Sunburn for 3/13 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

in Uncategorized by

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.***

OBAMA’S APPROVAL RATING HITS NEW LOW via Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal

Obama’s job approval ticked down to 41 percent in March from 43 percent in January … Some 54 percent disapproved of the job he is doing, matching a previous high from December, when the botched rollout of his signature health-care law played prominently in the news. The latest survey also showed the lowest-ever approval in Journal/NBC polling for Mr. Obama’s handling of foreign policy.

>>>Forty-eight percent of voters say they’re less likely to vote for a candidate who’s a solid supporter of the Obama administration, versus 26 percent who say they’re more likely to vote for that candidate.

OBAMA WILL SEEK BROAD EXPANSION OF OVERTIME PAY: PLAN AFFECTS MILLIONS via Michael D. Shear and Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times:

Today, the president will direct the Labor Department to revamp its regulations to require overtime pay for several million additional fast-food managers, loan officers, computer technicians and others whom many businesses currently classify as “executive or professional” employees to avoid paying them overtime … Obama’s action is certain to anger the business lobby in Washington … Under the new rules, fewer salaried employees could be blocked from receiving overtime, a move that would potentially shift billions of dollars’ worth of corporate income into the pockets of workers.

Currently, employers are prohibited from denying time-and-a-half overtime pay to any salaried worker who makes less than $455 per week. Obama’s directive would significantly increase that salary level.

NON-NEWS STORY OF THE DAY: NO JURY DUTY FOR RUBIO via The Associated Press

Sen. Marco Rubio reported for jury duty at a Miami-Dade County courthouse but was not called to serve on a panel.

A Rubio spokesman says the case the Florida Republican was impaneled for Wednesday did not go to trial. That meant Rubio and the other potential jurors were all excused.

Rubio spent a little more than three hours at the Richard Gerstein Justice Building. Spokesman Alex Conant says Rubio will be back in Washington in time for Senate business Thursday morning.

TWEET, TWEET: @JeremySWallace: If Senate does not take up flood insurance fix bill in next 2 days, relief will have to wait until week of 24th. Senate on break next week

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. Unlike some other providers, we own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers.  Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks.***

EPILOGUE IN CD 13

A JOLLY TIME FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA REPUBLICANS via Larry Thornberry of the American Spectator

The dimension of the narrow win roughly reflects the narrow registration advantage Republicans enjoy in the district, throwing into doubt the idea that this special election informs us about the much talked about but almost never sighted “national mood.”

This being the first congressional election of the year, both national parties and a passel of outside groups spent an almost incomprehensible amount of money on the race, somewhere between $10 million and $12 million, depending on which numbers you believe. With 186,000 votes cast, spending amounted to about $70 a vote.

Most of this campaign money was spent on negative ads, some of which even the candidates didn’t like. But candidates are powerless to do anything about them because election law prohibits candidates from coordinating in any way with outside groups.

And after all these millions were spent and Tampa Bay area television viewers were much abused by unending negative ads, the election results were what could have been predicted by sending an intern down to the supervisor of elections office and inquiring about the party registrations in the district.

Republicans enjoy about a 2 percent registration advantage in the district. Jolly won by 49 to 47 percent. Jolly and Sink won the votes of people in their own party and split the independents. About the only thing this election tells the keen political observer about the fall campaigns is that they will follow the summer.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Pinellas-based Democratic consultant Steve Lapinski: “If you want to blame anyone for Alex Sink’s loss, turn your fingers towards Nancy Pelosi and her Washington crew. They froze out all the potential Democratic candidates that were from Pinellas County and had won elections here. We could be congratulating a Democratic winner named Long, Justice or one of many others, but DCCC folks, in cahoots with the Tallahassee crowd, attempted to push an outsider on everyone. I hope the douchebags in Washington and Tally are proud of themselves.”

MY WINNERS AND LOSERS

Winners

Rick Baker – Inexplicably, Adam Smith has Baker in his “Losers” column just because Baker did not want to run for Congress. But in my book, Baker is a definite winner, serving as the “Jeb Bush of Pinellas,” as one Jolly adviser referred to him. Baker got in on the ground floor with Jolly, endorsing him and appearing in a TV commercial for him.  No doubt that relationship will come in quite handy for Baker as he continues to, even out of office, run St. Petersburg.

