Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 5.4.17 – May The Fourth Be With You

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.


While it’s clear what Gov. Rick Scott hopes to accomplish with his barnstorming tour of the state over the next few days, it almost certainly won’t make any difference.

He calls it the “Fighting For Florida’s Future” tour because he wants to fully fund Enterprise Florida so it can continue providing $85 million in taxpayer “incentives” for out-of-state businesses to bring jobs here.

Businesses will come to Florida if they believe they can make money. They don’t need what House Speaker Richard Corcoran has mocked as “corporate welfare” to do that.

Scott’s hope for his speaking tour is that people will get riled up enough to call their legislators and demand they approve his agenda.

Yeah. That’ll happen.

He also wants the Legislature to spend $200 million to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. That dam was considered a culprit in last summer’s polluted water runoff that led to the disastrous algae bloom.

Pushing for that money makes the governor look like he cares for the environment. A better time to show that might have been before that runoff and while his administration was gutting environmental laws left and right, but I digress.

The bigger picture is that Scott was essentially neutered during this Legislative Session by Corcoran. The Governor is now the lamest of ducks, and that won’t help him as he casts a longing eye toward Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

Corcoran outfoxed the governor at every budgetary turn this year and was very public about it. It goes to Corcoran’s core belief that Tallahassee spends too much money and needs to go on a fiscal diet.

It has been assumed the Speaker has considered running for Scott’s soon-to-be vacant governor’s chair, but what if there is something bigger afoot?

While Corcoran would have a tough time breaking through against fellow Republican Adam Putnam to win the Republican nomination for governor, he could draw a strong contrast between himself and Scott if he decided to go for the Senate seat instead.



Legislature crafts secret budget deal to end Session” via the Associated Press – Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced that the Legislature will extend its annual session to next Monday. The session was supposed to end on Friday. Legislative leaders also said that they will only consider the budget and budget-related bills during the three-day extension. Negron and Corcoran and other top Republicans worked out the details of the budget in secret. They announced that a deal had been worked out before anything was released to the public.

— This new timeline contrasts with the Speaker’s comment to reporters Tuesday that he was “90 percent” sure the session would end on time, which would have been this Friday. The announcement also means that millions of dollars in spending differences were worked out behind closed doors, out of public view and participation … The state constitution provides that a “regular session of the Legislature shall not exceed (60) consecutive days, and a special session shall not exceed twenty consecutive days, unless extended beyond such limit by a three-fifths vote” of each chamber.

— The President insisted the process has been “very open and transparent.” For example, the House and Senate agreed not to insert projects into the budget during conference committee meetings. “That’s a dramatic change from how the budget process was done before.”

As for the Capitol Press Corps, it reacted something like this…

@BylineBrandon: Yes, deals were often cut behind the scenes. But there’s a difference for public, reporters between incremental and wholesale agreements. It’s easier to scrutinize a couple of 15-page offers at a time than a complete package that runs over 100 pages late in the process

@MDixon55: Can’t be said enough: presiding officers did not hold one public meeting.

@SteveBousquet: This year is the first time in memory that so much of the budget negotiations were conducted in private.

@TiaReports: So surprised. No public comment on offers no one has seen? That we didn’t know about until an hour ago? Who would think it.

Of course, the real reason lawmakers will meet Monday instead of Saturday:


At first, it appeared that Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran had forged a closed-door agreement, but they acknowledged that a dispute over cuts to hospitals and changes in reimbursements to nursing homes delayed final resolution.

Some additional details did emerge Wednesday, including agreements on environmental programs, spending on beach restoration and a decision to cut $1.3 million from the budget of an Orlando prosecutor who has come under fire for her decision to stop prosecuting death penalty cases.

