Sunburn for 4/15 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Sunburn is 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.

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS NOW SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds support for gay marriage “now stands at 53%, up from 49% last March and 30% in 2004. For the first time, pollsters said, the survey found a majority of independent voters saying gays should be allowed to enter into same-sex marriages, with Democrats continuing to support gay marriage in large numbers and Republicans opposing it.”

Also interesting: “Half of all respondents believe people are born gay, with only 31% saying they choose to be gay. Fifteen years ago, views were split nearly evenly, with 41% saying people are born gay and 38% saying people choose to be gay.”

MARCO GOES ALL IN ON IMMIGRATION REFORM via POLITICO 

Rubio is preparing to go all in to support sweeping immigration legislation, offering himself up as the public face of a bill that will split the Republican Party — but that his allies hope will propel him to the front of the GOP presidential sweepstakes.

After offering lukewarm support until now, Rubio is preparing to fully embrace a measure that is the most significant of his political career so far. The gambit could pay off in spades by crowning a leading presidential contender in 2016, or it could permanently damage the Republican’s brand with conservatives.

… The Florida Republican has privately briefed individual GOP senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee — including conservative skeptics John Cornyn of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah — about the soon-to-be-unveiled proposal, according to sources familiar with the matter. His staff has pitched the plan to conservative thought leaders, including at the National Review and Wall Street Journal editorial board as well as the columnist Charles Krauthammer, sources say.

>>>Rubio to Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union,” on the plan’s security provisions: “First of all, a universal E-Verify system, which means you won’t be able to find a job in the United States if you can’t pass that check. Secondly, an entry-exit system. … 40 percent of our illegal immigration are people that enter legally and then they overstay their visas. And we don’t really know who they are, because for the most part, we only track when people come in. We don’t track even when they leave. And third is real border security, including fencing. And all these three things are going to happen, because they are triggers.”

>>>Rubioto Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” on whether he thinks immigration bill can get passed this year : “I do. I’m optimistic about it. I think this bill answers all of the questions that people raise. That’s why it’s taken so long, that’s why we spent so much time on it. … This bill does three things that are fundamentally important for our country. It modernizes our legal immigration system – something we need to do no matter what. It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world. And it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally, but does so in a way that is fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future, and isn’t unfair to the people that have done it the right way. … [I]t will be a long process, hopefully a very open process. And I think it will take some time but I believe we can get there.”

RUBIO JOINS FIGHT TO SPARE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWERS

A bipartisan effort to spare air traffic control towers from budget-related closure is throttling-up in the US Senate.

On Friday, the office of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., confirmed Marco Rubio, the junior senator and Republican from Florida, has signaled his support for the Protect Our Skies Act.

“Sen. Rubio has signed on to the bill. It’s gaining a lot of traction,” said Garrette Silverman, a spokeswoman for Moran, an early sponsor of the bill along with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

Rubio’s office in Washington, D.C., couldn’t be reached late Friday afternoon for comment.

The bill filed on Tuesday would prohibit the Federal Aviation Administration from closing any air traffic control towers. The FAA says it’s still planning to go ahead with the closings, on June 15.

DENNIS ROSS ADDS TWO STAFFERS

Ross announced the addition of two staff members to his Washington, DC office. Melissa Gierach will serve as a Legislative Analyst. She will start Monday, April 15. Grafton Pritchartt started serving as the Washington, D.C. Scheduler this past January. 

“The addition of these two staff members is crucial to the effective and efficient functioning of our office. Melissa’s background in health care and Grafton’s attention to detail will serve the constituents of Florida’s 15th District well, and I’m thankful to have them as members of our team,” said Ross. 

Melissa Gierach will join the Ross office as a Legislative Analyst focused on health care, energy, ways and means, and education issues.  Previously, she served former U.S. Reps. John Sullivan and Cliff Stearns as a Legislative Advisor and a Legislative Correspondent, respectively.  Gierach also was a laboratory manager at Florida State University. She graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Physiology and earned her master’s degree from the George Washington University in Health Policy and Health Economics. 

Grafton Pritchartt joined the Ross office this January as D.C. Scheduler. Prior to joining the team, she served U.S. Rep. Tom Price as his staff assistant, coordinating opportunities for constituents during their visits to Washington, D.C. She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2010 with degrees in Journalism and Public Relations.

