Sunburn for 12/19 — 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.

Just two more days to the end of the world, according to the Mayans. Assuming we all make it past Friday, there’s just five days left from today before Christmas.

What’s the one gift you’d like to give or receive this year? Email me at [email protected] and we’ll publish the best ones.

Speaking of Christmas, Governor Rick Scott and the First Lady Ann Scott will help distribute Christmas Baskets at CAMACOL Tower (1401 W. Flager Street, Miami) to families in need.

And just to get you in the spirit, check out this negative Santa campaign ad produced by Berman and Company, a research, communications, and advertising firm based in Washington DC.

Now, on to what’s burning this morning…

SO FAR, NEW GUN PROPOSALS FEW IN FLORIDA by Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

Reaction in Florida has been muted, at least in the form of concrete legislation…

But no gun legislation has been introduced in either the Florida House or the Senate since the tragedy. Legislative Republicans, who have traditionally worked to expand gun rights, have largely steered clear of the issue. A spokeswoman for Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, responded vaguely to questions about whether the Senate was planning a legislative response.

“As a former school superintendent, Senator Gaetz supports Governor Scott’s call for Florida’s school districts to review emergency procedures and determine if there are ways to improve security in Florida schools and to communicate these actions with Florida’s families,” spokeswoman Katie Betta wrote in an email.

Democrats have also seemed hesitant, mindful that the GOP-dominated Legislature is unlikely to pass sweeping new laws to control firearms.

TIMES EDITORIAL: AS NATION MOVES AHEAD ON GUN CONTROL, TALLAHASSEE IN DENIAL

“As Newtown’s families bury their children this week, members of both political parties in Washington finally sound willing to take action on gun control. In Tallahassee, too many politicians remain in denial even in the aftermath of an unimaginable loss of young lives.”

OBAMA’S GUN PUSH TAKES SHAPE

President Obama would actively support an impending proposal next year to reinstate a ban on assault weapons as part of the wide-ranging effort the president promised to initiate in response to mass shooting incidents this year, NBC News reports. White House press secretary Jay Carney also said that Obama was additionally willing to consider limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and closing a loophole allowing individuals to purchase firearms at gun shows without a background check. Sen. Dick Durbin told Greg Sargent that Democrats would also consider including other ideas like limiting high capacity magazine clips, beefing up background checks, expanding mental health services, and looking at violence in movies and video games.

OBAMA GETS BOUNCE BUT NO MANDATE 

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds President Obama’s approval rate at 54%, his highest (excepting a brief bin Laden bounce) in nearly two years. And even while weakly rated on the economy, he leads the Republicans in trust to handle it by 18 percentage points, his widest margin since July 2009.

That said, Americans by 56% to 34% say Obama does not have “a mandate to carry out the agenda he presented during the presidential campaign,” but rather should “compromise on things the Republicans strongly oppose.”

MARCO RUBIO, ORRIN HATCH HOLD HIGH-TECH IMMIGRATION MEETING

The Republican senators hosted a meeting with tech companies like Google and Microsoft yesterday focused on immigration reform and high-tech visas, according to a POLITICO Influence. Facebook, Deloitte, and others are also expected to attend.

RUBIO, JEB BUSH FEATURED SPEAKERS AT 2013 CPAC by Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

The Floridians will join Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, Sen. Jim DeMint, Gov. Susana Martinez, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen.-designate Tim Scott.

The conference will be held March 14-16 at Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center outside Washington.

“As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of CPAC, we are excited to present a conference focused on our timeless principles but also explore and define the future of the conservative movement,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas.

***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.”***

CRIST TO TESTIFY BEFORE US SENATE TODAY

Crist will testify about the electoral process in Florida today before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington.

Crist has been critical of changes made to Florida election laws by the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the past two years. Those changes included reducing early voting days, making it harder for persons to vote if they changed counties but didn’t change their voter registration and attempts to proscribe the activities of voter registration organizations, such as the League of Women Voters.

>>>In a poll of LobbyTools subscribers, Crist is the preferred choice for Governor in 2014 over Rick Scott by a margin of 77% to 23%.

>>>Q & A with Crist here via the Florida Current’s Bill Cotterell.

RICK SCOTT COMMITTEE NOW AT $5 MILLION RAISED FOR 2014 via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

After collecting $100,000 from a firm backing resort casinos in south Florida, a political committee closely tied to Gov. Rick Scott has already raised more than $5 million as it prepares for the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Though Scott has not formally started his re-election campaign, the money gives him a major advantage as the 2014 election cycle begins. During 2011 and the first 10 months of 2012, the committee raised nearly $4.9 million, according to state campaign-finance reports. The committee’s website indicates it has raised another $210,000 in November and December.

… The biggest contributors in 2011 and 2012 were Blue Cross, $350,000; Huizenga and Huizenga Holdings, Inc., $265,500; Florida Power & Light, $250,000; and Adelson, $250,000, according to state elections records. Others included a Florida Optometric Association political committee, $200,000; a Florida Retail Federation committee, $150,000; and a Florida Realtors fund, $150,000.

SCOTT SENDS XMAS CARDS OUT FROM HIS POLITICAL CMTE – WITH WRONG RETURN ADDRESS by Lucy Morgan of the Tampa Bay Times

It is definitely not the Governor’s Mansion. There are no stately white columns on the modest house 3 miles east of the state Capitol. But that’s the return address on envelopes containing a Christmas card and a $25 historical Christmas ornament sent to several thousand of Gov. Rick Scott’s supporters.

