A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***
5 QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
1. House Speaker Will Weatherford penned a Nixon-goes-to-China op-ed about in-state tuition for undocumented students. It’s being hailed as “courageous” and “compassionate” and even received a shout-out from Jeb Bush. So what will the reaction be from the rest of the state’s Republicans?
2. During his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, how hard will President Obama hit the GOP? How much of his speech will be recycled? How will the president handle Obamacare? What will be this year’s surprises? How will the Republicans respond? Oh wait, that’s five questions just about the SOTU.
3. After a month of highlighting the popular suggestions in his 2014-15 budget proposal, Rick Scott will unveil his full budget at a gathering of editors and reporters in Tallahassee on Wednesday. What not-so-popular items will be included in his proposal?
4. At that gathering of editors and reporters in Tally, also scheduled to speak are Weatherford and Gaetz, Pam Bondi, and Charlie Crist, among others. Will the Speaker and Senate President continue their Good Cop, Good Cop routine? What can Bondi say to restore confidence in her re-election campaign after last week’s poor showing in the latest PPP poll? And how hard will Crist go after Scott?
5. The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit runs Wednesday through Friday and will feature an A-list of elected officials and industry insiders. In just its second year, this event is already a must-attend for those interested in health care policy? What news will come out of the summit?
I will be in Tallahasssee on Tuesday-Wednesday for the AP’s press briefings and then Orlando to live-blog the health care summit. Email or message me if you would like to get together.
THE RETURN OF THE “4TH FLOOR FILES”
Returning soon are the “4th Floor Files”, a question-and-answer feature that interviews many of the state’s top lobbyists. Each day at 4 p.m. a new ‘file’ is posted on SaintPetersblog. Each lobbyist is being asked the same general questions, although the questionnaire may be modified going forward. There is no rhyme or reason as to who has been selected to be interviewed. And there will be very little editing of the responses (even for spelling).
Check out the new repository for the files at 4thFloorFiles.com. And if you are a lobbyist interested in answering the questionnaire, please email me at email@example.com.
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MORE POLL FODDER: GUV’S RACE CLOSE, BUT SCOTT’S NEGATIVES RISE via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel
A new poll from Hamilton Campaigns confirms what other recent polls have found: that a race between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist looks close right now, with Crist just ahead.
The commissioned poll has Crist ahead by five points, 49-44. That’s similar to other recent polls — one recent poll had the race as close as two points — yet tighter than polls taken in late 2013 when Crist’s lead was in double digits.
Yet the new poll is finding Crist with far stronger favorables than Scott. Despite Republicans’ steady barrage of attacks on Crist starting last summer, the former Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat’s favorables have stayed fairly positive since the 2013 poll, even improving by one point. Meanwhile, Scott’s have slightly declined.
Scott’s job approval ratings were about evenly split this time: 49 percent good or excellent, and 48 percent not-so-good or poor. The 2013 Hamilton poll gave him marks of 48 percent positive and 43 percent negative.
MY TAKE: WHY ADAM SMITH IS SO WRONG ABOUT CHARLIE CRIST Full blog post here
If someone had predicted the day after Rick Scott was elected governor that three-and-a-half years later he would be trailing in the polls to a Democratic challenger who would have raised about $4 million before Feb. 1 for his campaign, they would have been laughed out of the room.
Yet that is exactly where Charlie Crist stands today, but the political editor of the Tampa Bay Times contends Crist’s campaign is “shrinking.”
As one Crist adviser pushed back, not only is Smith wrong, his column would not even pass muster with PolitiFact.
Of course, I am defending Crist against Smith’s criticism. But I’ve also been fairly objective about Crist’s campaign, writing in December about Crist’s “lost month” and, most recently, the hubris of one of his staffers. So don’t just file this blog post under, “Of course Schorsch thinks Smith is wrong.”
Smith is halfway right about some of the Crist campaign’s issues, but he is downright wrong about others. He’s also holding Crist to an impossible standard while at the same time apparently forgetting that Crist’s previous campaigns were run very similar to this current one.
Smith, I am told, blogged his story without speaking to Crist or spokesman Kevin Cate. Evidently the campaign and the reporter are playing phone tag. Had Crist/Cate and Smith connected, Smith would have known that, yes, there is a campaign headquarters, staffed with several round-the-clock fundraisers. No, the HQ is not bustling with activists and volunteers, but why should it be at this point in the campaign?
