Sunburn for 1/14 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms. You need their team on your side during this Legislative session for media, grassroots and netroots support. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team and how they can help you.

Lawmakers return this week with a full slate of committee meetings and get right to what will be some of the most watched issues of the year. 

They’ll quickly take the issue of school safety in the wake of last month’s Connecticut school shooting, with Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee taking that issue up, and the Senate’s Education Budget panel looking at the possible costs of security improvements starting Wednesday. 

The problems in last year’s election – long lines and difficulty counting votes – will start to get a look this week too. The Senate gets into that on Monday in Ethics and Elections hearing from 10 local elections supervisors. A House committee will hear from them on Tuesday. 

How to deal with the new federal health care law also will be considered by special committees, and just what a gaming committee that isn’t supposed to pass major legislation will do might start to become evident on Monday. 

Also on tap this week will be a top priority of legislative leaders: ethics reform; and possibly the beginnings of an effort to reform local pension laws. 

Outside of the Legislature, the effort to put in place new rules for how clean Florida waterways are will be back this week. The federal Environmental Protection Agency holds hearings in Tampa. 

Meanwhile, a bunch of people will be zipping around the Everglades in airboats this week trying to kill unwanted pythons. What could go wrong? The snakes are a nuisance, mostly there because people released them (or they were born to mating snakes that had been released). The highlight for political junkies: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will head out into the Glades on Thursday with Alligator Ron Bergeron, who hunts snakes with his hands. Nelson will also take a machete. Again, what could go wrong?

The News Service of Florida has a full-preview of the week ahead here.

***The new year brings a new election cycle. Yes, only 22 months until voters go back to the polls for Florida cabinet and legislative races. Go to www.On3PR.com to see which 2014 candidates have opened their campaign accounts and posted their Q4 report.***

OBAMA PLANS BIG IMMIGRATION PUSH

President Obama “plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country,” the New York Times reports.

Democrats will propose the changes in one comprehensive bill, “resisting efforts by some Republicans to break the overhaul into smaller pieces — separately addressing young illegal immigrants, migrant farmworkers or highly skilled foreigners — which might be easier for reluctant members of their party to accept… The president and Democrats will also oppose measures that do not allow immigrants who gain legal status to become American citizens one day.”

RUBIO’S AMNESTY-LITE IMMIGRATION PLAN VS. OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION PLAN via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

In some ways, Rubio’s latest proposal is a replay of his DREAM Act alternative for illegal immigrants who  raised in the United States who were brought here as kids. Rubio released no formal plan or bill there, either. The Obama Administration aped the measure via executive action. And then Rubio dropped the measure with little fanfare. He got the good press and no blowback. Welcome to DC. Conant said that Rubio plan was “tabled…. since it had no chance of passing after Obama’s EO removed urgency and inflamed partisan politics”

The politics are more toxic for Rubio. Despite what Republicans will say, it’s members of their party who have stopped immigration reform in 2006 and with the scuttling of the DREAM Act, which Rubio essentially voted against. Still, Democratic-leaning unions aren’t big fans of immigration reform.

But things could be different now. More galling than amnesty: losing major elections. And Republicans, after seeing Hispanics flock to President Obama, have probably had enough of losing on this issue.

ROCKERFELLER RETIREMENT COULD BE COMMITTEE BOOST FOR BILL NELSON by Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s announcement he will not seek re-election in 2014 could be a boost for Sen. Bill Nelson.

Nelson could potentially grab the chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, now held  by Rockefeller.

Of course, Democrats would have to maintain control of the chamber and Rockefeller’s exit gives a little more hope to the GOP.

***Florida Capitol Advocates is one of the most experienced advocacy groups in Florida.  The firm has extensive experience advocating on behalf of clients in front of state, federal, and international governments and is ready to help your organization successfully maneuver through the legislative process. Visit FloridaCapitolAdvocates.com to learn more about how they can help you.***

RICK SCOTT’S MIDTERM — CRITICIZED GOV. DEFENDS RECORD

The Naples Republican told the Daily News in a recent interview that he has accomplished exactly what he set out to do when he ran for office and doesn’t plan to change as he gears up for re-election.

