Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
THE MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER OF THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION …
… is 14.5.
As in a 14.5 percent hike in the cost of premiums for new and renewed workers’ compensation coverage in Florida.
Which means the insurers got their way, or the Office of Insurance Regulation showed some backbone. It depends on which side you’re on.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which represents the industry before OIR, pressed for a 19.6 percent increase.
OIR, now led by Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, said the council didn’t make the case for the full increase.
Insurers said their costs were sure to go through the roof after state Supreme Court decisions this year struck down caps on legal fees and expanded certain payments to injured workers from two year to five years.
In any event, the insurers can claim a partial victory and regulators can crow they bumped chests with the industry.
But the companies who pay for workers’ comp for their employees are faced with budget-busting increases in the cost of doing business.
And that means business people will be ringing the cell phones of their favorite legislators, telling them the equivalent of, “You have to do something about this. We’re job creators, fer chrissake!”
And that’s how a “session priority” gets its start.
— Reax —
Bill Herrle, NFIB Florida: “The severity of this rate hike leaves business owners to find ways to make ends meet, while the pockets of attorneys are getting padded. Business owners will rise to the challenge, as they always do, and pay these higher rates while at the same time trying to keep their doors open and keep up with labor costs. But the even higher price will be paid in the loss of jobs and the disastrous impacts it will have on our economy.”
Logan McFaddin, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI): “PCI recognizes the importance of organizations like NCCI who can independently review Florida’s workers’ compensation system and offer recommendations. We encourage all stakeholders to review NCCI’s analysis of the Florida Supreme Court decisions in Emma Murray, Castellanos and Westphal. OIR’s approval of the revised NCCI’s recommendation of a 14.5 percent rate increase is a clear sign there needs to be a solution to help control costs while providing care to injured workers. …We continue to support the 2003 reforms to Florida’s workers’ compensation system that protected employees and controlled costs for employers prior to the rulings.”
Mark Touby, President of Florida Workers’ Advocates (a pro-trial lawyer advocacy organization): “Insurance companies like to point blame at lawyers, but we agree with Florida’s business community that this unwarranted 14.5 percent increase in premiums will have a damaging impact on employers across our state. Florida’s workers’ comp system was conceived to protect working men and women, and it would be a bitter irony if this rate hike actually ended up costing businesses so much that it forced them to stop creating the very jobs those workers depend on.”
THE FUTURE OF FLORIDA
If you’re not in Orlando this week, you’re missing out.
With the Florida Chamber Foundation holding its 2016 Future of Florida Forum in the land of The Mouse and Enterprise Florida meeting there, the state’s most important business and political leaders will be in town.
The chamber forum kicks off at 11:30 a.m., and will focus on workforce, economic development, and infrastructure needs. The event is meant to give business leaders and elected officials a chance to “discuss how to prepare for Florida’s future,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes in a video touting the event.
Expect to hear from heavy-hitters from the public and private sector. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will speak Wednesday. So too will Richard Florida, a best-selling author, professor and an expert on city and urban affairs. Attendees will also get a chance to participate in discussions about talent and education, workforce development, and healthcare and quality of life.
The forum continues Thursday with presentations by CFO Jeff Atwater, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Dennis Lockhart, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
The big names may be on the mainstage, but policy wonks may be just as interested in what’s happening behind the scenes.
The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors is holding its meeting in conjunction with the chamber’s forum. And with a search for a new CEO nearing an end, expect interest in the board meetings to be at an all-time high.
One meeting to watch: The Enterprise Florida legislative policy committee meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The organization failed to get its top priority — $250 million for a dedicated fund to help lure businesses to Florida — during the 2016 legislative session, and the meeting this week will give the organization a chance to start looking ahead to 2017.
And that will be key. The public-private organization has been under scrutiny in recent years, and House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran has said he would lead the charge to end taxpayer funding to the organization.
Enterprise Florida’s full Board of Directors will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The board could hear from the top pick for the new president and CEO during that meeting.
The 2016 Future of Florida Forum and the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors are hosting their meetings at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, 1 Grand Cypress Boulevard. The Enterprise Florida board meetings run through Thursday, while the Florida Chamber will hold board and council meetings through Friday.