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— “Budget deal includes no money for Florida Forever” via Florida Politics — The Senate accepted the House offer on the agriculture and natural resources portion of the budget, agreeing not to set aside any money for Florida Forever in 2017-18. The $3.6 billion plan zeros out funding for land acquisition. According to LobbyTools, the agreed upon budget sets aside $2 million for St. Johns River and Keystone Heights projects, significantly less than the $20 million the Senate initially requested. The offer also included $13.3 million for beach recovery and $39.9 million for beach projects, on top of the $10 million base budget. But the offer zeroed out funding for land acquisition. “By zeroing out Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust, this is now the third year in a row that politicians in Tallahassee have thumbed their noses at voters,” said Aliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, in a statement.

— “House accepts Senate AST reorganization language, ends government ops budget negotiations” via Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools The House accepted Senate budget language on reorganizing the Agency for State Technology Wednesday. The House initially pushed for a complete overhaul of the state’s IT services, which included replacing the agency, but late in the budget negotiations a deal to keep the agency while making changes emerged. Proviso language includes the appointment of a “chief data officer” by the state’s chief information officer.

— “The (budget deal) would eliminate a $1 million recurring appropriation to fund a program provided by Florida Psychological Associates, based in Fernandina Beach,” reports Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News. The business owners received state money with the help of their friend, state Sen. Aaron Bean and failed to meet goals outlined in its contract with Florida State University

– “’Corrected’ PECO list moves $2M between UF projects” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida

— “Late provision takes aim at embattled Miami housing developer via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

— The Pasco Sheriff’s Office says the House and Senate have agreed to fund the $4.3 million USF forensics center/body farm. Background on that issue here.

— “USF’s downtown Tampa medical school takes $2 million haircut in final budget offer” via Florida Politics


“One element of the workers’ compensation fix headed to Governor” via Florida Politics — It’s not the big banana, but a small piece of workers’ compensation reform is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. The bill is CS/CS/HB 1107, shielding personally identifying information about workers’ comp claimants under Florida’s public records laws. It passed the House on a 120-0 vote Wednesday, having cleared the Senate, 37-0, on Tuesday. The information at issue was shielded until 2003, when the Legislature allowed a public records exemption to lapse. Advocates of the exemption argued it allows trial attorneys to identify possible claimants, encouraging costly claims appeals.

— Just as sponsor Danny Burgess said, “I’m very hopeful and guardedly confident that we will have an agreement we can put before the membership of both the House and the Senate and that both houses can support” …  this popped

— “Amendment would move Senate’s fix closer to House language” via Florida Politics – The sponsor of the Senate workers’ compensation bill has edged toward the House position regarding the maximum attorney fees payable in claims litigation. Sen. Rob Bradley filed an amendment to his bill Wednesday trimming the maximum hourly fee to $200 — down from $250 in his original bill, but more than the $150 contemplated in the House. The amendment also would require the Department of Financial Services to engage an independent consultant to study the system for reimbursing medical providers through the workers’ compensation system. … The amendment is drawn to the House language, HB 7085. The Senate version has been awaiting action on the Senate’s special order calendar, but has not yet been debated.

Trial lawyers not happy, per Mark Touby, president of Florida Workers’ Advocates“On top of being potentially unconstitutional, the strike-all amendment would have a devastating and chilling effect on Florida’s businesses and the workers they employ. The amendment proposed by Sen. Bradley removes any element of competition from the ratemaking process and would severely limit an injured worker’s ability to achieve the goal of Florida’s workers’ compensation system: To help the injured worker get well quickly and return to their job. The only people smiling about this amendment are the insurance special interests who will continue to profit at the expense of businesses. It is our hope that Florida lawmakers will recognize the detrimental consequences this language would have on the workers’ comp system in Florida and vote no on this amendment.”

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the Assignment of Benefits issue, asking “Does Florida’s legislature exist to enrich plaintiffs attorneys or to serve the Sunshine State’s voters? We’re about to find out, courtesy of a renewed political effort to stop a trial-bar scheme that scores insurance paydays at the expense of Sunshine State homeowners.”


Pollution notice bill inspired by sinkhole passes Legislature” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – A bill requiring industry and government to notify the public quickly of any pollution problems has passed both houses of the Legislature and is headed for Gov. Scott … who called for the change in the law, will definitely sign it.