GWEN GRAHAM FUNDRAISER HOSTED BY BRIAN BALLARD via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham, has a high-powered team of Florida lobbyists and insiders hosting an April 23 fundraiser for her Congressional campaign at the Tallahassee home of superlobbyist Brian Ballard. He’s co-hosting the $250-per-attendee event with Bob Graham. Maximum contribution: $5,200.

A Republican fundraiser who led Mitt Romney’s money-raising team in Florida, Ballard is crossing parties by backing Graham over incumbent GOP U.S. Rep Steve Southerland.

Also on the host committee are Bill Holliman & Loranne Ausley, Duby & Sallie Ausley, Ron Book, Scott Carruthers, Harry & Mary Chiles, Steve Dobson, Jim Eaton, Arnold & Perlan Hantman, Don Hinkle & Mimi Graham, Steve Hurm, Mark & Marina Logan, Steve  Jane Menton, Jon & Serena Moyle, Tom & Dottie Panza; Bill Rubin, Ron Sachs & Gaye Webster-Sachs.

LOIS FRANKEL TOPS $300K IN CONTRIBUTIONS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Frankel total receipts topped $385,000 for the quarter because of a refund credited to her campaign from the 2012 cycle, according to a statement from the Frankel campaign. She begins her 2014 re-election bid in Palm Beach-Broward District 22 with more than $330,000 in cash on hand.

Federal Election Commission reports are due by the end of Monday for the quarter that ended March 31.

In a statement released by her campaign, Frankel said: “I am honored that South Floridians showed such strong support as I begin building resources for the 2014 campaign. I am working tirelessly every day to solve problems in a bipartisan manner. We must get people back to work and reduce our deficit in a fair way that allows us to strengthen our economy, protect Medicare and Social Security and invest in infrastructure, innovation and education.”

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A.K. DESAI’S RISE AND FALL by Susan Taylor Martin and Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times 

(H)is success was largely an illusion.

Last month, FBI agents raided the company. Regulators have accused Universal’s leadership of fraud, embezzlement and diversion of funds, though they have not accused any individual of a crime.

Desai, through his Miami attorney, told the Times that his company “always acted in an ethical and legal fashion.”

Interviews with dozens of employees and investors and a review of thousands of records reveal that Universal was in trouble almost from the start. And Desai may only have himself to blame.

He drove away top executives. He skirted rules. He declared that Universal members who asked for electric wheelchairs could use walkers instead. And it was Desai who pumped millions of dollars into six-figure BMWs, swank offices and executive bonuses as the company spiraled downward.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: “WHY RICK SCOTT MUST GOby in-the-trenches conservative Jacob Perry

… The end result of this is that Governor Scott is now essentially a lame duck with just over a year remaining in his first (and likely, only) term. He has historically low approval ratings (either 36% or 39%, depending on whether you believe PPP or Quinnipiac) and is staring at a bloody defeat by former Governor Charlie Crist. A victory by Crist would set the Florida GOP back an entire decade as the former “Chain Gang Charlie” seeks to fill his own hollow soul with the satisfaction of collecting scalps from each of his enemies.

… Dear Governor Scott, for the love of your adopted state and the good of your party, you need to set your considerable ego aside and do the right thing. That noise which we can both hear is Oprah warming up her vocal cords. It’s over.

HOSTILITY TOWARDS CRIST FUELS SPECULATION ABOUT NELSON FOR GOVERNOR via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Oh-so-quietly, veteran Democratic fundraisers and strategists across Florida worry about another scenario: A Charlie Crist train wreck that would ensure a second term for one of America’s most vulnerable Republican governors.

…”It’s a difficult sell for a candidate who was governor, who left governor to run to be the Republican senator, to now come back and say he wants to be the Democratic governor,” said former Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith. “Charlie Crist may very well be able to explain that to people’s satisfaction, but it becomes the focus of the campaign. … As soon as the election becomes focused on the challenger, rather than the incumbent, I think the challenger is in trouble.”