“It’s nice that the things I ran on, I was able to get through the Legislature and it’s working,” he said over a cup of tea and a muffin during a Fort Myers stop. “Everything that I have tried has been working.”

… When asked whether job-approval numbers — which have averaged about 36 percent over the two-year period, according to the Talking Points Memo poll tracker — mattered, Scott said he’s more focused on doing what Floridians need than what makes him popular.

“Coming from business, what your job is every day is (to) solve customers’ needs,” he said. “I ran a specific campaign and I was elected to do that. That’s what I’m going to do, and I know that’s what Floridians care about because I talk to them every day.”

Scott said the state is recovering, and steps he’s taken — such as working to reduce the business tax — have made Florida more desirable to companies looking to relocate. Those measures will allow the state to diversify and eventually bring in more high-paying jobs for qualified Floridians, he said.

“If you look at when I started … the state was on a big downward trajectory,” he said. “Now, what I focus on every day is to get the other 700,000 people that want a job, a job.”

NOT A HEADLINE FROM THE ONION: SATANISTS TO RALLY FOR RICK SCOTT ON JAN. 25

Satanists from all over Florida are scheduled to gather on the steps of the Governor’s Office on Friday, January 25, in a show of solidarity for Governor Rick Scott, who, satanists say, has shown unwavering fortitude and progressive resolve in his defense of religious liberty, particularly in his approval of Senate Bill 98 [SB 98] authorizing “a district school board to adopt a policy that allows an inspirational message to be delivered by students at a student assembly; providing policy requirements; providing purpose, etc.”

Neil Bricke of the Satanic Temple will deliver a speech to the assembled crowd.

“The Satanic Temple embraces the free expression of religion, and Satanists are happy to show their support of Rick Scott who — particularly with SB 98 — has reaffirmed our American freedom to practice our faith openly, allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school.”

ROMANO COLUMN – THE GOVERNOR WHO CRIED WOLF

(I)f you’re continually caught stretching the truth on health care, how much credibility do you have on other issues?

Should your argument be trusted on corporate taxes? On environmental rollbacks? On the benefits of privatization? On the reliability of standardized testing in schools?

Look, the governor understands the business world. Scott rose from modest roots to become an extremely wealthy man at a relatively young age. And it’s true that much of his appeal as a candidate in 2010 was that he was going to bring a corporate-like approach to governing.

But there are differences between running a business and serving constituents. Public service is usually not an end-justifies-the-means industry.

You may owe it to the public to fight for what you believe in, but you also have an obligation to make it a fair fight.

TWEET, TWEET: @Reaganista: Great profile of Florida’s classy First Lady @FLAnnScott by @KatieLSanders in today’s Tampa Bay Times: http://t.co/I32QcRdA

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit www.bascomllc.com to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

5 QUESTIONS FOR DAVID WILKINS here, including:

Q: What legislation is DCF proposing this year? 

WILKINS: This is Year Three of our legislative priorities, and we are in the middle of implementing our strategic plan, which is continuing to drive efficiencies in the organization. So we have some additional cost take-out that we’re proposing for this legislative session – which is, again, primarily in Tallahassee back-office operations. 

But we also have some additional performance improvement initiatives. So we have an initiative around community based care. If you remember, last year we implemented the Scorecard programs in terms of measuring performance at our different CBCs, which has been very successful. They’ve all risen to the challenge and improved their performance an average of about 20 percent in just one year. I think that’s just magnificent. It proves the age-old concept, “You get what you measure.”

What we’re proposing this year is, we actually want to reserve a set of monies to reward high-performing community based care organizations. Because really, if you think about what we do in foster care and community based care, we run those foster-care programs. 

