Sunburn for 3/18 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

in Uncategorized by

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

TALLYMADNESS VOTING BEGINS TUESDAY — HERE’S WHO’S IN THE BIG DANCE

Just like college basketball fans who fill out their brackets as part of “March Madness”, political aficionados in the capital and beyond can vote on a series of bracketed match-ups pitting Florida’s top lobbyists against each other.

The selection committee has seeded the top lobbyists, 1 through 64. Voters can visit TallyMadness.com and select the winner of each match-up, with first round voting beginning Tuesday, March 18.

1s vs. 16s: Nick Iarossi vs. Carlos Cruz; Brian Ballard vs. Marc Reichelderfer; Ron Book vs. Donna Simmons; Charley Dudley vs. Guy Spearman

2s vs. 15s: Chris Dudley vs. Slater Bayliss; Jon Johnson vs. Keyna Cory; Al Cardenas vs. Adam Babington; Bill Rubin vs. Monica Rodriguez

3s vs. 14s: Robert Coker vs. Teye Reeves; David Ramba vs Chris Moya; Ron Laface vs. Patrick Bell; Joe York vs Chris Flack

4s vs 13s: Michael Corcoran vs. Missy Timmins; Katherine Webb vs. Mercer Fearington; Rich Heffley vs. Dave Ericks; Claudia Davant vs. Hayden Dempsey

5s. vs 12s: Tracey Mayernick vs. Scott Ross; Jim Daughton vs. Richard Coates; Gus Corbella vs. Lori Killinger; Mark Delegal vs. Marc Dunbar

6s vs. 11s: Steve Metz vs. Mike Hightower; Fred Karlinsky vs. Gary Guzzo; Travis Blanton vs. Jon Costello; Tim Meenan vs. David Browning

7s vs. 10s: Jeff Hartley vs. Sean Pittman; Rhett O’Doski vs. Towson Fraser; Jim Magill vs. Allison Carvajal; Will McKinley vs. Brecht Heuchan

8s. vs. 9s: Jennifer Green vs. Frank Mayernick; Matt Bryan vs. Gaston Cantens; Pete Dunbar vs. Marion Hammer; Clark Smith vs. Amy Christian

BY THE NUMBERS

Over 286 lobbyists received votes from members of the Selection Committee. Earning a first place vote from a Selection Committee member was worth 64 points, a second place vote earned 63 points and so on.

Nick Iarossi was the clear #1 overall seed — nearly 100 points ahead of #2 overall seed Brian Ballad.

FIRST ROUND MATCHES TO KEEP AN EYE ON

Each of the 6-seed versus 11-seed match-ups, such as Travis Blanton vs. Jon Costello look very competitive.  But even some of the #1 versus #16 match-ups, such as Brian Ballard vs. Marc Reichelderfer, could be interesting

UPSET ALERT

#2 seed Al Cardenas versus #15 seed Adam Babington; #3 seed Robert Coker vs. #14 seed Teye Reeves

WHAT THEY’RE PLAYING FOR

The winner of TallyMadness will only claim the title of “best” lobbyist, but they’ll receive the Steve Madden Trophy in honor of a great man and the winner of the first TallyMadness contest.

WHO JUST BARELY MISSED OUT

Among those on the outside looking in who were very close to goin’ dancin’ were Gerald Wester, Kimberly Case, Jason Unger and David Custin.

WHO MADE IT IN 2011 BUT DIDN’T MAKE IT THIS YEAR

Among those not dancin’ this year include David Rancourt and Jim Smith, both of whom were #2 seeds two years ago.

Now on to … 

THE WEEK AHEAD

The third week of the legislative session brings a few measures to the respective chamber floors, but most of the focus will continue to be in committees. The focus on banning Internet cafes, now clearly a fast track effort, resumes on Monday in the Senate, with the ban bill having passed a House committee on Friday. It wouldn’t be surprising to see that measure get to the floor this week. 

Several other controversial measures are in committee this week, from the bill making it easier for parents to turn failing schools into charter schools, to the first extensive look at how the Legislature might expand health care coverage to pick up more people, without calling it an expansion of Medicaid. 

