Sunburn for 1/8 — 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 – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms. You need their team on your side during this Legislative session for media, grassroots and netroots support. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team and how they can help you.

POLL: OBAMA SEEN AS CLEAR WINNER IN ‘FISCAL CLIFF’ FIGHT

A new Pew Research survey finds President Obama is viewed as the clear political winner in the fiscal cliff negotiations, 57% to 20%, “but the legislation itself gets only a lukewarm reception from the public: As many disapprove as approve of the new tax legislation, and more say it will have a negative than positive impact on the federal budget deficit, the national economy and people like themselves.”

WSJ SAYS ALL GOP EYES ARE ON JEB 

The national media man-crush on Jeb Bush continues with the Wall Street Journal saying the GOP is focused on the former Florida governor. H/t to Dave Royse of the News Service of Florida.

***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 ***

RICK SCOTT, KATHLEEN SEBELIUS MEET IN DC TO TALK HEALTH CARE via The Associated Press

Both sides are saying it was a productive meeting after Florida Gov. Rick Scott sat down with the Obama administration’s top health care official to talk coverage, costs and Medicaid reforms.

Scott met Tuesday with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the federal health law and two pending requests from Florida for changes to its Medicaid program.

Sebelius encouraged Scott to partner with Washington in setting up a new health insurance market for Florida. Scott pressed for approval of Florida’s Medicaid requests. And the two discussed Scott’s concerns about the cost of expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people under the new health care law.

The Republican governor softened his criticism of so-called Obamacare after the election, saying he is willing to work with federal officials.

TWEET, TWEET: @AlexLeary: Not butts. @FLGovScott spox Melissa Sellers doing best to avoid trash can optics. Scott in DC for health care meeting.

US REP. KATHY CASTOR CRITICIZES SCOTT’S MEDICAID FIGURES AND PRIVATIZATION PLANS

Kathy Castor: “Unfortunately, since Gov. Scott took office, our state has developed a reputation for sending federal dollars back to Washington. We need these federal dollars right here in the state of Florida, helping Floridians. Floridians with health insurance subsidize health care for those who do not have health insurance.  Expanding Medicaid will take the burden off of Florida families and bring greater rationality to medical services in Florida. Having more people covered as a result of the Medicaid expansion and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act will reduce state and local governments’ current spending on other services for the uninsured.  Medicaid expansion will significantly increase coverage at a modest cost to states and will help reduce the state’s costs for providing care to the uninsured.”

“I am also greatly concerned about Gov. Scott’s push to privatize Medicaid for seniors, children, the disabled and others. The governor has been moving aggressively to shift older and disabled Floridians currently in community-based care and long-term care into capitated managed care with little oversight or assurances that our neighbors will not lose access to the nutrition, therapy and care they need. Floridians must be concerned about what appears to be a diminution of care and vital services that older Floridians rely on.”

DWS SAY CRIST NEEDS TO BECOME PRO CHOICE TO WIN DEM SUPPORT FOR GOV. RUN

Debbie Wasserman Schultz called on Charlie Crist to change his position on abortion and has to “prove himself with some of our Democratic leaders before that’s a sure thing,” alluding to the Democratic support to challenge Rick Scott for Governor in 2014.

Wasserman Schultz appeared on “Facing South Florida,” a Sunday morning political TV show in South Florida about Crist’s past and his current position on abortion, Wasserman Schultz said that “we are the big tent party. We elect on the issue of a woman’s right to choose.”  She added that Crist was going to have “a lot of ground work to do” to convince Democrat leaders and constituents that he would best represent their next Governor.

***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.***

FLORIDIANS LEFT OUT OF COMMITTEE LEADERSHIP POSTS IN CONGRESS 

Only one member of Florida’s 27-member House delegation is a chairman of any of the 21 permanent committees in the House. U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from near Pensacola, will be the state’s lone chairman. Miller will chair the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Two other Republicans who held chairmanships last year were forced to give up their spots because of GOP term limit rules for committee chairmanships.

