Sunburn for 4/17 – 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.***

JEB BUSH’S WIFE, FAMILY ISSUES KEY TO 2016 via Katie Glueck of POLITICO

If Jeb Bush decides to run for president, he’ll have to defend his family’s controversial political name.

But more immediate family concerns might keep him from running at all.

Republican donors and operatives are chattering about Bush’s publicity-shy wife, so worried she isn’t on board with a 2016 White House run that they’re urging people in the family’s orbit to make the case.

Columba Bush has long been deeply averse to the spotlight, especially after an embarrassing encounter with U.S. Customs while her husband was still in office.

Donors also wonder whether Bush is willing to subject his family and their personal lives to the inevitable scrutiny that comes with a national campaign. Two of his children have been in the news in past years for arrests linked to drug problems and public intoxication.

So while the buzz picks up around Bush, the donor class’ new questions about old issues are a sign of not only the dynamics of a potential Bush campaign, but of how seriously a key establishment group is taking the idea of a Bush bid.

“The issues have been brought up by the press and others in the past, and the family issues may well be brought out again,” said Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who headed the Florida GOP while Bush was governor. “If these matters are brought up, it would hurt him, not politically but personally. He has to make up his mind whether that’s a burden he wants to bear.”

A top Republican bundler with ties to the Bushes described the rising concern among those lobbying Jeb Bush to enter the race that his wife’s opposition will keep him from running.

“One of the things on the list of why he won’t run has always been the belief that she is opposed to it,” the bundler said. “As you’re moving closer to when people have to make decisions and Jeb is doing some of the things he has been doing, there has been more chatter around it, if for no other reason than there is a huge number of Bush Rangers, Pioneers – whatever the hell we were called along the way – who remain effectively frozen waiting on Jeb to make up his mind.”

People in the Bushes’ inner circle are being lobbied to make the case directly to Jeb Bush’s immediate family, the bundler added.

The former governor’s concerns about his family’s privacy are thought to have played a role in his decision to skip the 2012 presidential race. One Republican donor recalled that the chatter back then among GOP rainmakers was that Bush would ultimately skip a run because his wife didn’t relish the idea.

“They thought he wouldn’t do it because of Columba…[that] has not changed,” the source said.

MEANWHILE … Byron Tau notes that “Sen. Marco Rubio … has spent big on … data work, email-list rental, direct-mail firms and fundraising consultants all being paid through his Senate campaign and leadership PAC.”

BILL NELSON SEEKS LOCAL SOLUTION TO EXPAND MEDICAID IN FLORIDA via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

Expanding Medicaid to cover thousands of uninsured Floridians has mostly been ignored by Republicans during this year’s legislative session, but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is making a last-ditch effort to get it done.

Medicaid is a joint state-federal program, though most of the expansion called for under the Affordable Care Act would be funded by Washington. Still, Florida Republicans have balked, claiming that in the future, the burden on state funds would be too great.

Politics may be an even bigger problem than money, since Medicaid expansion is key to the success of President Obama’s signature health law.

For months, Nelson has sought a way around the opposition while still meeting federal requirements. He thinks he has found it in a never-tried-before plan: Using health care dollars raised by counties to get the $3.5 billion needed to draw down $51 billion in federal funding.

His plan would require the 32 counties that boost their hospitals’ Medicaid funding with local dollars to instead use those dollars to draw down the federal funds. All 67 Florida counties would benefit, even if they didn’t contribute.

Nelson said hospitals and county officials have indicated to him that they’re willing to shoulder the burden so people who lack primary care aren’t forced to seek help at emergency rooms.

But even if counties put up the money, the federal government would likely still require Tallahassee to approve and administer the program.

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TREY RADEL TO REFUND MORE THAN $63K IN DONATIONS via The USA Today

Former congressman Trey Radel is refunding contributors more than $63,000, according to the latest campaign finance report filed by the Florida Republican, who gave up his seat in January after pleading guilty to a drug charge.

The money is being returned to 53 donors — 42 individuals, 10 political action committees and one business — most of whom gave in November or December.

The list includes Radel’s father, Henry J. “Skip” Radel Jr. of Cincinnati, who is getting back his donation of $2,600.

Several of the donors attended a “Gourmet with Trey” fundraiser at the tony Grey Oaks Country Club in Naples. The event took place Nov. 5 — a week after police caught Radel trying to buy $250 worth of cocaine in Washington but two weeks before the bust became public.