And one more thing: If you’re planning to be in Orlando for the 2016 Future of Florida Forum, make sure to #BringABook. The Florida Chamber Foundation is teaming up with Volunteer
Florida to host the #BringABook service initiative. The two organizations are attendees to bring a new or gently-used elementary school books to the forum. The organizations will collect books near the registration area at the Future of Florida forum on Wednesday and Thursday.
The groups have chosen City Year Orlando, which deploys more than 60 AmeriCorps members to mentor and tutor students at seven Orlando schools, as the recipient.
WHAT CHAMBER POLITICAL FOLKS SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT: HOW TO PREVENT THE RETURN OF THE TRIAL LAWYERS
A recent poll released by the Florida Chamber Political Institute tried to gauge public opinion of plaintiff trial lawyers. The response? Not great.
The survey found 34 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of plaintiff trial attorneys, while 15 percent said they had a favorable view. The survey found 27 percent of those polled said they never heard of them.
Yet, the trial lawyers are attempting to make a return to the strong position they once held in the Florida Legislature. Preventing them from doing this will be one of the topics the Chamber’s political team and allies will be talking about this week.
Not to sound the alarm, but this discussion can’t come soon enough for business interests.
August 30th was a big night for trial attorneys and their storm troopers Jeff Porter and Kevin Sweeny (or is it, Sweeney?). The Florida Justice Association was involved in two dozen House and Senate races.
In the House, the group played a role in helping Kamia Brown, Cord Byrd, Brad Drake, Jason Fischer, Erin Grall, Joe Gruters, Amy Mercado, Alexandra Miller, Sean Shaw, Emily Slosberg, and Jackie Toledo cross the finish line victorious. But their work wasn’t done there. In the Senate, the Florida Justice Association had its hand in the victories of Randolph Bracy, Doug Broxson, Dwight Bullard, Daphne Campbell, Jeff Clemens, Gary Farmer, Debbie Mayfield, Bobby Powell, Greg Steube, and Victor Torres.
Could this be the year the trial attorneys stage a comeback and once again begin asserting their power in the Florida Legislature? That’s certainly a question to discuss if you’re talking about the future of Florida.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***
— Back to the campaign trail —
DAYS UNTIL: First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 6; first day of early voting – 30; Election Day – 40; first Legislative Organization Session – 54; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 78; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 159.
FIRST DONALD TRUMP-HILLARY CLINTON DEBATE IS THE MOST-WATCHED DEBATE OF ALL TIME via Alex Weprin of POLITICO – … averaged nearly 81 million viewers, according to data from Nielsen … Until last night, the most-watched debate in history was the 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. That debate also averaged just over 80 million viewers. With a few networks still to be counted by Nielsen, and the 80 million figure not including anyone who watched online, last night’s debate will end up with more people watching than any prior presidential debate … On cable news, Fox News led the way with more than 11 million viewers. NBC led the broadcast networks with more than 18 million people tuning in … The numbers do not include anyone watching on PBS, Univision or non-rated TV channels like C-SPAN, nor does it include anyone that streamed the debate online. Data from Facebook, YouTube and other digital sources suggests that millions more people watched the debate live online. All told, Fox News averaged 11.4 million viewers, including 3.5 million in the key adults 25-54 demo. CNN averaged 9.8 million viewers, including 4.4 million in the demo, and MSNBC averaged 4.9 million viewers, including 1.6 million in the demo. NBC averaged 18.1 million viewers, ABC 13.5 million viewers, CBS 12.1 million viewers and the PBS NewsHour 2.96 million viewers. Among the business channels, Fox Business Network averaged 673,000 viewers, while CNBC averaged 520,000 viewers.
