Sunburn for 12/13 — 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 — a top-notch public affairs and public relations firm. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team, success stories and case studies.

FISCAL CLIFF TALKS MAY EXTEND BEYOND CHRISTMAS

House Republican leaders warned their members they may have to return to Washington after Christmas, claiming that “serious differences” remained in negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” according to The Hill.

IS BOEHNER WAITING UNTIL HE’S RE-ELECTED SPEAKER?

 TPM reports that Rep. Chris Van Hollen thinks House Speaker John Boehner may be waiting until he’s re-elected Speaker when he’ll have greater flexibility to cut a deal.

Said Van Hollen: “I’m getting increasingly concerned that one of the reasons the Speaker is deciding to, I think, string out these discussions is that he wants to wait til January 3 when the election for Speaker takes place and he’s concerned that any agreement he reaches if it violated the so-called Hastert Rule could undermine support for him in his caucus and make it more difficult on January 3.”

WHITE HOUSE TO INCLUDE CORPORATE TAXES IN FISCAL CLIFF DEAL

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner “spoke by phone after exchanging new proposals to avert the ‘fiscal cliff’ as negotiations intensified ahead of the end-of-year deadline,” Reuters reports.

“The conversation and exchange of counteroffers over the last two days are the latest sign of possible progress in efforts to avert the automatic steep tax hikes and spending cuts set for January 1 unless Congress intervenes.”

Meanwhile, the the Wall Street Journal says the White House has told Republicans “it would include an overhaul of the corporate-tax code as part of any deal to reduce the deficit, people familiar with the talks said, putting a major priority for business groups on the table as part of the intensifying negotiations.”

FISCAL CLIFF QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The president and his allies have taken so many things off the table the only thing left is the varnish.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell

ALEX SINK CALLS ON GOP TO RAISE TAXES ON WEALTHY via the News Service of Florida

Amid speculation about whether she will run again for governor in 2014, former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink aligned herself Wednesday with President Obama in the debate about the country hitting the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Jan. 1.

Sink, in a conference call with reporters, called for congressional Republicans to agree to a tax hike on the top 2 percent of wealthy Americans and to head off potential increases on middle-class taxpayers. “My message is, get on with it,” said the Democrat, who narrowly lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to Republican Rick Scott.

Speculation about possible Democratic gubernatorial candidates has spiked in recent days, after former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist drew headlines by filling out papers to become a registered Democrat while at a White House reception. Crist and Sink are at the center of much of the speculation, though neither has announced a candidacy. Crist played a high-profile role in Obama’s re-election campaign this year, including giving a speech at the Democratic National Convention.

***SUNBURN is brought to you 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.***

CHARLIE CRIST FILING TODAY AS A DEMOCRAT via the Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s former Republican governor-turned-independent plans to formally file his new voter registration application with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections at 10:30 a.m.

SCOTT TO CRIST: MY JOB GROWTH IS BIGGER THAN YOUR JOB GROWTH via the Herald-Tribune

Asked about Crist, Scott said his focus is on continuing the economic and financial improvements that have occurred in his first two years in office. “We’ve had great progress in getting our state back to work,” Scott said.

But then he quickly ticked off a series of comparisons with progress made during his time in office and “the four years before I became governor (translation: the Crist years).” Scott noted the state had lost 825,000 jobs in those four prior years, the unemployment rate jumped from 3.5 percent to 11.1 percent and state debt increased by $5.2 billion.

BUSH SPOX: CHARLIE’S MISQUOTING JEB

A spokesman for Bush told BuzzFeed that Crist is taking the former governor — always a more conservative Republican, and one with whom Crist has long had a rocky relationship — out of context.

“Charlie Crist will say anything to make himself look good, even if it’s not actually true. If you look at the actual quote, you will see that is not what Governor Bush said,” said Jaryn Emhof, a spokesperson for Bush. “Many have ignored the “and I don’t” section of his quote and misinterpreted it as him saying Ronald Reagan and his dad couldn’t win today.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Public Affairs Consultants Inc., one of the oldest and most well respected Public Affairs and Governmental Consulting firms in Florida. 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.”***

CABINET ADOPTS EMERGENCY RULE FOR PIP via the Florida Current

The Florida Cabinet unanimously passed an emergency rule implementing changes to a form filled out by auto accident victims seeking health care in order to prevent “confusion in the marketplace”.

The new form specifies that patients can only receive up to $2,500 in non-emergency care. Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature passed HB 119 this year implementing the non-emergency care cap, which takes effect Jan. 1. Some insurers were worried patients would seek care expecting their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover the expense, leading to lawsuits.

“In an abundance of caution for the industry as well as to protect consumers, we want to make sure consumers are advised of their benefits, specifically with regard to the new policies after Jan. 1,” Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty told Cabinet members.

EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: SOUTHERN STRATEGIES GROUP’S 2012 CHRISTMAS CARD

Here is an exclusive first look at this year’s Christmas card from powerhouse lobbying firm Southern Strategies Group.

Each year, SSG commissions and delivers the most talked-about Christmas card, typically with a political theme reflecting on one of the year’s topstories. This year is no different as the card features an illustration poking fun at President Obama’s (in)famous “You didn’t build that” meme.

