Sunburn for 10/16 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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YESTERDAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH

The House and Senate are engaging in dual-track negotiations in search of a debt-ceiling deal, but it appears they’re stepping on each other’s toes.

In the Senate, Harry Reid and Republicans appeared close to a deal that would extend the debt ceiling for several months, as well as reopen the government with funding to last through the year’s end. But those talks hit a hitch—though not necessarily a fatal one—after details leaked about a separate proposal from House Republicans, which would raise the debt ceiling but again included provisions modifying Obamacare. Now, progress is shaky in the Senate, and the House plan is under siege: Reid declared it a nonstarter in the Senate, and there are questions about whether it could pass the House, as a number of the most conservative Republicans say John Boehner is giving away too much.

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FINAL DAY OF THE FUTURE OF FLORIDA FORUM

The highlight of the third and finaL day of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum is an address by Governor Rick Scott during a morning session.

STATE-OF-THE-STATE REPORT SHOWS FLORIDA’S FOUNDATION IS STRONG

The state of Florida’s foundation is strong and poised for growth in workforce, innovation and economic activity in the coming year, according to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s annual state-of-the-state report presented today at the Foundation’s 2013 Future of Florida Forum. Bentina Terry, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Services for Gulf Power Company and Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation, presented the annual report during the official opening ceremonies of the Future of Florida Forum taking place in Orlando.

Florida has the potential of creating 150,000 new trade and logistics jobs over the next five years. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Trade and Logistics Study 2.0 (TL2.0 study) builds on Florida’s once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the state’s economy to become a global hub for trade, logistics and export-oriented manufacturing activities.

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CENSUS BUREAU SHUTDOWN LEAVES ECONOMY IN THE DARK via Jeff Kunerth of the Orlando Sentinel

Social Security recipients, who normally learn around this time what their cost-of-living increase will become the New Year, are going to have to wait until the government shutdown ends. So are veterans and people whose wages are tied to the Consumer Price Index; businesses looking to open new stores or move into different cities; developers searching for the best location for subdivisions; agencies that provide food stamps and unemployment benefits; and politicians running on their records for job creation. All because the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal Department of Labor Statistics and the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis are closed down during the Congressional stalemate over the budget.

Without a functioning Census Bureau, which provides data for other governmental agencies, there are no employment and unemployment figures, no inflation numbers, no data on consumer spending, retail sales or housing starts. It’s like the government turned out the lights on the economy.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NEGATIVELY IMPACTING FLORIDA

The federal government shutdown is negatively affecting tax revenues and capital investment in Florida, according to a report from Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. The report, titled What the Government Shutdown & Debt Ceiling Crisis Mean to Florida, outlines the potential impacts an extended shutdown would have on Florida’s economy. Florida National Parks and other federally operated facilities have closed, impacting businesses that rely on the tourism industry.

Capital investment is also in jeopardy because higher uncertainty in the financial markets has reduced consumer confidence levels, resulting in less spending and decreased investment, which are vital for economic growth and sustainability.  The effects of the shutdown could be enough to reduce the revenue estimates for the state budget in 2014-15.

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FLORIDA CHAMBER POLL OF 2014 GOV’S RACE: CRIST 46%, SCOTT 41%,; GOV’S FAVORABILITY RISING

Rick Scott’s favorability rating continues to climb while the polling gap between him and likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist continues to close. This according to new survey results presented by Marian Johnson, senior Vice President of Political Strategy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, during the Future of Florida Forum.

Scott’s job approval rating continues to remain positive, with 47 percent of likely voters approving of the job he’s doing. At the same time, Crist’s favorability is dropping – down to 43 percent.

“While top concerns for voters remain jobs and the economy, their support of Gov. Scott is a signal they approve of his strong ability to create private-sector jobs,” said Johnson. “It’s likely that voters also remember that while Governor Scott gave Florida’s great school teachers a raise this year, it was Charlie Crist who actually vetoed a bill (SB6) that would have boosted teacher pay.”

