Sunburn for 12/21 — 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.

A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR THE TRAGEDY IN NEWTOWN, CT.

On Tuesday, , Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy penned a letter to state Governors requesting their respective states observe a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. To support the community of Newtown, Governor Rick Scott is requesting that Floridians observe a moment of silence beginning at 9:30 a.m. today in conjunction with the people of Connecticut.

Governor Scott said, “I am asking all Floridians to join Ann and me in observing a moment of silence to honor the memories of the 20 children and six adults who were all taken from this world too soon on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Newtown in this difficult time – and we all continue to pray that peace comes to the families and all those impacted by this tragedy.”

ECONOMY GREW AT 3.1% — BETTER THAN EXPECTED

The U.S. economy expanded at an even faster pace than previously estimated in the third quarter, but the gains could be an outlier for the year as fiscal cliff worries and superstorm Sandy will likely slow growth in the final months of 2012, reports the Wall Street Journal.

ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS CUT BACK SPENDING BECAUSE OF FISCAL CLIFF

A third of Americans are cutting back spending because of their fears over the so-called fiscal cliff — if Washington can’t agree on a compromise, according to a new poll from Palm Beach County-based Bankrate.com. One in three polled said they have reined in spending in the last 30 days while another Bankrate.com survey found that Americans are feeling the least financially secure in a year.

MAJORITY SAY REPUBLICAN POLICIES TOO EXTREME

A new CNN/ORC poll finds a slight majority of Americans sees the Republican party’s policies and views as too extreme, 53% to 37%, a first for the GOP.

Key finding: “It probably doesn’t help that House Speaker John Boehner, who’s leading GOP fiscal cliff negotiations with the president, is held in fairly low regard, particularly in comparison to Obama. According to the poll, 34% of the public approves of how the top Republican in the House handling his job. By contrast, the president’s approval rating stands at 52%.”

***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.”***

FLORIDIANS SPLIT ON GAY MARRIAGE, LEGALIZING MARIJUANA

The survey by Quinnipiac University of 1,261 registered voters found that 45 percent oppose gay marriage while 43 percent support it. That’s a change from last May when 50 percent opposed same-sex marriage. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percent.

Fifty-two percent are opposed to making marijuana legal while 42 percent say the drug should be made legal.

On other issues: 73 percent of voters said they oppose an effort to allow colleges like the University of Florida and Florida State University raise tuition higher than the law currently makes possible.

Sixty-six percent said they opposed allowing universities to charge lower tuition for certain in-demand majors such as those in the science and engineering field, while charging more for those degrees that are considered less employable.

In other education issues 71 percent of those surveyed opposed having the state set different achievement levels for public schools students based on race.

MARION HAMMER: ONLY THING CHARLIE CRIST EVER HUNTED IS POLITICAL OFFICE

“Are you surprised?” she said in an email to the Miami Herald. “I’m not surprised that Charlie Crist is now joining the gun ban chant of anti-gun Democrats. Recently, Charlie Crist has been systematically turning his back on many things in which he has claimed to believe. He currently claims to be a deer hunter. I suspect that the only thing he has actually ever hunted is political office.”

***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.***

BILL KEEPS FLORIDA IN MULTI-STATE PROGRAM FOR MILITARY CHILDREN via The Sunshine State News

Sen. Jeff Brandes filed a bill that would maintain Florida’s involvement in a multi-state agreement that makes it easier for children of military personnel to change schools when their parents are deployed to new bases.

Senate Bill 138 keeps Florida in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children that since 2008 addresses issues of eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation.

“Florida will renew its commitment to assisting these families by ensuring that as they move, we limit the amount of ‘red-tape’ they will face when they settle in their new locations and enroll their students in schools,” Brandes stated in a release on Thursday.

THIS IS RICH: FMR. SENATOR MIKE BENNETT NOW WANTS MORE EARLY VOTING via the Bradenton Herald

Bennett, now the newly elected supervisor of elections in Manatee County, has done an about-face on how much access to early voting people should have. (He) now wants to make it easier and is suggesting more early voting days.

Bennett, who will officially become elections supervisor on Jan. 6, said last year that voting should be hard and that with people in some places willing walk 200 miles to vote – Americans should value the ability to cast a ballot. “This should not be easy,” Bennett, a Republican, said at the time while arguing for cutting the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, a measure that passed. But Bennett told the Herald that he now would like to see the number of early voting days returned to 14, and also wants supervisors to have more flexibility in determining early voting sites.

Bennett drew angry responses from those who consider voting a right when he said in 2011 that it was instead a :hard-fought privilege” and shouldn’t be made convenient. “How much more convenient do you want to make it? Do we want to go to their house? Take the polling booth with us?” he said at the time. Bennett, who left the Legislature because of term limits, was elected to replace Bob Sweat, who retired after nearly three decades.

***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.***

CREDIT CARDS ARE BACK AS PREFERRED WAY TO BUY HOLIDAY GIFTS

With one in every three consumers failing to save in advance for the holiday season — and more people feeling confident enough this year to buy big- ticket items like homes and new cars — more consumers are finding themselves strapped for cash. To bridge the gap and still be able to fulfill holiday purchases, the largest numbers of consumers since before the Great Recession began are turning to credit cards.

FLORIDIAN OF THE YEAR: Florida Trend’s January issue is in the mail to print subscribers now. On the cover is Jonathan Hage of Charter Schools USA, its choice for Floridian of the Year.

IN FLORIDA, “SEASONAL” MEANS ALL WINTER

Seasonal hiring is taking a holiday of its own in the weeks before Christmas and New Year’s Day, but recruiting is forecast to pick up again in the first weeks of 2013. After Christmas, customer demand won’t drop off as steeply as it does in many Northern markets and many of those holiday jobs will likely last longer.

NOVEMBER UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS OUT TODAY AT 10 AM

The Department of Economic Opportunity releases the state’s unemployment data for November. Florida’s jobless rate fell in October to 8.5 percent, its lowest level since December 2008.

STATE’S MINIMUM WAGE GOING UP JAN. 1

Florida’s minimum wage is going up by 12 cents per hour to $7.79 on Jan.1 due to an increase in the cost of living. The National Employment Law Project on Wednesday reported 210,000 Floridians will benefit from the increase. It’s expected to add an average of $370 to their annual wages and $46.2 million to the state’s gross domestic product.

SUNSHINE STATE RANKS THIRD IN POPULATION GROWTH

New estimates released by the U.S. Census shows Florida grew by 235,000 residents and trailed only Texas and California in sheer numeric growth.

WORKERS OPTIMISTIC FOR 2013

U.S. workers said they are hopeful for a better year in 2013 when it comes to jobs and the economy, in a recent survey by Randstad, a global staffing firm. According to the survey, 57 percent of employees believe they are likely to receive a raise in 2013, up 10 percent from last year.

***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.***

EMAIL OF THE DAY: From Bill@FLStones.com – “Since you ‘X’ Christ I X YOU”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY this weekend: Kevin Doyle, Pinellas Democratic Party Chair Mark Hanisee, Tampa’s Don Phillips, Amy Zubaly

SANTA’S WORKLOAD CALCULATED: There are just over 526,000,000 Christian kids under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25th. In other words, Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22 million kids an hour, every hour, on the night before Christmas. That’s about 365,000 kids a minute; about 6,100 a second. Totally doable.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: @GovGoneWild: If the Mayan’s were right and we don’t make it past tomorrow somehow it will be Bush’s fault; @jkrelldavis: Hope to see you http://t.co/GGQ1PIsi (link is to picture of movie poster for ‘The Day After Tomorrow’

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.