Bad condo boards, beware: Legislature passes new laws unanimously” via Brenda Medina of the Miami Herald – The Florida Senate gave unanimous and final approval to a bill that imposes criminal penalties on condominium violations such as electoral fraud, theft of funds and conflicts of interests — all significant problems in Miami-Dade County. The 37-0 vote on the bill, already endorsed by the House last week in another unanimous vote, now goes to Gov. Scott for his signature. Under the new law, fraud in the election of condo association directors, the falsification of signatures on ballots, the manipulation of condo records and the theft or disappearance of ballots will be considered serious violations that could be punished with prison terms. Condo associations with 150 or more units will publish financial reports on a webpage, accessible with passwords. Directors will be limited to eight years on the board of homeowner’s associations. But they will be able to continue in office if they win a super-majority of the votes from owners in subsequent elections. Directors are forbidden from receiving payments from the association or hiring their relatives.

Deceased FSU player’s brother says bill provides closure” via The Associated PressDevard Darling said his family can finally feel closure after the Florida Legislature passed a bill to compensate his parents $1.8 million for the death of his twin brother, Devaughn Darling, a Florida State football player who died during team drills. The bill’s passage comes more than 16 years after Devaughn Darling’s death. “It is something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” Devard Darling said. “My mom has wanted to see this all the way through. Finally, we can move on.” The House approved the bill 112-4, and it passed the Senate by a 34-2 vote … The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Scott.

Dems’ guarantee of swift vote on water bill killed Republicans’ last-minute gun bill” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – House Republicans quietly agreed to pull from the floor a gun bill not yet considered at all by the chamber, after trading with Democrats to ensure a priority of the Senate president — also not previously vetted by the House — would be voted out that same day. It’s a prime example of the type of deal-making and horse-trading that’s commonplace in the Florida Legislature during the final days of session. Had SB 616 been heard on the House floor Tuesday as planned, the Republican-led chamber likely would have easily approved it. But instead, Democrats were able to use the power of their 41-member caucus — something they can’t often do — to convince House Speaker Richard Corcoran not to hear the bill, after all.

Bryan Desloge: Bill Montford ‘sacrificed’ Leon County for pay raise” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – The Leon County Commissioner said Sen. Montford “sacrificed” when he voted to put a constitutional amendment cutting property taxes on the 2018 ballot. Montford suggests that the criticism is a bit hypocritical given Desloge’s support for home rule and complaints about the state preempting local control. “He sacrificed Leon County. Bill will get in-theory state pay raises – it has to run the gauntlet with the governor,” said Desloge. “But this is a body blow to the county. We’re left with two choices, cut services or raise taxes.” The House and Senate approved a resolution enabling voters to decide to add another $25,000 homestead exemption to the state constitution … The measure is a priority of Speaker Corcoran and is part of the budget agreement struck between legislative leaders. “I sacrificed no counties, including Leon County,” said Montford, moving back in his chair when told of Desloge’s criticism.

“Legislature agrees to pay millions for lost citrus” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Florida legislators have agreed to pay millions to homeowners in two counties whose healthy citrus trees were torn down in a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker. Republicans announced that as part of a secret budget deal they would set aside $37.4 million on behalf of homeowners in Broward and Lee counties. But the money won’t cover homeowners in Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties who have also sued the state over lost citrus trees. The Florida House initially proposed paying homeowners in Palm Beach County, but that county was dropped during closed-door negotiations. “We couldn’t afford to pay all three of them,” said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, House budget chairman.

“Legislature passes bill on compensating wrongfully imprisoned” via The Associated Press – A law that allows compensation to people wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Florida could be revised to make some felons eligible under a bill going to Gov. Scott. The House unanimously passed the bill … a week after the Senate did the same. It would change the so-called “clean hands” requirement of the compensation law. Florida now allows compensation up to $50,000 annually for people who are proven innocent of a crime for which they were imprisoned. But anyone who committed a felony before or after the wrongful incarceration isn’t eligible. Under the bill, a prior felony wouldn’t preclude someone from being compensated if they were imprisoned for an unrelated crime of which they were later proven innocent.