Despite his improving approval rating in this poll, Scott trails Crist 46 to 41 percent in a head-to-head matchup, but the Governor handily leads former Senator Nan Rich, 40 to 29 percent. The poll, conducted on October 4-8, 2013, by Cherry Communications during live telephone interviews of likely voters, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Additional results show: Education and healthcare round out the top three issues voters are most concerned about – 14 percent and 11 percent respectively; President Obama’s favorability rating was nearly split: 49 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable; a majority (51 percent) oppose the Affordable Care Act;  and nearly 70 percent believe the number of lawsuits filed in Florida is a problem.

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IN WEB VIDEO, DGA ATTEMPTS TO LINK RICK SCOTT TO ILLS OF TEA PARTY

The Democratic Governors Association is releasing a new Web video arguing that a slew of GOP governors, including Rick Scott, are “are vulnerable to defeats across the country because of their close ties to a politically toxic Tea Party brand” in the wake of the government shutdown.

“Republican governors are desperately trying to separate themselves from the toxic brand that is today’s Republican Party,” said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner. “But the truth is that they helped elect the Tea Party Republicans in Congress who have shut down the government, share their radical ideology, and are inextricably linked to their attacks on women, gay Americans, immigrants, and middle-class families.”

In addition to Scott, Govs. Haley, Kasich, LePage, and Walker, plus candidate Cuccinelli, are featured.

SCOTT HELPS OPEN NEW TECH CENTER IN DAYTONA BEACH via the Daytona Beach News-Journal

An expanding technology company with ambitions of revolutionizing deep-water oil extraction drew Gov. Scott to town Tuesday, touting plans by Teledyne Oil & Gas to create more than 100 high-paying jobs locally.

“We’re here for one reason — adding more jobs,” Scott said at the grand opening of Teledyne Oil & Gas’ new technology development center in Daytona Beach.

The event attracted more than 100 people, which including state, county and city leaders, as well as representatives of oil industry companies, who all stand to benefit from the opening of the new research-and-development center.

Teledyne’s investment in building the $9 million technology development center next to its existing manufacturing plant along Williamson Boulevard has not only provided a much-needed boost to the local economy, but also to the future of the nation’s energy industry, said John Gremp, chairman and CEO of Houston-based FMC Technologies, a major manufacturer of equipment used for oil exploration.

SCOTT OFFERS STATE HELP IN TEACHER PAY HIKES via The News Service of Florida

With school districts slow to move forward with teacher pay raises that he made a priority, Gov. Scott sent a letter Tuesday to superintendents offering state help in trying to reach collective bargaining agreements with unions. Scott said in the letter that only 16 of the 67 counties have ratified agreements to clear the way for the pay raises.

Lawmakers and Scott included $480 million in this year’s state budget to increase teacher pay. Scott said he asked Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to work with the remaining districts to provide any help that might be needed in reaching agreements.

“Florida teachers deserve a salary increase, and they should have the benefit of knowing their new salary level as soon as possible so they can best plan for their future,” Scott said in the letter.

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IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY ADAM PUTNAM WINS ELECTIONS via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Some politicians, most politicians, deliver even the speeches they pay professionals to write for them as if the words came straight off a list of talking points. Politicians are unconvincing because they aren’t convinced themselves. 

True, Putnam’s had plenty of practice in public office. But practice rarely perfects a politician’s act. If anything, practice turns it into a stale slice of bread. But with Putnam, there’s a strength and natural earnestness in the way he carries himself, and in most things he says.

I’m not out to cheerlead for the commissioner especially; this separation between himself and most pols is just something that stuck out in Orlando like a Harley among mopeds. He just happens to be a free-market kind of guy, and it suits him to tell you about it whenever he gets the chance. 

Maybe somewhere along the road to re-election Adam Putnam will turn the wrong way and step on his tail, and if he does, he does. But for now I understand how he breezes through elections. 

POLICY NOTES

Public Service Commission: To hold a hearing on a proposed settlement reached by Duke Energy Florida and representatives of consumers and business groups. The settlement deals with a series of major issues, such as base electric rates and a decision to scrap plans for new nuclear reactors in Levy County. 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

DBPR pari-mutuel rules: The Department of Business and Professional Regulation will start holding a series of workshops about revising rules for the state’s racetracks and jai alai frontons. 9 a.m., North Broward Regional Service Center, 1400 West Commercial Blvd., Suite 195, Fort Lauderdale.