Long-term, what we really need to do is invest more money in prevention and front-end services, to keep kids out of the system and keep families together. I just don’t believe we spend enough on that side. The reason that most people explain is, “We just don’t have enough money to spend.” So what I want to do is start incenting our community based care organizations to spend more money, and one of the ways we’re going to do that is with some performance-based spending.

That’s really a budget priority, about $6 million. My expectation is that’d go up every year. So this year is really the beta.

ARM THE TEACHERS?

Collier and Lee experts debate whether school teachers should carry weapons in class, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. Marion County principals saythey’d welcome armed officers on campus if money were available, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

MACHEN EXPLAINS HIMSELF

UF president Bernie Machen explains his decision to un-retire in an op-ed piece exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.

***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

LEGISLATIVE PREVIEWS via The News Service of Florida

In the House, Obamacare gets a look: With elections behind them, House members begin the task of responding to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The House Select Committee on the PPACA will get its first look at what may be down the road as the state complies with required aspects of the federal mandate.

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee  will consider a request by Sen. Anitere Flores for an audit of the South Florida Workforce Board.

Senate E&E talks election, hears from Supes: The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee gets right into the high profile stuff, starting its discussion of what may have gone wrong on Election Day. The panel, chaired by Sen. Jack Latvala will hear from several county supervisors of elections. Supervisors scheduled to appear are Vicki Davis of Martin County; Mark Andersen of Bay County; Jerry Holland of Duval County; David Stafford of Escambia County; Sharon Harrington of Lee County; Penelope Townsley of Miami-Dade County; Brian Corley of Pasco County; Gertrude Walker of St. Lucie County; and Mike Ertel of Seminole County. 

Senate Obamacare Committee: The Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act meets Monday to discuss impacts of the new law on employers and take public testimony. 

Senate special gaming committee holds first meeting: While legislative leaders have said they don’t expect the Legislature to pass any major legislation expanding gambling opportunities this year, the special committee the Senate has created to study the issue holds its first meeting on Monday. The Senate Gaming Committee, chaired by Sen. Garrett Richter will get an overview of the economics of gaming in Florida from the head of the Legislature’s economic research office and will hear about the history of the regulation of pari-mutuel gaming from Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson. Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell will give an overview of the Lottery and staff will brief the panel on the state’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.

BILL WOULD EXTEND KIDCARE TO LEGAL IMMIGRANTS via Jim Saunders

A bill to extend health coverage to the children of legal immigrants will return in the 2013 legislative session – with the difference that this year, it will have a sponsor in the House.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, plans to bring back a version of last year’s proposal (SB 1294 of 2012), said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, who plans to carry the House companion. 

Last year, backers couldn’t find a House sponsor for the proposal to subsidize the health care of children who are in the country legally – but haven’t been here long enough to qualify for the benefit.

CARL ZIMMERMANN DRAFTS SCHOOL SAFETY BILL

A newly elected teacher-turned-Florida legislator is proposing school security measures that could only come from the inside.

Carl Zimmermann, State Representative for District 65 and a teacher at Countryside High School, thinks simple changes in Florida classrooms could help save lives during a threatening situation like the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Zimmermann is calling for placing locks on the inside of classroom doors and reinforcing them with bullet-proof windows.

“In many schools, teachers have to leave the classroom to lock the door, because the doors only lock from the outside,” he said.

TWEET, TWEET: @mattgaetz: Taking the Senate Prez to his favorite BBQ joint in Tally before committee week begins.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @RepJoeSaunders: Laying in bed watching a West Wing marathon = Sunday bliss #bestwaytoprepforTally?