Yes, body man Michael Hoffman was dismissed from the campaign, but he has already been replaced by longtime Crist confidant Mike Burns, a former special assistant to the governor. In fact, Smith’s headline about the campaign “shrinking” is just ridiculous. How can a campaign be described as “shrinking” four days after it’s reported that the most important campaign adviser to Barack Obama not named David Axelrod is joining Crist’s team? This in addition to Crist hiring one of, if not, the preeminent Democratic social media and technology firms in the country.
RICK SCOTT’S YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY via Gary Fineout for his blog, The Fine Print
When Gov. Scott announces new unemployment numbers this morning there’s little doubt he will continue to insist that his policies have helped the state’s economy recover.
Part of that perception will be tied to the release of a new poll this week that saw Scott and Crist nearly tied 10 months before Election Day (and on-going rumblings about the state of the Crist campaign.)
Lost in the discussion of the robocall poll, however, was this stark fact: That 51 percent of those polled disapproved of the job Scott has done as governor. This is a trend that has remained firmly constant since 2011.
Scott’s legislative agenda: With just weeks away from the start of the 2014 session Scott’s legislative agenda has been relatively light. The main policy initiatives he’s publicly advocated have been primarily tied to the budget.
Rebranded, rebooted Rick Scott: Last week the Scott team announced that Melissa Sellers, the communications director for Scott, was changing jobs to that of campaign manager. There are also reports of plans to quickly build up a staff and there was a shuffling of positions from the Republican Party of Florida to the campaign.
So what does this really mean? On the first part, it was the most overt sign that some of the masterminds of Scott’s successful 2010 campaign – including pollster/consultant Tony Fabrizio – will not have as prominent a role this time around. During her time in the governor’s office Sellers was a loyal partner with chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth and played a much more prominent role in helping guide policy than previous communications directors.
SCOTT UNLIKELY TO ROLL DICE ON ELECTION-YEAR GAMBLING DEBATE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
As Gov. Scott ramps up his re-election bid, he wants his legacy to be the state’s declining unemployment rate and jobs, but the next few months could shape his message on a more controversial issue: gambling.
Will the state renew or expand the Seminole Tribe’s monopoly on blackjack and other casino-style table games? Should the state allow slot machines in communities, like Palm Beach and Naples, whose voters have approved them at their racetracks? Will casino giants Genting and Las Vegas Sands be allowed to build a resort casino on the shores of Biscayne Bay or in Broward County?
Because it’s an election year, most observers believe the governor will avoid finding answers.
The issues don’t lend itself to 30-second campaign spots and pressure is mounting for lawmakers to postpone a decision on the most controversial gambling ideas until next year. Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter is already lowering expectations.
“If an election year has any influence, it could influence the magnitude of what’s undertaken,” he told the Times/Herald. He suggested that a modest bill that tightens loopholes may get passed with everything else shuttled to another year.
APPOINTED: Christina Bonarrigo, Kerry Ann Schultz, Marcia Gonzalez, Dr. Michael McLeod, Patricia “Penny” Miller and Susan Towler to the Florida Commission on Community Service.
APPOINTED: Mack Bernard to the Florida Elections Commission.
APPOINTED: Jeffrey Hurst to the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation (Able Trust).
GOV. SCOTT AWARDS $2.45 MILLION IN FLORIDA DEFENSE GRANTS TO 14 COMMUNITIES Full blog post here
Gov. Scott announced he would award more than a dozen Florida communities that hold military installations — including Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties — up to $2.45 million in Defense Grants.
Scott’s office estimates the military and defense industry contributes nearly $73.4 billion, or 9.4 percent, of Florida’s gross state product, providing nearly 758,000 jobs for Floridians.
As part of the 14 communities to get Scott’s Defense Reinvestment Grant is $850,000 to 12 communities throughout Florida to support military/community relations and promote economic diversification. Each project requires a 30 percent match from each communities receiving the grants.
A Defense Infrastructure Grant will also distribute $1.6 million to eight local governments with military installations to improve transportation, access and safety issues.
This year, Defense Grants are going to the following counties: Polk, Brevard, Duval, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Clay, Pinellas, Escambia, Orange, Bay, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Walton, and Highlands.
Enterprise Florida is the public-private corporation administering Florida Defense Grants, which are awarded annually on a prioritized basis.