Solar backers support measure to carry out Florida voters-approved tax break” via the Orlando Sentinel – After the measure (SB 90) got unanimous support from the House, the Senate is expected to approve the bill, which outlines implementation of a constitutional amendment approved in August. If approved by the Senate, the bill would then go to Gov. Scott. The constitutional amendment, which received support from 72.6 percent of voters during the August primary elections, calls for extending a renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties. The tax break would be in place for 20 years and is an extension of a break already provided to residential properties. A selling point of the constitutional amendment was that it said all renewable-energy equipment would be exempt from state tangible personal property taxes. Some solar-energy backers initially were concerned about the House’s approach to carrying out the constitutional amendment and favored a proposal by Sen. Jeff Brandes. To bring the House and Senate bills closer together, Brandes added a provision that would allow local governments to tax up to 20 percent of the property attributable to a renewable energy source device. He said allowing governments to collect any amount of taxes could help rural counties pursue large solar farms.

Assignment editors: The National Day of Prayer Task Force will host its annual National Day of Prayer State Capitol Rally from 11:30 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. on the 22nd floor of the Capitol. Attendees are expected to include the Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, members of the Florida Cabinet, Speaker Corcoran, and other legislative leaders.

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Legislators are reviving a push to clear up the murky legal status of fantasy sports in the state, reports the Associated Press. The Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously for a bill that says fantasy sports are legal and not subject to regulation.

The move was a surprise. The provision was added at the last moment to a bill repealing the regulation of several different types of jobs in the state.

The legislation heads to the Florida House.

“Senate adds slot machine provision onto House bill” via Florida PoliticsThe Senate on Wednesday tacked language onto the professional deregulation bill that could lead to the expansion of certain kinds of slot machines. The provision came under the above-mentioned guise of trying to move fantasy sports into the non-gambling realm before the end of the Legislative Session. … (T)he second part of the amendment also authorizes certain veterans’ organizations to “conduct instant bingo.” The language includes an allowance for “electronic tickets in lieu of … instant bingo paper tickets.” And that refers to what are known as “Class II gambling” bingo-style slot machines.

— “Jackpot? Judge could reconsider ‘pre-reveal’ slot machine ruling” via Florida PoliticsA Tallahassee judge has agreed to hear arguments on why he should reconsider his ruling that stand-alone consoles known as “pre-reveal” games are not illegal slot machines. Judge John Cooper set a hearing for June 19 in the Leon County Courthouse, court dockets show, after the Seminole Tribe of Florida asked to intervene. The move also puts a hold on an appeal filed in the 1st District Court of Appeal by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates gambling. The Tribe will argue that Cooper’s decision “upends the Compact,” the 2010 agreement between the Tribe and the state for exclusive rights to offer certain gambling in return for a cut of the revenue. That could cost the state “multi-billions of dollars.”

— “The specter of a slot machine decision looms” via Florida Politics – Let’s repeat what we said Wednesday morning: “…wouldn’t it be deliciously funny, wouldn’t it be side-splittingly ironic, if the Supreme Court of Florida finally released its Gretna Racing decision on Thursday, the day it usually issues its opinions for the week? (OK, maybe not this week, but one veteran of The Process guesses at least ‘within the next few weeks.’) At issue in the Gretna case is the same issue that deep-sixed this year’s effort [to pass an omnibus gambling bill]: Whether counties that said ‘yes’ to slots in voter referendums should be constitutionally allowed to have them. If the court rules favorably, it could means expanding slot machines to all eight counties where voters passed slots referendums: Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington. That could result in the single biggest gambling expansion in the state, including the other counties that will hustle to run their own referendums.”


Gov. Scott made the first of 10 stops on his three-day “Fighting for Florida’s Future whirlwind tour of Florida at PowerGrid Engineering in Lake Mary and delivered much the same presentation he’s been making for a couple of months, pushing for support of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, and urging people to call lawmakers who oppose full funding for them.