… “I know Gov. Crist has had a spiritual journey and has found many of his past positions are not positions he now feels comfortable with. However, that journey is a public record and it is something we will have to defend if he is our nominee,” said Mitchell Berger, a top Democratic fundraiser and lawyer from Fort Lauderdale.

… Miami businessman Chris Korge, another of Florida’s top Democratic fundraisers, said, “Bill Nelson is the 800-pound gorilla, and nobody could beat him in a primary if he were to run. Until Bill declares unequivocally that he is not going to do it, it gives a lot of people an excuse to sit on the sidelines.”

Perhaps the most interesting quote is from John Morgan, who Smith reports is one of the major Democratic fundraisers who originally asked Nelson to run for Governor.

“It would certainly make my life easier,” Morgan said of Nelson running, noting that Nelson ran for governor in 1990 but lost the primary after then-Sen. Lawton Chiles entered the race. “I said to Bill, ‘Lawton did it to you, and wouldn’t you rather be an executive than a senator?’ I believe that Bill Nelson is one of our great politicians ever.”

Of course, there’s still a large faction of the Democratic party which wishes to see Alex Sink run.

“Charlie Crist seems to be the hot commodity, but there are donors that are still very excited about Alex. I just had one the other day say to me, ‘Let me know as soon as she decides because I want to help,’ ” said Justin Day, 32, of Tampa who raised money for Sink in 2010 and in 2012 raised more money for Barack Obama than anyone else in the country under age 40.

RICK SCOTT MAKES MOVE TO THE MIDDLE via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

At various points this week Gov. Rick Scott championed expanding federally subsidized health care for the poor, limiting the wealthy’s influence on politics and scaling back property insurance reforms that could raise rates.

At each turn, Scott found himself in conflict with conservative Republicans, his positions more in line with centrists, Democrats and consumer advocates.

To the surprise of many, the governor has been a much more moderating force this legislative session than in years past, when he signed the state budget at a Tea Party rally, slashed $1 billion in education spending and rejected federal money for a new bullet train.

Scott has moved closer to the middle on a variety of issues.

Some see craven political calculation in the governor’s positions, pointing to his low approval ratings and the need for Scott to soften his image as an uncompromising ideologue before the 2014 election. Others call it the natural evolution of a political outsider growing more in tune with public sentiment.

Whatever his motivation, the governor’s imprint on the session is unmistakable.

SCOTT RECEIVES TEPID SUPPORT AT RPOF QUARTERLY via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

After a speech to Republican leaders here today drew a polite response and no overt show of support, Gov. Scott might find his first 2014 re-election challenge involves winning back his own party now that he has tacked toward the political center.

… (T)he governor came and left with little fanfare or even much mingling. Attorney General Pam Bondi gave an earlier speech in which she supported Scott, but left before he arrived. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commission Adam Putnam and Florida legislative leaders also were conspicuously absent from his talk.

Later, State Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, attacked Scott’s proposal to accept a federal Medicaid expansion, part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

Scott reportedly survived a revolt in a GOP committee meeting the night before. Lake County GOP Committeewoman Patricia Sullivan, a leader in the Tea Party movement, proposed the party not overtly back any candidates until after the 2014 primary, a motion some said they perceived as anti-Scott. Though it drew some support, it was defeated in a closed session.

COUNTER-TWEET: @ChrisMZiegler: @SaintPetersblog The applause welcoming the gov, that I mentioned earlier, was incredibly long to the point I was exhausted of clapping.

***A message from the Florida Press Association:  This session there are a number of threats to public notice that would cripple Floridians’ ability to access critical information.  It is paramount that policymakers protect the public’s right to this information by ensuring that public notices continue to be published in Florida’s newspapers, as they are the most recognizable source for this critical information.  In fact, recent Scarborough Research shows that 62 percent of Floridians indicated they had read a print edition newspaper in the past seven days.  Moreover, attempts to move all public notices to the Internet alone is detrimental, as the digital divide still exists today and disenfranchises many Floridians, as indicated by Scarborough Research which found that 42 percent of those 65 and older don’t have access to the Internet.  The FPA urges the Legislature to be vigilant of any attempts to limit public notice and protect Floridians’ right to this important information.***

FLORIDIANS SLOWER TO FILE INCOME TAXES via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

With a quarter of Florida’s 10 million individual tax returns coming in usually during the last two weeks before the April 15 deadline, it’s crunch time ramped up. This year, even more Floridians are filing later since the tax season got off to a slow start with Congress and President Barack Obama not agreeing to budget compromises until the new year.

