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Sunburn for 6.27.17 – A final Scott veto?; Scott vs. Oranges; Kellyanne Conway speaks to Miami GOP; More negative mail in SD 40; Donald Trump at Hall of Presidents

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.

As a reader of Sunburn, you are probably aware that you can read even more about state politics at our flagship site FloridaPolitics.com and at SaintPetersBlog.com. But have you checked out our project covering Central Florida politics, Orlando-Rising.com? Veteran reporters Scott Powers and Terry Roen are on-the-ground covering everything from the new members of the congressional delegation to the special election in House District 44. Just last week, Powers scooped that state Rep. Mike Miller is considering a run in CD 7, while Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs could be eyeing a run for CFO. There’s also extensive coverage of Orlando and Central Florida’s booming economic development and tourism sectors. Please add Orlando-Rising to your bookmarks.

— ONE FINAL ROUND OF VETOES —

A House bill aimed at shaking up the state’s Agency for State Technology has been vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Sources had told Florida Politics the measure (HB 5301), backed by state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, would fall to the Governor’s veto pen.

Rules & Policy Committee Chair Jose R. Oliva and Rep. Blaise Ingoglia confer on the House floor April 5, 2017. Photo credit: Florida House.

It passed both chambers this Legislative Session with only 13 total votes against it. In part, Ingoglia had complained the state’s data center costs were “escalating out of control.”

But James Taylor, executive director for nonprofit Florida Technology Council, criticized an earlier version of the bill in a StateScoop.com story this April.

“The only thing this truly does is put Florida further behind,” Taylor said. “When you’re trying to fix something, it is always more expensive in the beginning. And that’s where we’re at right now.”

The House had earlier angled for a major overhaul, even doing away with the agency, but agreed to keep it intact during budget negotiations.

The agency came under fire in January after a report by Florida Auditor General Sherrill F. Norman’s office laid out a laundry list of security and other problems at the relatively new agency.

Jason Allison resigned as Chief Information Officer in February. He joined the Foley & Lardner law firm as a “director of public affairs” in the Tallahassee office.

Jason Allison, former head of the Agency for State Technology, now works for the Foley & Lardner firm in Tallahassee.

The agency, which replaced the predecessor Agency for Enterprise Information Technology, was created by lawmakers in 2014. Allison was appointed its head that Dec. 9. He was paid $130,000 a year.

Among the audit findings: The AST failed to “review user access privileges for the mainframe, open systems environments, and the network domains,” kept an inaccurate “inventory of IT resources at the State Data Center,” and “State Data Center backup tape records were not up-to-date and some backup tapes could not be located and identified.”

Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, previously explained that the agency won’t be abolished: It “is going to stay,” he said.

The bill reduces the agency’s “top-heavy” management structure, eliminating “the deputy executive director, chief planning officer, chief operations officer, and chief technology officer.”

It also requires the agency head, the state’s Chief Information Officer, to have 10 years of “executive management experience.”

A provision to move more information to cloud computing earned criticism from Government Technology this May. The website said it “cripple(s) the enterprise structure, allowing data center customer agencies to unilaterally move to cloud solutions.”

— LOTTERY WARNINGS, ‘E-WILLS’ ALSO GET NIXED — 

Scott vetoed four other bills on Monday, including one (HB 937) that would have required warning labels on lottery tickets.

That bill — sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican — mandated six rotating warnings on Florida Lottery tickets and advertisements.

They included “WARNING: GAMBLING CAN BE ADDICTIVE” and “WARNING: YOUR ODDS OF WINNING THE TOP PRIZE ARE EXTREMELY LOW.”

The bill also said the warning must “occupy no less than 10 percent of the total face of a lottery ticket” or advertisement. But a fiscal analysis by the Lottery, which reports to Scott, said it could “impact sales of Lottery products” by up to $50 million lost.

Lottery revenue goes into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund that pays for public education, including Florida Bright Futures Scholarships.

In a veto letter, Scott cited the potential loss to education funding and added that the bill “imposes burdensome regulations on the Lottery and its retail partners.”

In other action, the governor also vetoed:

— A bill (HB 277) allowing wills to be ‘signed,’ witnessed and notarized remotely on computers instead of in person and on paper.

The governor said he had several concerns about the “Florida Electronic Wills Act,” including notaries being able to properly authenticate people’s identities remotely. In Florida, notaries are public officers who are appointed and commissioned by the governor.

— A condominium bill (HB 653) that would have, among other provisions, exempted buildings from “retrofitting a fire sprinkler system or engineered life safety system.”