SCOTT PROPOSES $33 MILLION CUT IN CORPORATE FEES, FINES
Gov. Scott released another component of his election-year proposal to cut taxes and fees by $500 million, this time by seeking to slash $33 million in corporate filing fees and penalties. Scott’s office issued a press release announcing the latest of his tax and fee cut proposals late Friday, but details of the proposal weren’t immediately available. The plan would reduce “approximately 50 different corporate filing fees and reduces the penalties associated with late filings taking into account the number of months the filing is late,” according to the release.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott “will make an historic education budget announcement,” according to a release. SD Spady Elementary School, 901 NW Third Street, Delray Beach. 10:00 a.m.
***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s top lobbying firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again. To learn more visit www.corcoranfirm.com.***
BONDI MAKES NO APOLOGIES FOR FIGHTING MARIJUANA INITIATIVE via Jeremey Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
During a stop in Sarasota on Friday, Bondi said even though supporters of the medical marijuana initiative have secured enough signatures to get on the November ballot, she is still pushing for the Florida Supreme Court to invalidate it because of the way the item is worded.
The initiative would allow marijuana to be used in several specified conditions. But it also includes a part that says it could be used for “any other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
Bondi said that language is too broad and will allow greater use of marijuana than the public has been told by supporters. She cited a scenario of a 15-year-old boy being able to get a marijuana prescription for a minor pain through a chiropractor as a possibility. She said voters are not getting a clear explanation of what they are being asked to approve.
“They need to know what they are voting for,” Bondi said during a joint meeting with the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters of Sarasota.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Attorney General Pam Bondi will hold a news conference and a workshop for businesses about efforts to stop human trafficking. Florida Hospital, Werner Auditorium, 601 East Rollins St., Orlando. 10: 00 a.m.
FLORIDA SMART JUSTICE ALLIANCE TO HOST TWO-DAY SUMMIT ON COST-EFFECTIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE Full blog post here
Bondi and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd will headline a series of meetings this week to examine ways to improve the state’s approach to criminal justice.
The Florida Smart Justice Alliance is presenting “Smart Alternatives for a Safer Florida,” the Third Annual Justice Summit today through Wednesday at the Hilton Orlando in Altamonte Springs. The public-safety advocate group, comprised of business leaders statewide, believes criminal justice costs too much without a reduction in recidivism.
In addition to speeches by Bondi and Judd, the two-day event features series of panel discussions on the latest development in justice reform advocacy. The focus will include subjects such as treating drug offenders, strategies to reduce relapses and find alternatives to incarceration.
AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE LEADS FAIF CONFERENCE THIS WEEK IN ORLANDO Full blog post here
Jorge Valdes, president of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists, will join a group of legislators and hospital industry leaders next week in a conference to examine the affordability of the state’s healthcare system.
The 2014 Florida Health Care Affordability Summit is this Wednesday through Friday at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando.
The event is the second from the Foundation of Associated Industries of Florida (FAIF) to bring together health care policymakers, leaders and providers to discuss Florida’s health care system, as well as ways for improving access and lowering health care cost for Floridians. Keynote addresses will be by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong.
“Health Care Workforce Innovation: Meeting the Workforce Demands of Providing Health Care to all Floridians,” features Valdes and is moderated by Rep. Jose Oliva, chair of the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation.
Other panelists will include Rep. Cary Pigman, vice chair of the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation; Jeenu Philip, pharmacy supervisor for Walgreen Family of Companies; and, Taynin Kopanos, vice president of State Government Affairs for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ADAM PUTNAM? via Southeast AGNet
Putnam left Sunday for Panama City, Panama, on a three-day mission that includes seeking to expand Florida growers’ access to the Central American nation. Also, the mission will include reviewing trade opportunities with the expansion of the Panama Canal and evaluating a pilot program that is expected to prevent invasive pests from entering Florida on shipments of fresh produce.
The delegation for Putnam’s first trade mission includes Bill Johnson, director of PortMiami; Robert Behr, chief operating officer of Florida’s Natural Growers; Gary Wishnatzki, owner of Wish Farms in Plant City; and officials from Putnam’s department.
The delegation will tour the canal zone Monday before meeting with U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Farrar and other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Panama. On Tuesday, the delegation is scheduled to meet with senior administration officials in Panama, including Minister of Agriculture Oscar Osorio and Vice Minister of Trade Jose Pacheco. The widening of the canal is expected to be completed in 2015, allowing the massive post-Panamax ships to traverse the isthmus.
