Santiago in House District 27. Democrat Lee Vernon Mangold have filed to run in House District 28. Democrat Paul Chandler and Republican Bobby Olszewski have filed to run in House District 44; both are vying to replace Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, who is not running again. Republicans Thomas Patrick O’Neill, Tyler Isaac Sirois, and Tim Tumulty have filed to run in House District 41. Democrat Carlos Frontela has filed to replace House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz in House District 62. Democrat Stephanie April Myers has joined the House District 93 race. Republicans Luis M. Rolle and Anthoy Rodriguez have filed to run in House District 118.

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JOE NEGRON SEES ‘GOOD PROGRESS’ TOWARD BUDGET DEAL AS SESSION ENTERS FINAL WEEK via Florida Politics – Senate President Joe Negron held out hope Monday evening that he and House Speaker Richard Corcoran could resolve lingering disagreements about the state budget in time to present a bill Tuesday and adjourn as scheduled on Friday. “I know there was some real good progress made today on a number of issues, particularly in the environmental budget. If we work diligently through the rest of the afternoon and evening, I’m still optimistic that we can get it done,” Negron told reporters following Monday’s floor session. “I think it’s more important to get it done right than to get it done quickly,” he said. “But my goal is to be able to have a budget on the desk sometime tomorrow.”

NEGRON: LAWMAKERS ‘GETTING CLOSE’ TO AGREEMENT ON GAMBLING via Florida Politics Senate President Negron on Monday said lawmakers are “getting close” to a deal on a gambling overhaul bill for the year. The same day, however, a House Democrat who’s on the Conference Committee on Gaming tweeted “Nope” about the same thing … When asked how close, Negron said, “I don’t want to give you odds,” smiling. The 2017 Legislative Session is scheduled to end on Friday … Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat on the conference committee, (was) asked specifically whether there was any chance of a bill this year (and) said “no,” adding that “obviously the Senate President may know things I do not.”

NEGRON’S TOP PRIORITY HEADED TO HOUSE FLOOR — One day after the Senate OK’d a top priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran it appears Senate President Joe Negron’s top priority will get a hearing in the House. The House placed a bill (SB 10) that would build a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee on the Special Order calendar Tuesday. The decision comes one day after the Senate approved a joint resolution to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow voters to decide whether to increase the homestead tax exemption.

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION EXPANSION WINS SUPERMAJORITY VOTE IN SENATE via Florida Politics – The Senate approved a proposed ballot measure Monday to raise the value of Florida’s homestead exemption, improving chances that separate legislation to expand gambling would survive the Legislative Session. The vote was 28-10, within the required three-fifths majority. House leaders, who have been reluctant to open Florida to additional gambling options, have made approval of legislation to do that contingent on passage of the homestead exemption increase. Several senators referred to those stakes, but sponsor Tom Lee maintained that the resolution was about keeping people in their homes. “Let’s respect property rights. Let’s give the people the opportunity to make this decision,” Lee said. “They will make the right call.”

NOT THE SMOOTHEST QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If you give red meat to animals, they will take it.” — Ft. Lauderdale Democrat Perry Thurston on how voters would say ‘yes’ to a homestead exemption amendment without understanding the brunt the initiative could bring with it.

TAX BREAKS CLEAR SENATE APPROPRIATIONS AS SESSION ENTERS FINAL SCHEDULED WEEK via Florida Politics – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved some $75 million in tax breaks Monday, including repeal of Florida’s tampon tax, considered central to passing an $83 billion budget and ending the Legislative Session on time Friday. The committee also approved across-the-board pay raises for state workers, with extra money for high-risk employees, plus an option to participate in a defined-contribution retirement plan instead of a traditional pension. … The House approved some $300 million in tax breaks and holidays, but would go along with the Senate version, Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala said. “I believe that’s an agreed-upon bill,” he said. “I think all together that’s $75 or $80 million.”
He’s not himself when he’s hungry: Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala makes a point with a Snickers bar in response to a question from AP reporter Gary Fineout on Monday.

ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES SAYS TAX CUTS WILL HELP STATE FLOURISH via CEO and President Tom Feeney: “AIF supports reducing taxes, such as the business rent tax, to attract new businesses to the Sunshine State. With Florida being the only state in the nation to charge taxes on the lease of commercial property, AIF supports a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of the business rent tax to the benefit of Florida small and large businesses.”

RETAILERS UPSET DISASTER PREPAREDNESS TAX CUT IN JEOPARDY via FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley: “The entire State of Florida was affected by hurricanes in 2016. This Tax Holiday provides an extra incentive to consumers to ensure that Floridians are prepared and protected from dangerous storms. Proper preparation saves money and lives. We strongly encourage legislative leaders to reconsider this decision and include the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in their final tax package.”

CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS FACING CUTS via FACH president Daniel Armstrong: “Florida’s children’s hospitals and their parent facilities simply cannot sustain Medicaid rate cuts of this magnitude. Across Florida, hundreds of thousands of children and their parents depend on the highly specialized and advanced medical treatment provided by our hospitals every day.”

$1.5 BILLION TRIUMPH BILL PASSES SENATE via John Henderson of the Northwest Florida Daily News – The Senate vote was 35-0. The final House vote on the bill is scheduled … and state Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Jay Trumbull … said they expect it to pass that chamber, as well. “It is great news,” Trumbull said. The bill frees up money BP has agreed to pay out for economic restoration of the eight most affected counties — Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla — from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The state has the first payment — $300 million — in its coffers, waiting to be released to the Panhandle counties. Another $1.2 billion is proposed to be paid out through yearly installment through 2033.

PANHANDLE LEADERS GRATEFUL via Florida’s Great Northwest CEO Kim Wilmes: “After years of economic harm and months of legislative discussions, the Florida Senate has delivered good news to the communities of Northwest Florida. After collaborating positively with the House, the Senate has approved a Triumph Gulf Coast process that will transform the economy of the counties that were so devastated by the BP oil spill, pointing the way to a much brighter economic future for the region.”

USF COULD LAND ANOTHER $14M FROM STATE FOR DOWNTOWN PROJECT via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – While much of the state budget for next year remains unresolved, House and Senate leaders are closing in on a plan to give at least $14 million for the new downtown Tampa medical education and research center that the University of South Florida is expected to begin construction on this fall. USF had sought almost $17 million, but if it gets at least the $14 million, the project will remain on track, said Lara Wade-Martinez, director of media affairs at USF. The plan is for a building on Channelside Drive that would give USF a downtown presence and generate $73 million annually in local economic activity, according to USF officials. The total price tag on the project is nearly $153 million. Already the state has already given about $79 million to the project, including $22.5 million last year.

AFTER RESIGNATION, MOST OF ARTILES’ PENDING BILLS WERE WITHDRAWN via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – After Artiles abruptly resigned from the Senate in the wake of scandal, his 36 bills fell to his co-sponsors for them to handle, if they chose to. Only five senators did that — salvaging only 11 of those bills. Among the rest, 20 of Artiles’ pending bills were pulled Monday from getting any further consideration, including one of his top priorities — a measure that would require Miami-Dade residents to elect a county sheriff, a job Artiles was said to have had his eye on. Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Senate rules dictate that after Artiles resigned, “a co-sponsor has seven days to transfer the bill to his or her name. If the bills are not transferred, they are withdrawn from consideration.”

SENATE GUN BILL GOES STRAIGHT TO HOUSE FLOOR — AFTER ZERO CONSIDERATION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Lawmakers in the House will take up SB 616 — a Senate-approved proposal that would allow concealed weapons permit-holders to store their guns with security while visiting state courthouses. The Rules & Policy Committee, chaired by future House speaker and Miami Lakes Republican Rep. Jose Oliva, put the bill on the daily floor calendar after senators passed it on … And at least one House member already sought to use the bill as a vehicle for other changes in Florida’s gun laws. Because the bill did not have a House companion, it’s brand-new to lawmakers in that chamber, and they won’t have a chance to first vet it in a policy committee. The scheduling move is highly unusual and also deprives members of the public a chance to address their representatives at a public meeting before the floor vote.

