Sunburn for 9/5 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the firm best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape: On this date 56 years ago, the University of South Florida officially began to take shape. On September 5, 1958, Governor LeRoy Collins sank a shovel into the sandy soil to officially break ground on the new university. From that modest beginning, USF now boasts an enrollment of almost 48,000 students, making it one of the largest public universities in Florida. And that ain’t no Bull.

Now, on to the ‘burn…


Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been crossing the state this past week, vowing at campaign stops that if he’s re-elected he will enact another $1 billion in tax cuts over the next two years.

Scott has said he can enact the tax cuts as well as boost spending on education and pay for new projects to help the environment because the state has a budget surplus.

But a new forecast raises questions about whether or not there will be enough money to do everything Scott, or even rival Charlie Crist, is promising to voters.

The annual forecast, which is required by the state constitution and drawn up by state economists and staff from the Florida Legislature, predicts Florida will bring in enough tax money in 2015 to meet its spending needs for schools and health care. That’s because the state’s economy continues to gradually recover from the depths of the Great Recession.

The new forecast shows Florida would have a projected surplus of $336 million in fiscal year 2015-16 even after meeting current enrollment needs for schools and health care programs such as Medicaid and setting aside $1 billion in reserves. This year, the state’s overall budget is $77 billion. This surplus, however, also assumes that local property taxes will be increased by nearly $400 million to pay for additional school spending.

Scott says if he’s re-elected he wants to increase overall school spending by $700 million. He is also pledging to cut taxes by $1 billion over the next two years and spend millions more on environmental programs.

MEMORANDUM OF THE DAY via Gov. Scott: “Steven Sotloff, a former University of Central Florida journalism student from Pinecrest, was brutally murdered by ISIS in a barbaric video displayed worldwide. Ann and I join all Floridians, and Americans, in grieving with the Sotloff family today. Those who murdered Steven are evil, and evil must be confronted and destroyed. … In honor and in memory of Steven Sotloff, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida on Friday, September 5, 2014.”


A potential contender for the Democratic presidential nomination will be heading to Florida to campaign for Charlie Crist.

The Washington Post reported that Gov. Martin O’Malley will be hitting the Sunshine State on Sept. 20 to speak at a Palm Beach County Democrats event in West Palm Beach. O’Malley will spend parts of that day fundraising and campaigning for Crist.

O’Malley has left the door open to running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and recent activities indicate he is seriously contemplating it. Besides Florida, traditionally one of the first states to hold its primary after Iowa and New Hampshire cast their votes, O’Malley is getting active in other states that play a key, early role in determining the presidential nominees. O’Malley is scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire later and is dispatching campaign staff to help Democrats there and in Iowa and South Carolina. In recent weeks, reports have emerged that O’Malley has promised supporters he will run in 2016 even if former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination, enters the primaries.

Despite ranking as one of the most liberal governors in the nation, O’Malley threw his support behind Crist, who spent most of his political career as a Republican, back in April. O’Malley emailed Crist supporters at the end of April, hitting Scott for opposing raising the minimum wage and backing President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“During his 2010 campaign for governor, Rick Scott was asked live on CNN what Florida’s minimum wage was,” O’Malley wrote. “He got the answer wrong. It’s no wonder he’s since refused to listen to the overwhelming number of Floridians — including a majority of Republicans — who want to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“Fortunately, Charlie Crist is leading the fight to make that happen,” O’Malley added. “He understands that when workers make more money, businesses have more customers — that raising the wage lifts all boats. He’ll take action as Florida’s next governor, but we need Congress to do the same for all Americans.”


Charlie Crist vows to take action over rising property insurance costs because Gov. Scott has taken the side of insurance companies against Florida families.

In a press conference call, the Democratic nominee for governor highlighted the impact Scott’s actions have had on Floridians over the past three years.

Crist promised to roll back the changes Scott made upon taking office, particularly SB 408, signed by Scott in May 2011.

SB 408 allowed, among other things, insurance companies to pass on reinsurance costs to policyholders, shorten the window for filing both sinkhole and storm-related damage claims, as well as restricting claims for damage caused by sinkholes to primary structures and limiting recovery to actual depreciated values instead of replacement costs.

Because of SB 408, Crist said, insurance companies raised rates 25 percent over four years — “because they can.”

Among Crist’s laundry list of proposed changes, including lowering premiums and repealing the “anti-insurance consumer laws” passed by Scott, he also promised greater transparency “for all insurers,” and increasing coverage of the Florida hurricane catastrophic fund. He also promised to advocate a national catastrophic hurricane fund.


The Suncoast Tiger Bay Club will host candidates in Tampa Bay-area House districts 64, 66, 68 and 69. St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Noon.