The News Service of Florida has a complete listing of the week’s events here.

JEB’S CENTER-RIGHT VISION GETS MUTED RESPONSE AT CPAC via POLITICO

Bush delivered a center-right vision for the future of the Republican Party at CPAC Friday night, urging the party to be more inclusive and asserting his belief in the future of America’s economy.

“Never again can the Republican Party simply write off entire segments of our society because we assume our principles have limited appeal,” he said. “They have broad appeal. We need to be larger than that.”

… The crowd’s response to Bush’s speech  was fairly muted and lacked the energy of earlier CPAC sessions. He received a standing ovation at the end but otherwise got very little applause and cheering.

Despite his presence here tonight at CPAC’s Ronald Reagan Dinner and the fact that he’s said he would consider a 2016 presidential bid, he was not included on the ballot for CPAC’s presidential straw poll.

>>>”Eschewing a teleprompter, Bush read his 19-minute lecture from a black binder that felt like was trying to channel former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Many in the audience thumbed through BlackBerrys while he talked. He received only a polite, scattered standing ovation.”

WEATHERFORD AT CPAC: FLORIDA WILL REJECT MEDICAID EXPANSION via ALex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Weatherford used his CPAC speech to knock down talk of expanding Medicaid.

“They’re trying to buy us off, one by one, but I am not buying it,” Weatherford said. “Florida will not buy it and American should not buy it. We will stand up to their inflexible plan and we’ll work on our own solution, one that better reflects the needs and priorities of our state. Here’s the bottom line: It’s time for the states to take a stand.”

Today’s Sunburn is 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.***

INTERNET CAFE LOBBYIST DAVID RAMBA FLIES GAMING CHAIRMAN AROUND via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

The chairman of the Senate committee tasked with overseeing the gaming industry uses taxpayer dollars to travel on a private jet owned by internet café lobbyist Dave Ramba.

“It’s just a means of travel for me,” said state Sen. Garrett Richter. “My district is about as far from Tallahassee as it can be.

It’s legal for a lawmaker to fly on a lobbyist’s plane as long as they pay for the trip. Ricther says he pays for the trips out of pocket and is later reimbursed by the state.

His committee next week is set to take up legislation outlawing the gaming centers, a move Richter says he supports. The issue was placed in the spotlight this week after federal investigators shuttered 58 centers tied to St. Augustine-based Allied Veterans, which is at the focus of the investigation.

RPOF DONATES $271K TO VETERANS GROUP IN WAKE OF INTERNET CAFE PROBE

The RPOF will donate $300,000 to the Florida Veterans Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, after learning that political contributions had been raised from an organization that now stands accused of using veteran’s charities as a front for alleged illegal activity. 

“RPOF respects our nation’s veterans, and we have zero tolerance for this kind of activity,” said Chairman Lenny Curry. “It is outrageous to all Floridians that anyone would use our veterans as a front for criminal actions.” 

After a thorough review of financial records in connection with this case, RPOF has received approximately $271,000 during the current and most recent campaign cycle from entities currently under investigation. 

“This is a complex, ongoing case and new facts may develop,” said Curry. “But RPOF has a history of supporting the men and women who serve in the military, and we will always do everything we can to support America’s veterans.  That is why we will contribute a total of $300,000 to this great organization and the heroes they help.”

***Prepare to make a difference as a future public leader…at no cost to you.  March 29 is the deadline for applications to the Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute where you’ll learn from pros about candidacy, leadership and public policy, while networking with leaders. Discover more.***

ALLEN WEST SAYS RICK SCOTT IS VULNERABLE IN RE-ELECTION BID

Former Representative Allen West told the Tampa Bay Times that Governor Rick Scott is in trouble with the Tea Party for supporting expansion of Medicaid.

Said West: “I think when you say you’re gong to stand something then you kind of back off .. but there are other Republican governors who did the same thing. It’s kind of making people question, ‘Really, where is your backbone?'” 

He added: “It does make him vulnerable. I’m being honest with you. Because it’s a fiscal conservative issue. Will the governor be able to go out and defend once he hits the campaign trail, we’ll have to see.”