***The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly have represented clients before the Florida Legislature, state agencies and local governments for over 20 years. They don’t just show up for the legislative session.  Instead they custom design and implement a Grassroots Program for each of their Clients that functions all year long.  As one former legislator stated, “They are tough, well-organized, dedicated to their clients and in full command of the facts.”***

INTEREST GROUPS, SPENT $306 MILLION ON STATE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS IN 2012 by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

The number is lower than the $550 million reported in the 2010 election cycle and does not include the massive amount of federal cash spent in the presidential race. But it points to a new trend: more dollars are going to campaign committees rather than individual candidates.

Three out of every four dollars were unlimited checks to political committees, while the rest went into the campaign accounts of individuals, which are capped at $500 a check.

The shift is a sign that Florida’s $500 limit is outdated and dysfunctional — and ripe for reform, said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, which did the analysis of the campaign finance data released by the Florida Division of Elections.

BRIAN RUST LOOKS TO SUCCEED JIMMY PATRONIS IN HOUSE DISTRICT 6

Brian Rust, a former candidate for the Bay County Commission, announced his intention to run for House District 6. The seat is currently held by Jimmy Patronis, who is term-limited from running again in 2014.

Rust has been a registered Republican for just over 20 years and ran in the 2012 election with no party affiliation for the County Commission District 5.

Rust, who has lived in Bay County for just over seven years, is a former full-time broadcaster working in radio and TV both on the air and in programming management. He is self-employed doing voice-over work for radio, television and ad agencies and doing a radio show for an upstate New York radio station that he has done from his home studio for about 13 years.

“After the 2012 election I realized that you have choices to make with your life, and while I had a fantastic career in radio, it is time for me to dedicate my life to serving the people and protecting our way of life and the Constitution and ensuring a strong future for our children. This is why I am running again.”

HOUSE MEMBERS GEAR UP FOR RE-ELECTION

18 incumbent House members — and one former representative — have filed paperwork since Christmas indicating they will run again in 2014, according to the state Division of Elections.

In northwest Florida, those incumbents are Rep. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, in District 3; Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, in District 4; and Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, in District 8.

In northeast Florida, they are Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, in District 16; Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, in District 18; and Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, in District 24.

In central Florida, they are Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, in District 26; Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona, in District 27; Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, D-Maitland, in District 30; Rep. Mike LaRosa, R-St. Cloud, in District 42; Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, in District 49; and Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, in District 55.

Across the southern part of the state, they are Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, in District 89; Rep. Hazel Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes, in District 95; Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, in District 106; Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, in District 110; Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, in District 112; and Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, in District 118.

Also filing paperwork was former Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, who plans to run in District 29 after losing to Castor Dentel in November in District 30. 

SENS. DOROTHY HUKILL, TOM LEE, WILTON SIMPSON AND OSCAR BRANYON FILE FOR RE-ELECTION

 Dorothy Hukill in District 8, Wilton Simpson in District 18, Tom Lee in District 24, and Oscar Braynon in District 36 have filed paperwork during the past week as a first step toward seeking re-election in 2014, according to the state Division of Elections website.

YOU’RE INVITED: A fundraiser for two Republican State Representatives attempting to return to Tallahassee is scheduled for February 5. Eric Eisnaugle and Scott Plakon are hoping to come back to Tallahassee after the former sat out the 2012 election cycle, while the latter was defeated in one of the most-high profile legislative races. The event at the Governor’s Club will be hosted by Speaker Will Weatherford, Speaker Designates Steve Crisafulli and Richard Corcoran and Representative Jose Oliva.

YOU’RE INVITED: Floridian Partners’ Ana Cruz is hosting a fundraiser for rock star State Representative Dana Young on January 31 at Cruz’ office in Ybor City. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Invite here.

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com***

DEAN CANNOT NOT LOBBYING FOR FLORIDA CHAMBER

From the moment former Speaker of the House Dean Cannon hung out his own shingle as a lobbyist, there had been (almost breathless) speculation that the Florida Chamber of Commerce would ink Cannon and Co., to a lobbying contract. 

Turns out all of that rumoring and speculation was only that. 