NEWSMAKERS INTERVIEW WITH JESSE PANUCCIO Watch here

In the latest installment of the Florida NewsMakers program, the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity sits down with Sachs Media Group’s Trimmel Gomes and discuses Florida’s economic recovery. 
 
With Florida’s unemployment rate dipping to its lowest levels in more than four years, the head of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, Jesse Panuccio, credits the state’s deep-rooted focus on job creation saying, “It’s the policies the governor and the Legislature have put in place in the last two years; balanced sensible budgets, lower taxation, sensible regulation and promoting a sensible litigation environment.” 
 
The new agency, which is designed to streamline Florida’s effort to attract businesses and help existing ones expand, has some critics saying the state’s incentives program needs more teeth. “What we do to ensure that they are well administered is we ensure that they are done transparently, accountably and efficiently,” Panuccio said. “We, for instance, have launched a first of its kind incentives portal on our website in the last two months, so every Florida taxpayer, anytime they want, can visit our website and see every single non-confidential incentives deal that’s out there and look at how the companies have performed.” During this week’s program, Panuccio also explains why he believes the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (which combines Florida’s economic development, workforce and community development agencies under one roof) should be considered the best run agency in state government.

***While the Legislature debates election reform in the final weeks of Session, candidates were required to file their Q1 finance reports to the Division of Elections by April 10. Go to On 3 Public Relations for the complete list of filed candidates, their contributions, expenditures, and cash-on-hand.*** 

EDITORIAL BOARDS SOUND OFF ON LEGISLATURE

Tampa Bay Times –House health plan: little care, high cost 

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is failing the test of fiscal responsibility and compassionate leadership by rejecting federal money to expand Medicaid. The House alternative is no safety net for the uninsured and would cover a fraction of the 1 million poor Floridians who would qualify for expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It offers false hope and too little coverage at too much cost — all so Weatherford and other Republicans can continue an ideological fight with the Obama administration. 

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott has dismissed the House proposal, and the Republican governor and the Senate should continue to push for a more pragmatic answer that uses the federal money. Scott correctly called the House plan double taxation, noting Floridians already pay

federal taxes to fund health care reform and would have to pay for the House plan, which is estimated to cost $2 billion over 10 years. 

The Miami Herald – Election reform lite 

After legislative hubris made voting in Florida an exercise in torture, lawmakers are working to rectify their misguided efforts. Nothing like being a national punch line — again — to send folks back to the drawing board. The question remains, Are lawmakers embarrassed enough to do the right thing? 

This session, there is a bipartisan effort to ease the pain too many people felt last year when all they wanted to do was cast a vote in the presidential election. In 2011, the Legislature, with Gov. Rick Scott’s blessing, curtailed early voting, mired voters in the quicksand of incomprehensible amendment language and, ultimately, rendered Florida’s role in the 2012 presidential election irrelevant. This after thousands of Floridians waited long after polls were closed to cast a vote. In Miami-Dade County, voting absentee was a confusing nightmare. 

The Ocala Star Banner – Ethics challenged

Ethics reform — once proclaimed a high priority by the leaders of the Florida House and Senate — appears now to be nothing more than a bargaining chip.

That’s as good an explanation as any for a troubling series of events that occurred this week in the Legislature.

On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee removed language from its campaign-finance bill that would have increased the current $500 maximum contribution limit to $3,000 for legislative candidates and $5,000 for statewide candidates. The vote came a day after Gov. Rick Scott’s office said he wouldn’t support a bill that raised the contribution limit.

The Palm Beach Post – Citizens bill would be unfair to South Florida, and a gift to the insurance industry

A terrible property insurance bill could come out of the Florida Senate this week.

Senate Bill 1770 passed a floor vote on Thursday. It is part misinformation, part hypocrisy and part outrage. In short, it is what South Floridians have come to expect from the Legislature on this issue.