TRUMP SAYS HE MAY HIT ‘HARDER’ IN NEXT DEBATE; CLINTON TELLS REPORTERS SHE HAD A ‘GREAT, GREAT TIME’ via Matea Gold, Anne Gearan and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post – “I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” Trump said on Fox News, saying he would have brought up “the many affairs that Bill Clinton had” but held back because the Clintons’ daughter Chelsea was in the audience. “I didn’t think it was worth the shot,” he said. “I didn’t think it was nice.” The GOP nominee sought to cast the night as a win, but he kicked off the day by wading right back into the provocative episodes that his Democratic rival used against him in their first face-to-face encounter. Clinton, meanwhile, stuck to her script, saying Trump expressed opinions during the debate that were “offensive and off-putting” … “The real point is about temperament and fitness and qualification to hold the most important, hardest job in the world, and I think people saw last night some very clear differences between us,” the Democratic nominee told reporters on her campaign plane before flying to North Carolina. The former secretary of state shrugged off Trump’s suggestion that he might go after her husband’s personal life. “He can run his campaign however he chooses,” Clinton said. “I will continue to talk about what I want to do for the American people.”
THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE WILL TRY SOMETHING NEW via Russell Berman of the Atlantic magazine – The Commission on Presidential Debates had already announced that the second of three debates would feature questions submitted online in addition to those asked by the traditional studio audience … organizers confirmed they are embracing a format that a broad bipartisan cross-section of activist and civic groups known as the Open Debate Coalition have been pushing for years. Americans will be able to submit and then vote on questions online at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular queries when they jointly plan the debate. “This year’s presidential debate moderators will have a rich pool of voter-submitted questions they can draw on that carry greater weight because they are backed by votes from the American people,” Mike McCurry, a co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said in a statement accompanying the announcement by the Open Debate Coalition. The coalition tested out the format this spring during a debate between Representatives Alan Grayson and David Jolly, who were running in their respective party primaries for the U.S. Senate in Florida. The debate commission studied that debate and took note that both candidates praised the format, which featured more substantive questions on policy issues as opposed to those focused on electoral politics and the candidates’ personal foibles … organizers believe the voting format will add “more moral weight” to the questions, said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the groups backing the effort. Other members of the Open Debate Coalition include the conservative activist Grover Norquist, FreedomWorks, MoveOn, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and Numbers USA, which backs more restrictive immigration policy. “There is a mutual frustration with presidential debate questions dominated by a handful of television personalities rather than average voters,” Norquist said. Unlike in the “open” Senate debate in Florida, however, the networks have given themselves an out in agreeing to the voting format. They have agreed to consider the 30 most popular questions, but they aren’t promising to ask them.
SHELDON ADELSON-BACKED FUTURE45 LAUNCHES NEW AD ATTACKING HILLARY CLINTON — The super PAC released a new advertisement raising questions about Clinton’s experience. The advertisement features footage from Monday night’s presidential debate. In it, a narrator says Clinton “brags about her experience. … But beyond the flight miles, what’s the Clinton record? Chaos in Libya and Syria, the rise of ISIS, a failed reset with Russia, supporting the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, and a terror attack in Benghazi, four Americans dead.” The 30-second spot then shows Donald Trump saying “Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience.” Future45 is backed by the Ricketts and Adelson families. The ad, according to POLITICO, is part of a national TV buy.
HILLARY CLINTON SUPER PAC PUTS UP NEW AD ON DONALD TRUMP’S TEMPERAMENT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Trump’s boast in Monday night’s presidential debate that his strongest asset is his temperament is being thrown back at him in a new ad by Priorities USA, Clinton’s super PAC. “I have much better judgment than she does,” Trump said. “I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.” Addressing Clinton, he said he saw her talking to someone recently and she was “totally out of control.” The ad from Priorities USA, called “Temperament,” will air in Florida, North Carolina Ohio & Pennsylvania on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
IN MIAMI, TRUMP OFFERS CONDOLENCES FOR JOSÉ FERNÁNDEZ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Trump‘s town hall-style meeting with Miami Hispanics began … with a short tribute to the late Marlins’ star pitcher Fernández. State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, who moderated the meeting at Miami Dade College’s Koubek Memorial Center in Little Havana, mentioned the boating accident that killed Fernández early Sunday, prompting an outpouring of grief, particularly among Cuban Americans. “What a talent. What a great person,” Trump said, offering his condolences. “You know, I was just talking to Jeff Loria about José,” Trump said, referring to the Marlins’ owner. “He’s devastated…. He considered him to be just a young, dear, dear friend.”