Scott noted this month’s Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, a high-rise public housing fire that killed as many as 79 people, saying it “illustrates the importance of life safety protections.”

— A deregulation bill (HB 747) for securities dealers and investment advisers.

But Scott said it also increased mortgage regulation such that a parent who wanted to lend a son or daughter money to buy a home would need a state license to do so. The governor called that “overly burdensome.”

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— RICK SCOTT TOURS STATE TO INTRODUCE JIMMY PATRONIS AS CFO PICK —

Gov. Scott made it official Monday, formally announcing former state Rep. Patronis will serve as the state’s next Chief Financial Officer.

The announcement — which took place at Captain Anderson’s Restaurant, the Patronis’ family restaurant, in Panama City — puts an end to months of speculation about who would replace outgoing CFO Jeff Atwater, who is leaving June 30 for a job at Florida Atlantic University.

“The biggest legacy you have as governor is the people you get to work with,” said Scott. “I think today is going to continue the Jimmy Patronis legacy of if you … stand up for the right things, if you work your tail off, every opportunity is afforded to you. This is a great day for the Panhandle, and it’s a great day for our great state.”

Scott appointed Patronis to a four-year term to the Public Service Commission in 2015. And earlier this year, the governor appointed Patronis to the Constitution Revisions Commission. Patronis submitted his resignation to the Public Service Commission, and told reporters Monday he had already submitted his resignation to the CRC.

It’s official: Gov. Rick Scott shows off his CFO pick, former PSC commissioner and state representative Jimmy Patronis, on Monday. Photo credit: Matt Farrar.

Patronis said was honored the governor selected him for the post, and said he has spent his life trying to give back to his community.

“I truly believe every family that every family, from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Miami to the Florida Keys, should have every opportunity to succeed here,” said Patronis. “That is in my heart, that is what I believe, that’s my commitment to all of you in the room; that’s my commitment to you, governor; and that’s my commitment to the people of Florida. I take this honor tremendously seriously, and I really look forward to serving as your next CFO of this state.”

Patronis, an early supporter of Scott, was long believed to be a top contender for the post. However, Steve Bousquet with the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported that Patronis said he did not actively seek the appointment and the first time Scott contacted him about it was during an afternoon phone call Sunday.

While Patronis will serve out the remainder of Atwater’s term, he was tight-lipped about whether he planned to run for the statewide in 2018, telling reporters Monday “there will be plenty of time to talk about politics later.”

“Right now, I’m just focused on doing the best job I can as CFO for the state,” he said.

Patronis will be sworn in Friday during a ceremony in Tallahassee.

Don Gaetz likes Patronis as CFO — but really likes Tom Lee” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald Gaetz has a unique perspective. Gaetz is business partners with the other likely candidate in the race, Democrat and former state senator and Yahoo executive Jeremy Ring but hints that he’d prefer another person — who is not an announced candidate — former Senate President Lee. “If the governor doesn’t appoint Jimmy as a caretaker and chooses not to run — even though Jeremy is a great friend of mine — I would certainly be supporting Tom Lee,” Gaetz said. He said he hasn’t spoken to Lee about the job but would like him to consider it. “I’ve had the chance to see Tom operate as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and also as a highly successful business owner and I think Tom Lee would be an outstanding CFO,” Gaetz said. “He has the experience, the maturity and understanding of how government should work That would make him a great CFO.”

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Debbie Downer:

— CAPITOL INSIGHTS —

Spotted at the Governor’s reception honoring outgoing Chief of Staff Kim McDougal: Slater Bayliss, Nick Iarossi, Darrick McGhee, Kathy Mears, Dan Nordby, Kristin Olson, Brad Piepenbrink, Jackie Schutz, Noah Valenstein.

Tweet, tweet:

“Scott says citrus veto is constitutionally valid” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott responded Monday to a lawsuit brought by homeowners whose healthy citrus trees were torn down by the state. He said his veto of reimbursements to homeowners was “consistent with his constitutional authority.” The homeowners have asked the Florida Supreme Court to undo Scott’s veto of more than $37 million. In a 26-page response by Scott general counsel Daniel Nordby, the governor said the petition “should be dismissed or denied” in part because, under the state constitution, Scott “may exercise his veto power for any reason whatsoever.” It goes on to say there’s “no basis for the exercise of this Court’s jurisdiction and … there is no legal merit to the (homeowners’) claims.” Specifically, they have no “clear legal right to the requested relief,” mentioning lower court action still pending.