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THE LATEST FROM THE CD 13 SPECIAL ELECTION
FIRST BALLOTS GO OUT
The first round of mail ballots went out Friday (h/t Kate Bradshaw). The batch consisted of 2,283 ballots, 944 of which went to civilians overseas, 184 went to overseas military and the remaining 1,155 went to military not serving overseas.
CHILD ADVOCATE MARK LUNSFORD WANTS YOU TO KNOW THE “REAL” DAVID JOLLY Full blog post here
Mark Lunsford wants Pinellas County voters to know the real David Jolly.
“For two weeks, I have watched the DCCC and Alex Sink lie about who David is and what type of work he did when he traveled to D.C. Well, enough is enough,” says Lunsford, who became a high-profile child advocate after the rape and murder of his daughter Jessica in 2005 by a serial predator.
While pushing for tougher national laws against criminals who prey on children, Lunsford called on David Jolly to petition Congress to fund the U.S. Marshals Service for them to track and apprehend sex offenders.
“David helped secure funding for the Marshals Service,” Lunsford adds. “He helped me when no one else would, and he wanted nothing in return. So, when I see commercials and articles in the paper with accusations of what kind of work David did.”
“I have to speak up because I know who David Jolly really is.”
On Wednesday, I sat down for lunch with David Jolly. Despite his jeans and untucked button-down shirt, he looks like a congressman. He has a low-key and modest demeanor, but his personal style doesn’t make him a slouch. Although no freshman member of Congress from Pinellas County (or Hillsborough, for that matter) could fill Bill Young’s shoes, Jolly is the most qualified and prepared to hit the ground running.
For her part, Sink, the hand-selected candidate of Democratic Party leaders in Washington, looks good on paper (other than she’s not from the district), but as a campaigner, she’s more awkward than Miley Cyrus teaching an etiquette class.
Although Sink’s folksy new television ad starring herself and her father is great at trying to break her detached image as a clone of the Democratic Party bosses, putting lipstick on a mule doesn’t hide the mule.
The gentlewoman from Hillsborough County’s carpetbagging aside, the issues in this campaign likely favor Jolly, not Sink. Voters are fed up with the heavy hand of government, specifically Obamacare. A Quinnipiac survey of voters nationwide, released last week showed 55 percent oppose the quagmire legislation that has defined the president. A poll of District 13 voters showed even greater disapproval.
For the record, Jolly supports repealing the failed Obamacare legislation.
Voters are sophisticated enough to realize a lobbyist is nothing more than a relationship broker between elected officials and trade groups, businesses, professional organizations and the like.
That said, pretty much everyone in America is represented by lobbyists. And who are the biggest lobbyists of them all? Members of Congress. They are lobbyists for the interests of the citizens of their district.
SINK AD GOES RIGHT AFTER JOLLY’S LOBBYING WORK Watch the ad here.
Sink’s campaign is airing a new television ad in which the Democratic nominee goes right at Jolly’s lobbying work.
“If you want to go to Washington to fix what’s wrong with Washington, being a lobbyist is not the way to do it,” Sink says on camera, a marked escalation from previous anti-Jolly ads which used third parties to critique Jolly’s lobbying work.
The thirty-second spot also hits Jolly for lobbying “for a group committed to privatizing social security and then lobbied on a plan to turn Medicare into a costly voucher program.”
The ad ends on a positive note about Sink wanting to bring Democrats and Republicans to “protect Social Security and Medicare.”
This new ad is part of a continued effort by Democrats to cast Jolly as a Washington insider and associate the often toxic “lobbyist” label with him in the minds of voters.
In an interview earlier this month, Jolly said he is “proud of the fact” that he knows “how to work with a very complex federal government.”
MEANWHILE … ADAM HASNER SAYS HE WON’T CHALLENGE PARTICK MURPHY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Hasner confirmed over the weekend what was becoming increasingly obvious: He won’t be entering the nationally watched 2014 race to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy in a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast swing district.
Hasner was courted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and others last year to run for Murphy’s District 18 seat. He and his wife Jillian even put their Boca Raton home on the market in anticipation of a potential move north.