SENATE ADDS CIVIL CITATIONS, PASSES SUPREME COURT REPORTING BILL via Florida Politics The Senate on Monday passed the House’s Supreme Court reporting bill, but after Sen. Anitere Flores had tacked on as an amendment her plan to expand the use of juvenile civil citations. Without debate, senators passed the measure (HB 301) on a 35-1 vote. Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, was the lone ‘no’ vote. Because of the change, the bill will return to the House … “I’m pleased to hear about the Senate’s support for timely justice for Floridians,” (House sponsor Frank) White said later Monday afternoon. “I hope to have the opportunity to discuss Sen. Flores’ civil citations language with my House colleagues on the floor this week.”

SHOULD ZIP CODES DETERMINE JUVENILE ARREST RECORDS? THE SENATE DOESN’T THINK SO via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – When a juvenile gets caught shoplifting or trespassing or smoking marijuana in Florida, what happens next depends on their ZIP code. In some parts of the state, the child is automatically put into a program that diverts first-time offenders from arrest so that they can avoid a criminal record that could follow them the rest of their lives. In other areas, however, they face arrest — and a record. “We don’t think that’s fair,” said Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, pastor of the First United Church of Tampa and an activist in Hillsborough County. “We don’t think that’s equal justice.” … the Florida Senate voted 35-1 to require law enforcement agencies to use pre-arrest diversion programs instead of arresting first-time offenders younger than 18 accused of low-level crimes, including underage drinking, disorderly conduct, theft and battery other than domestic violence.

GREYHOUND STEROID BAN DIES IN SENATE via Florida PoliticsA bipartisan bill banning the use of steroids on greyhound racing dogs is likely dead for the 2017 Legislative Session. The last committee of reference for the Senate bill (SB 512) had been Appropriations, which did not hear it Monday at its last meeting. The House version (HB 743) passed earlier this month on an 84-32 vote. “We had the votes to pass it,” said Senate bill sponsor Dana Young. The Senate bill cleared two previous committees on 8-2 and 9-2 margins. “Unfortunately, we were not able to get it on the last agenda.”

HOUSE, SENATE APPROVE CAMERON MAYHEW ACT — The Senate voted 28-6 on Monday to approve a bill (HB 1239) that would stiffen penalties for drivers who fail to stop for school buses and cause serious bodily injury or death. The bill — named after Cameron Mayhew, a Fort Myers High School sophomore who died in June 2016 after being struck by a driver who didn’t stop for a school bus — heads to the governor, after the House voted unanimously to approve the bill last week. “No parent should have to endure the loss of a child, especially in such a heartbreaking manner as the Mayhew family lost Cameron,” said Rep. Dane Eagle, who sponsored the bill in the House. “In this case, it is clear our laws were insufficient to appropriately address the circumstances of this tragic incident. I am hopeful the stiffer penalties provided in this legislation, and by making them mandatory, we can prevent this from happening again.”

Two victims of cystic fibrosis, Taylor Chesney, left, of Tallahassee and Brian Callanan, founder and executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation, from Miami, both pose for photos during the Light Up CF event by the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation at the Florida Capitol.

AFTER YEARS OF WORK, ESTOPPEL BILL HEADS TO GOVERNOR via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The House passed the Senate’s bill (SB 398) on a 117-0 vote, sending it to Gov. Scott … Estoppel letters, or estoppel certificates, are an obscure part of some real estate closings. They’re legal documents sent by a homeowner’s association, detailing any amount owed to the association. Usually, that’s unpaid fines or association fees left by owners who defaulted on their mortgage. Title agents and Realtors have wanted to shift the cost of preparing such letters from themselves back to the associations … preparing estoppel letters takes time and research, costing anywhere from $15 to $400. Among other things, the bill going would allow an association “to charge a maximum fee of $250 for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate, if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association (and) an additional maximum fee of $150, if there is a delinquent amount owed to the association.”