DID REPUBLICAN CARL DOMINO SPEND $42,087 TO RAISE $31,840 IN CONGRESSIONAL RACE? via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Former state Rep. Carl Domino, considered the leading Republican candidate to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, listed $42,087 in fundraising expenses during the first quarter of 2014 while collecting only $31,840 in contributions.

Domino adviser Larry Casey said that the campaign mislabeled some of its expenditures.

Murphy raised $674,369 during the quarter and began April with $2.2 million in cash on hand for his re-election bid in Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18.

Domino’s campaign spent a total of $68,301 between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report, with the majority of the expenditures specifically identified as being for “fundraising” in some way.

Domino’s fundraising expenses included $13,710 to West Palm Beach consultant Public Concepts for direct mail, which presumably could yield more contributions in the future.

Casey said the Domino campaign plans to file an amended FEC report. The Public Concepts expenses, for example, should have been listed as “general consultant – political” rather than “fundraising: direct mail services,” Casey said.

Domino launched his campaign in July and has collected $153,305 in contributions. He has also put in $425,000 in personal loans, including $150,000 in the last quarter. Domino’s campaign has spent a total of $190,632 and began April with $387,672 in cash on hand.

NAT’L HOUSE DEMS SITTING ON $40 MIL FUND via Phillip Elliott of the Associated Press

Donors gave more than $10 million in March to the committee tasked with electing House Democrats and helped it amass a $40 million fund to fight skepticism that Republicans can be ousted from their majority in November.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $10.3 million in March, putting it atop the fundraising contest among party-directed campaign committees. That sum also outpaced most three-month fundraising tallies released thus far from super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations. Donations to House Democrats’ campaign committee are capped at $32,400.

“The DCCC has sustained a blistering fundraising pace this election cycle because Americans are sick and tired of a Republican Congress that shut down our government and that is stacking the deck for the wealthiest while the middle class pays the price,” said Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who chairs the Democrats’ House campaign arm.

“Americans are hungry for a Congress that will buckle down and focus on creating jobs and strengthening the economy — and that’s why they’re supporting the DCCC at record levels,” he said in a statement.

Republicans outnumber Democrats by 34 seats and there are three vacancies in the House. Democrats face a steep climb to reclaim their majority for the first time since tea party-aligned candidates helped the GOP take control of the chamber during the 2010 elections.

That has not stopped donors.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sitting on one of the largest bank accounts in politics, both among party-linked campaign committees and outside groups. Among party-backed groups that have disclosed their fundraising, the closest rival is the Democrats’ Senate committee, sitting on $22 million at the end of March.

The committee’s Republican rivals are expected to announce their March fundraising numbers by Sunday’s deadline.

OUTSIDE SPENDING ON RECORD-BREAKING PACE via Domenico Montanaro, Rachel Wellford and Simone Pathe of the PBS Newshour

Federal campaign finance reports were (in theory) due for the first quarter of 2014 … So far, outside groups have spent $56 million, outpacing every other midterm election to this point and more than doubling 2010 spending (which was $23 million at this point), the previous record year for midterms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In fact, outside spending has already outpaced every PRESIDENTIAL election except 2012. At this point in 2008, for example, $32 million was spent by outside groups. But that was a pre-Citizens United world. Campaign money watchers expect that outside spending could top $500 million this cycle. That’s half-a-billion dollars. All this indicates what will be an explosion of outside money in the 2016 presidential race, especially following the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling.

In McCutcheon, the Supreme Court ruled that big donors can no longer max out in a cycle. They still have limits on how much they can give to any one candidate, but they can now give to as many candidates as they want. Previously, there was an aggregate limit of $123,200 for any one donor to campaigns, PACs, and political parties.

But here are a couple of fascinating statistics: 23 donors would have ALREADY maxed out this cycle under the old pre-McCutcheon rules (and this is BEFORE first-quarter filings were in); 86 percent of the maxed-out money this cycle has gone to Republicans ($2.8 million to $458,000); 664 donors maxed out in 2012 (and all of them surpassed the limit) and 61 percent of that money went to Republicans ($54.4 million to $34.2 million).