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WEATHERFORD: A CHANCE FOR EDUCATION FOR ALL FLORIDA’S CHILDREN via An op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times
“Our country is in the midst of an intense debate on how to deal with immigration reform. As a state, we have no role in determining the legal status of immigrants. The lack of action on the part of the federal government has led to confusion and frustration over the millions of people who are living in our country today without proper documentation.
“Caught in the middle of this protracted and ongoing struggle are children who, through no decision or fault of their own, are living among us.
“Sadly, today their dreams of a higher education may be beyond reach. You see, these are the children of illegal immigrants. Although they grow up as Floridians, because of their parents’ immigration status they cannot qualify to pay in-state tuition. Out-of-state tuition can cost four times as much and is so costly it effectively bars many bright students from attending a Florida college or university.
“Can Florida afford to lose their talents and potential?
“My answer is an emphatic, ‘No.’
“The Florida Legislature’s failure to act would only compound the problem. Sixteen states have already addressed this issue. It’s now Florida’s turn. In the next legislative session, I’ll champion a bill that will allow all of Florida’s children to pay in-state tuition if they’re academically qualified and have attended a Florida high school.
“In the end, we need to grasp the reality that the future of our students is intertwined with our own, and when we help them succeed we also help Florida rise to its full promise.”
On Context Florida, I get thing going by explaining why Republicans like Weatherford and Matt Gaetz are taking on supposedly “liberal” stances. It is equal parts logic and compassion. Daniel Tilson previews the “2016 slugfest” between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, giving 60-40 odds of it happening. In the wake of Florida House GOP candidate Joshua Black’s MLK Day tweet about President Obama, Darryl Paulson examines the change in the complex relationship between Republicans and people of color. Funding water projects, like the Caloosahatchee River, should be the top priority for Florida’s 2014 legislative session, says Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.
TWEET, TWEET: @JebBush: We need more leaders like Speaker @willweatherford. Great piece on states seeking solutions where DC has failed
TRAFFIC JAM AT THE OOCEA EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY via Billy Manes of the Orlando Weekly
Three board members – Marco Peña, Scott Batterson and Noranne Downs – stand at the center of the State Attorney’s investigation, in which they’ve been accused of plotting to removeformer executive director Max Crumit from office behind closed doors (he resigned in October after a vote of no confidence), thereby violating the state’s sunshine laws. At least one of the accused, former Republican legislative candidate Peña, has been defensively vocal about his distaste for the good-old-boy shenanigans that led to the investigation. As befits this staged drama, he even showed up at Val Demings’ mayoral campaign announcement earlier this month, presumably as a jab against an inter-party warring faction that includes Jacobs. Things are getting ugly in this Peyton Place rabbit hole.
With Precourt’s future in limbo (don’t worry about him; he still maintains a financial interest in his former firm Dyer, Riddle, Mills and Precourt, which has taken in more than $10 million from the Expressway Authority since 2004), Jacobs’ once-safe seat in trouble, $1 billion in expressway projects pending and a special election (starring Precourt’s buddy Eric Eisnaugle) to fill the vacant legislative seat, everything is starting to feel very uncertain. And exciting?
“Though the investigation is still in its infancy, I can state that those records raise in my mind a reasonable suspicion that Florida statutes may have been violated and that further investigation, which may involve a Grand Jury, is warranted,” Jeff Ashton wrote in his Jan. 17 letter to the Expressway Authority’s general counsel. Just grand.
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REP. AMANDA MURPHY TO FILE HOUSE MEDICAID-EXPANSION BILL Full blog post here
Murphy, recently elected to the House District 36 seat, announced she would file a proposal to expand Medicaid providing increased benefits to eligible Floridians using federal funds.
The expanded benefits would come through the Healthy Kids and Healthy Florida programs. Sen. Rene Garcia committed earlier in the week to bring a similar bill resembling the Medicaid expansion measure passed by the state Senate last year.
Healthy Florida uses federal funding to assist individuals and families with purchasing private health insurance coverage by creating an alternative benchmark plan. Murphy’s approach would operate separately from the state’s current Medicaid system, by applying a similar framework as the successful Florida Healthy Kids program.
The Senate passed a bill in the 2013 session to receive federal funds for Medicaid expansion, but the House subsequently voted it down.
JIMMY PATRONIS’ ENVIRONMENT BILL RESURFACES via Eve Samples of TCPalm.com
Patronis’ latest wish list, HB 703, is another bundle of requests that aim to erode regulations, including some that don’t yet exist.