As usual, the flashpoint is Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort. The goal of Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, the bill’s sponsor, and like-minded legislators who aren’t from South Florida is to jack up rates for Citizens customers in South Florida. To achieve that goal, legislators apparently are willing to say and do almost anything. Sen. Simmons began Thursday’s debate by saying that Citizens has 242,000 policies in Palm Beach County. He’s roughly 100,000 too high, according to the Citizens website.

ROMANO COLUMN: WEATHERFORD IGNORING REALITY WHILE RIDING IDEOLOGICAL HIGH HORSE

If low-income Floridians are without health coverage at this time next year, they will have Will Weatherford to thank.

The House speaker has occupied a lower-profile role on health care in recent weeks, but it is fair to say no individual has done more to torpedo Medicaid expansion in Florida.

The president and the governor are in favor of expansion. Polls say residents want it, the state’s leading health care organizations have lobbied for it, and the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed it. Even the Republican-dominated Senate has proposed an alternative plan that would use federal Medicaid funds.

The sticking point is the Florida House. And the fault is Weatherford’s.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Policyholders of Florida, Florida Association for Insurance Reform, and the Good Foundation Florida, will unite today for a press conference addressing property insurance legislation that would hurt consumers and the real estate market. 10:30 a.m. 1st Floor of the Capitol.

COMMISSION ON ETHICS MEMBER IMPLORES LEGISLATURE TO MOVE FORWARD ON ETHICS REFORM via contributor Karen Cyphers

Matt Carlucci, newest member on the Florida Commission on Ethics, issued a letter on Friday imploring House and Senate leaders to pass ethics measures despite continued disagreement between the chambers regarding campaign finance limits. While the House wants to raise the limits on political campaign contributions, via HB 7131, the Senate’s finance bill (SB 1382) makes no change to these limits

Carlucci wrote, “On behalf of the Commission, I urge all the parties not to let differences in philosophy in one arena stand in the way of progress on things we all can agree on.”  Carlucci also reiterated the Commission’s support of three measures which he believes would strengthen the current proposal. Click here for these recommendations.

HEALTH CARE PROPOSALS TO BE HEARD THIS WEEK DIFFER IN APPROACH AND REACH via contributor Karen Cyphers

This week, as House and Senate committees take up three alternative plans to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, two main factors separate these proposals: first, whether they will accept federal funds; and second, whether they create a publicly-administered program or offer vouchers instead. 

The House plan (PCB SPPACA 13-03) unveiled last week by Rep. Richard Corcoran provides $2,000 subsidies to groups of low-income Floridians but does not accept federal funding; Sen. Aaron Bean’s plan (SB 1844) offers limited subsidies for certain low-income individuals, again only through state funds and to a sum that would not easily assist those in the greatest need; and Sen. Negron’s “Healthy Florida” (SB 1816), the most comprehensive of proposals, uses the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation framework to offer private health-insurance coverage for nearly the same population that would be covered under Medicaid expansion, and will likely qualify for (and rely upon) federal funds promised under ACA.  The House select committee meets on Monday at 1 pm in 17 HOB, and the Senate Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday at 11 am in 412 Knott.

FLORIDA BLUE QUIETLY PUSHING CHANGES THAT WOULD ALLOW EXPANSION via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Florida Blue, one of the state’s largest campaign contributors, is quietly using a legislative maneuver to make a change that would allow the company to expand beyond what current law allows.

The state’s top insurance regulator originally opposed the move for reasons that included concern that the changes “may not adequately protect the interests of the policyholders.” But it quickly backed down after talking with a company lobbyist, although it did not specify why.

The change would allow a not-for-profit insurance company, like Florida Blue, to become a so-called “mutual insurance holding company.” That restructure would allow the company to own other not-for-profit insurers and corporations in Florida, which is not allowed under current law.

Paul Sanford, the Florida Blue lobbyist ushering the amendment through the process, says he knows of no outward expansion plans.

“I have not had those conversations, but this would certainly allow that,” he said.

The Office of Insurance Regulation said Friday that it did not have “readily available” a list of nonprofit insurers in Florida.

The expansion plan is carried in amendments that were tacked onto separate, insurance-related bills in the House and Senate. As a result, it has received no debate and very little public consideration. The underlying bills have passed each of their three committee stops, but stalled on the House and Senate floors last week.

