Sunburn for 12/6 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***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.***

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION READY TO GO OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told CNBC that the Obama administration was prepared to dive off the fiscal cliff if Republicans do not agree to raise tax rates on the wealthy.

Said Geithner: “There’s no prospect of an agreement that doesn’t involve the rates going up on the top 2 percent of the wealthiest.”

WALL STREET NOT WORRIED ABOUT FISCAL CLIFF

The Washington Post notes that in Washington, “debate over the ‘fiscal cliff’ is cloaked in apocalyptic warnings of soaring tax rates and a crashing economy. On Wall Street, the tone is different: All will be fine.”

“The stock market has been little changed in the past three weeks, with few wild swings. That comes despite the Jan. 1 deadline when tax hikes and spending cuts are to go into effect unless politicians reach a deal to avert them.”

RYAN TAKES SHOT AT ROMNEY OVER “47 PERCENT” COMMENTS

Rep. Paul Ryan “took an unmistakable shot” at Mitt Romney’s assertion during the presidential campaign that 47% of Americans would never vote Republican because they are too dependent on government, Politico reports.

“Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’ said Ryan. “Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American. I believe we can turn on the engines of upward mobility so that no one is left out from the promise of America.”

RUBIO ADMITS HE KNOWS EARTH IS 4.5 BILLION YEARS OLD

At a Politico event, Sen. Marco Rubio insisted he knew how old the Earth was even though he declined to answer the question in an interview last month.

“The answer I gave was actually trying to make the same point the President made a few years ago, and that is, there is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth,” said Rubio. “I mean, it’s established pretty definitively as at least four and a half billion years old. I was referring to a theological debate, and which is a pretty healthy debate.”

***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.***

CLENDENIN WINS RE-ELECTION IN HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, CLEARS PATH FOR BID TO LEAD FLA. DEMS.

Alan Clendenin unanimously won re-election Tuesday evening as Hillsborough County Democratic State Committeeman, winning re-election with the widespread support of grassroots Democrats and a who’s who of elected Democratic officials.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ RECRUITED ALLISON TANT by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

(Smith) chatted with Allison Tant, a top Democratic fundraiser from Tallahassee who emerged this week as a candidate for Florida Democratic Chair. She said U.S. Rep. and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz phoned her Friday to urge her to run for the post being vacated by Rod Smith, saying she and Sen. Bill Nelson are very enthusiastic about her.

DISSENT OF THE DAY via the Political Hurricane blog: “It is extremely disappointing that party staff, rather than facilitate a smooth election process and start working on candidate recruitment and infrastructure building for 2014 are spending time and effort lobbying elected officials in the chair’s race. This sort of behavior is precisely why the grassroots activists of the party in urbanized central and southeastern Florida are growing further and further afield from the Tallahassee based leadership and staff.”

DARRYL ROUSON FACING CHALLENGE IN HOUSE LEADERSHIP BID by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat angling to be the next leader of the 44-member House Democratic caucus, formally drew a challenge Wednesday: Rep. Mia Jones of Jacksonville filed a notice with the House clerk indicating she, too, wants the job in 2014.

Rouson filed his intention to run for minority leader in October and was visible on the campaign trail in the closing weeks, helping fellow Democrats in their campaigns such as Kevin Rader in Palm Beach County and Larry Lee in St. Lucie County. Rouson also drew media attention by holding a press conference in October with former Gov. Charlie Crist on the need to change Florida voting laws, such as returning to 14 days of early voting.

Jones could be a formidable opponent for Rouson because she is already a part of the Democratic leadership circle. She is House Democratic leader Perry Thurston’s pro tem, and under the House Democratic caucus rules, only Thurston can call an election to pick a new leader.

In brief comments Wednesday, Rouson said Thurston should call an election “sooner rather than later.”

STATE ELECTION SPENDING TOPPED $270 MILLION by Mike Vasalinda of the Capitol News Service

An analysis of election spending by the Florida Chamber of Commerce shows that the average cost of winning a state house or senate seat was one point six million dollars. Many cost far less ,but only a small portion of the money was actually raised and spent by the candidates.

The 110 candidates who ran for the state senate raised a total of 21 million dollars. There were 354 house candidates who raised 31 million. Republicans on average raised twice as much as Democrats. But the real money was raised by committees. A whopping $219 million.