“Scott approves 5G wireless bill over League of Cities’ opposition” via Florida Politics — A 5G wireless technology bill that was vigorously opposed by the Florida League of Cities was nonetheless signed into law Friday by Gov. Scott. The bill (HB 687), sponsored by St. Cloud Republican Mike La Rosa in the House, pre-empts to the state the regulation of telecommunications companies putting “small wireless facilities in rights of way.” The League asked Scott to veto the measure, saying it will “deprive cities of their authority to regulate the use of public rights of way.” Such equipment, including antennas and related equipment, can be as big as a kitchen refrigerator … Brewster Bevis, senior vice president of state and federal affairs for Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), applauded the bill’s signing. “This new law … will make faster wireless communications, connected cars and smart cities a reality for Floridians sooner rather than later,” he said.

“Governor signs drone regulation bill” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott on Friday approved the Legislature’s “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act,” which gives the state authority to regulate “personal delivery devices (PDDs) and unmanned aircraft systems.” A “personal delivery device” is a machine for use on sidewalks, usually not traveling more than 10 miles per hour … The bill was backed by Republicans Dana Young of Tampa in the Senate and Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville in the House. “This bill adds important protections to Florida’s critical infrastructure and provides certainty and clarity to law enforcement,” Young said in a statement. “I’m delighted that Gov. Scott signed it into law.”

Scott signs nursing education bill” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools Scott signed (HB 543) to return some state oversight to nursing education programs … Any nursing program on probation must notify students of its status in writing and gives the Board of Nursing more oversight authority, under the new law. It also made a series of tweaks to medical quality assurance statutes.

“Craft distillers to get fee break under new law” via Florida Politics — Craft distillers got another win in legislation approved by Gov. Scott on Friday. The governor signed into law a wide-ranging bill (HB 689) that changes the state’s alcoholic beverage laws. Among the changes taking effect Saturday, the first day of the new budget year, it cuts the “annual license fee for a craft distillery from $4,000 to $1,000.” … “We’re grateful for the legislation and to Rep. Colleen Burton and Sen. Keith Perry,” who sponsored the bills in the House and Senate respectively, said Philip McDaniel, co-founder and CEO of St. Augustine Distillery. “This will allow more startup distilleries to compete and become more profitable, more quickly.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Assignment editors: Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Donald Trump, will address the Miami-Dade County Republican Lincoln Day dinner at 7:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Airport, 711 N.W. 72nd Avenue in Miami.

“Leon County GOP head calls Andrew Gillum ’embarrassing’ ” via Florida Politics — The chair of the capital area’s Republican Party is firing back after Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum ignited a partisan firestorm this weekend over recent subpoenas into city-backed redevelopment deals. “I think I would say the Republicans are terrified,” Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee since 2014, told the Tampa Bay Times. “And I believe that they are intent on … trying to put as much dirt on me as they can.” Leon County Republican Party Chairman Evan Power, in a Monday statement, called it “embarrassing that Mayor Gillum would try to point to me and my fellow Republicans as the source of the problems in his campaign.”

Patrick Henry backs Gillum for governor — Rep. Patrick Henry, a first-term Democratic state representative from Daytona Beach, announced Monday he was endorsing Gillum for Governor. “Mayor Gillum will bring bold and needed leadership to our state’s most pressing issues including a stagnant economy that produces too many low-wage jobs, a health care system that leaves too many behind and a chronically underfunded education system,” he said in a statement.

Victor Torres backs Gwen Graham for governor — State Sen. Torres announced he was endorsing former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham in her bid for governor. “As someone who has lived a full life full of hard work, I can tell you nothing provides more insight into what Floridians need than real life experiences. Raising three children, volunteering in the PTA and working for her local school district, Gwen Graham has the knowledge and common sense solutions to renew Florida’s public schools,” he said in a statement. Torres’s daughter, state Rep. Amy Mercado, who succeeded him in his house seat, already has endorsed Graham. “For too long Tallahassee politicians have had the wrong priorities for the wrong people. Too many Floridians in our growing state have been ignored. We must put an end to businesses as usual and extinguish the status quo,” said Graham in a statement. “When I’m elected governor, our state will support every community as we renew our promise to public education, expand health care and create good-paying jobs, right here in Florida.”