Sarah Bascom, Celina Parker, and the rest of the team from Bascom Communications & Consulting – Maneuvering a congressional candidate through the treacherous waters of the Tampa Bay media market is no day cruise. Not only did Bascom and Co. have to deal with an adversarial local newspaper, they had to interact with several local TV stations and a host of national reporters who acted more like tourists than journalists. Bascom’s job wasn’t made any easier by the anonymous national Republicans who were biting her ankles. But the reward for Bascom could not be sweeter: her cousin is now a U.S. congressman. How do you like them apples!

Charlie Crist – The first instinct is to put Crist in the “Losers” column because his fellow Democrat lost an election, but that’s hardly the case. First of all, did you notice which Pinellas Democrat didn’t use up any of his political capital campaigning for Sink? That’s right, Crist, who previously helped winners Rick Kriseman, Ken Welch, and Darden Rice. With Sink losing, Crist no longer has to deal with her as a rival for some activists’ affection. He doesn’t have to share donors with Sink. He doesn’t have to worry about some top-notch talent working for Sink instead of him. Crist would never think, much less say this sort of thing, but Sink’s losing is addition by subtraction. Crist is now Florida Democrats’ only hope.

Michael Guju and Lenny Curry – Both Guju, the chair of the Pinellas GOP and Curry, chair of the Republican Party of Florida, needed a win after Rick Kriseman soundly defeated their candidate in last year’s St. Petersburg mayoral race. Both the local and state party expended considerable resources, be it volunteer time or money on direct mail, to help Jolly end the two-race streak of Democrat wins that could have really gained momentum had Sink won.

Nick Hansen – The whirring sound you may have heard during the special election was the sound of Hansen crunching numbers and running spreadsheets. Just like one of his mentors, Jim Rimes, likes to do when he’s not running the state Senate Majority Office. Hansen is now one of the chief political aides to, among others, the U.S. Representative from St. Petersburg and the state Senator from St. Petersburg.

Local TV stations – Talk about Christmas coming early! Most of the eight figures spent in this race found their way to local television stations.  Voters may not like all of those black-and-white, grainy negative commercials, but Bright House Networks and the broadcast stations just love them, especially at this time of year.

The Money Men (Jim Holton, Paul Jallo, Jim McDougald and Mel Sembler) – The first indication of Jolly’s strength of a candidate was the early endorsement of the ‘smart money’ crowd, despite at the time several more prominent names still considering running in CD 13. Now their, um, investment in Jolly’s campaign looks like it paid off.

St. Pete Polls – No public survey firm was more in tune with CD 13 voters’ attitudes about Jolly and Sink than the hometown pollster. After taking a lot of criticism for some of its 2012 polling of Florida congressional races, Matt Florell’s team all but nailed this race with a poll in mid-February that showed Jolly winning by 2 percentage points and a later poll showing that Sink was leading early voters, but that the overall race was tied.

Katie Prill – The spokesperson for the NRCC brought the right attitude to this race, constantly firing off zesty emails that kept bloggers and reporters on their toes. We’ll see a lot less of Katie going forward, but it was nice while we knew her.

Marc Reichelderfer – “The Marchitect” (h/t to David Johnson) took a candidate who started out trailing his opponent by 15 points and counseled him to a two-point win. Yet some anonymous muffin complained to POLITICO that he was why Jolly would lose. How silly.

Preston Rudie – From the passing of Congressman Young to his interview of Jolly regarding his role in the death many years ago of a pedestrian, the 10 News reporter consistently beat the local newspapers’ coverage of the race.

Alan Suskey – Next time you see Suskey, ask him, “What’s it like having one of your best friends and mentors be elected to Congress?” Few individuals stand to benefit more personally and professionally than the Capitol Insight lobbyist.

The Guy Who Predicted Jolly Would Win By 1.5 Points — Whoever that guy was, he is a genius ! Who was that guy? You can find out by clicking on this link.

The Victory Group – Two words: Bob Barker.

Bill Young II – It was hit or miss there for a while whether the passing of Congressman Young and Jolly’s ascension would hinder Young II’s plans to run for the Florida House, but today, he looks primed for a strong challenge to state Rep. Dwight Dudley.

Losers

Tampa Bay Times – Other than Sink herself, no single person or institution, perhaps not even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, saw its reputation damaged more during this special election than the hometown newspaper. If I had a nickel for every person — Democrats, independents, and Republicans — who has wondered, ‘What’s up with the Times?’, I’d be worth more than Bitcoin. From that ridiculous epilogue about the late Congressman Bill Young’s first family to its unending assaults on Jolly (imagine: Jolly lives in a beach community comprised mostly of those who rent!), the Times attempted to influence the outcome of this election more so than any local race I’ve been involved with/observed in two decades of political consulting. But today, after betting so heavily on regionalist Sink, the congressman who represents much of the Times’ audience is diametrically opposed to its worldview.