“It’s really frustrating when, all summer long, all your politicians all over the state are talking about how they’re going to help you save your river then one of them suggests that the state should tell you ‘you can’t,’ ” said Maggy Hurchalla, the godmother of Martin County’s environmental movement.
Here’s a taste of what the bill would do, if approved during the legislative session that starts March 4:
Give the state power to weaken federal rules governing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial properties (even though the Environmental Protection Agency has not yet approved such rules);
Allow 50-year permits for surface water storage projects by private landowners;
Force local governments to require a simple-majority vote to make changes to their growth rules (known as comprehensive plans).
… His proposal comes three years after the Legislature shut down Florida’s Department of Community Affairs, which was the state’s watchdog for growth (albeit a weakened one).
“When they killed the Department of Community Affairs, they said loud and clear, ‘We’re doing this because we believe in local government,’ ” Hurchalla said. “I hope they meant that. And I hope Patronis’ bill won’t get out of committee and that our legislative delegation will do everything that they can to see that it gets an early death.”
LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Bill Prescott of the Florida Current
Rep. Elizabeth Porter announced the hiring of Sheree Vann as the secretary for her Lake City office. Vann worked 36 years for the Florida Department of Transportation and is a Lake City native.
LAWMAKER CHAMPIONING CHARTER SCHOOL BILL HAS TIES TO INDUSTRY via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald
House leaders picked state Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr., of Hialeah, to shepherd a controversial bill that would revamp the way hundreds of charter schools statewide enter into agreements with local school boards.
Yet, in the eyes of some observers, Diaz has a clear conflict of interest: He has direct ties to the charter school industry.
The Republican lawmaker has been named dean of Doral College, a newly minted private university run by the state’s largest for-profit charter school management firm.
Diaz said he was tapped to manage the charter school bill because he understands both sides of the issue. He previously worked for the Miami-Dade school district for 20 years. He is vice-chair of the K-12 Subcommittee, which is part of the House Education Committee.
But Jeff Wright, who oversees public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association, said having Diaz oversee the proposal is another example of the Legislature favoring charter schools.
“They aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore,” Wright said. “Lawmakers have abandoned any obligation to [traditional] public schools.”
A freshman lawmaker, Diaz was named academic dean of Doral College last summer. His salary is $100,000, he said.
LEGISLATORS WANT CLEARER DISCLOSURE OVER MINERAL RIGHTS via Jacob Carpenter of NaplesNews.com
Two Florida legislators are calling for clearer disclosure of a home seller’s intent to retain oil, gas and other mineral rights beneath a home, which have become sought-after resources in Southwest Florida.
A bill sponsored by two Tampa Bay-area legislators would require separate written notice of a home seller’s intent to keep mineral rights. Currently, mineral rights are often included in the fine print of property documents, and individual homebuyers rarely notice if a developer retains those rights.
Mineral rights gained notice locally after the Daily News reported in October that a Texas-based oil company, Dan A. Hughes Company, received permits for three exploratory oil wells in eastern Collier County. One permit authorizes a well within 1,500 feet of a Golden Gate Estates home.
The development of new oil drilling techniques has led to concerns that an energy company could erect a well, then drill horizontally for several miles on properties where an individual owns the home but the energy company has the mineral rights. All three Dan A. Hughes wells are to be drilled in the opposite direction of any nearby houses, but that hasn’t curbed concerns that wells could go beneath homes in the future, potentially devaluing property values.
“This is the ultimate ‘buyer beware’ issue,” state Sen. Jack Latvala, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “It is uncertain what the latest in drilling technology could do to Florida lands. Our bill is necessary to protect the rights of Florida homebuyers and the property that they are purchasing.”
Latvala and state Rep. Ross Spano, said they filed the bill after reading a November Tampa Bay Times report on mineral rights.
The article detailed how home building giant D.R. Horton has kept mineral rights beneath about 2,500 homes it has developed and sold in the Tampa Bay region. The company then transferred those rights to its energy subsidiary, DRH Energy.
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BRAD DRAKE DRAWS MAJOR PRIMARY OPPONENT IN HOUSE FIGHT via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News
After two terms in the Florida House, Brad Drake stepped aside after redistricting in 2012 so fellow Republican Marti Coley could finish her last term. Drake has been running to return to Tallahassee ever since but now he has a major Republican opponent.