RICK SCOTT SIGNS TWO BILLS, INCLUDING ONE TO HELP FOSTER KIDS GET LICENSES via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post – Senate Bill 60, known as the “Keys to Independence Act,” cements a pilot program Scott signed into law three years ago and expands it to children in settings outside foster homes, including children living with relatives or non-relative caregivers … Under the law, which went into effect with Scott’s signature, teens in foster care in Florida could be eligible for help from the state to pay for a driver education course “for up to six months after the date the child reaches permanency status or six months after the date the child turns 18 years of age” … The program also could pay for “the costs of licensure and costs incidental to licensure” for children in foster care who are able to show that those costs are preventing them from staying employed or attending school. Scott also signed SB 7004, retains the public record exemptions for biomedical and cancer research programs within the Department of Health.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:  Gov. Scott will highlight job growth during a press conference at 10 a.m. at SunteckTTS, 4500 Salisbury Road in Jacksonville. Scott will then head to Clearwater to announce jobs at 2:30 p.m. at Vology, 15950 Bay Vista Drive.

HAPPENING TODAY – AGENCIES HOLD WORKSHOPS TO DISCUSS OPIOID CRISIS — The Department of Children and Families, Department of Health, and the Department of Law Enforcement will hold workshops to discuss the opioid crisis. The agencies will hold a workshop at 9 a.m. in the Longboat Key Room of the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd in Palmetto. A second workshop is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Orange County Board of County Commission Chambers, 201 South Rosalind Ave. in Orlando.

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JOE HENDERSON: HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION INCREASE WOULD BE GREAT POLITICS, LOUSY GOVERNING via Florida Politics – If the measure gets past the legislative hoops and on the 2018 ballot as a constitutional amendment, I imagine it would easily break the 60 percent threshold required for passage … Homeowners would have more cash. And local governments, where the real heavy-lifting is done to provide needed services to the home folks, would have a meltdown. One estimate said it could reduce property tax proceeds by about $700 million overall. Bigger cities would likely be affected more. Something would have to give. In Hillsborough County, property taxes help pay for things like public libraries, water management, special lighting districts, stormwater drainage and basic services like firefighters. Tallahassee responds with something that, if passed, could make it harder for local leaders to provide the services people expect. But hey, Republicans would celebrate the fact that they cut taxes. It’s great politics, but lousy governing.

MARTIN DYCKMAN: ELIAN GONZALEZ, A PAINFUL CHAPTER IN CUBAN-AMERICAN HISTORY via Florida Politics – Some things in life ought to be above politics, none more so than a parent’s relationship to a child. How this truth was sorely tested in Florida not so long ago is the subject of a new documentary that we should all want to see. CNN reportedly will air it sometime after it begins to appear in theaters later this month. As described in the Miami Herald, it relates the “painful chapter in Cuban-American history” that began early on Thanksgiving morning 1999 when two South Florida fishermen found 5-year Elian Gonzalez tied to an inner tube in the ocean. His mother and 10 others who were trying to flee Cuba had drowned two days before when their boat swamped. His father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was still in Cuba, where Elian had frequently stayed with him after his parents’ divorce. He had not consented to his ex-wife removing the boy from the island. Relatives in Miami took custody of the child and refused the demands of his father and the Cuban government to send him home, turning a human saga of death and survival into an international incident.

TYLER TECH’S TROUBLES IN SOUTH FLORIDA RAISE SEVERAL RED FLAGS via Peter Schorsch for Florida Politics – Tyler Technologies has had a bumpy road in various South Florida cities. Last year alone, both the Village of Key Biscayne and the City of Hollywood terminated contracts with Tyler Tech. In Key Biscayne, officials tried to work with the company to get its online permitting software to function properly. After three years, they eventually gave up. Now, the City of Miami Beach is experiencing the same problems. Residents, contractors, and even city officials complained that the functionality they expected is simply not there. On April 26, the Miami Beach Commission decided to set up a task force to compile a list of all the unresolved issues they are experiencing. That way, the can present they findings to Tyler Technologies, and demand an explanation on how they intend to fix all these problems. Having two (and possibly three) contracts terminated for inefficiency over the last year — and in the same region — should probably disqualify a company from being awarded another multimillion-dollar contract to provide the same services. It behooves governments to do their homework before spending millions of taxpayer dollars and awarding future contracts to Tyler Technologies, in light of its negative track record in South Florida and across the U.S.