Nick Janovsky – With this high-profile loss, the shine is off one of the rising stars in state Democratic politics. Janovsky did nothing wrong, per se, but if the candidate’s plan for winning comes down to Election Day turnout by Democrats and lean-Democrat independents and you are the political director for the campaign, you have to shoulder some of the blame.

Jack Latvala – Not only did Latvala hop aboard the Jolly bandwagon late, but Jolly’s win signals the solidifying of south Pinellas axis of power — Jolly, Jeff Brandes, Rick Baker — not necessarily opposed to Latvala, but clearly not aligned with his ambitions. Yes, these Republicans will support Latvala and his son, Chris, but it’s never been more clear that Latvala is no longer the boss of Pinellas.

LCV Victory Fund – The League of Conservation Voters inexplicably dropped several hundred thousand dollars on ads against Jolly on the issue of climate change — an issue not at all on CD 13 voters’ minds no matter what LCV’s polls say.

Judithanne McLauchlan – The state Senate candidate challenging Republican Jeff Brandes would have loved to have both Crist and Sink churning out Democratic votes this November in Senate District 22, but now that’s no longer the case.

National media – The reporters and talking heads who descended on this race treated Congressional District 13 like just another outpost of #OhFlorida, while also trying to build the narrative that the special election was a “bellwether” for the 2014 midterms. Few national journos came to fully understand the nuances of the community, repeatedly referring to the area as “outside Tampa.” That’s like saying Brooklyn is “outside Manhattan” — technically true but completely wrong otherwise. Alex Isenstadt’s piece about the NRCC complaining about Jolly’s campaign was more than “The pros from Dover know better than the local yokels,” it was a premature obituary of a candidate who was still very much alive. The national media’s inability to really gauge this race was encapsulated by Mark Halperin, who, on Election Day, said twice that CD 13 was just northwest of Fort Lauderdale.

Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – From the outset of this race, when Smith was scooped by this blog about Sink entering the race, right up until the eve of the election, when he agreed with the assessment that there would be at least 200,000 votes cast, Smith’s reporting has been off, off, off. But what was worse was the way Smith conducted himself throughout the race. When he was bitter and cynical, he was chasing the trivial, i.e, the post he wrote about Jolly’s shoes. The controversial headline he wrote about Jolly’s role in the death of a pedestrian — “David Jolly killed a man” was beyond irresponsible. Smith has lost significant credibility with some of his most loyal readers.

Andy Stone, House Majority PAC – Like Ashley Walker, Stone is a top-notch operative who just happened to take on the chin this time. He did everything in his power to help Sink, but she was just not an impressive enough candidate to inspire low-intensity voters to turn out in a special election. Let’s hope he has better luck with Gwen Graham’s race in CD 2.

Ashley Walker – For some reason Adam Smith has Walker in his “Winners” column, which I understand because a)Walker is a talented operative and b) she is one of Smith’s top sources. But if Sink is the Denver Broncos of Florida politics, than Walker is Peyton Manning. Her candidate had every advantage in the world, but she couldn’t get her across the goalline. Is Walker one of the two or three top Democratic operative in Florida? Probably. But, in politics, it’s often a case of ‘What have you done for me lately?’ This loss coupled with the debacle that was the Miami Dolphins drive for a new stadium warrants Walker’s place in the “L” column.

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM CD 13 RACE via Curtis Krueger of the Tampa Bay Times 1. Republicans show up on election day. 2. There is a case to be made for Sink in November. 3. If not Sink, then who? 4. Jolly says he will reach out to Democrats. 5 Maybe the Thonotosassa thing mattered.

MEANWHILE IN CD 19 … 

CURT CLAWSON’S BUSINESS RECORD EXPOSED via The Naples Daily News

Curt Clawson is campaigning for an open congressional seat as the turnaround jobs-creating candidate in Southwest Florida.

But on the campaign trail and in his ads, Clawson never mentions a former employee, Shawn Boone, who died in a fiery blast in the Hayes Lemmerz automotive plant in Indiana that Clawson’s company ran.

“€œI think the most important thing for people … to realize was that when he [Clawson] was working at Hayes, they shut down a lot of plants that were good jobs,”€ Boone’s sister, Tammy Miser told The Naples Daily News in a must-read piece.