CRIST SPEAKS TO DEMOCRATIC DINNER via Tamara Lush of the Associated Press

Former Governor Charlie Crist, who was once a Republican, has given one of his first speeches as a Democrat, reports Tamara Lush of the Associated Press.

Crist was the keynote speaker at the Manatee County Democrats’ annual dinner Friday night. More than 300 people were in attendance, and many posed for photos with Crist.

Crist mentioned several Democrats – Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and the late Robert F. Kennedy – in his 30-minute speech. But Crist did not mention Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.

Now a Democrat, Crist certainly sounded like a 2014 gubernatorial candidate Friday evening.

He spoke about immigration and the state’s voting problems in 2012. He also talked about teachers and made a thinly veiled reference to Scott’s proposal to give all teachers a $2,500 pay raise, saying, “It’s nice to give people bonuses, it’s even nicer to be good to them every year.”

BY CRIST’S SIDE, ROUSON REMAINS by Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

When Charlie Crist was preparing to speak to Manatee County Democrats on Friday, he knew who he wanted there with him.

Earlier in the day, Crist called State Rep. Darryl Rouson to make sure Rouson would be able to make it from Tallahassee in time to be with him in Lakewood Ranch.

And for good reason. If anyone knows what it is like to switch parties then have to try to convince his new party he really is one of them, it’s Rouson.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: “Please put your hands together and welcome our next Gov-” State Rep. Darryl Rouson, eliciting, some of the biggest cheers of the night when he introduced Crist.

DEMOCRATS CLEARING DECKS FOR CRIST by Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News

With Rich going nowhere for the moment, Dyer and Nelson slamming the door on running, Diaz apparently close to bowing out, and Sink on the sidelines, Crist is increasingly looking at a cakewalk in the Democratic primary.

CRIST BOSS JOHN MORGAN TO LEAD POT INITIATIVE IN FLA. via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Morgan … is taking the reins of a Florida medical marijuana initiative, promising to pump major money and political muscle into the popular issue. Morgan, a top Florida trial lawyer based in Orlando, said he’s ready to tap a network of donors and his personal bank account to get the measure in front of voters in 2014 as a proposed constitutional amendment.

“I can get the money. I have the money. I will be joined by people with money who will help,” said Morgan. “I’ve been very fortunate in life, and I can make it happen.”

Morgan said he’s going to lead the initiative for personal reasons: His father had struggled with cancer and emphysema, and only marijuana helped him. “He was tethered to machines and on all these drugs that he had no appetite,” Morgan said. “One of my brothers was able to get marijuana for him so he could eat and be happy.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks Business Solutions. Thousands of businesses, from local bakeries to national hotel chains, even the 2012 Republican National Convention, have chosen us to provide Voice, Internet and Video services that are reliable, scalable and flexible. We have the proven experience, equipment, infrastructure and personalized attention to meet any business needs. Learn more.***

ETHICS COMMISSIONER SEEKS CHANGES IN SENATE PLAN

A member of the Florida Commission on Ethics is calling for changes in an ethics bill that has been a top priority of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, saying the measure could have “unintended consequences.” In a letter sent to news organizations, Commissioner Matt Carlucci said he would like to see the House make changes in the bill (SB 2), which was unanimously approved by the Senate last week. For example, he pointed to a definition of “special private gain” in part of the bill dealing with voting conflicts. He said the definition is too narrow. In another example, he said the bill would allow officials to have a “do over” if complaints are filed against them because of erroneous financial-disclosure forms. He wrote that would remove “any incentive to file the report accurately in the first place.” Carlucci, a former Jacksonville City Council president, praised other parts of the bill, such as a provision that would allow liens to be placed against officials who don’t pay financial-disclosure fines.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS CALL FOR HEALTH COVERAGE EXTENSION via the News Service of Florida

Florida House Democrats charged Republican legislative leaders with foot-dragging and a lack of vision in voting down expanded Medicaid eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act. A Senate select committee this week backed the idea of crafting an alternative, and House Minority Leader Perry Thurston and Rep. Mia Jones said any such plan should cover Floridians under age 65 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s $15,400 a year for an individual, or $26,300 for a family of three, and would include childless adults – a big change for Florida.