Department of Education takes up math and language arts standards: The Florida Department of Education will continue a series of three meetings to take public comments about math and language-arts standards for the public-school system. Wednesday, 5 p.m., Broward College, Davie Campus, Bailey Concert Hall, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Holds a rule development workshop at 9 a.m. in Hillsborough County for rulemaking to modify Florida’s fertilizer labeling requirements and use directions for specialty lawn fertilizer, to be held at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672 in Wimauma.

Assisted Living Rules: AHCA has scheduled a public hearing at 2 p.m. to discuss a petition to initiate rulemaking regarding the surveying of assisted living facilities’ standards and compliance and direct threats made during a survey. A copy of the agenda and more information is available by contacting Shaddrick Haston at [email protected]myflorida.com.

NEW RULES PROPOSED FOR STATE-AUTHORIZED GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENTS via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida

“Jockeys” would have to hang up their jeans and cowboy hats, and all race tracks would be required to have oval shapes under a set of new rules proposed by gambling regulators. The proposed rules, released by the state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering last week and up for discussion for the first time at a workshop Oct. 16, are an attempt to rein in the proliferation of questionable practices at race tracks and jai alai frontons throughout the state, ranging from “flag-drop” horse races to a fronton without a full roster of players.

But insiders say the draft rules, while a good starting place, are riddled with problems and demonstrate a lack of knowledge of Florida’s gambling industry, a cash cow for the state and for operators.

“Some of them make sense. Some of them haven’t been thought out very well,” said Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “One or two are pretty silly.”

Regulators’ decisions about permits and practices over the past few years have spawned 21 active lawsuits and deepened the animosity between the highly competitive operators. Lawmakers also are preparing to tackle the contentious gambling issues during the 2014 legislative session.

After getting beat up in the media and in courtrooms, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is holding workshops on the proposed gambling rules crafted around laws the agency described in a news release as “unclear” and lacking “many standards necessary to ensure the continued integrity of pari-mutuel wagering.” The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is part of the department.

In the past, the agency has dragged its feet on promulgating regulations and has been criticized, including by judges, for making some decisions about gambling without going through the formal rule-making process.

POST-CONVICTION, RE-OPENED INTERNET CAFES WORRY via News 4 Jax

The state shut Internet cafes down and arrested key players in the gambling scheme in Florida earlier this year, yet Internet cafes are opening up again almost weekly in Jacksonville and other parts of the state.

Now with the conviction of Kelly Mathis, the attorney for Allied Veterans of the World, some are wondering how long the new cafes will be allowed to stay open.

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BILL WOULD TURN OFF RED LIGHT CAMERAS via The News Service of Florida

A House Republican has filed a bill that would repeal state laws that have authorized red-light cameras at intersections across Florida. Rep. Frank Artiles filed the bill (HB 4009) last week, taking aim at the cameras that have been used to issue tickets to owners of vehicles that run red lights.

The bill is similar to a measure filed earlier by Sen. Jeff Brandes (SB 144). Both proposals would repeal the state’s primary red-light camera law, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010.  When Brandes filed his bill last month, he indicated he thinks red-light cameras have become a revenue source for local governments. “We have had red light cameras in Florida for over three years. They were initially sold as safety devices, but I have come to firmly believe that they are now being used as backdoor tax increases,” Brandes said.

HERNANDO GIVES STATE LAWMAKERS ITS WISH LIST via Danny Valentine of the Tampa Bay Times

Brooksville City Council member Joe Johnston stood before three state lawmakers at Monday’s annual Hernando legislative delegation and rattled off a handful of economic and safety issues the city would like to see addressed: A small-business jobs bill; downtown Brooksville’s one-way streets; the length of yellow-light times at traffic signals.

“It’s a safety thing,” Johnston said about the traffic signals. “We would appreciate if anything could be done.” But within seconds of his presentation, state Rep. Robert Schenck piped up.

“You know, Joe, I’ve known you a long time since my days in local government and you’ve always represented the city well,” Schenck said. “But to be perfectly honest with you, I am apt to not help the city of Brooksville at all until these red-light cameras come down.”