JESSICA EHRLICH CONSIDERING RUN via Steven Shephard of POLITICO

Democrats lost their top recruit in Florida’s 13th District on Tuesday, when Alex Sink decided not to run against Rep. David Jolly … But the party’s next candidate might be a familiar face: Jessica Ehrlich, the attorney who gave way to Sink.

Sink impressed Democrats with her name ID and fundraising ability. Even though Ehrlich had already been mounting a spirited challenge and had run in the district in 2012, she stepped aside when Sink entered the race. But now Ehrlich is considering reassembling her campaign, telling POLITICO in an email: “I care deeply about the district, my neighbors and the issues they are facing and in the coming weeks I will consider all options available.”

Ehrlich would actually begin the race with a cash advantage over Jolly, who poured virtually every penny he collected into his victory. Ehrlich ended 2013 with $122,000 cash on hand, while Jolly had just $20,000 in the bank at the end of last month.

NRCC REAX: “Jessica Ehrlich was kicked to the curb by Washington Democrats but now that their golden child Alex Sink is out of the race, they are crawling back to Ehrlich with the same failed promises that hurt Sink last month. What Ehrlich still doesn’t understand is that her support for Nancy Pelosi and extreme policies like Obamacare is out-of-touch with Pinellas County families.” – NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill

NRCC ADDS DAVID JOLLY TO INCUMBENT PROTECTION PROGRAM via Roll Call

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday added to the ranks of its incumbent protection program: Rep. Jolly.

The “Patriot Program” supports the House GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents.

“Our members in the Patriot Program have proven that they are running aggressive and organized campaigns,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden said in a statement. “An iron-clad campaign spells defeat for Democrats vying to return Nancy Pelosi as speaker, and I applaud the Patriot Members for taking on the challenge of controlling the competitiveness of their races through the strength of their own campaigns.”

JOE GARCIA ANNOUNCES HE IS FAR AHEAD OF GOP COMPETITION IN CD 26 MONEY RACE Full blog post here

U.S. Rep. Garcia announced that he has quickly outperformed the competition in both fundraising and cash on hand, bolstering his lead in the money race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Garcia’s re-election campaign said it “dramatically outpaced their opponents,” adding that it was “a powerful signal of Representative Garcia’s broad and strong support.”

In the filings, Garcia pointed out that he raised a total of $463,083 from contributors in the first quarter, noting that it was $100,000 more than the amount raised by three of his Republican opponents — combined.

These numbers indicate Garcia has about $2.3 million to date, nearly double the combined total of three of his chief opponents for the U.S. House seat covering Miami-Dade County through the Florida Keys.

The statement also says Garcia has more than $1.6 million cash on hand, which is more than double the cash on hand of his nearest challenger.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make a jobs announcement at Northrop Grumman in St. Augustine, 5000 US 1 North, St. Augustine. 2 p.m.

RICK SCOTT’S LATEST POSITIVE AD: NAVY via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Upbeat and bearing an inspirational story in just 30 seconds, Gov. Scott’s latest TV ad is the kind that makes you want to vote for him. Plus, it’s not misleading.

So far the governor has spent more than $5.2 million on TV since March 12. This latest spot, the fourth this spring, indicates he’s not just mixing it up (positive-negative-negative-positive), he’s on pace to unleash an ad campaign that the state has never seen before.

Watch the ad here.

PAM BONDI TO HEADLINE MAVPAC FUNDRAISER APRIL 21 Full blog post here

AG Pam Bondi will be the special guest at a chicken-and-beer reception sponsored by the Republican-aligned Maverick Political Action Committee, a group designed to engage the next generation of GOP leaders.

Headed by George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush, MAVPAC is the political committee formed as an outreach to young professionals from the ages of 27-40.

The fundraising event is on Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Tallahassee Florida Realtors offices. Food and refreshments will include Chick-Fil-A and beer.

The offices of Florida Realtors are at 200 South Monroe Street in Tallahassee. Tickets are $5 per person for those under 30 years old, and $25 per person for those over 30. Admission is free for sustaining members of MAVPAC.

 Contributions can be made online; RSVPs are by emailing Kevin Curran at Kevin@MaverickPAC.com.

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MY TAKEDOES A “HO-HUM” SESSION ENDANGE SPEAKER WILL WEATHERFORD’S LEGACY? Blog post here.

It’s been a season of singles and doubles in Florida’s capital, leading me to wonder if Speaker Will Weatherford’s time in office will end short of the home runs needed to cement a hall of fame legacy?