HAPPENING NEXT WEEK – IVANKA TRUMP HEADS TO MIAMI FOR CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISER — Ivanka Trump, the daughter of GOP nominee Donald Trump, will be in Miami for a fundraiser at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6. The invitation lists Senate President Designate Joe Negron, and Sens. Jack Latvala and Wilton Simpson as hosts. Also listed on the invitation: Brian Ballard, the Florida finance chairman for Trump Victory; former Ambassador Mel Sembler, the finance vice chairman for Trump Victory, and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
CLINTON CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA CLAMORS FOR MORE EARLY VOTING HOURS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Clinton wants counties to expand early voting to the most days and hours allowed by state law … But with voting by mail fast becoming the most popular way to vote in the state, it won’t happen. Early voting in Florida can start Oct. 24 for up to 12 hours a day, ending on the Sunday before Election Day, Nov. 8. Voters can vote at any early voting site in their county, and many are open until 6 p.m. or later. Despite the state’s history of long lines at early voting sites, just nine of 67 counties will offer the maximum 168 hours of early voting: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Charlotte and Duval. Still, that covers nearly half of all Florida voters. Miami-Dade, with 1.3 million voters, will open 30 early voting sites, more than any other county, at libraries, community centers and city halls. The list is on the county elections website, miamidade.gov/elections. Broward Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes decided to offer early voting for 14 days from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. after some voters expressed fear of long lines. Hillsborough will have 14 days of early voting at 16 locations for eight hours each day. Pasco will provide eight days of early voting at eight sites for 12 hours a day. The Clinton forces support St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and African-American pastors, who have called on Pinellas County to add an early voting site that’s closer to where many of the city’s black voters live.
FLORIDA HAS NEVER SENT OUT MORE MILITARY AND OVERSEAS BALLOTS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Division of Elections says more than 73,670 ballots were shipped out last week to those voters. That is a 13 percent increase over four years ago when 65,000 such ballots went out. Since 2012, every state has agreed to send out military and overseas ballots 45 days in advance of an election to improve the chances those ballots can get to far flung voters and still get back in time to be counted. Florida also now allows military and overseas voters to fax back their ballots on a secure line, rather than risking them not returning fast enough. The 73,670 ballots may not seem like much in a state in which 12.5 million people are registered to vote. But Florida has had its last two governors races and last presidential election all decided by less than 75,000 votes. Still, election experts say there needs to be a lot more done to help make military and overseas voters aware that they can still vote and how to navigate the process. A federal report released to Congress earlier this year warns that military and overseas voters have their ballots thrown out for errors 6 percent of the time. Traditional mail ballots in the U.S. are thrown out for errors only 1 percent of the time.
ANOTHER DUMB STORY FROM A SW FLORIDA TV NEWS STATION: HAS THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HURT COLLIER COUNTY TOURISM? via NBC-2News.com – The manager at the Bayfront Inn in downtown Naples said despite the beautiful view and being right on 5th Avenue South, they are down about 3 percent from last year. It’s the same for most other Naples resorts. That may not sound like much, but combine that with weekly booking losses for the last year and it makes an impact … Last month, Bayfront Inn’s bookings were at a 7 percent decrease, meaning thousands of tourists lost. “We all know we’re in the middle of a presidential election,” said Jack Wert, a member of the Collier Tourism Development Council. “And people just have a little bit of apprehension about who is going to win.” That has people worried what the outcome might do to the economy and their bank accounts. Combined with Zika and the unusually warm weather northerners experienced last winter, more people are staying home. [Bayfront Inn] has begun to offer a 25 percent discount to non-Florida residents to avoid a repeat of last year. It is also an attempt to keep Germans, one of Collier County’s most popular tourist populations, visiting.