In this tour he’s adding a push for money for refurbishment of the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee, but otherwise sticking to a script he used in numerous appearances around the state since March: crediting his economic development corporations with driving Florida’s growing economy, and warning of economic and tourism stagnation without them.

Governor Rick Scott visited CWU Inc. during his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour.

Yet as the Legislature struggled to complete its annual budget bill in time, Scott said he still wants and expects a budget this week.

And if he doesn’t get what he wants, $200 million for the dike, $100 million for Visit Florida and $85 million for Enterprise Florida?

“As Governor you have a lot of options. As you know, I have the option to veto the entire budget, and I can go through every line and try to veto that. So I have a lot of options. I’m going to go through and make sure we do the right thing for our families,” Scott said.

Tweet, tweet:

Speaker not particularly worried about a Scott veto“The governor has that right,” Corcoran said Wednesday. “Shoot, there’s only been two vetoes that I can recall in modern history. One was overridden overwhelmingly. The other one wasn’t overridden because the Republicans wouldn’t go along with the Democrats who were in charge.” His first example happened during the tumultuous term of Republican Gov. Claude Kirk, who served from 1967-71 and clashed often with the Legislature’s Democratic majority. The second instance took place in 1992 under Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Sen. Pres doesn’t want a wholesale veto either via Florida Politics – Faced with the prospect of a gubernatorial budget veto, Senate President Negron said Wednesday that he hopes it doesn’t come to that. “I hope the governor doesn’t veto the budget, because I think it’s a strong budget. He certainly has every right to look at particular items,” Negron told reporters following the day’s Senate session. … “The governor always has that option,” Negron said of a veto. “I don’t see anything unique about this budget that would make it more or less likely to be vetoed.”

Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reported early Wednesday that “Scott will sign the bill containing President Negron’s Everglades reservoir proposal,” per a spokesman for the Governor.

But “… this is only part of the solution,” Scott spokesman McKinley P. Lewis said via email Tuesday. “The Legislature should include $200 million in the budget to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike, a project which President Trump has already committed federal funding to.”

— Meanwhile, the Governor’s Office now has received nearly 500 emails asking Gov. Scott to veto a contentious bill that allows retailers to sell distilled spirits in the same store as other goods. A tally shows 491 emails urging a veto and none in support of the measure (SB 106), according to Lewis.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott continues his “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour at 9 a.m. at Best Home Services, 1455 Rail Head Blvd. in Naples. From there, he’ll head Sarasota where he’ll hold an event at 11 a.m. at PropLogix, 1651 Whifield Ave in Sarasota. At 1:45 p.m., Scott will be at Boston Whaler, 100 Whaler Way in Edgewater; before heading to Jacksonville for a 4 p.m. event at Novolex, 400 Ellis Road N. He’ll end the day at 5:45 p.m. (CDT) at Sanders Beach-Corrine Jones Resource Center, 913 South I Street in Pensacola.


Today, I issued an executive order which allows the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding which will immediately be distributed to communities across the state to deal with the opioid epidemic. HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price awarded the Opioid State Targeted Response Grant to Florida and I want to thank the Trump Administration for their focus on this national epidemic. I have also directed State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip to declare a Public Health Emergency and issue a standing order for Naloxone in response to the opioid epidemic in Florida.

“Last month, I directed the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to meet with communities in Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval and Orange Counties to identify additional strategies to fight the rising opioid usage cases in Florida. They have gotten a lot of feedback this week and we will continue to look at additional ways we can fight this national epidemic which has taken the lives of many Floridians.

“I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family because it impacted my own family growing up. The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help. Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic and Florida is going to do everything possible to help our communities.”

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— “As recently as last month, Scott declined to declare a public health energy to address the opioid epidemic,” Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

— In February, Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon called on the Governor to declare a state of emergency. “There is no family, no race, no ethnicity, no income level this epidemic cannot touch — and no effective state bulwark in place to stop it,” Braynon wrote in a letter.