It’s sad to think that Weatherford’s crowning achievement — elections and ethics reform — will actually come back to haunt Florida politics, as part of that legislation allows for unlimited contributions to faceless political committees.

It’s also sad that the 2014 session will end without lawmakers lifting a finger to address Weatherford’s Nixon-goes-to-China issue of generational poverty.

Weatherford’s critics will deservedly blame him for the state not accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid. As much as I personally admire Weatherford, his stubbornness of this issue is what will be in the first paragraphs of any story about his legacy.

With a “ho-hum” 2014 session going into the books, it’s likely pundits will also talk about what might have been. Cutting the Gordian Knot on gambling. Expanded school choice opportunities. Real pension reform. All of these are priorities of Weatherford that are dead or dying.

One priority of Weatherford’s which is still very much alive is providing in-state tuition to undocumented students. If Weatherford can get this past the Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott, it would put a grand slam on the board for the Speaker.

It’s the bottom of the ninth inning of Speaker Weatherford’s time in the Florida Legislature. Batter up!

GUNS, SEXUAL RISK AND “THE FIELD OF DREAMS” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

The work is not yet finished on this year’s state budget, but details about the origins of spending items in the budget are starting to come out.

… The Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel both reported on Tuesday some of the details contained in nearly 600 pages of documents obtained in public record requests from the Florida House. Both stories noted that in a year with a substantial budget surplus, legislators are putting in a lot of requests for hometown projects.

The AP story pointed out how the records contained emails, letters and sometimes just a message scrawled on paper and that legislators handed over budget information to committee chairmen that came from groups or lobbyists pushing the funding request.

The requests covered all areas with legislators asking for funding from everything from health care services, juvenile justice programs to money for hometown economic development projects.

Many requests did not yield funding, especially if it came from Democrats, while Republicans appeared to have greater success.

Among those were Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island and incoming House speaker.

Crisafulli put in a request to aid the city of Palm Bay for a training facility called “The Range.”

The initial ask was for $2.15 million and this included money for a “burn building,” as well as moving targets, turning targets, a shoot house and a tactical tower. The information shared with a House budget chairman touted the fact that the request was supported by local law-enforcement and the National Rifle Association.

In a hand-written message, Crisafulli notes that the $1 million eventually included in the House version of the state’s roughly $75 billion budget “will get them started.”

Crisafulli and Rep. Tom Goodson both put in a request for “The Field of Dreams,” a nearly five acre sporting complex that would be used by children with special needs. It will feature fully rubberized playing surfaces for baseball, soccer and basketball. Facilities will be specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility equipment according to a description of the project given to a House budget committee. The House budget currently has $2 million in it for this project.

Rep. Marlene O’Toole was successful in getting $200,000 for the Florida Healthy Choices Coalition, which wants to teach Florida students about abstinence and “sexual risk avoidance.”

The list goes on and on…

JACK LATVALA COMES THROUGH FOR FLORIDA SOCCER FANS

Last month, SPB was highly critical of Sen. Jack Latvala’s opposition to including the North American Soccer League, the league that includes St. Pete’s Rowdies, in a bill that would require the state Department of Economic Opportunity to set up an evaluation process for local governments seeking sales-tax rebates to attract or retain professional sports teams through stadium improvements and construction.

At a March meeting of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, Sen. Latvala led his colleagues in voting down an amendment that would have added the NASL to the pool of potential beneficiaries eligible for state funding.  Latvala said at the time that he had not been given sufficient time to properly review the amendment. He also stated that he was unsure as to what the North American Soccer League was and whether it is classified as a “major league sports league.”

Fortunately, Sen. Latvala has reversed course and is now coming through for St. Pete soccer fans.

Before the Legislature recessed for the Passover-Easter holiday, Latvala proposed a strike-all to SB 1216 that now includes the NASL and a number of other entities. The strike-all was adopted in Senate Appropriations, so now both versions of the legislation include a provision about the NASL.

With soccer clubs in Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and the ‘burg, this is a good deal for the state.

Sen. Latvala deserves a lot of credit for getting the pro-soccer legislation this far. Additionally, he’s assisting soccer advocates with some issues with the House version of the legislation.

While the ball is not yet in the back of the net, it’s looking like soccer fans may score this legislative session — all due to Sen. Latvala!