Florida also has no Republican members in the GOP leadership team. Meanwhile, states like Texas, California and Michigan all hold at least three committee chairmanship spots. Members of Congress from Texas and Michigan combine to hold eight of the 21 top committees.

US REP. TOM ROONEY NAMED TO POWERFUL APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rooney, a Republican, said the role could be even more critical given that Congress is expected to make major spending cuts as part of the fiscal cliff deal reached last week. Rooney said the Appropriations Committee will be pivotal in determining whether programs get cut.

Rooney said in a telephone interview that he hopes to to help prevent defense cuts from hurting MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and protect research money for Florida’s citrus industry. He said both are critical for the state and he could be in a position to have influence on both issues.

NEW FEDERAL LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.: City of Hialeah Gardens

***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.***

APPOINTED: Melanie E. Damian to the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission

FIRST DAY ON THE JOB FOR ANTONACCI, MCGHEE via the News Service of Florida

Pete Antonacci starts as general counsel in Gov. Rick Scott’s office, replacing Jesse Panuccio, who is the new head of the Department of Economic Opportunity. Antonacci is a former deputy attorney general who most recently had been named to a fill out a term heading a south Florida state attorney’s office.  Tuesday is also the first day of work in a new job for Darrick McGhee, who will become the Scott administration’s director of legislative affairs. McGhee was previously chief of staff at DEO. 

FLORIDA RANKS HIGH IN EDUCATION REFORM

Florida is a national leader in education reform policy, according to a report released today by Students First, an education reform organization. Louisiana led the rankings, followed by Florida in second; the two states were the only ones to earned the top score.

GUN GROUPS PLAN TO GO CHICK FIL-A WITH FIREARMS by Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Amid reports that the Obama administration plans to propose new firearm restrictions, a coalition of gun-rights groups has christened Jan. 19 as “Gun Appreciation Day” and hopes to gin up the kind of grassroots activism that Chick-Fil-A stirred up with its anti-gay marriage stance last year.

“The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people,” said Gun Appreciation Day chairman Larry Ward, president of Political Media, Inc. “If the American people don’t fight back now, Obama will do to the Second Amendment what he has already done to the First with Obamacare — gut it without a moment’s thought to our basic constitutional rights.”

The group is urging gun-supporters to “line up ‘around the block’ at gun stores, gun counters, gun shows, and gun ranges to protest the Obama administration’s post Sandy Hook assault on gun rights.”

JOHN PADGETT SEEKING REAPPOINTMENT TO BOARD OF EDUCATION

January brought the end of two Florida Board of Education members’ terms, giving Gov. Rick Scott the opportunity to further shape the education policy board to his liking. Roberto Martinez, a Coral Gables attorney first appointed by Jeb Bush, is completing his second term and not eligible for reappointment.

But John Padget, a Key West private investor named to the board by Charlie Crist in 2009, is permitted to serve another term. And he has put his name in the hopper.

“I am a fervent supporter of Gov. Scott’s College and Career First plan for Florida’s preK-12 education system,” Padget, a one time Monroe schools superintendent, wrote in his application. “Having served on the board for one term, I’m intimately familiar with the issues facing the DOE and the State Board of Education, including the importance of a smooth implementation of the Common Core standards, correct transition from FCAT to PARCC assessments, supporting teachers and achieving better educational outcomes for ALL students. I know and respect Commissioner Dr. Tony Bennett and look forrward to supporting him.”

Padget has been one of the most vocal board members calling for tougher passing scores for state tests.

Also applying for the seats are Ada Armas, a Miami physician; Eric Garner, a Broward teacher, Lynne Van Heuvel, unemployed, Brandon; John Hilston, associate economics professor at Brevard Community College; Duane Hume, former FLDOE supervisor of engineering and technology education; Jacki Jackson, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okechobee counties; Marcos Jimenez, Miami attorney and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and Nicole Marsala, a Broward teacher and Florida history teacher of the year 2006-07.