Cannon, Cretul and partner Cynthia Lorenzo filed their lobbyist registration forms yesterday and noticeably absent from these documents was any mention of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

I had long suspected (after Associated Industries announced its reorganization earlier this week, I tweet/asked when the Chamber would finally announce its deal with Cannon) that a new dynamo firm like Capitol Insight would pass on working for the Chamber.

If Cannon, Cretual, Lorenzo and Pepper lobbied for the Chamber, it would present just too many conflicts of interests with other current and prospective clients. Better for them to spread out their bread basket with two dozen good clients and not one conflict-inducing large association.

FLORIDA POLICE CHIEFS MEETING

The Florida Police Chiefs Association meets through Tuesday in St. Augustine. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam speaks to the group on Monday.

NEW SUPERVISORS OF ELECTIONS ORIENTATION

A three-day orientation for new elections supervisors begins Monday, with a lunch and tips on administering supervisors’ offices. The new elections chiefs will also learn about the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, which is holding the event

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY from the AP’s Gary Fineout

“Dear FSU and Jimbo: the current projected 2013 home schedule, is politely speaking, underwhelming. Wofford, Idaho, Nevada, NC State, Miami, Maryland & Syracuse. Loading up on lightweights didn’t help Notre Dame and it won’t help you either.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tucker Hall’s Tony Collins (Sunday), Matt King, Phil Perry (Sunday), Chester Spellman (Sunday), and Chris Sprowls.

REMEMBERING EUGENE PATTERSON by Robert W. Hooker of the Tampa Bay Times

Eugene Patterson, a journalist who crusaded for civil rights in American society and higher standards in America’s newsrooms, died Saturday after a long illness. The former editor, chairman and chief executive officer of the Times was 89. During his 41 years in journalism, Mr. Patterson won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing .. and led the Times through an era of rapid growth and recognition by Time magazine as one of America’s 10 best newspapers. In the early 1960s, Mr. Patterson wrote courageous columns for the Atlanta Constitution exhorting whites to acknowledge their responsibility for the racial fracture of the South. His most famous piece ran after four young black girls died in the Birmingham church bombing in 1963. ‘If our South is ever to be what we wish it to be,’ he wrote, ‘we will plant a flower of nobler resolve for the South now upon these four small graves that we dug.’ … Patterson expanded the Times‘ local and foreign coverage, and imbued his staff with higher standards on reporting, writing and ethics. …

It was Churchill’s resignation in 1954 that produced what Mr. Patterson called the favorite ‘lead’ … After watching a tearful Churchill turn over the seals of office, Mr. Patterson crafted a story that began: ‘The blood and sweat part of glorious history now, Sir Winston Churchill resigned in tears today as British prime minister.’ … In 1968, Mr. Patterson left Atlanta for Washington, D.C., where for three years he was managing editor of the Washington Post. It was a heady time to be a newspaper executive in the nation’s capital, which was caught up in the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers case. But Mr. Patterson grew restless playing second fiddle to the Post’s domineering executive editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee, and eventually left. It was in Washington that Mr. Patterson grew to know Nelson Poynter, the chairman and principal owner of the Times. The Pattersons lived close to Poynter’s apartment in Washington, and the two men became … philosophical soulmates. …

Nothing Poynter ever did was more extraordinary than his ultimate disposition of the Times and Evening Independent (an afternoon paper he bought in 1962). He feared that, at his death, his heirs would be forced to sell the papers to pay the estate taxes, and that the papers might then become the property of a chain. Poynter’s solution was to create a nonprofit educational institution, now called the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, to which he left the majority of the newspapers’ stock.. … Sue Patterson, Mr. Patterson’s wife of 48 years, died in 1998. Survivors include his daughter, Mary Patterson Fausch of Raleigh, N.C. and St. Petersburg … Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

PATTERSON OBITSAtlanta Journal-ConstitutionAssociated PressThe New York TimesThe Washington Post 

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.