An appeals court ruled against Laura Rivero Levey, the Republican state House candidate who claimed a bank error over a returned check kept her off the November ballot for House District 113.

In a 2-1 ruling, the First District Court of Appeals upheld the decision of a Leon County circuit judge keeping Levey off the ballot in HD 113, which includes part of Miami-Dade County.

With Levey out of the race, incumbent Democratic Rep. David Richardson won without opposition.

“The statute at issue is clear and unambiguous,” said Chief Judge Joseph Lewis, who wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judge Stephanie Ray.

“Although we agree with the trial court that this result is harsh, it is mandated by the clear language of the statute,” Lewis continued. “If a candidate’s qualifying check is returned for any reason, the candidate must pay the qualifying fee by cashier’s check before the end of the qualifying period. Levey’s check was returned, the reason for that occurring is immaterial, and she failed to cure the deficiency within the time allotted by the statute.”

Judge Robert Benton, the sole dissenter, said keeping Levey off the ballot would deprive voters the choice of who will represent them. Benton noted that Levey was not at fault, suggesting she re-present the original check to the bank.


>>> The National Federation of Independent Business is endorsing U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland for re-election to Florida’s 2nd District. “Southerland is the clear pro-small business candidate in this critical race for District 2,” said Bill Herrle, NFIB/Florida’s executive director. “During his time in Congress, Southerland has fought aggressively to protect small businesses from the strangling effects of overregulation and the heavy hand of the federal government.”

>>> The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) endorsed State Rep. Carlos Trujillo in his bid for re-election to Florida House District 105, which includes part of Broward, Collier and Miami-Dade counties. “The FMA has developed a great relationship with Rep. Trujillo during his years in office,” said FMA President Ralph Nobo. “We look forward to our continued collaboration to pass legislative and regulatory reforms improving the delivery of health care to Floridians.”


Candidates and political committees are required to file updated campaign-finance reports that include contributions and expenditures through Aug. 29.


Florida state lawmakers will have an additional $336 million for the year beginning July 2015, according to a draft report issued Wednesday afternoon.

The annual Long-Range Financial Outlook based the projected surplus on the probability of the Legislature continuing to set aside $1 billion in reserves, as well as spending on high-priority issues.

Although lawmakers could use the surplus for tax-cuts and other programs that continue from one year to the next, the report says it would have “a compounding effect over time,” resulting in less money in the future, even though the state would never go into debt, as long as it maintains the reserves.

“In the forecast, months of modest growth are expected before normalcy is largely achieved by Fiscal Year 2016-17 with construction and real estate still presenting notable exceptions,” the report says.


Florida State University’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee will meet to discuss candidates and select finalists. The university is seeking a permanent replacement for Eric Barron, who resigned earlier this year to become president of Penn State University. Augustus B. Turnbull III Conference Center, 555 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee. 10 a.m.


The Florida Department of Health will hold a rule hearing that stems from a new law allowing a type of medical marijuana in Florida. That type of marijuana does not get users high, and supporters say it can help people such as children who suffer from a severe type of epilepsy. Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee. 9 a.m.


Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists conference begins the final day at Tampa’s Grand Hyatt hotel by way of breakfast with Attorney General Pam Bondi at 8:15 a.m., followed by a series of industry roundtable discussions starting at 9 a.m.

Topics include: “Insurance” with Michael W. Carlson of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida; “Environmental Issues – Is it all about Water?” hosted by Jeff Littlejohn, DEP; “Higher Education – Where are we? But, where are we going?” featuring Yolanda Cash Jackson of Becker & Poliakoff; “Education K-12 – Change & Choices” hosted by Rebecca DeLaRosa of the Moya Group; “Transportation – The nexus of ports and rail” with Bob O’Malley of CSX and Doug Wheeler, FL Ports Council and “Economic Development” presented by John Schueler of the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Political veterans Adam Goodman and Steve Schale give insights in “A Partisan View of the Coming Elections” at 10:45 a.m.

At 11:45 a.m., the conference begins its wrap-up with three closing events: presentation of the Designated Professional Lobbyist (DPL) award, DPL Renewals and a review of future agendas with the FAPL Strategic Plan Process.