ANTI-BULLYING BILL SUPPORTED BY MIAMI DOLPHINS OWNER STEPHEN ROSS LIKELY TO FAIL via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald

The Legislature has once again proven unkind to Stephen Ross – or at least uncooperative.

A year after his stadium renovation plan died in Tallahassee, Ross’ anti-bullying bill appears to have suffered the same fate.

The Dolphins’ bid to earn tax dollars for major fixes to Sun Life Stadium failed on the final day of the 2013 session after contentious final-hour jockeying in the House was fruitless.

Immediately thereafter, Ross and then-CEO Mike Dee publicly blasted Speaker Weatherford, setting off a contentious back-and-forth between the two sides.

But this time around, it appears the issue with Ross’ legislation has been more procedural than political.

In the House, the bill overwhelming made it through the Civil Justice Subcommittee, albeit with amended language, roughly a month ago. There was just one dissenting vote. A week later, it was sent to the Education Committee, where it has been stuck, without action, ever since.

That new language stalled the progress on the Senate side, where it never received a hearing. The final day of the legislative session is May 2.

UBER LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN TO GET BILL ACROSS THE FINISH LINE via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald

With less than three weeks left in the legislative session, Uber is making an aggressive push to get its priority bills across the finish line.

The luxury-car mobile-dispatching service is throwing its considerable heft behind SB 1618 and HB 1389.

Originally, the proposals sought to let companies like Uber to circumvent municipalities and win approval from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. But the bills were watered down in committee, and now would help Uber only in Hillsborough County.

Still, Uber considers the bills an important first step toward changing the regulatory landscape in Florida. So far, the company has only been able to establish itself Jacksonville. It has met roadblocks in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.

The company’s latest campaign includes an online petition (www.FloridaNeedsUber.com), a Twitter hashtag (#MOVEFLFORWARD) and a new radio ad.

Lending his voice: Miami Heat Forward Udonis Haslem.

In the radio spot, Haslem asks his fellow Floridians “to help to make sure Florida isn’t left standing on the curb while other states pass us by.”

“We need choices in Florida, like Uber, that smartphone app where with a push of a button a car shows up to take you wherever you want to go,” he says. “You’ve probably seen it used in other states, giving consumers more choices and lower costs, but it’s being blocked here in Florida.”

Haslem then makes the pitch for SB 1618 and HB 1389.

Listen to the radio ad here.

WATCHDOG GROUPS URGE ACTION ON ETHICS BILLS IN SESSION’S HOME STRETCH via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Watchdog groups urged Florida lawmakers to finalize ethics proposals that would strengthen access to public records and require more lobbyists to register and disclose how much they get paid.

Both measures have cleared the Senate, but are languishing in the House. The Legislature returns from a Passover-Easter break on Monday to begin the session’s last scheduled two weeks.

Senate President Gaetz and House Speaker Weatherford have touted ethics reforms as a central part of their two-year term as leaders. This year’s proposals could represent a postscript to steps taken last year, which included a revamping of how political fund-raising committees operate.

Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, a government oversight group, said lawmakers need to enhance last year’s moves.

One bill (SB 1648) pushed by advocates clarifies issues involving fees for public records, including those sought by citizens and later costs run up by attorneys seeking documents. It also requires more training of government employees to satisfy the demands of Florida’s open records laws.

The other measure (SB 846), seen as a priority by open government advocates, would require lobbyists working the state’s almost 1,000 independent special districts to register and publicly disclose how much they get paid.

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AMAZON TO START COLLECTING SALES TAX IN FLORIDA ON MAY 1 via Susan Thurston of the Tampa Bay Times

Although Amazon’s two planned distribution centers in Florida are still under construction, Amazon spokesman Ty Rogers said Wednesday the company will be required to collect sales tax in Florida beginning on that date.

Amazon is building massive warehouses in Hillsborough and Polk counties to process and ship orders. Opening a physical location in the state means the retailer will be required to collect sales tax from Florida customers.

Until now, Amazon has not collected sales tax on most purchases through its website, angering small local retailers who said it gave the Seattle-based company an unfair price advantage.

John Fleming, a spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation, said he was not aware of the May 1 date but said that as soon as Amazon starts hiring employees in Florida it would establish the company’s physical presence in the state, triggering the requirement that it collects sale tax.