CHARITY HEAD SAYS SHE GAVE CORRINE BROWN’S STAFF BANK ACCESS via Jason Dearen of The Associated Press – The head of a purported charity for poor children that federal prosecutors say former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown used as a personal slush fund testified that she gave the congresswoman’s chief of staff unfettered access to the organization’s bank accounts. Former One Door for Education Foundation President Carla Wiley has pleaded guilty to fraud for using the charity’s money for her own personal expenses amounting to about $140,000. After reaching a plea agreement, she testified at Brown’s federal fraud trial in Jacksonville. Wiley said she started One Door to help fund education for the poorest children, but that it instead turned into a money source for Brown’s events. Prosecutors say Brown and her chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, financed lavish trips and other personal expenses with funds donated to One Door. Brown, who has pleaded not guilty, has defended herself saying Simmons spent the money without her knowledge. Simmons has also pleaded guilty, and is expected to testify against Brown. Wiley said shortly after starting her charity it had fundraising problems, so she closed its bank account. She reopened it after she met Simmons.

COURT SETS ORAL ARGUMENT IN FSU ‘GAME DAY’ GUIDE CASE via Florida Politics – A firearms-rights organization appealing a trial judge’s ruling involving a Florida State University game day guide will get its day in appellate court. The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee set oral argument in the case for June 13, dockets show. Florida Carry appealed a lower court decision last year. The university had printed and distributed a college football pamphlet to be distributed before games, It said campus visitors were not allowed to store guns in cars parked in university lots. But that violates a court decision that said another school in Florida was wrong to ban guns in cars on campus. FSU changed the information in the guide to comport with the ruling and a circuit judge dismissed the case as moot.

AS ORANGE COUNTY MAYOR’S RACE AWAITS MAJOR CANDIDATES, CAN RICH CROTTY RUN AGAIN? via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising Crotty, who served two-plus terms leading the county’s administration over the past decade, is considering running again. No major candidates have entered the race yet. The Orange County Charter has untested language about whether someone can run for a third term as mayor, and no one has ever tried. Current Orange County Attorney Jeffrey Newton, and the lawyer who wrote that language in the late 1980s, Linda Weinberg, both said they believe the door is open to a third term because it is nonconsecutive. Others who might not want to see Crotty in the race, might challenge that, arguing that the language seems to limit the mayor to two full terms. “The county mayor shall be elected for a term of four years and shall be limited to two full consecutive terms,” is how the Orange County Charter states it. That is distinctly different from the language written on the term limits of county commissioners, and commissioners have run for three nonconsecutive terms

MIKE DEW NOW VYING FOR TOP SPOT AT DEP’T OF TRANSPORTATION via Florida Politics Dew, the Florida Department of Transportation‘s chief of staff, now has applied to be Secretary of the department, according to a list of applicants released Monday. As of Monday’s deadline, 125 people had applied for the open position, created when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm. Dew applied Monday morning … The Florida Transportation Commission, the department’s advisory board, will interview some applicants and nominate three candidates for Gov. Scott’s consideration.

PERSONNEL NOTE: AMANDA BOWEN NAMED VP AT NDS & ASSOCIATES via Florida Politics – nancy d. Stephens & Associates (NDS), an association management company based in Tallahassee, named Bowen vice-president. She joined the company in 2015 as communications director. She was given more responsibility, including executive director of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists and Manufacturers Association of Florida. With her new title will come a leadership role, assisting with client relations and business growth, in addition to her current roles. “She has the perfect skill sets and demeanor to help our clients achieve their goals in the most professional way and help our company grow in the coming decades,” said Stephens, president of the firm.

APPOINTED: Charlotte Heston and Ashley Coone to the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland, Inc.

APPOINTED: Robert Colen to Early Learning Coalition of Marion County, Inc.