In documents obtained as part of a public records request, the bill carrying the amendment is being supported by New York-based Build American Mutual Assurance Co., also represented by Sanford.

IN-STATE TUITION BILL PASSES FOR CITIZEN CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS via the News Service of Florida

The House on Friday approved a bill that would ensure in-state tuition rates for young people who are U.S. citizens but whose parents are undocumented immigrants.

The measure (HB 7051), sponsored by Rep. Jeanette Nunez follows a federal-court ruling on the issue. Nunez said the bill doesn’t simply codify the court ruling but takes additional steps. Rep. Hazelle Rogers said lawmakers are “doing the right thing” by children who are U.S. citizens. “If you’re an American citizen, you’ll be treated like an American citizen in our education system,” said Speaker Weatherford after the measure passed.

But some lawmakers said they wished the bill would also grant in-state tuition rates to children who are undocumented immigrants because they were brought to Florida by their parents — children who have become widely known as “dreamers.” Republicans blocked efforts to include those children. The bill was approved 111-4.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: @dennisbaxley called and apologized to bill sponsor @RepJNunez and other Miami-Dade lawmakers for no vote on floor

***Time is running out. Stop the attacks on the Florida Retirement System. Call your Senator NOW at 866-249-8332.***

LEGISLATIVE BRIEFS via the News Service of Florida

In the House

The House Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act continues its review of its affect on Florida. 1 p.m., 17 House Office Building

The House Rules and Calendar Committee meets Monday evening to set the special order calendar for the week. 5:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building

In the Senate

The Senate Communications Committee is set to look at just one bill, a proposal (SB 958) that declares the storage of natural gas underground to be in the public interest.  The measure exempts natural gas stored in Florida from the severance tax on oil production while placing some restoration requirements on operators of a natural gas storage facility that affect a water supply.  1 p.m., 301 Senate Office BuildingBaker Act: A bill (SB 110) that would allow physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners to “Baker Act” people, which is to initiate an involuntary commitment of an individual for psychiatric evaluation, is before the Senate Children and Families Committee. Also on the panel’s agenda, among other bills is a measure (SB 108) that would require the adoption of rules to include specified requirements for daily activities at a child care facility. 1 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building

Senate Judiciary: A bill that would impose stricter standard for expert witnesses in lawsuits (SB 1412) is among the legislation before Senate Judiciary Monday. Supporters say the bill is needed to prevent “junk science” from getting into the record during a civil trial. The standard being sought is already used in federal courts and a number of other states. The bill is opposed by prosecuting attorneys. The committee also considers a bill (SB 1482) that could allow new nursing home beds in certain communities, despite a  longstanding limit on new nursing homes. The issue centers on The Villages retirement town in central Florida, which wants to add nursing-home care but has been stymied by a more than decade-old moratorium on state approval of new nursing-home beds. Also before the Judiciary Committee is a broad bill (SB 1666) making a number of changes in the process for foreclosures, including shortening the time frame for filing a case. Also before Judiciary is the “thumping bass bill,” (SB 634), which re-enacts a noise limiting statute related to car radios. The Florida Supreme Court threw out the state’s old ban on booming loud music, because it wasn’t uniform, allowing exceptions for political or commercial noise. The bill restores a prohibition on amplifying sound from vehicle to a distance that is “plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more” while leaving out any types of exceptions, presumably making the bill constitutional. Another bill before the panel (SB 1000) creates a process whereby a licensed psychiatrist or clinical psychologist can notify state officials when a patient has had a “preventative assessment” making them ineligible to buy a gun for the next 90 days. Another bill before the committee (SB 1636) provides that an infant that is born alive after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same rights and privileges as a child born in the course of a natural birth. Another bill in the committee makes it harder to take over possession of property through “adverse possession” (SB1166). The committee also could take up a bill tweaking the gift ban (SB 1634) by saying that in some circumstances lawmakers could accept a single non-alcoholic drink, and loosening restrictions related to certain events.  Bills seeking to reduce school bullying (SB 626), open parties where minors are served (SB 874) and computer or cell phone harassment (SB 946), and allowing civil penalties for the use of deceptive and unfair trade practices against military personnel (SB 716), are also on the committee’s calendar. 1 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building 

Confirmations: The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee has lined up confirmation hearings for 91 gubernatorial appointments ranging from the secretary of state and members of the Board of Governors of the State University System to regional planning councils and water management districts. Highlights include appearances by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Pannuccio and Public Service Commissioner Lisa Edgar. 3:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building
 
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FUNDRAISER FOR HD 61 CANDIDATE ED NARAIN ON THURSDAY

Ed Narain, the recently announced candidate for House District 61 (currently occupied by term-limited Betty Reed), has a Meet & Greet planned for Thursday, April 18, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The reception will be held at the Open Cafe located at 3332 N. 34th Street in Tampa.