Beyond Boone’€™s death and the company’€™s apparently spotty safety record, the Daily News exposes how the company filed for bankruptcy under Clawson’s leadership.

It shut down factories.

It outsourced jobs.

And it even relied on an Obamacare bailout. Today, Clawson wants to repeal Obamacare.

And Clawson got rich, the Daily News reports:

During his nine years as a top executive for Hayes Lemmerz, the company laid off more than 1,300 workers, shuttered seven plants in the U.S., and taxpayers covered hundreds of millions of dollars in pension and health-care costs shortly before selling to a Brazilian company in 2011, according to filings with industry regulators and media reports.

Over that time, Clawson brought in annual seven-figure incomes, including bonuses. Clawson’s initial base salary comprised 25 percent of his overall compensation.

Clawson’s salary ranged from a low of $1.3 million in 2001 to a peak of $12.3 million in 2003. The salary differences were driven by factors such as bonuses and stock options, according to proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ASSOCIATED BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS OF FLORIDA ENDORSES LIZBETH BENACQUISTO FOR CD 19 Full blog post here

Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida announced the endorsement of GOP State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto in her bid for Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

In a statement issued Tuesday, ABC representatives speak of the need for government of common sense regulation and how small business and entrepreneurs—not federal bureaucrats—can grow both jobs and the economy.

“Lizbeth has a history of supporting free-market solutions, specifically those impacting the commercial construction industry,” said ABC Florida Gulf Coast Chapter CEO Steve Cona III. “She understands the construction industry is best fostered in a pro-business environment where free enterprise and open competition are unconstrained, and we look forward to working with her in Washington D.C.”

“These men and women know all too well how liberal policies in Washington threaten our economy,” responded Benacquisto. “I will fight to repeal burdensome regulations like Obamacare, so job creators can get Florida’s economy back on track.”

TWO MORE REPS ENDORSE BENACQUISTO

Representatives Matt Caldwell and Kathleen Passidomo endorsed Benacquisto on Wednesday.

“Lizbeth has consistently fought to keep control in our hands – the people’s hands,” said Caldwell.  “Politicians will not get us back on the right track. I know a citizen legislator like Lizbeth will take real conservative solutions to Washington.”

“Matt and Kathleen understand the need for proven, conservative partners in Washington and I am proud to have their support,” said Benacquisto.

“Lizbeth is respected by her peers in the Senate for her tenacity, hard work and integrity,” said Passidomo. “She is a proven leader who has been involved in significant legislation that advances our conservative ideals and I am confident that she will continue to represent us in Washington with the same integrity, values and commitment. The citizens of Southwest Florida know Lizbeth and can be assured that she will not let us down.”

***Aggressive. Strategic. Creative. Sachs Media Group is Florida’s dominant independent communications firm. With offices in Tallahassee, Orlando and Washington, D.C., Sachs Media Group sets the pace in public relations, crisis management, branding, digital/social media, graphic design and video production. SachsMedia.com***

GOV. SCOTT TO BACK IN-STATE TUITION FOR SOME IMMIGRANTS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Scott is backing a bill that would allow qualified Florida students to pay in-state college tuition even if they are in the country illegally.

Scott told The Associated Press that he supports the legislation sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, because it would also prevent state universities from being able to raise tuition rates above the amount annually set by the state Legislature.

Scott’s decision to back the legislation is a turn from 2010, when he took a hard line on immigration issues and supported having Florida enact a law similar to those of other states that bar the in-state benefit.

But at least for the past two years, Scott has been staunchly opposed to tuition hikes and vetoed one proposed by the Legislature.

The debate over in-state tuition for certain students who entered the country illegally has been a perennial one in Tallahassee. Similar bills passed the House and Senate but never in the same year. But this year the measure appears to be gaining broader support.

Speaker Will Weatherford has come out for granting in-state tuition to Florida high school graduates who have entered the country illegally, but Senate President Don Gaetz has said he is opposed to the proposal.

At least 15 other states have passed such laws, with another seven considering them this year.

RETAIL FEDERATION ENDORSES SCOTT FOR RE-ELECTION Full blog post here

Citing his “tremendous” record on job creation, Gov. Scott’s re-election effort received a significant boost today with the endorsement of the Florida Retail Federation.

Scott earned the recommendation for “strong leadership to improve the state’s business climate and help retailers create jobs,” according to a statement released Tuesday by the FRF Board of Directors.

Total retail jobs grew at an annual rate of 5.5 percent in 2013, making up nearly a third of the nearly 193,000 jobs created in Florida in 2013.