Thurston said expanding Medicaid would save lives and that Floridians still expect lawmakers to find a way to cover more of the state’s 4 million uninsured residents. “If the leadership in Tallahassee thinks that it’s dead, then there should be an uproar from the citizens in the community about the need to extend coverage for working Floridians,” he said. No alternative legislation has been filed yet.

LATVALA TWEAKS BRANDES via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

There was a little political grudge match this week at the Capitol.

On Thursday, the Senate’s Community Affairs Committee heard SB 534, a bill that would subject the state’s 492 municipal pensions to tougher actuarial scrutiny.

Boring stuff, right? Well, not for political junkies in Pinellas County.

You see, the bill’s sponsor is Sen. Jeff Brandes. The bill already cleared one committee, by a 7-2 vote. Brandes has been a tireless champion of it, doing things like sitting in House committee meetings and tweeting his support for the sponsor of the companion bill.

But the bill didn’t get a particularly warm reception at its second Senate committee, especially from one member in particular – Sen. Jack Latvala.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: Reading @MikeVanSickler’s story of @JackLatvala tweaking @JeffreyBrandes, I remember how much I don’t like when daddy & mommy fight. 

***For over 20 years, the PA Team of Jack Cory, Keyna Cory and Erin Daly have successfully helped their Clients through the legislative and governmental process. Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company, national or state association, a Florida business or non-profit, they all look to the PA Team to help them with their Public Affairs, Governmental Consulting, Lobbying and Grassroots programs.  They “Cover Florida Like the Sun” through their work for clients with state and local governments.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: A diverse coalition of conservatives, progressives and government watchdogs will hold a joint press conference Monday morning to discuss how the Florida Senate’s ethics reform proposal actually weakens ethics laws and to offer a joint call to action for stronger ethics reform legislation. 10:00 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room

GAETZ: SENATE LIKELY TO END CCES, ALSO

The Senate will likely pass legislation that would put an end to committees of continuous existence, the shadowy fundraising organs that can raise unlimited amounts of money for political candidates, the Senate president predicted.

Initially, House Speaker Will Weatherford had pushed for an end to the CCEs, calling them “slush funds.” But the Senate had pursued legislation that would merely make changes to the laws on CCEs – trying to prevent abuses like legislators using them to cover personal expenses. But Senate President Don Gaetz said the Senate is coming around to the House’s way of thinking. “The speaker said ‘Look, You can’t mend it you have to end it,'”

Gaetz said in an interview on the Florida Cable Television Association’s Capitaldatelineonline.com with Steve Wilkerson. “I think the Senate is going to come to the House position on that issue.”

LEGISLATIVE PREVIEWS via the News Service of Florida 

In the House

Does The Committee Approve, Until Death Do You Part? A state-sanctioned “marriage handbook” would have to be created by a state-created marriage committee under a bill (HB 1163) by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, that’s before the House Healthy Families Subcommittee on Monday. The handbook would have to provide information relating to resources, information, and skills “to help couples have a healthy and successful marriage.” The bill sets out the makeup of the committee that would create the book, including marriage education and family advocates. The bill doesn’t address who would be responsible for paying for the production and distribution of the book – nor does it mandate that it be distributed. A clarifying bill on the mandatory reporting of child abuse (the so-called Sandusky law) that seeks to eliminate redundant reporting (HB 757) is also before the committee. 4 p.m., 12 House Office Building.

House K-12: Public schools would have to teach about the Sept. 11 terror attacks under one bill (HB 559) before the House K-12 Committee on Monday. Another measure before the committee (HB 989) provides requirements for school districts for conducting “emergency lockdown drills,” and requires districts to annually review those policies. 4 p.m, 17 House Office Building.