For more information, visit Edforflorida.com.

LABOR LEADER JEREMY LAU ANNOUNCES BID FOR HD 2 via Rick Outzen

Jeremy Lau announced on Friday at the Northwest Florida Federation of Labor membership meeting his intent to run for House District 2.

Lau is a Democrat and is employed at L-3 Vertex on NAS Pensacola as an aircraft mechanic. He is also the President of the International. Association of Machinist’s & Aerospace Workers Local 2777.

GAINESVILLE MAYORAL RACE TMRW — INCUMBENT CRAIG LOW IN TROUBLE, POLL SAYS

As Gainesville’s mayoral campaign tomorrow, incumbent Craig Lowe finds himself trailing challenger Ed Braddy by four points according to an exclusive survey by St. Pete Polls of the race.

Asked if the election were held today, 40% of registered voters said they support Braddy, while 36% said they would vote for Lowe. A full twenty-four percent are undecided with just five days until the election.

Weighing down Lowe is an upside-down favorability rating: 42% of voters hold an unfavorable view of Lowe, while 34% hold a positive one.  Braddy’s fav/unfav rating is at 40%/28%.

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NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @KeepFLJobs – Urging a “No” vote on SB 1832

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALEXIS LAMBERT TO DCF

Alexis Lambert will take over as communications director at the Department of Children and Families on May 6, the agency announced Friday. Lambert takes over for Joe Follick, who starts Monday as comm director at the Department of Education.  Lambert goes o DCF from the office of  Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, where she is currently communications director. She previously served as press secretary for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

“Alexis has a wide range of experience and a track record of success in many areas of state government,” said DCF Secretary David Wilkins . “Her deep marketing and communications experience with the CFO’s office will position her well to continue expanding this Department’s trend of proactive media and community involvement and represent our agency’s 12,000-plus employees and hundreds of business partners.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by the Florida Medical Association: Affordable, safe, patient-centered health care in Florida starts with a physician-led team, with all health care professionals playing valuable and appropriate roles. Learn more here.***

4TH FLOOR FILES revists its feature of Charlie Dudley of Floridian Partners, LLC. Dudley’s clients include Allstate, the Florida Hospital Association, Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Las Vegas Sands. Here’s the file on Charlie

ARCADE ASSOCATION RIPS FDLE INTERNET CAFE POSTER via the News Service of Florida

Florida Arcade Association President Gale Fontaine claimed an “abuse of police power” by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for including in a handout that customers of now-banned strip center gaming businesses could face criminal charges. “As we consider whether or not to pursue a lawsuit, FDLE’s poster could be used as exhibit A in our case to show why this law is misleading,” Fontaine stated in a release. “A perfect example of how misleading and ambiguous this law is can be seen in FDLE’s use of the term ‘sweepstakes adult arcades.’ That terminology has never been used, and is not defined anywhere in Florida law. We believe this new law is ambiguous, confusing and ultimately will be ruled unconstitutional.” On Thursday, the FDLE sent handouts and posters to law enforcement across the state to serve as notification of the new law – signed by Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday – that is intended to close Internet cafes and similar venues by banning the electronic machines used by the businesses.

FLA. ASSOC. OF PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST CHOOSE NEW OFFICERS via Mark Landreth

At their last board meeting, the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists elected table officers and also appointed new directors to fill the unexpired terms of two board members who had resigned.

Hubert E. “Bo” Bohannon, Principal and Managing Director of The Fiorentino Group’s Tallahassee office, was elected by his colleagues to serve a two year term as Chairman of the FAPL Board.  Bohannon said, “It is an honor to be entrusted with this leadership role and I look forward to growing FAPL over the two years of my term.” 