HOW SCOTT RAISED HELLACASH IN FEBRUARY (BUT WE DIDN’T SEE IT TILL NOW) via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

At a glance, it’s clear Crist’s political committee outraised Gov. Scott’s last month by $827,350 to $184,257.

But the political committees don’t tell the whole story. The candidates’ campaign committees and the parties are a major factor.

And Scott is still winning that race. Here are the campaign-account breakdowns:

Crist raised: $291,877.38
Scott raised: $585,318.00

Scott COH: $1,198,879.08
Crist cash on hand: $1,424,200

And then there’s the matter of the parties. A top Republican Party of Florida official said Scott raised $975,000 for the party last month. That’s all gravy. The Florida Democratic Party, which has no majority in the Legislature and no statewide elected seats based in Tallahassee, can’t come close to that right now.

Why Scott’s increased focus on raising money for the party and the campaign vs. the political committee? Because it saves money.

The candidate’s committee and the party get the lowest ad and mail rates. That can save an election effort millions, perhaps as much as half. And Scott wants to spend $100 million. Crist wants $50 million.

MUST-READ: CHARLIE CRIST LOVES TO LOVE YOU via Molly Ball of The Atlantic

Over the past six years, the 57-year-old Crist has followed perhaps the most unusual trajectory of any American politician. As a popular Republican governor with an independent streak, he was vetted for his party’s 2008 vice-presidential nomination; by the spring of 2010, he was dropping out of a U.S. Senate primary and the Republican Party, one of the then-ascendant Tea Party’s proudest scalps. He ran as an independent in the general election but lost to the brash young state legislator who had pushed him out of the primary, Marco Rubio.

Crist now says he never should have been a Republican, the sort of blithe declaration that makes Florida Republicans choke on their food.

His bid, if Crist is to be believed, is about more than a politician hoping for a comeback. It is nothing less than a referendum on the politics of the moment.

In recent weeks, Crist’s campaign has dovetailed with the book tour for his new political memoir, The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat. Like any campaign book, it is intermittently disingenuous, self-glorifying, and selective in its omissions and inclusions. But its underlying theme is difficult to dispute: that the Republican Party has been thrown into chaos by the right wing’s purifying zeal, and has often presented an unappealing face to the wider public as a result. If the unhinging of the GOP—the way the party of genteel stand-pattery came to be dominated by angry obstructionism—has been the dominant drama of American politics in recent years, no one has lived it more than Charlie Crist. He is martyr and mascot of the great Republican crack-up.

But what does Charlie Crist actually stand for? “Some use the word opportunist,” he tells me. (Crist is one of those politicians who will tell you all the terrible things people say about him.) “Yeah, this is a delightful opportunity, to run into a $100 million buzz saw face-first. That’s a joyous thought, right?”

I ask Crist why anyone should trust him given his record of changing his mind. “Judge me by my deeds,” he says. “Who vetoed the ultrasound bill? Who vetoed the bill that would have been hard on teachers? I did. As a Republican. Who stood up for the Everglades? You know what you’re going to get if you vote for me.”

Some politicians are ideologues. Others are policy wonks. Crist is neither of these; he is an empath.

***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.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and SAVE are making an announcement that will have a significant impact on the rights of same-sex couples living in Florida at 9:30 a.m., at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr. in Miami Beach.

LAWMAKERS HAVE $124 MILLION MORE TO DOLE OUT via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Florida lawmakers eager to cut taxes and boost spending in an election-year got $124 million more reasons.

State economists revised Florida’s revenue forecast upward by that amount for the fiscal year beginning in July on the strength of increased sales tax revenues. But economists still sounded “some cautionary flags,” thanks to real estate and investment earnings taxes which are under-performing.

State economists for the governor, Legislature and Revenue Department said Florida’s economy was essentially unchanged since last fall, although historically low interest rates and fewer home mortgage refinances were cooling tax collections on real estate and investment earnings.

Florida policymakers had already been budgeting for a $1.3 billion surplus as they prepare to draft a new $74 billion-plus budget. The new economic forecast simply gives them more breathing room.

Gov. Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature have signaled they intend to pass at least $500 million in tax cuts this spring, in the form of reduced registration fees for motorists, sales tax holidays for hurricane and back-to-school holidays, and cuts to business income and lease taxes.

The governor has asked for more than $600 million in tax cuts, while lawmakers have filed bills that would cumulatively cut more than $1 billion in taxes — although not all of those are likely to pass.