In the Senate

Gaming Committee to Consider Internet Cafe Ban: The move to ban Internet cafes in the wake of last week’s arrests of industry officials in a gambling probe has been on a fast track, with the House gaming committee having approved a ban on Friday. The Senate Gaming Committee gets its turn Monday, taking up its bill (SB 1030). The measure by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, clarifies the definition of slot machines and other gaming machines used at Internet cafés and adult arcades that are already illegal under state law.  Thrasher had been calling for a moratorium to prohibit new Internet cafes from opening.  But arrests this past week of individuals running a chain of the strip center arcades for alleged racketeering and money laundering, and the subsequent resignation of the state’s lieutenant governor, have changed the focus and pace of the legislation. 10 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building.

PPACA Panel To Discuss Insurance: The Senate Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to make recommendations about insurance-regulation issues affected by the federal law better known as Obamacare. Also, it is expected to make recommendations about whether the state-employee health insurance program should be expanded to include temporary employees who work an average of 30 hours a week or more. 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building.

Senate Agriculture Will Be A Bit Icky: The Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday considers legislation (SB 872) that would require animal shelters that euthanize animals to put info about how often they do that onto a web site so the public will know. Another bill (SB 1708) would require restaurants, markets or packing houses in Florida to mark beef containing “pink slime” with a label that discloses its presence. The panel also considers sending a message to Congress in the form of a memorial (SM 1706) that it should ban the use of “pink slime” in meat products or at least require it be disclosed in labels. The panel also looks at a bill (SB 948) that requires the Department of Agriculture to establish an agricultural water supply planning program to develop data regarding prospective agricultural water supply demand. 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.

Senate Ethics and Elections: The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee considers a wide-ranging elections bill (SB 600) that, among other things, revises the law dealing with how long constitutional amendments will be on the ballot. The committee also has a long list of commission and board appointees for confirmation. (Monday, 1 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.)

Nuke Plants All The Buzz: The Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee will discuss and hear presentations about nuclear-power plants, including a controversial 2006 law that allows utilities to collect money for nuclear projects before they start producing electricity. Some Tampa area legislators have called for power companies to return money to customers if a plant isn’t built in a set time. 3:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.

Panel to Dig Into Med Mal: The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a proposal (SPB 7030) that would make changes in the state’s medical-malpractice laws. The proposal includes tightening standards for expert witnesses in medical-malpractice cases and dealing with a controversial issue known as “ex parte” interviews of physicians. 3:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.

Back To School Sales Tax Holiday: The Senate Education Committee considers, among other bills, legislation (SB 916) that would set out a period during which the sale of back to school items and clothes are tax free. Another bill (SB 950) authorizes putting cameras on school buses to catch people running the bus stop signs. 3:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via LobbyTools

On: Queen Sylvester has been hired by Rep. Kionne McGhee to be a district secretary.

On: Libby Maxwell is now in the employ of Rep. Cary Pigman as a district secretary.

***Today’s 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.***

REMEMBERING SENATOR LARCENIA BULLARD

Former state Senator Larcenia Bullard has died, according to her an aide to her son, Senator Dwight Bullard.  

The Miami Democrat ended a long legislative career in 2012, leaving the Senate because of term limits. She was 65.

A compilation of reactions and statements: 

Governor Rick Scott:

“Today, Florida lost a strong leader. Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn the passing of Senator Larcenia Bullard. She represented the families of South Florida with passion and integrity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those close to her and the rest of Florida as we honor a woman who put her constituents first. We remain grateful to Senator Bullard for her service to this great state and pray that her family can find peace during this difficult time.”

Senate President Don Gaetz:

Today our dear friend and former colleague, Senator Larcenia Bullard, died in Miami.  Although she had faced many serious challenges to herhealth in recent months, Senator Bullard was on the floor with us — cheerful and proud — as her son, Dwight, began his first Senate session just two weeks ago.

Larcenia Bullard had the biggest heart in the Senate.  A proud Democrat, she was never an uncompromising partisan.  A political pioneer among African-Americans, her passion for fairness and justice extended to all people.  Every hard fight in committee or tough debate on the Senate floor always ended with her warmly embracing those with whom she disagreed and assuring them of her love.  Every senator with whom she served can share stories of her compassion and good humor.