***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.***

GAETZ RILES TEA PARTIERS AFTER OBAMACARE MEETING via The News Service of Florida

Tea-party activists are angry at Senate President Don Gaetz about an email he sent after a noisy meeting Monday in which speakers called for the Senate to reject carrying out the federal Affordable Care Act. The Palm Beach Post reported that Gaetz, R-Niceville, sent an email to a leader of the activists, KrisAnne Hall, that rejected the idea of “nullification” — a legal theory that the state can invalidate a federal law if it considers the law unconstitutional. In the email, Gaetz recounted a quote by former President Andrew Jackson when confronted with the prospect of nullifiers. Jackson was quoted as saying, “Shoot the first nullifier who touches the Flag. And hang the rest.” The Post said that led to a response from Hall on her blog.”After sending Senator Don Gaetz my letter explaining the positions of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton on State Sovereignty, Mr. Gaetz says that citizens who agree with the writer of the Declaration of Independence should be summarily shot and hanged,” Hall wrote. The Post said Gaetz later downplayed the dispute and the use of the Jackson quote. “That’s just an old tale of what was said about what Andrew Jackson said,” Gaetz told the Post. “I simply sent it to her as a way to try to let her know that you can still be civil about these issues and you don’t have to be outraged about every single thing. You can disagree without being uncivil.”

HEALTH OFFICIALS STRIKE AT MEDIA by Brittany Davis of the Miami Herald

Health officials slammed the media Wednesday for “sensational” reporting on government failures to report tuberculosis outbreaks, provide adequate care for disabled children in nursing homes, and protect elderly and disabled residents in assisted living facilities.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek told lawmakers in the Health Policy committee she was “enraged” by media coverage about the state placing children in nursing homes.

“We do not place our medically complex or medically fragile children in nursing homes,” Dudek said, adding that the parent decides where to place their child. “The last place we want children is away from their parents.”

TWEET, TWEET: @Ryan_N_Wiggins: We did nothing wrong. It was someone elses fault. Mark that as someone I am SO glad is no longer my problem. #subtweet

MEDICAID REFORM, ACA NOT LINKED IN STATE’S TALKS WITH FEDS

As Florida negotiates for federal approval of a proposal to overhaul the Medicaid program, officials have not linked the issue to the state’s handling of the Affordable Care Act, state Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek told legislative committees this week. Dudek’s agency is seeking approval of a proposal that ultimately would lead to almost all Medicaid beneficiaries enrolling in managed-care plans. At the same time, questions are swirling about whether the state will carry out key parts of the Affordable Care Act, which is widely known as “Obamacare.” Those questions center on issues such as whether Florida will create a health-insurance exchange that is required by the law or let the federal government run the exchange for the state. Gov. Rick Scott last month sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that requesting a meeting about the Affordable Care Act and other health-care issues — including pressing for approval of the Medicaid changes. But AHCA has not linked the issues in its discussions with federal officials, Dudek said. “We have not brought it up, and the feds have not brought it up,” she told the Senate Health Policy Committee on Wednesday.

QUESTIONS ABOUT FERTILIZER LEGISLATION RAISED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE by Gray Rohrer of the Florida Current

The chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee said he expects fertilizer legislation to come up again this year but added that he’d prefer that the parties involved work out the issues among themselves.

… “It would surprise me if it doesn’t come up again,” he said. “It’s always a contentious issue between the industry and local governments.”

Caldwell also said he’d prefer not to impose a preemption on local governments if it can be avoided. “I’d prefer to see them (groups on either side) work it out for themselves,” he said.

SENATE INTENDS TO WORK QUICKLY THIS TIME ON GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTMENTSby Jim Turner of Sunshine State News

Last session, nearly 400 gubernatorial appointments were left up in the air about their positions when they failed to receive Senate confirmation.

Heading into the 2013 session, Senate President Don Gaetz doesn’t want members waiting until the appointees reach the Senate floor before expressing concerns.

“The worst thing that could happen is to work a nominee through the process and we get to the floor and somebody walks over to (Senate Ethics and Elections Committee Chairman Jack) Latvala and says ‘why did we move that guy’ or ‘why didn’t we move that woman, she’s great,’” Gaetz said.

Sen. Jack Latvala said he will send a list of nominees to all members after the holidays so they can quickly voice any support or concerns to the Ethics and Elections Committee, which will review the appointments.

Latvala added that he may expedite the nearly 230 appointees that Gov. Rick Scott had reappointed after receiving committee support in 2012 but failed to reach the Senate floor for full confirmation.  “We’ll be proactive,” Latvala said.

STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS SAY THEY WON’T RAISE TUITION IF LEGISLATURE GIVES THEM $118 MILLION by Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

This new funding would be on top of the restoration of a $300 million one-time cut the Legislature imposed last year, which is already being built into the state budget. University of North Florida President John Delaney said universities need more money whether it comes from tuition or the state budget.

“Fundamentally the system is underfunded, and the source of that money is secondary in regard, I think, to the universities,” he said. “The question is that it’s underfunded as compared to the rest of the country, approximately 30 percent is spent less in Florida compared to the national average on each student.”

Judy Genshaft, he president of the University of South Florida, said one in five students at the school are first-time college students and holding the line on tuition is key for keeping them enrolled.