EPILOGUE: JEB BUSH TO TEACH, LECTURE AT HARVARD THIS FALL via The Associated Press – Harvard’s Kennedy School announced … that Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, will be a visiting fellow in the Program on Education Policy and Governance. Bush plans to serve as a guest instructor and presenter on education issues during several visits to the Ivy League university during the fall term. He is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Bush is scheduled to deliver the annual Edwin L. Godkin Lecture at Harvard Thursday. The school says he will discuss problems with economic and social mobility in the U.S. The more than century-old lecture series is named for the founder of The Nation magazine.
MARCO RUBIO RELEASES TWO ADS HIGHLIGHTING PATRICK MURPHY’S RESUME — The Rubio campaign released two 30-second spots Tuesday that aim to highlight reports that Murphy exaggerated his background. The first ad features news clips, including one where a reporter says “When was the last time somebody who has had as little on their resume as Patrick Murphy did made it to the Senate?” The second ad hones in on a non-partisan report that called Murphy the one of the most ineffective members of Congress. “Four 435 members of Congress. A non-partisan study ranked their effectiveness. Who was at the bottom,” a narrator says in the advertisement. “Patrick Murphy. The study found Murphy one of the least effective members of the entire congress. His effectiveness rating? Zero. Zilch. Nada. … Patrick Murphy. Untruthful and ineffective.”
SUPER PAC AD CRITICIZES PATRICK MURPHY FOR SUPPORTING IRAN DEAL via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – A conservative super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is launching a new to highlight … Murphy‘s support for the Iran nuclear deal. The 30-second spot from the Senate Leadership Fund is the second wave of advertising as part of the group’s $10.8 million planned spending this fall in Florida. The new ad will run in Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach on cable and broadcast TV. Criticizing Murphy for backing the Iran nuclear deal, the ad characterizes Iran as a place where “they still chant death to America, help kill our troops, (and) sponsor terrorism.” In response to the Senate Leadership Fund’s ad, Murphy’s campaign noted that Rubio has missed “nearly half” of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearings on Iran.
HOUSE MAJORITY PAC TIES DAVID JOLLY TO DONALD TRUMP IN NEW AD — The 30-second spot from Democratic super PAC features Pinellas County women describing Jolly as “dangerous,” “backwards” and “out of touch.” The advertisement — called “One Word” — attempts to connect the Indian Shores Republican to Trump. “David Jolly shares Donald Trump’s backwards agenda for women,” a female narrator says in the advertisement. “Jolly opposes a woman’s right to choose, and voted to defund Planned Parenthood and deny women access to basic health care like mammograms and cancer screenings.” The advertisement began airing on broadcast and cable TV in the Tampa Bay media market Tuesday, as well as on digital platforms. Jolly faces Rep. Charlie Crist in the Nov. 8 general election.
GOP GAY RIGHTS SUPER PAC LAUNCHES AD CAMPAIGN FOR CARLOS CURBELO via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami herald – Curbelo‘s starting to get help for his re-election race from all corners of the Republican Party — including from American Unity PAC, which backs Republicans who support gay rights. American Unity launched a $125,000 digital ad campaign for Curbelo on YouTube and other online platforms. The two ads, however, are not about LGBT issues. Betting that women will be the key swing voters in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, the super PAC has instead put together two spots highlighting Curbelo’s stance on equal pay. Clicking on the videos leads to a standalone page touting Curbelo’s equal-pay stance. Curbelo co-sponsored the “Workplace Advancement Act,” a bill that would protect employees from retaliation for asking or talking about their wages. Democrats have bashed Curbelo for failing to support the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which would require employers to demonstrate that any male-to-female pay disparity is due to job performance and not gender. “In the U.S. House, Carlos Curbelo has been a champion for freedom and equal opportunity for all of South Florida,” Tyler Deaton, senior adviser to American Unity, said in a statement. “His legislative record in Congress proves that he is a different kind of Republican. Whether he is fighting for women to receive the equal pay they have earned or to protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, he understands that when Floridians excel at work, their families succeed, Florida succeeds and America succeeds.”