TWEET, TWEET: @jlrosicaTBO: Fla. House will have 1st draft of budget by 3/21; vote set for 4/3.

AIF SUPPORTS LEGAL REFORM LEGISLATION ADVANCING THROUGH THE FLORIDA HOUSE

Associated Industries of Florida commended the House Civil Justice Subcommittee for advancing legal reform legislation – House Bill 187, by Representative Kathleen Passidomo, relating to civil remedies against insurers.

HB 187 establishes a 60-day timeframe during which an insurer may investigate and, if warranted, tender policy limits to settle a liability. “An unbalanced civil justice system in Florida dampens the ability of employers to recover from the economic downturn and create new jobs.  AIF supports HB 187 that will give businesses and insurers reasonable time to settle a liability claim without litigation,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney.

HB 187 is now slated to advance to the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee.

FAIR SETTLEMENT ACT PASSES HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE SUBCOMMITTEE

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Coalition for Legal Reform applauded the House Civil Justice Subcommittee for passing the Fair Settlement Act, House Bill 187, sponsored by Representative Kathleen Passidomo. This legislation seeks to establish a clearer and more defined timeline in order to ensure plaintiff attorneys and insurers are operating on a level playing field.

“It is time to address the loopholes in the current law that allows plaintiff attorneys to manipulate the timeline that insurers have to investigate and pay claims in good faith,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“This good public policy, presented by Representative Passidomo today, will reverse this trend by establishing a more concise timetable that will hold those who act in good faith harmless, while holding bad actors liable and accountable,” Hart added.

The Senate’s Fair Settlement Act companion bill is Senate Bill 1494, sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher and has been referred to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Rules Committee.

FLORIDA TAXWATCH: EXPANDED NURSE-PRACTITIONER POWERS WILL SAVE FLORIDA $339M Full blog post here

Permitting Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to provide care to the extent of their training could both expand access to health care and save Florida taxpayers as much as $339 million a year, according to a new briefing from the independent non-profit Florida TaxWatch.

In Diagnosing the Debate: Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice, the government watchdog group calls on lawmakers to revisit the regulatory barriers to nurse practitioner-provided care.

The Legislature is considering several bills to enable advanced registered nurse practitioners to prescribe specific treatments supervision of a doctor. Supporters contend that allowing nurse practitioners to work independently of doctors could be one answer to the shortage of primary-care physicians in Florida. They also say nurse practitioners already provide a majority of the care authorized by the bill.

After examining the continuing debate between APRN advocates and physician groups such as the Florida Medical Association, which opposes the expansion of powers, the government watchdog group suggests a brief transition period, where expanded function can be monitored in “access-challenged” areas. Increased reporting can provide “solid data collection.”

PIC DU JOUR: Florida Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Dave Hart celebrating Space Day in Florida’s Capitol … here.

PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY: “Bee research would enhance Florida’s economy” via Florida TaxWatch

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Floridian Partners, LLC, a statewide Public and Government Affairs firm with offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Ther firm’s success is measured by its clients’ success. Outreach and Public Advocacy; Strategic Issue and Campaign Development; Grassroots and Grasstops Coalition Building – Floridian Partners is a one-stop firm for clients needing assistance at all levels of government in Florida.***

MY TAKE: WHAT THE TAMPA BAY TIMES DIDN’T TELL US ABOUT TRAUMA CARE Full blog post here

There has been a lengthy and heated debate going on in Florida about how to ensure we have adequate trauma care for our citizens and visitors.  There have been many lawsuits filed to invalidate the state’s trauma allocation rule and shut down existing HCA trauma centers that are already serving our communities. The Department of Health has been very deliberate as it has worked to promulgate a new allocation rule – which has drawn out the process and created more division and rancor on both sides of the issue.

The unfortunate thing about the Times series is that it gives no real context for fees from a national perspective. Nor does it provide a comparison of total patient charges from one hospital to the next, presumably because such information would show that HCA’s charges are in line with other hospitals. And the series excludes any mention of public subsidies that HCA’s competitors rely on heavily.  Instead, the Times chose to inject more emotion and misleading data into the discussion.

What the Times should have focused on is the fact that hospital bills are sometimes impossible to understand, unregulated and ever changing. Perhaps state or federal lawmakers should consider a transparency initiative to ensure there is a simple way to review hospital costs.

Instead, the Tampa Bay Times staff let this much larger issue fall by the wayside so it could sensationalize the issue of charges, increase readership and impact the debate going on in the Legislature to suit their own agenda.