“We really believe that it’s important to keep tuition at a steady state that we have right now but the only way to do that is through the $118 million addition through state appropriations,” she said. “You know the state university system has lost 40 percnet of it’s budget within the last five to six years so that’s a huge number and we know that this (new money) will allow us to stay steady.”

ON TAP IN THE LEGISLATURE via The News Service of Florida

Agency heads lay out needs at Transportation Budget Subcommittee: Heads of several state agencies that are funded through the Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development budget are before that committee in the Senate on Thursday. The heads of the National Guard, the Division of Emergency Management, The Department of State, the highway safety agency, the Department of Transportation and the state’s economic development agency all will go before the panel. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

Bondi speaks to Senate Justice Appropriations: Attorney General Pam Bondi will speak Thursday to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, discussing her priority initiatives for the coming year. The panel will also hear from the clerks and comptrollers, prosecutors and public defenders, the Parole Commission, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections, the Capital Collateral Regional Counsels, the Office of Guardians ad Litem, and others whose budgets are written by the committee. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

Brogan, Stewart, Jurado at Senate Education Appropriations: State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan spells out the system’s priorities in the initial meeting of the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The panel, chaired by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, also hears from Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and Office of Early Learning Director Mel Jurado. The early learning budget – and a new formula that has led to some local early learning organizations losing money – has been controversial and a number of lawmakers have said changing the funding formula is a priority. (Thursday, 11 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

Dudek, Armstrong repeat in Senate HHS Appropriations:  Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek and State Surgeon General John Armstrong go before the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, repeating presentations they’ll give Wednesday in Senate Health Quality. (Thursday, 2 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

Jones, Prasad in Senate Transportation: Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Director Julie Jones and Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad go before the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday morning to discuss the agencies’ top priorities. (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.)

FLORIDA REALTORS LOOKING AT HIRING DEAN CANNON

Another potential client for House Speaker-turned-Capitol-lobbyist Dean Cannon: the Florida Realtors.

John Sebree, the senior vice president of public policy for the trade group, confirmed the Realtors are talking with Cannon, who has launched a new lobbying firm in Tallahassee dubbed “Capitol Insight.”

“We have not hired Dean’s firm. We are looking at it,” Sebree said. “He’s a great friend and we’ve been thinking about doing some strategic stuff that he could probably be helpful with.”

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS 

Slater Bayliss, Sarah Busk, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Free Flow Wines

Stuart Brown, SKB Consulting Group: Wireless Generation, Inc.

Carlos Gimenez, Becker & Poliakoff PA: Learning Through Sports, Inc.

Susan Goldstein: Florida Wildflower Foundation

William Stander: Main Street America Protection Insurance Company

WANNA BE A MESSENGER?

Rep. Bill Hager is conducting cn essay contest to fill his messenger position for the upcoming legislative session. Students should submit a one-page essay on why they want to go to Tallahassee to participate in the Legislative Session, and complete the application in full, including permission from both a parent/guardian and school principal.  More information about the program and he application can be found here.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part 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.***

HOLIDAY PARTY FOR THE MEDIA AT THE GOVERNOR’S MANSION set for December 14, reports Troy Kinsey.

HOLIDAY RECEPTION TONIGHT AT GOV’S MANSION, ALSO beginning at 7:00 p.m.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION LAWS SUBJECT OF NEW JMI BRIEF

The latest policy brief from The James Madison Institute (JMI), “Safeguarding Employees’ First Amendment Rights through Paycheck Protection” reminds Floridians, and lawmakers preparing for the 2013 Legislative Session, that unionized employees, especially those who have dues automatically withdrawn from their paychecks, deserve to have ample opportunity to choose how their money is spent.

“Although Florida is a right-to-work state, a dilemma still exists for many workers where a union has an industry presence,” said Dr. J. Robert McClure, JMI president and CEO.  “These Floridians have to choose between joining a union and paying dues that can be used to fund a political agenda that the employee may disagree with, or not join and lose out on participating in the affairs of the union that will represent them regardless of their membership status. It’s a tough situation, but paycheck protection laws can at least work to help employees utilize their right to choose, making it easier for them to control the use of their hard-earned dollars.”

A July 2012 report from the Wall Street Journal cited in JMI’s policy brief states that organized labor spends about four times as much on politics and lobbying as the public realizes. The report broke down unions’ political spending from 2005 to 2011 where $1.1 billion was used to support federal candidates through their political-action committees and lobbying Washington. Add to that another $3.3 billion spent on polling, member education, and other political efforts.

PECO ESTIMATE OUT TODAY via the News Service of Florida

The Revenue Estimating Conference meets Thursday to discuss the Public Education Capital Outlay program. Forecasters back in August reduced the amount of money expected to be available for education construction projects in the coming year, based on how much the state is expected to earn from utility taxes. Economists had earlier estimated that the state will not have any funding for bonded projects until the 2014-2015 fiscal year, when some large projects that are bankrolled by bonds are paid off.

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.