ORLANDO #1 TOURIST DESTINATION IN US, ATTRACTS 52 MILLION VISITORS

Orlando’s primary tourism rival in the U.S. — New York City — said last week it attracted a record 52 million visitors in 2012, falling short of Orlando’s expected tally for last year.

NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY 

Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation, Inc., a Wauchula-based facility for people with traumatic spinal cord and head injuries, has declared bankruptcy following a Bloomberg News story published last year which revealed a history of violence there. Caregivers beat patients and goaded them to fight each other and fondle female employees, according to reports by state officials released to that news service.

FINR and three affiliated companies filed Chapter 11 petitions in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in in Tampa on Friday. They said in court filings that they estimated they owe between $3 million and $30 million to 103 to 346 creditors and that their assets total $150,000 or less. (More details on the bankruptcy here.)

In August, state health care regulators ordered the Hardee County rehabilitation facility to provide plans to move more than half of its patients to other facilities and to establish long-term exit strategies for the patients that remain. At that time, the Agency for Health Care Administration released findings which determined that 50 of 98 patients at the facility did not appear to have traumatic spinal cord or head injuries, a criterion for admission.

FORMER SARASOTA GOP CHAIR RESIGNS FROM BOARDS IN FACE OF FELONY CHARGES

Former Sarasota Republican Party chairman Robert Waechter has formally resigned from two county government positions just days before county commissioners planned to discuss removing him from those posts.

***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. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss  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.***

LEGISLATIVE BRIEFS via the News Service of Florida

Bill would allow local gun control at events: A bill filed in the House would allow local governments to ban concealed weapons at public events such as sporting events and concerts despite a law generally pre-empting gun control to the state. The state pre-emption of gun laws would continue, but the measure (HB 97) filed by freshman Rep. Bobby Powell would add an exception for when state agencies or local governments decide to prohibit guns at certain events.

Republican Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has filed the first GOP bill that would expand early voting, though the measure wouldn’t allow for as many days as previously allowed.

The Republican Legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight before this past election, but some leading Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott, have said in the wake of long lines on Election Day that they have may have gone too far. The bill (SB 176) would boost the number of early voting days to nine, but one of those would have to be the Sunday before Election Day. That’s a nod to Democrats, who have complained about the loss of that day, on which early voting had been allowed previously. The bill would also allow local supervisors of elections to provide up to two additional hours per day of early voting if they wish.

Democrats scoff at DLP’s early voting plan: “This Republican proposal is a band-aid over a gaping wound, and fails to restore the electoral voting rights which were stripped from Florida’s citizens by Rick Scott,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith in a statement. He called for the full repeal of the 2011 election bill, which reduced early voting days from 14 to eight.

TIMES EDITORIAL: LEGISLATURE MUST ACT TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN GROUP HOME

Two months after a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed how gaping loopholes in the state’s regulatory structure had enabled unscrupulous operators to abuse and neglect children for decades, the Department of Children and Families is using what limited power it has to try to shut down one of the most nefarious operators and exert more influence over others. But legislative leaders so far have been silent on desperately needed broader reforms. Lawmakers need to begin examining reform options to prepare for the session that begins in March lest they send the message that Florida doesn’t care if children are abused.

ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES NAMES GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS TEAM

The 2013 AIF governmental affairs team will be led by Brewster Bevis.

… AIF’s General Counsel Tamela Perdue will expand her leadership among AIF’s various councils and coalitions and oversee additional policy development initiatives with the AIF leadership team and membership. Additionally, Ryan Tyson, Vice President of Political Operations, will continue to oversee AIF’s recently expanded political operations, including coordinating AIF members’ participation in issue advocacy and electioneering activities. Melissa Luke, a recent political science graduate of Florida State University, also joins the AIF advocacy team as the governmental affairs coordinator. 

… Jon Costello, Gov. Rick Scott’s former legislative affairs director, now with Rutledge Ecenia, P.A., will serve AIF in the coming months as its Interim State Legislative Affairs Director and will focus on AIF’s economic development and manufacturing priorities.