Elected Vice-Chairman was David Mica, Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council, and Serving as Secretary Treasurer is Mike Hightower, Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs for Florida Blue. Selected by their peers as Executive Committee Representatives were Lori Killinger, a shareholder in the Lewis, Longman and Walker law firm, and Jose Gonzalez, Florida Director of Anheuser-Busch’s government affairs efforts. 

Joining Paula Fillmore-Mateo, of AT&T, elected to the Board during last fall’s elections process, are Andrea Becker of Smith Bryan and Myers, and Susan Goldstein of Susan Goldstein Consulting. Becker and Goldstein replace Robert Coker and Adam Potts who had resigned.  

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Michael Abrams, Ballard Partners: DACRA

Keith Arnold, Brett Bacot, Jim Magill, Fowler White Boggs: Town of Fort Myers Beach

Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: DACRA, International Speedway, Miami Design District Associates, LLC, Museum of Science Inc and dba Miami Science Museum, Voices for Children Foundation, Inc.

Slater Bayliss, Sarah Busk: Cardenas Partners: Empower Software Solutions

Greg Black, Andy Palmer, Metz Husband & Daughton: Collier Resources Company, LLP

Ron Book: Goldstein Brownfield’s Group, LLC

Paul Bradshaw, Towson Fraser, Lindsey Perkins, Southern Strategy Group: Bloom Energy

Edgar Castro, Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc.

Charles Cilburn, New Capitol IT: Electronic Health Resources, LLC

Richard Coates, Tidewater Consulting: Prudential Financial, Inc.

Larry Cretul, Cynthia Lorenzo, Capitol Insight: Mid-Bay Bridge Authority

Rebecca DeLaRosa, The Moya Group: Palm Beach County, Shands HealthCare

Michael Cusick, William McDaniel: American Decentralized Wastewater Association

Angela Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: American Tort Reform Association

Steven Geller, Greenspoon Marder: Town of Miami Lakes, Village of El Portal 

Shawn Foster, Southern Strategy Group: Gameroom Superstore, LLC

Chris Hansen, GrayRobinson, Public Consulting Group

William Harrison, Harrison Rivard Duncan & Buzzett: SNCF America, Inc.

Karl Hebrank, Wilson & Associates: Florida Building Material Association, Florida Home Partnership

Bill Helmich: Greenbasics, LLC

Keith Hetrick, Doug Mannheimer, Broad & Cassell: Dominium Development and Acquisition, LLC

Fred Karlinsky, Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate & Webb: United States Sugar Corporation

Mark Maxwell, Richard Reeves, Lane Stephens, William Williams, SCG Governmental Affairs: Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, Florida Smart Justice Alliance

Lucas Matlock: Florida Chiropractic Society

Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick: Sunrise Sports and Entertainment

Tim Nungesser: Southern Poverty Law Center

Fatima Perez, Akerman Senterfitt: Palm Beach County

Ron Pierce, RSA Consulting Group: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Richard Pinsky: Rybovich Boat Company LLC

Monica Rodriguez, Ballard Partners: DACRA, Miami Science Museum

Mac Stipanovich, Fowler White Boggs: Town of Fort Myers Beach

Alan Suskey, Capitol Insight: Walt Disney World Resort

Trey Traviesa, Strategos Public Affairs: TransPro Consulting, LLC

Gregory Turberville, Ballard Partners: Republic Services of Florida, Limited Partnership

Beth Vecchioli, Holland & Knight: Family Central, Inc.

***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 over the weekend to Pinellas politicos Joe Barkley, Todd Pressman and Pinellas-Pasco judicial candidate Ken Lark

MUST-READ FROM STEVE UHLFELDER: ’42’ WAS A MAN WHO CHANGED AMERICA’: “My family had escaped from Nazi Germany as Jewish refugees. They taught me that segregation was morally and legally wrong and should not be tolerated. I saw Jackie Robinson as a hero, then and today, and as a man who could change public opinion. He did more to change the way people treated blacks than any other person did during my youth. I am proud to have his photo hanging in my office and my home.”

TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: @ryanpduffy: There’s definitely a drone at the FSU Spring Football game. Your move, @joenegronfl

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.