“Our annual Christmas card has become a source of pride and enjoyment for the firm,” said Southern Strategies Group’s managing partner Chris Dudley.  “We like to mix the Christmas spirit with the funniest political stories of the year. Its a reminder that while politics in America is always entertaining and worth a laugh, we still live in the greatest country in the world where we can get away with it.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by the Smart Justice Summit. With an eye towards creating Smart Justice legislation for the state, the Florida Smart Justice Summit will convene December 12-14 to develop a far-reaching initiative that offers common sense ideas to improve outcomes, reduce costs and enhance public safety for the people of Florida. For more information, visit JusticeSummit.org.***

BILL TIES BRIGHT FUTURES TO WORKING IN FLORIDA 

A House Republican filed a bill Wednesday that would require future recipients of Bright Futures scholarships to reimburse the state if they do not graduate or if they go to work outside of Florida. The bill (HB 35), filed by Rep. Jimmie Smith would take effect with students who receive their initial Bright Futures scholarships during the 2014-15 academic year. It says, in part, that Bright Futures “shall serve as an incentive for students to remain and work in the state after graduation.” It would require recipients of the scholarships to submit information each year about proof of residence and employment in Florida. “

A student who receives an award, but who does not graduate or complete the program for which the award was received or who no longer resides in the state after graduation or program completion, must reimburse the state for the amount of the award received or a prorated portion thereof,” the bill says. The state Department of Education would come up with procedures if money is not reimbursed. The bill includes some exceptions, such as for Bright Futures recipients who go on active duty in the military. They would be considered employed in Florida, regardless of where they are located.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Timothy Cerio, GrayRobinson: Build America Mutual Assurance Company

Hayden Dempsey, Leslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: Build America Mutual Assurance Company

Chris Hansen, GrayRobinson: Meadowbrook, Inc

Meghan Hoza, Ken Pruitt: The P5 Group: Florida Crystals Corporation

Larry Williams: National Association of Water Companies (NAWC)

***The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from health plans, hospital executives and health care providers, to some of Florida’s biggest employers and elected officials – to discuss how to make Florida healthier and bring affordable, accessible, quality health care to Floridians. To register to attend or for more information, please visit www.healthcareflorida.com.***

DATELINE TALLAHASSEE: FOR LESSER CRIME, RETHINKING TIME BEHIND BARS via the New York Times

er sentence reflected a revolution in public policy, often called mass incarceration, that appears increasingly dubious to both conservative and liberal social scientists. They point to evidence that mass incarceration is no longer a cost-effective way to make streets safer, and may even be promoting crime instead of suppressing it.

Three decades of stricter drug laws, reduced parole and rigid sentencing rules have lengthened prison terms and more than tripled the percentage of Americans behind bars. The United States has the highest reported rate of incarceration of any country: about one in 100 adults, a total of nearly 2.3 million people in prison or jail.

But today there is growing sentiment that these policies have gone too far.

FLORIDA SOON HOME TO 1 MIL CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMITS via Michael Peltier

The number of licensed concealed weapons holders in Florida is expected to top 1 million next week, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told reporters Wednesday.

Doubling since 2007, the number of concealed weapons license holders will top 5 percent of Florida’s 19.1 million residents in a state that is number one nationally in licenses issued.

“Clearly it is a popular law and has been taken advantage of by a large number of Floridians who have acted responsibly,” Putnam said.

PERSONNEL NOTE: Doug Callaway is returning to Florida to serve as a senior policy advisor at the state Department of Transportation. Callaway, who formerly was head of Floridians for Better Transportation, left in 2011 to run the Georgia Transportation Alliance, an organization backed by the Chamber of Commerce. Callaway will start at DOT on Jan. 4 as senior policy advisor, working on intermodal systems development. Callaway has also worked for the Florida Department of Transportation previously, and as a congressional staffer, as well as working for an engineering firm.

STUDY: FLORIDIANS NOT SO HEALTHY

Despite great weather for exercising outside, Floridians are relatively unhealthy and many adults are couch potatoes. Florida ranked No. 34, unchanged from last year, in a state-by-state study of health. Despite the state’s healthy image of being an active place to play, that’s not the case for many residents.

TAMPA CHAMBER’S 127TH ANNUAL MEETING TODAY

Chair Chuck Black will take a look back at the Chamber’s 2012 accomplishments and pass the gavel to incoming Chair Gregory Celestan, president of Celestar Corporation, who will present his priorities for 2013 and introduce the 2013 Executive Committee.   The Chamber will also present the 2012 H.L. Culbreath Jr. Profile in Leadership Award and the 2013 Startup Scholars.

WHY THE COST OF PREPAID TUITION HAS SKYROCKETED via StateImpact Florida.

The cost of a prepaid, 4-year university plan for a newborn in Florida has climbed more than 350 percent in the last six years. In 2006-07, the prepaid cost for 4-year university tuition and fees was $14,616. Now, it’s $53,729, which comes out to $332 a month over 18 years.

***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 ***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Hayden Dempsey.

MARCO RUBIO IS GOING BALD

“No fault to Rubio’s biology — there’s absolutely nothing’s wrong with a diminishing hair count, and some stats say 40% of men will experience hair loss by age 35 (me among them) — but there are ways to exacerbate the issue, like what Rubio’s doing presently, and ways to alleviate it a little,” writes Esquire, quoting a men’s hair stylist describing the Rubio dome as “not far off from combover city.”

TWEET, TWEET: @marcorubio: #Esquire report on having less hair than I once did is sadly true.But good news is I am still in upper 2% in Senate.

YEAR IN REVIEW: For Facebook here. For Twitter here.

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.