…Steve Andrews, a Tallahassee lawyer embroiled in a bitter lawsuit against the governor, says his wife received one of the packages. “It’s a typical intimidation tactic,” Andrews told the Tampa Bay Times. He says his wife has not donated to the governor’s campaign or his political committee and should not be on his list to receive anything. Andrews went to the return address listed and discovered young tenants who were steadily tossing out all of the packages postal authorities were returning as undeliverable. Andrews collected a dozen of them and left them with a Times reporter.
CONG. DENNIS ROSS NAMES ANTHONY FOTI HIS NEW CHIEF OF STAFF

Ross formally announced Anthony Foti as his new Chief of Staff, and welcomed three new staff members to his Washington, D.C. office and one new staff member to his Lakeland office. Amie Woeber will serve as the Legislative Director, Kyle Glenn as a Legislative Analyst, and Katie Hughes as the Communications Director. Woeber, Glenn, and Hughes will be based out of the D.C. office. Laura Rodriguez will serve as a Constituent Services-Outreach Representative in his Lakeland office. “I am grateful that Anthony accepted the position as my Chief of Staff, and am thankful for the addition of these experienced staffers who will join our team,” said Ross. “Their breadth of knowledge and commitment to public service will be invaluable as we continue to serve the great people of central Florida and work toward building a stronger United States of America.”

***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.***

FLORIDA MEDICAID DOCTORS TO GET 105% RAISE

Florida is one of five states that pay primary-care doctors so little for treating Medicaid patients that those doctors will get a raise of more than 100 percent when a federal subsidy kicks in on Jan. 1, according to a new study. The raise, which brings Medicaid pay up to the level of Medicare for two years, is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORMS TO BE DISCUSSED

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the agency’s efforts to reform juvenile justice. 6 p.m., Urban League of Broward County Community Empowerment Center.

NEW STATE LICENSE PLATE DESIGN UNVEILED by Brittany Alana Davis

The green-rimmed, leafed-orange winner in a poll of about 50,000 online voters could be released as soon as 2014. It is scheduled to be phased in over two years on Florida’s 15 million vehicles. “Sunshine State” is at the plate’s bottom edge, and the center is stamped with seven characters instead of the traditional six, to keep Florida from running out of character combinations. Highway Safety Chief Julie Jones faced push-back from the moment she announced the $31 million makeover, with manufacturing groups threatening to take the state to court and critics trashing the tags as dull. QUOTE OF THE DAY – “The four choices are so spectacularly insipid that it’s no easy decision,” Fred Grimm writes in the Miami Herald. “It would be easier picking a favorite from Rick Scott’s most electrifying speeches.” TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: You know how you play the “license plate game” on roadtrips? Fla’s new design will make you want to stop playing.

***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.***

BRIGHT FUTURES REVAMP WITHDRAWN BY REP. JIMMIE SMITH via Denise-Marie Ordway of the Orlando Sentinel

Smith, a Republican representing Citrus and Hernando counties, had wanted to make students pay back all or part of their scholarship money if they dropped out of college or left the state after graduation.

Now, days after filing the legislation, he’s planning to drop it. “That bill will be withdrawn within the next few days,” said Gabe Peters, an aide for Smith.

Smith wrote that the bill “is intended to make sure that Bright Futures has the longevity it needs to benefit the most students possible as well as the State of Florida.”

“However, after thoughtful discussion with constituents, I feel this goal could be better achieved by different means and look forward to working diligently to find answers to the issues that need to be addressed concerning Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.”

FLORIDA SPACE INDUSTRY TO VISIT CAPITOL ON MARCH 6

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.

“Since Florida is the third largest space industry in the nation, the decisions made in both Tallahassee and Washington D.C. in regard to the space program will greatly affect the state,” said Don M. White Jr., chairman of Florida Space Day 2013.

This year’s event is critical, as the state’s space industry continues to expand and change to face the dynamic international marketplace. In addition to more traditional space-related industries like space launches, ground and payload processing, and satellite programs, industries with less traditional ties to space – i.e. clean energy, environmental monitoring, cyber security and life sciences/pharma – will also serve as key contributors to Florida’s near-term space economy. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss these 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.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED FOR 2013 HEALTH CARE SUMMIT

House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Congressman Tom Price, M.D. and President of Health Care Quality Advisors Michael Millenson will participate as keynote speakers for the upcoming 2013 Florida Health Care Affordability Summit. The Summit, which will take place at the World Center Marriot in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will serve as an open forum to help establish potential health care modernization proposals to provide for accessible, affordable and high quality health care to all Floridians.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Joe McCann, Ballard Partners: City of Delray Beach

Laura Boehmer, Southern Strategies Group: Hernando-Pasco Hospice; Louise Graham Regeneration Center

Reginald Garcia: Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

***In 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together” a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America.  The initiative leverages Walmart’s size and resources to provide nutritious food and the Walmart Foundation’s ability to grant funding to nonprofits that help elevate the issue.  Join Walmart in the fight against hunger by visiting here, Twitter or Facebook, and by asking others to do the same, today.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to man about town Sean Jacobus.

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.