Ed Hooper earns Jack Latvala’s support to replace him” via Florida Politics — Term-limited state Sen. Latvala is endorsing Hooper as his successor in Senate District 16. “We need someone to represent us in Tallahassee who is qualified, experienced, and a committed public servant who will always keep the citizens at the forefront of every discussion,” Latvala said. “Ed Hooper and I have worked together for a long time. He will follow through on the priorities for our area that I hold dear.” … Throughout most of his political career, Hooper has been seen as a strong ally of Latvala, the veteran lawmaker he hopes to succeed. “I am incredibly humbled to have the endorsement of Senator Latvala,” Hooper said. “Jack has been a political mentor and friend for years, and his support means a lot to me.”

“Ed Hooper and I have worked together for a long time,” said Jack Latvala. “He will follow through on the priorities for our area that I hold dear.”

Associated Industries backs Jose Felix Diaz in SD 40 — Associated Industries of Florida Political Action Committee announced Monday it was endorsing Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. “AIF and our members are proud to endorse Representative Diaz in his race for Senate District 40. Representative Diaz has been a proven leader for his district and the State of Florida, focusing on issues that matter most to Florida businesses and families, including tax relief, job growth and burdensome regulation reductions,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney. “Currently representing a portion of this district in the Florida House, Representative Diaz is a natural fit for this seat, as he is keenly knowledgeable of the Miami-Dade community and the needs of his fellow Floridians.”

In bitter Miami Senate primary, Republican attacks Republican in first TV ad” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — The bitter state Senate primary between Republicans Jose Felix Diaz and Alex Diaz de la Portilla has spilled onto the television screens of Miami’s District 40 voters, with a new Spanish-language ad funded by Rep. Diaz criticizing Diaz de la Portilla’s legislative and personal history. … The ad, which claims Diaz de la Portilla is facing foreclosure and that he supported tax increases and new taxes while in office, is part of a quarter-million-dollar TV campaign paid for by Rebuild Florida, Diaz’s political committee, POLITICO Florida first reported. The committee shelled out $260,000 in the past two weeks to a consulting firm run by Diaz’s political consultant David Custin, according to the committee’s most recent expenditure filings.

New mailers target Alex Diaz de la Portilla in SD 40 — Making a Better Tomorrow is once again targeting Diaz de la Portilla, including releasing a mailer that calls Senate District 40 voters to tell the former state senator they “don’t need his predatory politics.” The new mailers are the latest in a series of mailers from the Venice-based political committee attacking Diaz de la Portilla in the special election in Senate District 40. In one mailer, the group calls on Diaz de la Portilla out for voting to raise taxes, cut funding to education, and cut funding for senior programs. It calls him a “cutthroat career politician,” who “can’t hide his true nature from us.” … The second mailer focuses on education, and claims the Miami Republican doesn’t want “our kids to have a bright future.”

Matt Spritz announces HD 89 bid Spritz, a Boca Raton attorney, announced he plans to run for the House District 89 seat currently held by Rep. Bill Hager. “I want to build upon his hard work and continue to keep our area safe, our beaches healthy, and our taxes low. Our best days are ahead of us if we can build a vibrant economy that promotes growth and creates jobs,” said Spritz in a statement. “I’m excited about the opportunity to serve our district, and over the next 14 months I’ll work hard to build the trust and support of neighbors from north to south across this beautiful area.” Born and raised in South Florida, Spritz practiced corporate and business law in New York City and in South Florida. He recently served as a legislative aide in the Florida House. Hager can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Here is who’s behind the mailer in HB 116 race against Jose Mallea” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The mailer by Conservative for Truth PC accuses Republican candidate Mallea of “raising taxes” because he worked as a staffer for two years with former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. Somebody appears to have messed up because, according to the Division of Elections, Conservatives for Truth PC was disbanded Oct. 3. The registered agent, Jose Riesco, revived a new committee June 21 called Conservatives for Truth … Conservatives for Truth PC raised $466,000 last election cycle — $306,000 came from Citizens Alliance for Florida’s economy, the political committee run by Anthony Pedicini, the consultant aligned with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and heavily financed by the state trial lawyers. Conservatives for Truth in 2016 raised another $50,000 came from the trial lawyers’ Florida Justice PAC and $100,000 came from Rebuild Florida (Pepi Diaz’s political committee.) Mallea faces Daniel Anthony Perez, a 29-year-old lawyer, who appears to have the support of the Corcoran/Trujillo contingent in the House.