The Bullards are an institution in South Florida.  Loving their community and its people, they are fiercely loved and supported in return. The Senate shares the grief of the Bullard family and extends our prayers to Representative Ed Bullard, Senator Dwight Bullard, and all of those who mourn Larcenia.  Every senator and staff member who served alongside Senator Bullard knows that something very good and kind is lost from our lives today.

Secretary Brown will keep us informed of funeral arrangements when they have been finalized.

Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto: 
“It is with great sadness that the Senate family learned today of the passing of former Senator Larcenia Bullard. The Senate was truly blessed in abundance by Senator Bullard. She was the light of any room she walked into and her laughter and stories could capture the moment like no other. She was a friend to all and a passionate advocate for her community. She leaves behind a strong legacy of caring, compassion, and dedication. To honor her memory, let us spread her joy and kindness wherever we may go, for she would delight in that. Our thoughts and prayers are with her devoted husband, her beloved children, and her precious grandchildren.”
Democratic Leader Chris Smith:

“I am incredibly saddened with the news of Senator Bullard’s passing. She was not only a mentor to me, but a woman many loved for her outspoken ways and selfless devotion to the people she represented.

“Even when ill, Senator Bullard remained determined to serve those who elected her – those whose faith she carried and protected.

“On the Senate Floor, she spoke of things that gave inspiration to many; she never shied away from controversial issues. And she never shied away from standing up for issues she believed were right.

“After being term-limited, she returned to the Senate just one week ago.  Ever the free spirit, she danced for the Senate’s very own version of the ‘Harlem Shake’ in a way only Larcenia could!

“As our hearts and prayers go out to her son, Senator Dwight Bullard, and her husband, former Representative Ed Bullard – ever at her side – this we know…she is still dancing in heaven.”

Speaker Will Weatherford, via Twitter:

“Sad to hear about former Senator Larcenia Bullard’s passing. My prayers are with @DwightBullard and his family.”

Representative Manny Diaz, via Twitter:
 “Our thoughts and Prayers go out to @DwightBullard and his family for the passing of Sen. Larcenia Bullard. Godspeed.”
Represenative Seth McKeel, via Twitter:
“I join Floridians in prayer for the Bullard family. We are saddened by the loss of a great and dedicated public servant.”
Representative Alan Williams, via Twitter:
“Words can’t express the sense of loss the entire Fla Legislative Family is feeling w/the loss of Sen. LarceniaBullard #LoveMeSomeMamaBull”
THOUGHTS FROM BOB LEVY
“I grew up politically with Larcenia – have known her almost 30 years – her daughter calls me Uncle Bob – her son – now Senator – worked four years for me while he went to FAMU. I went through Hurricane Andrew with them blow by blow literally. I had dinner with her two weeks ago Sunday when she was here for the opening and all she could do was talk about how proud she was of Dwight – and the love she has for her grandson – my niece Edwina’s son – she had a heart of gold – all of us have hysterical Larcenia stories but she cared deeply about the people she represented and no one ever got that – why she always got opponents – and why she always blew them away. She had suffered so much in recent months – she lost about five people in her family – one funeral after another – guess at the end of the day her big heart just wasn’t big enough and finally gave in – many many people will feel as heartbroken as I do by the news – just sad when we lose someone in our political family – but for me it was personal family.”
 
***RSA Consulting Group is a full service consulting firm with expertise in the areas of government & legislative affairs, community affairs, strategic planning, as well as media & public relations.  RSA fully integrates all of these areas to achieve far-reaching results and yield high-impact successes for their clients.  When you choose RSA Consulting Group, you’re choosing a team well known for their exceptional work ethic, integrity and ability to accomplish the goal.  For more information, visit RSA Consulting Group’s website.*** 
 
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: At 10 a.m., Florida’s January 2013 and benchmarked employment figures will be released.

MORE ASSIGNING: The Florida College System (FCS) Council of Presidents will be holding a press conference to release the findings of a new report that demonstrates the multibillion-dollar positive economic impact of state and community colleges in Florida. The FCS Council of Presidents will also be releasing important data regarding college graduates who have successfully transitioned into Florida’s growing workforce. 1 p.m. Fourth Floor Rotunda, House side.