In addition to Costello, AIF has added Charlie Dudley and his associates at Floridian Partners, Teye Reeves, Jorge Chamizo and Ken Granger to the AIF ranks. They bring expertise on a number of key business issues, including telecommunications, energy, insurance and economic development. Doug Mann of Littlejohn and Associates will handle all environmental and agricultural issues for AIF, including the coordination of AIF’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria Taskforce. Former State Representative Don Brown will focus on property insurance, legal reform and workers’ compensation issues. Tracy and Frank Mayernick also join AIF’s lobby corps and will handle legal reform and assist with health care issues. 

Returning AIF lobbyists include Al Cardenas (general business issues), Slater Bayliss (health care and hospitals), Stephen Shiver (economic development, transportation and ports), Justin Day (general business issues), Sarah Busk (general business issues), Gerald Wester (insurance), Jim Rathbun (energy and regulated industries), Frank Meiners (taxation and information technology), Rheb Harbison (manufacturing, aerospace and health care), John French (ethics and elections) and Leslie Dughi (health care). 

FLORIDA TREND PROFILES THE LEGISLATURE’S FRESHMEN CLASS

Meet Florida’s new crop of senators and house representatives. Each profile includes party, district, net worth and notable news.

JIMMY PATRONIS APPOINTED TO FLORIDA DEFENSE SUPPORT TASK FORCE

Patronis was appointed by Speaker Will Weatherford to serve as a member of the Florida Defense Support Task Force, the mission of which is to preserve, protect, and enhance Florida’s military missions and installations, as well as strengthen state support for our military families and veterans. 

“For the last six years I have been privileged to serve a district that is home to two of Florida’s major military installations, Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City. Growing up in the area and representing this district in the Florida Legislature has shown me firsthand how important the military is to the people and the economy of our state,” said Representative Patronis. “I am honored to receive this appointment and look forward to continuing to support not only our military missions and installations, but also our military families and veterans, through my work on this council.” 

Florida is home to 20 major military installations and has a large defense business presence, which combined provide a $60 billion annual economic impact and account for over 686,000 jobs in the state. Defense is the 3rd largest contributor to the state economy, following only agriculture and tourism.

MATT GAETZ TWEET HEARD ROUND THE (NORTH FLORIDA) POLITICAL WORLD

Gaetz, one of the state’s most prolific political tweeters, pushed out, “Why would @JimmyPatronis say I’m not going to run for the FL Senate? Who supports a guy who backed @charliecristfl over @marcorubio?” The conservative firebrand is referring to the north Florida state Senate which will open up in 2016 when Gaetz’ father, current Senate President Don Gaetz, is termed out of office. The younger Gaetz is widely expected to run for this seat, as is Jimmy Patronis, setting up a showdown of two Panhandle powerhouses.

There is, however, one catch for Patronis: he’s termed out of the Florida House in 2014, so he’ll be away from the action for at least two years. Patronis has already filed to run for the State Senate, knowing that his best opportunity to raise campaign money will be during his last two years in the House.

But with his tweet, Gaetz has indicated that he’s not going to give Patronis a two-year head start, although Gaetz must first run in 2014 for re-election to the House before he can turn his attention to a Senate bid.

WILTON SIMPSON HOSTING OPEN HOUSE TONIGHT

 Simpson is hosting an open house at his new Brooksville office.  “The Brooksville office will be located at 10 West Jefferson Street,” said Senator Simpson. I welcome constituents to drop in and meet myself and my staff.” 

***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.***

FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN MANAGER KEN MEHLMAN TO ADDRESS ECONOMIC CLUB OF FLORIDA TODAY IN TALLY

Former George W. Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman will speak to the Economic Club of Florida at noon on Tuesday, January 8, in A2-A3 of the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

Media are invited to cover his presentation: “America 2013, Challenges and Opportunities.”

***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.”***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Chris Spencer, legislative aide to Senator Jeff Brandes and defender of the Tiki Hut at the St. Pete Yacht Club and political tech genius Jonathan Torres

INTERESTING READ:  My Share of the Task: A Memoir by retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

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.