“Senate sends amended version of opioid crackdown bill back to House” via Florida Politics – The Senate approved legislation Wednesday increasing penalties for trafficking in synthetic opioids including fentanyl. The vote was 37-0 to send the measure back to the House. HB 477  targets fentanyl and related substances that, when administered by themselves or in combination with other drugs, can prove deadly, for tougher sentencing. For example, it would add fentanyl and derivatives to the list of Schedule I drugs and provides that trafficking in them resulting in death constitutes murder.

— An amendment the Senate adopted Tuesday on a voice vote removes mandatory-minimum sentences from the bill, setting up a clash with the House. The Tampa Bay Times Jeremy Wallace explains: The Senate stripped out a provision that would required a mandatory minimum 3 year prison sentence for anyone charged with having 4 grams or the drug. A person caught with 14 grams would face 15 years in prison. And a person who is caught with 28 grams would face a minimum of 25 years in prison. … That provision remains in the House bill and … state Rep. Jim Boyd said he’s determined to keep that language in because the “dealers preying on addicts should be behind bars for a long time.”

This leaves the House – which doesn’t meet again until after 1 p.m. on Thursday – with options: pass Steube’s version without mandatory minimums and send it to the governor or re-add the mandatory minimum language and send it back to the Senate and force them to have to accept it.

— “Sober home bill not moving” via South Florida Sun-Sentinel A bill (that would) prevent sober homes — the halfway houses for people fresh out of rehab that have spread rapidly in South Florida — from making false statements in marketing themselves … passed the House a week ago, but the Senate version has languished since April 20, when it passed its last committee. “There’s still three days left in session,” said bill sponsor state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “I feel like it’s good legislation and it’s something that the entire South Florida community is crying for, so I have confidence in the process.”


Medical marijuana: The good, the bad and the ugly” via Barney Bishop for Sunshine State News – The good is that the House has passed a bill that can be compromised with the Senate bill so the Legislature can fulfill its obligation to reasonably implement Amendment 2. The bad is that the House has given in to the proponents, and has agreed to allowing up to 10 more growers by next year about this time. The ugly is that the House also agreed to allow an unlimited number of dispensaries for each of the current growers, and any new growers in the future. This doesn’t make any sense. The Senate has limited retail shops to three for each grower, and Sen. Rob Bradley has acknowledged in previous testimony in committee that three is probably too low — but it was acceptable as a number to start with.

Jamey Richardson: Proposed nursing home reimbursement plan will make Florida senior care even better” via Florida Politics – As the president of a multifacility company with arguably the highest quality rating in the State of Florida, I feel compelled to respond to the misguided comments about the proposed Prospective Payment System (PPS). The current proposal, for the first time in Florida Medicaid history, will create a true incentive for long-term care centers to provide higher quality care to our residents … at a time when our country is trying to simplify government programs, the current system is overly complicated and overly burdensome on state agencies. The PPS proposal for nursing home reimbursement is both complicated and challenging, and critics certainly don’t help the public understand it when they introduce false information to scare the Legislature away. Many of the opponents of PPS are content with the current system because they benefit from the inefficiencies of the system and have learned how to “game” the program. The bottom line is that this PPS plan will, for the first time ever, link the payment system to quality outcomes. How could anyone oppose paying for quality?

Please don’t go there, Adam Putnam” via Peter Schorsch Florida Politics – One minor way Putnam attempts to protect his right flank rings false. Putnam asked Twitter followers their thoughts on sanctuary cities in Florida. Perhaps Putnam’s tweet was an honest attempt to gauge his followers. What I fear is that this was more likely an attempt, albeit a small one, by Putnam to burnish his right-wing credentials with GOP voters … someone with Putnam’s agricultural background, it is hypocritical to cast doubt on sanctuary cities. Every farmer in Florida knows firsthand that the state’s bountiful crops wouldn’t be so bountiful were it not for the thousands of undocumented workers picking fruit and tending fields. While Putnam may not be my first choice for Florida governor, I would be satisfied seeing him in the Governor’s Mansion. But I don’t want to see him get there by leaning so far to the right that common-sense Republicanism gets lost in the shuffle.