NRCC SAYS JOE GARCIA HAS EMBARASSED SOUTH FLORIDA ‘LONG ENOUGH’ IN NEW TV SPOT — The National Republican Congressional Committee released a new spot focused on Democrat Joe Garcia’s past political controversies. “Remember why you got rid of former congressman Joe Garcia? The scandals. Election fraud. Campaign payoffs. Former employees sent to jail,” an announcer says in the advertisement. “Now Joe Garcia is running again. And embarrassing you again. New court records reveal Garcia knew even more about his campaign’s illegal activities. And recently, Garcia was caught making lewd and sexist comments about Hillary Clinton. Joe Garcia, he’s embarrassed you long enough.” Garcia is running in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, and is hoping to unseat Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who defeated Garcia in 2014. “Joe Garcia has consistently embarrassed the people of South Florida with his never-ending scandals and lewd sexist comments,” said Chris Pack, an NRCC spokesman in a statement. “The people of South Florida deserve better than someone like Joe Garcia, who just doesn’t get it.”
CATHOLIC BISHOPS HAVE “CONCERNS” ABOUT MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT PROPOSAL via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops … didn’t say they were opposing the initiative, on the ballot as Amendment 2. But they have “concerns” … “At first glance, the proposed amendment appeals to a sense of empathy and implies safe and limited use by the infirm,” the bishops wrote. “However, closer inspection reveals that the framework established by Amendment 2 is problematic.” The bishops cited four areas where the proposal has problems. They said it has a potential for fraud and abuse; opens the door to risks from edible marijuana products; there’s no assurance of quality and consistency with the medical pot sold; and could provide greater access to marijuana for kids.
TEACHER UNIONS SPLIT ENDORSEMENTS IN TOUGH MIAMI STATE SENATE RACE via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Education Association endorsed state Rep. José Javier Rodríguez … breaking with the local United Teachers of Dade union that has backed the Democrat’s rival, incumbent Republican state Sen. Miguel Díaz de la Portilla. The FEA’s endorsement of Rodríguez comes as the two candidates and their backers have savaged each other in TV ads over school funding in Florida Senate District 37, with each side accusing the other of selling out kids. One of Díaz de la Portilla’s ads also prominently features local teachers. Though Rodríguez has been attacked for voting against school money, the Democrat “has consistently voted against disastrous budget cuts and has stood firm against taxpayer giveaways to for-profit schools, which dilute the valuable resources our school system needs,” FEA President Joanne McCall said in a written statement. “We are excited to endorse Rep. Rodríguez and are ready to get to work in the final 45 days of his campaign to ensure he is elected as the next state Senator of District 37.” Díaz de la Portilla is one of the few Republicans in the state who has stood by labor and bucked his own party when it comes to some litmus-test issues such as expanded gun rights. As a result, Díaz de la Portilla has the formal support of AFSCME, the Police Benevolent Association, the United Faculty of Miami Dade College and the Florida Professional Firefighters.
FRANK ARTILES FOCUSES ON MIAMI-DADE TOLLS IN NEW AD — The new advertisement highlights excessive tolling and its impact on Miami-Dade families. The 30-second spot features people taking off their shirts and dropping them in a pile, as an announcer says “Everyday people are giving their shirts off their backs to pay for excessive and abusive tolls on our highways.” Artiles, a Miami Republican, says he is “taking a stand against tolls.” On his website, Artiles said he would push for a moratorium on the construction of new tolls or new toll hikes on expressways, stop the FDOT plan to place more toll lanes on the Turnpike and Palmetto Expressways, and demand a toll fee reduction. Artiles faces Democrat Dwight Bullard in Senate District 40
BEN DIAMOND UP WITH 1ST TV AD OF GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR HD 68 – Diamond is going up with his first television ad of the general election campaign. As of Sept. 16, Diamond, a Democrat, has raised $292,688, and his general election competition, home health care executive JB Benshimen, has raised $14,608. Diamond is spending some of that money on a new ad, highlighting his top priorities, such as protecting public schools, and ending pay-to-play politics in Tallahassee.
SHOT: @MarcACaputo (on 8/25): I used to refer to @StPetePolls occasionally. But I came to believe its # are made up/massaged. So beware of using any of its “work”
CHASER: @MarcACaputo (on 9/27): To clarify, many robopolls are now unreliable but @stpetepolls doesn’t purposefully skew results. I will still continue to avoid its polls.