Earlier this month, Realtor Jan Hooks filed to run for the seat which covers all of Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington counties and part of Bay County.
Hooks is clearly a serious candidate and she’s relying on a familiar face to help with her campaign accounts — Eric Robinson, the longtime accountant, Republican leader and donor based out of Southwest Florida.
Democrats outnumber Republicans here but they are conservatives and the district should be safe for the GOP. While 47 percent of voters here are Democrats and only 41 percent are Republicans, there are no Democrats in the race here. It’s pretty telling that Rick Scott took 62 percent of the vote here back in 2010.
IN HD 44, VICKY BELL, FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER BELL, FILES TO RUN via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel
Another Republican — former Orange County School Board member Vicky Bell — has filed her intend to run for the Florida House of Representatives District 44 seat that Steve Precourt vacated in his aborted attempt to become Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority Director.
Bell will be facing former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, the clear favorite at this point, as well as Republican Stephen Facella in a Republican primary, March 11.
The lone Democrat who has filed is Shaun Raja.
The special election for House Seat 44 is set for April 8.
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PERSONNEL NOTE: DOUG BRUCE JOINS COLODNY, FASS Full blog post here
Veteran Florida lobbyist Doug Bruce is joining the Tallahassee office of the consulting firm of Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb.
Previously, Bruce was a principal partner of Doug Bruce and Associates, where he developed a focus on public policy for transportation, education, environmental regulation and utilities, amongst others.
With expertise in legislative appropriations, Bruce was instrumental in securing nearly $1 billion in funding for client initiatives.
During his 30-year consulting career, Bruce worked with many of Tallahassee’s most respected organizations, providing client guidance on political campaigns and fundraising, alternatives to litigation, grant planning, legislative and political strategy.
READ ABOUT HOW BRIAN BALLARD was present at the first time Charlie Crist met Carole Rome here.
TWO TOP MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION AIDES JUMP TO JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
Miami-Dade County Hall, which has long been a recruiting pool for other local government agencies, has lost a pair of commission aides to the Jackson Health System.
Eddie Borrego, the chief of staff to Vice-Chairwoman Lynda Bell, begins a new job Monday as Jackson’s director of corporate initiatives.
A few weeks ago, Donald Wolfe III, an aide to Commissioner Xavier Suarez, became the public hospital network’s assistant director for intergovernmental affairs.
The new jobs came with salary hikes for both men, though their executive packages at the county might have been more generous than they will be at the hospital system. Borrego will be making a base salary of $105,000 a year, compared to $95,000 in Bell’s office. Wolfe’s annual salary went up to $83,000 from $70,000.
According to Jackson, Borrego and Wolfe were hired to fill vacant positions, though Borrego’s has been tweaked to fill new needs.
***Madison Social – Tallahassee’s Hottest Spot – is your location for lunch, happy hour, and dinner. Catering for your meetings are also available. For lunch service, complementary valet is available so you can leave the office and return within one hour. To see our menu, please visit here.***
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Brian Aungst who, as Ronald Reagan liked to say, celebrated the 21st anniversary of his 39th birthday. Belated birthday wishes to Hillsborough’s Mark Sharpe, and Jason Roth. Celebrating today is the wonderful Laura Boehmer and Cory Guzzo.
HESIMAN TROPHY WINNER JAMEIS WINSTON STARTS BASEBALL SEASON via The Associated Press
Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston wants to help Florida State win another national championship – in baseball.
“I just want to have an effect on this team like I did the football team,” Winston said Friday before his practice of the 2014 season with Florida State’s baseball team. “I just want to be a team player and get this show going.”
… Winston has some work to do before he’s in baseball shape, though he has a fastball that reaches 95 mph and an effective slider. Coach Mike Martin called Winston a “very dominating pitcher” by the end of the 2013 season, but he wants a change-up added to the repertoire.
“You’ve got to keep the hitters guessing,” Martin said. “If you’re a two-pitch guy, you’re obviously looking for one or the other. Fifty-fifty, I don’t like.”
And being the Heisman winner won’t force the coaching staff to be cautious with Winston’s playing time.
“We will use Jameis just like we do everybody else,” Martin said. “We’re not going to treat him any differently and he doesn’t want to be treated any differently. He’s a Seminole baseball player now. We’re going to use him outfield, we’re going to use him on the mound, we’re going to use him as a DH some.