Florida Realtors PAC backs Mallea in HD 116 — The Florida Realtor Political Advocacy Committee announced it has endorsed Mallea in the special election to replace Rep. Felix Diaz in House District 116. “As a successful small business owner, Jose has a keen focus on jobs and the economy — two vital components to safe and thriving communities,” said Steven Moreira, chair of the Florida Realtors PAC Trustees. “He also understands the importance of protecting people’s property rights and curtailing rising property taxes before they can chase the dream of homeownership away from deserving Floridians.” Mallea faces Republican Daniel Anthony in the July 25 special primary.

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— STATEWIDE —

Big mystery: What black farmers actually qualify to grow medical marijuana?” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — Florida is looking to even the playing field for farmers of color when it comes to growing medical marijuana, but the reality is, not many farmers — let alone black farmers — may qualify to become a new licensee under strict requirements to even be considered for a spot on the medical marijuana growing roster. Under SB 8A, at least one of the state’s new medical marijuana licensees will be a class member of the Florida Chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association. To be a qualifying class member, farmers must have participated in the Pigford v. Glickman case, a lengthy lawsuit which began in 1981 and spanned 18 years. Now, to cash in on medical marijuana, black farmers must meet an extremely narrow set of criteria that could shut many of them out completely. In order to be a class member of the Pigford v. Glickman case, black farmers must have been in operation over 30 years ago and must have participated in the case. That means they’d have to still be around to apply for a license to grow medical marijuana in 2017. The exact number of black farmers who actually qualify is a mystery. USDA data show only 284 claims prevailed in the Pigman case. Other states, like Alabama and Mississippi, had more than 3,000 prevailing claimants each.

Debbie Mayfield to push audit of Palm Bay finances” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAYMayfield has agreed to push for a special state financial audit of Palm Bay. The action follows up on a request from Florida Rep. Randy Fine, who said he is concerned by recent developments in Palm Bay, Brevard County’s most populous city. That includes concerns over the city’s handling of federal and state grants, as well as ongoing FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigations of the city. In a letter to Fine, Mayfield said: “I am in receipt of your letter requesting the auditor general to conduct a comprehensive audit of the city of Palm Bay. As chairman of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, I have asked Kathy Dubose, JLAC coordinator, to place this request on the list for our committee to review during the upcoming committee weeks.”

Joe Gruters announces “merger,” omits key details” via Tom Lyons of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — When he got two unexpected letters in the same envelope last month, one from his Sarasota accountant and the other from another CPA firm he had never dealt with, Sandy Fishbein … was more focused on what the heck was going on with his accountant, Brian Strand, who he says was “my trusted CPA” for well over a decade. The letters both said Strand’s firm was merging with one owned by certified public accountant Gruters. Strand’s letter said Gruters “shares my values,” and Gruters’ letter said, “I’m deeply honored and proud to serve you in both my CPA role and my other job as an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives.” “As most of you know,” the Strand letter said, “I have had some health and personal issues that now make it impossible for me to continue practicing on my own.” Like a lot of Strand’s clients, Fishbein had no clue about the health or personal problems Strand might be referring to, even though he had just been in Strand’s office the previous month. Fishbein … eventually got Gruters on the phone. He says Gruters kept giving him reassuring but vague statements and calling Strand a nice guy. Feeling both mistrustful and frustrated, Fishbein pushed and pushed for more information about Strand. Finally, he says, Gruters just said it. “He’s in jail.” Strand was on his way to prison, actually, to serve a three-year sentence. Strand had kept it pretty quiet, it seems, but he lost his CPA status in 2015 when he was charged with exploiting the elderly by taking more than $100,000 from the trust accounts of a client in her 90s.

Space Florida ‘disappointed’ in Blue Origin decision to build BE-4 elsewhere” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — A decision by the space company Blue Origin to build the engine of its upcoming rocket in Huntsville, Alabama, was disappointing but not unexpected … Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said the decision had been anticipated for months. Still, that preparation did not completely take the sting out of the announcement … “While I’m disappointed, I’m not disheartened,” said DiBello, who has led Space Florida since 2009. “We are not going to win them all. That’s the name of the game.” Although he did not share details, DiBello said the Space Coast put together an “aggressive” package, as it tried to lure Blue Origin’s rocket-production facility. Alabama’s history in aerospace manufacturing contributed to the decision, Blue Origin President Robert Meyerson said.

Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engines are currently produced at the company’s facility in Kent, Wash. Photo credit: Blue Origin.

Summer kicks off with lower gas prices in Florida” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — So far, in June, gas prices across the Sunshine State have averaged $2.31, the lowest for the month of June since 2005 and just under the national average of $2.33. As the month has gone on, prices at the pump have dropped, with an average of $2.21 Sunday, the lowest Florida has seen since December 2016. Gas prices in Florida averaged $2.21 Sunday, yet motorists are beginning to find prices under $2 a gallon at various service stations throughout the state.