Sebastian Alexander: Delray Recovery Center

Jeremy Susac, Berger Singerman: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity

CONTEXT FLORIDA: TIN MAN SCOTT, THE “PROBLEM,” HEBREW AND STEVE SOUTHERLAND On Context Florida: The Tampa Bay Times, zinged Gov. Rick Scott with an editorial describing him as a man without a heart, an accompanying illustration put his face on the iconic image of the Tin Man in the “Wizard of Oz.” Martin Dyckman thinks that was too generous to Scott.  Daniel Tilson asks us to forget Democratic and Republican dogma for a bit. Or at least overlook it. Let’s agree to disagree about whose officials are “the problem.” Now that it’s “quiet” in Israel, Rachel Patron is planning a trip there, accompanied by at least 20 other Floridians. So, as a public service, she offers a 10-word list of Hebrew words to make the visit pleasurable and worry-free. On this week’s “Florida NewsMakers,” U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland talks with Trimmel Gomes about his efforts to limit the expansion of the federal government and discusses his bid for a third term in office. Visit Context Florida to dig in. WEEKEND TV

Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Pete Dunbar and Screven Watson

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Brendan McLaughlin, Joe Guidry, Jessica Ehrlich, and Michael Guju

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Pam Bondi

Political Connections on CF 13: Carol Platt

The Usual Suspects which airs on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Gary Yordon, and Chris Curry.


On this week’s “Florida NewsMakers” program, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland talks with Trimmel Gomes about his efforts to limit the expansion of the federal government and discusses his bid for a third term in office.

In one of the nation’s most closely watched congressional races, Southerland is in a heated battle against Democrat Gwen Graham across the large Panhandle district. He laughs at what he considers inaccuracies in attack ads, saying people will see through the “silliness” and find that his campaign understands the importance of a robust economy that creates opportunity for all people. Southerland also discusses his proposal to limit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating state water rules and explains why he thinks expansion of Medicaid is wrong for Florida.

MOSAIC’S HUNGER-RELIEF FORUM FEATURES COMMISSIONER ADAM PUTNAM REVEALING “FLORIDA’S ROADMAP TO LIVING HEALTHY” The Mosaic Company hosted its second annual Florida Hunger-Relief Forum in Bradenton at Renaissance on 9th, bringing together local, state and national policymakers and nutrition experts to help drive advocacy and action on hunger and nutrition issues. Keynote speaker Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced the “Florida’s Roadmap to Living Healthy” program, the first statewide map that correlates lack of access to nutritious food with poor health indicators in an advanced web-based GIS tool. “The possibilities of this roadmap are unlimited,” said Commissioner Putnam. “It will help state agencies like mine make better-informed decisions about how we use our limited resources to support Florida communities at greatest risk. This tool will also assist nonprofits, food banks and other organizations to identify gaps in resources, determine the most effective approaches and yield a greater impact on the residents of Florida.” Mosaic speaker Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Mark Kaplan, added, “With 700,000 people in Central Florida struggling with hunger and 250,000 of those children, it’s important to elevate the issue today on Hunger Action Day and continue raising awareness every day from this day forward. We are pleased to have invited key leaders to the table to share their expertise and work together to find solutions to local and global hunger.” Additional keynote speakers included Mari Gallagher, an independent food researcher and author of the 2006 breakthrough study examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago. Gallagher addressed the concerning implications of Florida’s “Food Deserts,” a growing number of rural and urban areas without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. WEEEKEND READ –  50 IDEAS CHANGING POLITICS (AND THE PEOPLE BEHIND THEM) via Susan Glasser of POLITICO

Welcome to (the) list of the most interesting thinkers, doers and dreamers changing American politics in 2014-and beyond.

It’s not a power list; nobody’s included simply because of their job, or even because of what their job might one day be (yes, we’re thinking of Hillary Clinton here-and she’s not on it).

Far outside the broken Beltway, we show how the massive (and controversial) reform reshaping education in 43 of our 50 states was born in an English professor’s classroom more than three decades ago, and take you to the libertarian-minded economist who is the strategist behind America’s most politically powerful billionaires.

On the Supreme Court, we found an unlikely alliance between the right’s Samuel Alito and the left’s Sonia Sotomayor (legal scholar Laurence Tribe dubs them ‘Alitomayor’).

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black celebrates the defy-the-conventional-wisdom daring of activists Chad Griffin and Roberta Kaplan, who separately pushed the strategy that has made gay marriage an accepted fact and a legal right in much of America, in the space of little more than a year.

Tom Steyer was a relatively apolitical, though very wealthy, hedge fund manager when, in 2010, a Koch brothers-backed ballot measure to stymie greenhouse gas reductions in California “pissed” him off, as he later put it. What a difference four years make: Today, he is the top individual donor of the 2014 elections, having spent more than $20 million so far, and is singlehandedly pushing climate change into the big leagues of American politics.

Taken together, it’s a most unusual guide to American politics today — as it is, and as it may come to be.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the James Madison Institute’s Valerie Wickboldt — see you next week!

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.