FLORIDA MAY GO ROGUE ON MEDICAID EXPANSION via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

When Rick Scott became the seventh Republican governor to support Medicaid expansion, he gave President Obama unexpected momentum for the nationwide effort, a key piece of the federal health care overhaul.

But just as quickly, federal regulators stalled the effort with an out-of-the-box policy decision that critics say now clouds prospects for bringing health coverage to 1 million low-income Floridians.

“They gave us an opening,” Sen. John Thrasher said of the Obama administration. “And we started to do more thinking about this.”

A week after Scott’s dramatic declaration in February, federal officials gave Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, the go-ahead to work on an alternative to Medicaid expansion. Republican-led Indiana soon followed with its own proposal.

Now, Florida Senate Republicans, who have rejected Scott’s call for expanding the traditional Medicaid program, are beginning work on crafting their own health care plan for low-income Floridians.

STATE ECONOMISTS INCREASE PROJECTED TAX REVENUES via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

State economists increased projected tax revenues slightly at a meeting Friday, but the small increase is unlikely to significantly change the outlook for legislative budget negotiations that will soon begin in earnest.

Forecasters added $153 million in tax revenues in the budget year that ends June 30, and $106.5 million for the year that begins July 1. Lawmakers are set to begin work soon on the budget for the coming year, with the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee saying allocations for different sections of the spending plan should be out early next week.

In all, lawmakers will have more than $3.5 billion more to work with this year than last. Even taking into account likely policy decisions and budget increases, the state could have a surplus of $1.1 billion.

>>>”The findings of today’s revenue estimating conference are encouraging. For the first time in many years, Florida will have a budget surplus as our economy shows further signs of recovery. Though this is certainly welcomed news, my optimism is clouded by the potential effects of sequester on Florida’s economy. The Florida House will continue to work to develop a responsible budget that maximizes every dollar and prioritize the items in the interest of every Florida family. I look forward to working with Senate Appropriations Chair Joe Negron throughout the budget process.” — House budget chair Seth McKeel

***Sachs Media Group is Florida’s dominant integrated communications company and one of America’s leading independent communications companies. In 2011, the firm was named the “PR Agency of the Year” nationally in the prestigious Bulldog Awards. With exceptional experience and results in public affairs, branding, social/digital and crisis communications, the firm combines unparalleled relationships, news judgment, messaging and storytelling ability with cutting-edge strategies to engage audiences with content they seek and share. Sachs Media Group, formerly Ron Sachs Communications, is home to the team best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape.***

DID CONCORDIA CARE PROFIT FROM POLITICAL TIES? by Stacy Singer of the Palm Beach Post

Five years ago, the Florida Legislature voted to put state-paid mental health and substance abuse services under managed care, saying the change would control the state’s costs, coordinate patients’ care and provide services to more people.

It didn’t supply any money to pay for the managed care companies, however.

With seven regional managed care overseers now hired and processing state spending of $520 million a year, a Palm Beach Post investigation has found the change is costing already cash-strapped clinics more to treat their patients and in some cases forcing them to cut staff and services to needy people. Meanwhile, subcontractors for those overseers, which make decisions about care, have been handed rich incentives to cut spending on patients.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Grateful J’s, Inc.

Sarah Bascom, League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates

Marty Fiorentino, Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto: Justice Coalition

David Griffin: Feeding South Florida

***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.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, political consultant extraordinaire Eric Johnson.

ENGAGED: Alex Conant, Sen. Marco Rubio’s press secretary, who proposed to Caitlin Dunn, Sen. Rob Portman’s press secretary, at mile 25 of Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, which they had trained for together. It was Caitlin’s first marathon, and Alex’s 10th. On Minnesota Avenue (they met at Pawlenty presidential campaign HQ in Minnesota, Alex’s home state), he said he had to tie his shoe. Ignoring Caitlin’s nonplussed reaction, he dropped to one knee: “I don’t want to finish this race without you, and I don’t want to finish my life without you.” Alex had kept the ring in a fanny pack, the first he had ever used in a race. He had somehow convinced Caitlin that he needed the ridiculous look to store all their goo. Via Mike Allen of Politico Playbook.

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.