***PRIDE Enterprises makes communities safer and saves taxpayers money through its job-centered approach that lowers the number of repeat offenders and reduces criminal justice costs for all citizens. For more information on PRIDE Enterprises and why reducing recidivism is so important, please visit www.pride-enterprises.org.***
RICK SCOTT TOURS MOSAIC SINKHOLE; COMPANY SAYS HOLE IS MUCH DEEPER THAN FIRST REPORTED via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott … flew over the massive sinkhole that opened up at a Mosaic phosphate processing plant near the Hillsborough-Polk county line. Then company officials briefed the governor on how they’re trying to clean up the millions of gallons of contaminated water that fell into the aquifer. Scott, who met with reporters for 11 minutes afterward, said his top priority was making sure the pollution that fell into the aquifer — the source for most of Florida’s drinking water — does not taint the water used by the plant’s neighbors. “The big thing is to make sure our water is safe to drink,” the governor said more than once. Meanwhile a Mosaic executive said the sinkhole — initially reported as being 300 feet deep — extends much further down into the ground than that. “We believe it’s deeper than that,” said David Jellerson of Mosaic. “Our recovery well goes down to 700 feet.” Scott defended his Department of Environmental Protection for not informing the Mosaic plant’s neighbors, who remained in the dark about the sinkhole for three weeks. When the agency finally informed the public earlier this month, DEP officials said they went “above and beyond” what they were required to do. “The DEP followed the existing law,” he said, but then added that the law made no sense.
REDUCE CRIME AND SAVE TAXPAYER MONEY? DON’T ARREST KIDS, STUDY SAYS via William Patrick of Floridawatchdog.org – If the goal of the criminal justice system is to maximize public safety, then arresting kids for first-time petty offenses is a bad plan, a new statewide study shows. On the other hand, increasing civil citations would keep thousands from carrying criminal records and, in many cases, from committing future crimes. An added benefit? Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars saved, or recommitted to confront violent crime. “Stepping Up 2016,” a study by the Tallahassee-based advocacy group The Children’s Campaign, found that those under 18 who are arrested for minor crimes are twice as likely to reoffend as those issued civil citations and assigned to youth diversion programs. Civil citations are an alternative for juveniles with no criminal history who commit common misdemeanors such as underage drinking, possession of marijuana, vandalism and theft. The study shows that when comparing nine of the most common youth-related offenses, arrests resulted in at least double the recidivism rate for seven of those offenses. It’s expensive in more ways than one. “Without a doubt, arrests close doors to youth for future education and employment,” Roy Miller, president of The Children’s Campaign, said in a statement.
APPOINTED: James “Nelson” Bradshaw to the Florida Development Finance Corporation.
PERSONNEL NOTE: CAPITAL CITY CONSULTING HIRES ANDREW KETCHEL via Florida Politics — Ketchel’s a veteran of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration; his hire will be formally announced later this week. Ketchel’s first day will be Oct. 17. He most recently was Legislative Affairs Director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. His coming on board signals that CCC aims to be a player next session as the state continues to struggle with water use and conservation issues. Ketchel also was in legislative affairs for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He first came to Tallahassee as part of the Gubernatorial Fellows Program, working in the Executive Office of the Governor during Scott’s first term.
PERSONNEL NOTE: GUNSTER PROMOTES LILA JABER, 3 OTHERS via Florida Politics — Jaber, a former chair of the Florida Public Service Commission has been promoted to a leadership position at Florida’s business-oriented Gunster law firm. She’s now Regional Managing Shareholder, joining three other shareholders who also joined the firm’s leadership team, according to a news release. She already was in charge of firm’s government affairs practice. Jaber has served on Workforce Florida’s board and was a former chair of Leadership Florida, according to her bio. She was appointed to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities, by former Gov. Jeb Bush and served two terms. In addition, Derek E. Bruce and Allison E. Turnbull have become Orlando Office Managing Shareholders, and Bill Adams is now Jacksonville Office Managing Shareholder, Perry said.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tampa’s Beth Leytham.