APPOINTED: Robert Arthur and Carol Stephenson as Judges of Compensation Claims.


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

Brian Ballard, Ana Cruz,  Ballard Partners: BioSpine Institute

David Bishop, Solaris Consulting: Jackson County Board of County Commissioners; Jackson County School Board

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: Bayfield Mitigation LLC

Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: Gentry & Associates LLC

Brett Heuchan, The Labrador Company: Tarpon Towers II, LLC

Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: Transamerica Life Insurance Company

Liz Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Promise Healthcare, Inc

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

Mike Rogers, Southern Advocacy Group: Florida Green Building Coalition; Florida Home Partnership; Florida Weatherization Network; St. Johns Housing Partnership, Inc

Timothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Marsy’s Law for All


LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

On and off: Charlotte Jones has replaced Roshanda Jackson as district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels.

On: Joshua Winograd is a new legislative assistant for Delray Beach Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Karol Molinares is no longer Slosberg’s legislative assistant.

Off: Alison Roldan is no longer a district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

Off: Rachel Wise is no longer a district secretary for Jonesville Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons.

Off: Beau Giles is no longer legislative assistant for Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young.

Off and on: Lydia Claire Brooks is no longer a legislative assistant for Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley, who now has three district secretaries: Jessica LambShane Roerk, and Mark Hodges.

Off: Skylar Swanson is no longer district secretary for Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry.

On: Nancy Bernier has become legislative assistant for Indialantic Republican Rep. Thad Altman.

On and off: GeeDee Kerr replaced Tyler Teresa as Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters’ district secretary.

On: Jeremy Stein is a new district secretary for Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Mel Ponder.

Off: Nicole Pontello is no longer district secretary for palm coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner.

On and off: Robert Moore has replaced Elizabeth Casimir as district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams.

TALLAHASSEE SEEKS TO END ‘ROAM TOWING,’ OKS OVERNIGHT TOWING BANS via Florida Politics – Tallahassee city officials are considering overnight towing bans, targeting tow trucks drivers praying on bar-goers who leave cars behind when they are too drunk to drive … the push to prevent so-called “roam towing” is an idea gaining support in Florida’s Capitol. After a WTSP series examining the benefits of overnight towing bans in the Tampa Bay region, the Tallahassee City Commission unanimously enacted similar consumer protections. While the overnight towing ban in Tallahassee is like the Tampa ordinance, its grace period is shorter. Tampa prevents tow truck drivers from taking cars before noon outside establishments serving alcohol. Tallahassee’s ordinance allows property owners to remove individual vehicles before that, if necessary, as long as property managers are on the scene to give the order. Tow truck drivers cannot make the call on their own overnight.

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – The Governors club kicks off final week of Session with an All-American menu including traditional potato salad; spinach salad – onion, mushroom, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, raisin, Parmesan cheese, peppercorn ranch dressing; mixed green salad, three assorted dressings, potato leek soup, fried chicken, chicken gravy, mashed potatoes, seafood Creole, steamed rice and grilled lime asparagus.

***Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) reduce prescription drug costs and protect Florida consumers, employers, unions, and government programs from high drug prices. PBMs will save Floridians $43.4 billion over the next decade. Learn more at***

GET EXCITED FOR JEB+MARLINS — Southpaw Content, founded by Erin Gaetz, released a hype video Monday on Twitter to get folks excited about rumors that has former Gov. Jeb Bush(and retired Yankees legend Derek Jeter) are in talks to buy the Miami Marlins. The 27-second video features footage of the Marlins on the field and Bush on the campaign trial. “You could say we’re excited for @JebBush + @Marlins #LetsGoFish,” the company tweeted out Monday. Gaetz, the daughter of former Senate President Don Gaetz and sister of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, is an alumna of Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. She said in an email the video was a “passion project born out of pure fandom. No one paid for it.” Click the image below to see the video.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of Pinellas’ best, Brian Aungst, Jr., (one of these days we’ll all talk you into running for office.) Celebrating today is Keaton Alexander and, my paisan, Adam Giery.

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

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