— OPINIONS —

Darryl Paulson: Midterm elections boost Democratic chances” via Florida Politics — Democrats hope to pick up anywhere between one and four seats in Florida with the seat of retiring Republic Ileana Ros-Lehtinen their top priority. Other Republican targets include Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Brian Mast. A three-seat switch would give Democrats majority control of the Florida delegation. A big plus for Democrats is that the party controlling the White House has lost an average of 30 House seats and four Senate seats in the past 21 midterm elections. If the Democrats can achieve the average midterm gains, they will take control of both houses … Democrats should not be over-optimistic even though almost all political factors favor them. Likewise, Republicans should not be optimistic because of their success in special elections.

Manley Fuller: FL wildlife crossings work; safety for animals, people” via Florida Politics — So far this year, vehicle collisions killed an average of two endangered Florida panthers a month. And for bears, the toll is worse: About 20 black bears die every month on roadways as they travel the state looking for food and mates. And we all see many other dead creatures — deer, squirrels, opossums, bobcats, birds, reptiles and more — along our roadsides. This hurts people too: An estimated 200 people are killed and 29,000 injured yearly in the U.S. when their cars collide with animals. The good news is that we can prevent this, and we have proven technology to do it. Building safe crossings for wildlife can reduce the carnage to nearly zero. Wildlife crossings take a number of different forms — expanded culverts, special ledges built along rivers or canal banks under highway bridges, or full-blown landscaped overpasses, like the striking forested Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge over Interstate 75 near Ocala.

— ALOE —

Trump to have speaking role at Disney’s Hall of Presidents” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — The attraction features audio-animatronic figures of all U.S. presidents. It was one of the original attractions at the Magic Kingdom, which opened in 1971. Disney has added the new president after every election and will continue that tradition, according to Jacquee Wahler, vice president of communications at Disney. “The same thing that we’ve done with other presidents, is the same plan we have for President Trump,” Wahler told News13. A Change.org online petition called for Trump to remain silent. It gathered 14,706 signatures but did not convince the theme park giant to squelch the sitting president. The attraction has been closed since Jan. 17 for renovation and is scheduled to reopen by the end of the year.

Despite a petition in protest, Disney officials say Donald Trump will have a speaking role in the Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents.

CNBC’s Marcus Lemonis joins Jeb Bush and Tagg Romney in bid for Miami Marlins” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami HeraldLemonis said he was recruited by former Florida governor Bush to join the ownership group that’s now made up of former rivals in the Marlins hunt. Bush united with Tagg Romney, son of another former GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney and New York-based investor Wayne Rothbaum, to pursue the baseball franchise. Bush, Romney and Rothbaum were previously competing against each other for the Marlins, but now are part of a single group trying to buy the team. Lemonis, whose CNBC show “The Profit” chronicles his attempts to rescue failing businesses, said key to a Marlins turnaround would be engineering a local embrace of a team that moved from Miami Gardens to a new ballpark in Little Havana five years ago but still struggles with attendance.

Gators look to write new CWS history in Game 1” via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics — The College World Series finals begin featuring two teams from the same conference, but two distinctly different histories in Omaha. The SEC regular season co-champion LSU Tigers, gunning for their seventh national crown, face the co-champion Florida Gators, who are looking for their first national title. The Gators are in Omaha for the 11th time. They have twice made the championship round, losing to Texas in 2005 and to South Carolina in 2011 in another all-SEC final. They have yet to win a finals game. Beginning Monday night, all of the past history is meaningless. Gators’ Coach Kevin O’Sullivanbelieves Florida’s two-of-three series win against the Tigers in March is also irrelevant. “I’ve always said it’s not who you play in your league, it’s when you play them, because we all go through ups and downs” said O’Sullivan. “And that weekend has absolutely no bearing on what is going to happen over in the next few days.”

Florida leads nation in lightning strike fatalities” via The Associated Press — 52 people have been killed by lightning since January 2007, which is the most in the nation according to an analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather data … the 52 Florida fatalities include a woman hit by lightning while driving in Jacksonville, a man killed while picking blueberries in Santa Rosa County and a woman taking shelter under a Sarasota park gazebo.

Happy birthday to Rep. Lori Berman, Brian Bailey, former mayor Rick Baker, Steve Beste, and my bannerman Tony DeSisto.

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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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