Stock up on popcorn because the governor’s race is getting real via Joe Henderson for Florida Politics – If the last governor’s race was bland vs. bland, the one shaping up for 2018 should get voters worked up a lot more. This is getting real … Adam Putnam just made official what everyone already knew … He is smart, great on the stump, popular, well-known, and, as my wife noted this morning when his picture flashed on the TV, “He looks so young.” Gwen Graham officially joins the Democratic field … and that changes everything. The panhandle has been the exclusive property of Republicans in recent elections, but Graham puts it back in play for her party. Compared to Putnam, Graham is a fiery liberal. It’s too soon to predict an outcome, given variables that include President Trump’s popularity (or lack) on the next Election Day. Here is one safe prediction, though. Compared to recent governor’s races, this one is going to be entertaining. Better stock up on popcorn.


Beth Matuga exits Gwen Graham’s campaign – The Democratic operative who left the Florida Democratic Party’s Senate Victory arm to work for Graham, is no longer part of the north Florida Democrat’s gubernatorial efforts. “We are thankful for Beth’s role in helping set up Our Florida PC and wish her the best of luck in the future,” a spokesperson for Our Florida, Graham’s political committee, said Wednesday evening. Although Matuga had yet to take on a defined role with Graham’s campaign, she did leave her position with the FDP to work at some level for the former U.S. Representative.

Christian Ulvert announced he would not run for SD 40, but Alex Diaz de la Portilla has filed for the seat, per the Miami Dade Supervisor of Electoon.

Former DCF chief, AG candidate George Sheldon could be heading back to Florida” via Lynn Hatter of WFSUSheldon has reportedly been offered a job at a troubled Miami-based organization. Our Kids Miami has a five-year, billion-dollar contract with the state … It’s the organization contracted by the Florida Department of Children of Families for adoption and foster care services. Recently its top administers quit following the suicides of two girls in the agency’s care. The Chicago Tribune reports Sheldon is considering a job offer from Our Kids, in addition to another position in California. Sheldon previously led the Florida Department of Children and Families from 2008 to 2011.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

George Oscar Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: National Rental Home Council

Ron Book, Ronald L. Book PA: Solemia

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Pringle Lane Farm, LLC

Nicole Graganella, Colodny Fass: HCA Healthcare

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Elite DNA Therapy Services

Timothy Meenan, Meenan PA: Pringle Lane Farm, LLC

“Veteran journalist John Lucas joins The Capitolist” via Florida PoliticsLucas, a former Associated Press and Florida News Network broadcast reporter, has joined Brian Burgess’ Capitol-focused news site. Lucas has covered the Danny Rolling murder spree in Gainesville, the 1988 Republican National Convention, NASA’s return to flight after the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, and Hurricane Katrina. “I couldn’t be more excited about the scope of coverage we’ll be able to provide with him aboard,” Burgess said. Lucas also did communications stints in state government, including for Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Lucas joins Ann Howard, a former WCTV-TV reporter in Tallahassee and a past Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

“Governors Club Thursday lunch buffet menu” – It’s Italian Day again at the Governors Club with avocado & tomato salad; cilantro dressing; egg salad; Caesar salad – crouton, Parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing; crawfish bisque; chicken scarpareillo; penne pasta pesto; spaghetti Bolognese with meatballs; Italian style green beans; seafood crepes and Mornay sauce.


 What started as pun warmly shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away.

One of the earliest known records of “May the 4th” used in popular culture is in 1979, as described here by author Alan Arnold while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm: “Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

Once the Internet allowed Star Wars fans around the world to connect with one another, May the 4th soon became a grassroots tradition each year, with fans online and offline proclaiming it “Star Wars Day.”

Star Wars Day is a time to celebrate 40 years of the beloved sci-fi saga.