Schenck, the House rules chairman, has long opposed red-light cameras and has called them a hidden tax. There are now 16 cameras in the city. Johnston said that even if the red-light cameras are abolished by the Legislature, he would still like to see the state revisit the issue of yellow lights.

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DEMOCRAT AMANDA MURPHY DEFEATS GOP’S BILL GUNTER IN HD 36 SPECIAL ELECTION

Murphy defeated a well-financed Bill Gunter in what was an increasingly bitter Pasco County House District 36 special election to complete the remaining year of former Rep. Mike Fasano’s seat.

With 100% of the precincts reporting, Democrat Murphy won with 52 percent of the over 18,800 ballots cast. At that point, Gunter called Murphy to concede.

What makes Murphy’s win impressive is Gunter had support of the state GOP, including a full-throated voter drive by state heavyweights Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Rep. Richard Corcoran.

Murphy received her biggest advance when Republican Fasano, an icon in Pasco politics who served 18 years in the Florida Legislature, announced he voted for the Democrat.

Gunter consistently outpaced Murphy in fundraising. According to the current state Division of Elections records, the financial planner collected at $99,835 in contributions and $32,786 “in kind” support, most of which came from the Democratic Party and labor organizations. Her campaign cost $78,504.

IN FACE OF GUNTER’S LOSS, JACK LATVALA HAS STRONG WORDS FOR FELLOW REPUBLICANS 

“Hopefully the outcome tonight will teach our party leaders to let the primary process produce our strongest nominees,” said Latvala, who has previously represented Pasco County in the Florida Senate.

“We won elections and ended up taking control of both house of the legislature without legislative leaders dictating our nominees,” said Latvala. “We need to return to those days.”

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COUNTING DOWN FLORIDA’S TOP LOBBYING FIRMS: #3 BALLARD PARTNERS Full profile here

One of the biggest names in Florida lobbying is Brian Ballard’s, and it’s not without good reason. Ballard is renowned for his work and his firm, Ballard Partners, raked in the highest amount of legislative fees in 2012, ranking the firm No. 3 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in Florida.

LOBBYIST LEAGUE TO VOTE ON NAME CHANGE via POLITICO Influence

The American League of Lobbyists will formally vote on a name change to theAssociation of Government Relations Professionals, the association announced Monday. The board of the organization – which is essentially a trade association for lobbyists – voted Monday to support the name change. The decision to change the name now goes to the 1,300 members of the group, who will also consider a new tagline: “Voice of the Lobbying, Public Policy and Advocacy Professions.” Two-thirds of the members will need to approve the change, according to the group’s bylaws.

“In a recent survey of our board and membership, and after three recent focus groups, we discovered that a majority of our membership no longer identified themselves as ‘only lobbyists,”‘ said ALL president Monte Ward. ‘In fact, most of those surveyed stated that their responsibilities as a lobbyist encompassed just a fraction of their duties. While our organization was founded in 1979 to support the lobbying community, this industry has evolved dramatically over the years and now includes a variety of disciplines involved in government affairs, lobbying and public policy arena.” 

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

H. French Brown: Florida Association of Realtors

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: Garrett Gleim

David Dennis: KPMG 

Chelsea d’Hemecourt, Tanya Jackson, Adams Street Advocates: Symantec Corporation

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: National Notary Association

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NOT HIAASEN? 

Business Insider made a map of the most famous books set in every state. They ranked Ernest Hemingway’s “To Have and To Have Not” as the top read book set in Florida. 

REPORT: STORIES ABOUT POLITICS INSPIRE BEST, WORST COMMENTS via Andrew Beaujon of Poynter.org

Researchers from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) spoke with online editors and community managers at 104 news organizations from 63 countries to help assemble a report written by Emma Goodman about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to online comments. Many said stories about politics attracted the most high-quality comments. Several respondents, however, said such stories are “the type of articles that attract the worst comments.”

The report recommends best practices for publishers, including hiring a community manager and encouraging journalists to join discussions. Publications should also try to “protect minority opinions,” it says: “If a publication moderates actively, they can use this procedure to ensure that minority voices aren’t continuously drowned out.”

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Loranne Ausley, Rebecca O’Hara, Beth Switzer, and Carrie Thompson. And a very special happy birthday to my wonderful mother-in-law, Robin Cain Todd.

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.