That’s too bad. I would hope we could expect more.

***RSA Consulting Group is in the business of building Relationships, developing Solutions and Achieving results.  With RSA clients receive the personal attention and commitment they deserve.  RSA is a full service consulting firm with expertise in areas of government & community affairs, strategic planning, fundraising & event planning, as well as media & public relations.  To learn more visit www.rsaconsultingllc.com.***

MATT GAETZ TOPS $400K — FOR 2016 RACE

Rep. Matt Gaetz plans to run for the Senate in 2016 to try to succeed his father, Senate President Don Gaetz. But while the race is still more than two years away, the younger Gaetz has already raised $417,485 for his campaign account, according to newly filed finance reports. Matt Gaetz collected $18,400 during February for the race in Senate District 1, which includes Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington counties and part of Okaloosa counties. Gaetz also is running this year for a final term in House District 4. Unopposed, he has raised a total of $40,200 for that race.

JOE SAUNDERS LOOKS SAFE IN NOVEMBER AFTER DRAMATIC HOUSE WIN IN 2012 via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News

After surviving one of the most contested Florida House races in 2012, Joe Saunders can expect a much easier assignment in 2014.

The Orange County Democrat gained some political experience during his time with Equality Florida but he turned his eyes to running for elected office in 2012, setting his sights on the House seat Darren Soto was leaving as he ran for the Senate. After a contested primary with attorney Shayan Elahi, who spent more than $60,000, Saunders moved on to the general election to take on Republican Marco Pena, an executive at Florida Hospital.

Despite it being a strong Democratic district, Republicans thought the world of Pena. By the time the dust had settled, Pena spent more than $239,700 and relied on almost $143,000 of in-kind donations. Saunders spent almost $222,900 and went through almost $43,000 of in-kind donations.

Saunders went on to win in impressive fashion. When all was said and done, Saunders won with 56 percent while Pena mustered 44 percent. Still in his early 30s, Pena isn’t done and he ended up on the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority board last year. But Saunders, who turns 31 next month, shouldn’t expect a rematch from his old foe. Instead, Saunders can look forward to what should be a quiet contest for his second term.

TRUMBULL WIDENS MARGIN IN FUNDRAISING LEAD IN HD 6 RACE

Jay Trumbull continues to take the lead in the race for House District 6. With $34,150 raised in February and $103,510 total, Trumbull’s campaign now has raised more and has more cash on hand than all of his opponents combined.

“I am pleased by the strong showing of support from our community,” said Trumbull. “We are determined to win because we believe that our conservative values will pave the way to prosperity for the working families of Bay County.”

4TH FLOOR FILES talks to Mark Delegal of Holland & Knight. His clients include Florida Brewers Guild, New York Life Insurance, and Shands Teaching Hospital. Here’s the file on Mark.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Slater Bayless, Sarah Busk, Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Southern Comfort Fireworks

Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: AAA Scholarship Foundation, Inc

Cindy Cooper: Take Stock In Children

Ken Granger, Capital City Consulting: Ameritas Life Insurance Corporation

Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Ashley Mayer, Capital City Consulting: People’s Trust Insurance Company

Nick Iarossi, Chris Schoonoever, Capital City Consulting: Florida Association of Ticket Brokers

Lindsey Napier: Publix

Rhett O’Doski, Ryder Rudd, Sean Stafford, Advantage Consulting Team: F4 Tech

Nathan Ray: Jackson Health System

Teye Reeves, Floridian Partners: Liberty Mutual

PERSONNEL NOTE: COREMESSAGE ADDS TWO KEY PLAYERS AS ACCOUNT MANAGERS Full blog post here

One of Florida’s leading public relations and advocacy agencies announced today the addition of two key players, both of whom will yield high profile governmental experience to the Tallahassee-based firm.

CoreMessage has appointed Sarah Hansford, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Ann Scott, and Patrick Gillespie, a previous press secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The two new Account Managers will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic communications plans.

RON WATSON FORMS LOBBYING FIRM, TAKES ON CHARLOTTE’S WEB AND MORE Full blog post here

Ron Watson, a name widely known in legislative circles for his work with various health care associations, will be seen a lot more in the coming months. Now on his own and president of Watson Strategies, Ron will be advocating for a wide range of regulatory and legislative issues with the same focus and determination he has become known for delivering.