Here are six ways to celebrate #MayThe4th” via Brian Truitt of USA TODAY – Watch the movies. Or, more likely, watch them again … Binge out on various Star Wars animation. Six seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars are on Netflix … Let the blue milk flow. Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had blue milk on their breakfast table back on Tatooine, and you can enjoy it as well with these recipes … Read the further adventures of Han, Luke and Leia. Han Solo is always in trouble, even in the comics … Buy something fun and extremely nerdy. Lots of places discount their Star Wars merch May 4, and has a roundup of all the coolest stuff … Mark your calendars for Sept. 1. That’s the day when all the new action figures, Lego sets and other toys arrive for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Places will have their stuff on sale at 12:01 a.m.

Tune into TBS for a sure to be epic Star Wars marathon” via Josh Wilding of Wegotthiscovered.comTBS … will be broadcasting the prequel and original trilogies all in one go, an event which looks set to take upward of 16 hours. The perfect way to spend Star Wars Day, right? Kicking off at 6:40 a.m. with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and closing at 8:15 p.m. with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the movies will reportedly be presented with limited commercial interruption, something which is sure to come as a relief for those of you who don’t want to spend the day battling constant ad breaks.

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’Star Wars Day’ sales, deals and freebies aplenty” via Laura Woods of the Las Vegas Review-Journal –Amazon Video: Get the six-movie digital collection — including Episode I through Episode VI — for $79.99 on Barnes & Noble: Take 20 percent off one item — obviously, something from the “Star Wars” collection — with code C8EGU431TVN57 through May 14. Great American Ballpark: Take advantage of the “Star Wars” ticket package and get an exclusive Stormtrooper bobblehead with your ticket to the May 5 or May 6 game featuring the Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants. Shop and save on a variety of “Star Wars” merchandise with these offers from Sphero, Toys “R” Us and more. Toys “R” Us: All “Star Wars: Rogue One” figures, role play and vehicles are 25 percent off from now through May 20. Toys “R” Us is also offering a $10 savings on all LEGO Star Wars purchases of $50 or more from May 4 to May 6 (some exclusions apply). Plus, all stores will host a Nationwide LEGO Star Wars Building Event May 6 from noon to 2 p.m., where you can build and take home a Micro Princess Leia.

Star Wars Day parties in Tampa Bay” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times – And since May 4 falls on a Thursday, the Cantina will be open this weekend as well for both adults and kids. Marci Richter, a St. Petersburg claims examiner by day, Boba Fett bounty hunter at many a party, is organizing two parties this week with her partner Chris Spires, a software developer who is currently growing his hair shaggy for his Han Solo costume. They had been doing this for six years when they realized no one in the bay area was observing this special holiday. They draw at least 100 people to their annual parties at local clubs, which they do for the love of it. “We’re just big old Star Wars nerds,” Richter said. This year they are throwing an adults-only party at the C. 1949 Bar and Beer Garden in Tampa with a Star Wars burlesque show by Vita DeVoid, who combines cosplay with striptease, though no nudity. There’s also a costume contest, movies and a Jedi joke contest.

May the 4th be with you at Orlandoattractions” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – In honor of Star Wars Day, Disney is celebrating low key this year in preparation for the opening of its new Star Wars land in 2019 … This is the first year Disney has not posted a full schedule of events but Star Wars aficionados can visit Hollywood Studios to get their fix by riding the 3D adventure Star Tours, viewing the “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Show,” or having an up-close encounter with Kylo Ren or Chewbacca. An exclusive BB-8 pin will be released on Star Wars Day and sold at Disney stores for $8 with any purchase, rather than the regular price of $14.95. It’s not on the 4th, but LEGOLAND Florida Resort is holding a Star Wars Days celebration May 6-7 and May 13-14 … Featuring Star Wars scenes recreated with 1.5 million LEGO bricks and offer Star Wars building activities. There will be appearances by costumed Star Wars fans and a Star Wars themed costume parade for kids.

— “8 Star Wars cocktail recipes to make for May the Fourth” via Emily Young of the Tampa Bay Times

— Happy birthday on this Star Wars Day to our friend Dave Aronberg and Candice Ericks.

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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