Notably, one of Watson’s first endeavors is close to his heart: support of a legislative initiative to legalize Charlotte’s Web, a strain of marijuana that alleviates symptoms for people suffering with various conditions but which does not produce the euphoric high associated with more common forms of the drug.

 “I want to help suffering children and desperate parents with compassionate care. Because I know, all too well, what watching a child suffering is all about after losing Dylan, my 8 year old son to Leukemia,” Watson said. “These desperate parents should not be made into criminals, in my opinion, nor should they have to move out of state to get their children treatment. My goal is to educate, organize, and God willing, properly implement. I am proud of the Florida legislature for taking the first step in that direction.” With Watson on its side, the Charlotte’s Web initiative certainly will not be hurting for passion or expertise.

SHERYL SANDBERG EYED FOR TOP DISNEY JOB via Claire Atkinson of the New York Post

In media circles, the 2016 race is for the Mouse House chief position and it is proving just as unpredictable, with two years to go before CEO Bob Iger’s predetermined exit.

The talk on the West Coast these past few weeks has a surprising candidate joining the list of those who might have a shot at the top slot: billionaire Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Disney TV boss Anne Sweeney took herself out of contention Tuesday by announcing her departure from the company. Few discussed Sweeney as a possible successor to Iger, one possible reason she opted out of the company.

The 44-year-old Sandberg already sits on the Disney board and is said to have had conversations about her interest.

The conventional wisdom on Wall Street is that the Disney crown belongs to either chief financial officer, James “Jay” Rasulo, or parks chief Thomas Staggs, with Staggs widely believed to have the edge.

Sandberg may be ready for a move from Facebook, where she may no longer be needed now that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is nearing the two-year anniversary of the firm’s IPO. He just snapped up WhatsApp for $19 billion.

SPOTTED: Ron Sachs on the cover of the Tallahassee Democrat, touting his work for the United Way of Big Bend.

TWEET, TWEET: @TravisBlanton: I love the smell of excel spreadsheets in the morning! #budget #FLSession2014 #Sayfie

***Things will be great when you’re downtown at 101 RESTAURANT and MINT MARTINI BAR in Tallahassee. 101 Restaurant has been voted the best meal in the Capitol City featuring steaks, seafood, and specialty cocktails.  We offer $8.99 lunch specials all week long that include pastas, pizzas, and salads.  Mint Martini Bar is upscale and classy, and it’s the best place to enjoy live music and a good vibe. Thursday Featured Lunch Special: $8.99 Pasta’s — Double Happy Hour 4:00-7:00 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.- 12:30 a.m. — Aperitivo Thursday: Buy One Get One Free Small Plates, 8:00pm-Close.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA: JEB BUSH & CD 13, PAYDAY LOANS, KID’S MUSIC AND THE DEFINITION OF NAKED

On Context Florida: Jeb Bush proved his value in the Florida’s 13th Congressional District special election, says political consultant Jamie Miller. Payday loans, with high interest rates, are a problem for Florida’s poor, writes Commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation Drew Breakspear. However, those who would prohibit or curtail payday loans do not offer solutions to replace the only source of borrowing for many people. What’s wrong with kids’ music these days, asks Tom Cavanaugh. Key West’s annual October Fantasy Fest is eight months away, which makes it the perfect time for Linda Cunningham to talk about the definition of naked.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

JEALOUSA reporter asked [the co-creators] of ‘Game of Thrones’ about the recent rumors that President Obama receives screeners of the show to watch before the general public. In an e-mail, they jointly reply, “One perk of being the most powerful man in the world: yes, you get to see episodes early.”

THROWBACK THURSDAY: TOP OF THE FOLDS FROM TODAY IN 1906

One hundred and eight years ago, on March 13, 1906, the Pensacola Journal published a front page editorial cartoon depicting the yards of “talk” that come out of the proverbial hat on the legislative stage. See for yourself. There’s “rebate talk” and “canal talk” and yards and yards more. It may as well have been published today. Other headlines on the front page that day read “House Incensed at the Senate”, “No Garbage Wagon for Four Days”, “President of Argentine Dead”, “City Health Board of Health in Session”, and “Pitched Battle with Indian Outlaws.”

Meanwhile, that same day, on the cover of the Ocala Evening Star, an advertisement (in announcement form) reads: “Now is the time. The City Electric Light Plant will soon be ready to deliver electricity to all who desire the same. ‘Now is the Time’ to have your building wired…” Had you wanted such a service, you could have dialed Phone 15 and asked for B.W. MacDonald, Manager of Florida Plumbing & Electric.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Frank Mayernick

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.