FLORIDA CHAMBER SAYS THE STATE SHOULD “SUCCEED” NOT “SECEDE” Full blog post here

Florida should “succeed” – not “secede” – says the Florida Chamber of Commerce, countering a Tallahassee billboard suggesting the Sunshine State break away from the United States.

“Succeed Florida” is a shared video message issued by the Chamber and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) that points out how the state has become a “national model for economic growth, job creation and academic achievement.”

The three-minute video was in response to a billboard that popped up in the weeks prior to the start of the 2014 Legislative Session. The sign, sponsored by the League of the South, was visible on Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee, just blocks from the State Capitol.

Prominently featured on the billboard was the word “Secede” and the website DixieNet.org.

Noting that more than half a million jobs in Florida have been created in the last three years, the Chamber also points out the state’s  unemployment rate has been cut almost in half, from a little more than 11 percent to 6.1 percent.

As for education, student graduation and retention rates have steadily improved at Florida’s post-secondary institutions, especially in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, which help meet an increasing workforce demand. Job demand in Florida is also at an all-time high for the fourth month in a row.

ICUF institutions award nearly 38 percent of the state’s STEM degrees, which they say is a key component of economic development.

WILL FLORIDA MARIJUANA BUSINESSES BE ABLE TO FIND BANKS TO HANDLE THEIR ACCOUNTS? via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News

One seldom-discussed pothole along the road to marijuana legalization in Florida is the reluctance of banks to have anything to do with businesses that deal in the plant.

Never mind that the Obama administration issued guidelines in February intended to give banks confidence they won’t be punished if they provide services to legitimate marijuana businesses in the 20 states that have legalized use of the drug. For the most part, wary financial institutions aren’t buying it.

That’s likely to be the case in Florida, too — if voters approve the marijuana amendment on the November ballot, and perhaps even if the Legislature passes the Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana bill.

Drew J. Breakspear, commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, said, “This is an evolving issue, and as it currently stands, I do not believe that the federal government has issued sufficient guidance and/or regulation to help Florida’s financial institutions feel comfortable if they are faced with these situations.”

What the reluctance of banks means is, marijuana-related businesses will be holding — or hiding — a great deal of cash, depending on their success. They may not be able to find an FDIC safe harbor where they can open an account or apply for a loan. It’s a considerable safety concern for vendors and law enforcement alike.

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LYFT ROLLS INTO D.C. via POLITICO Inflence

Ride-sharing startup Lyft has hired its first lobbyists, posting work with Jochum Shore & Trossevin and TwinLogic Strategies. Lobbying records show both firms will advocate “the removal of barriers and anticompetitive activities that inhibit ride-sharing.” Like Uber, the company has faced issues with municipal and regional transit authorities and taxi commissions, and on Wednesday Ohio’s Department of Insurance issued a consumer alert about coverage gaps for drivers and passengers of ride-sharing companies. Lyft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Dave Ericks, Bryan Cherry, Adams St. Advocates: Robert E. Dooley as Trustee for the Robert E. Dooley Trust

Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Ashley Gault, Dean Mead: The Florida Bar

Patti Hamilton: Southern Waste Systems; Sun Recycling

Stephanie Petelos: ProctorU Inc.

Robert Pritt, Roetzel & Andress: Glades Correction Development Corporation

Richard Reeves, Alan Suskey, Capitol Insight: City of West Palm Beach; ERM Strategies

PERSONNEL NOTE: ERIN VAN SICKLE LEAVES FMA FOR VOLUNTEER FLORIDA

Erin Van Sickle has left the Florida Medical Assocition to become the Communications and Legislative Affairs Director for Volunteer Florida.

Before serving as Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the FMA, she was a founder and managing partner of Capitol Energy Communications. Previous to that, she served as Press Secretary and Communications Director at the Republican Party of Florida and as Press Secretary for the Florida Senate Majority Office.

“Erin is a highly skilled communications and public affairs professional,” said Chester Spellman, Executive Director of Volunteer Florida. “I am confident that she will be a valuable member of our team.”

Van Sickle’s first day at Volunteer Florida is April 21.

As for the FMA, Executive Vice President Tim Stapleton tells me there are no immediate plans to replace Van Sickle. Instead, Christina Johnson of On 3 Public Relations and Steve Vancore of VancoreJones Communications will be shouldering more of the work load. Johnson and Vancore have been working with the FMA since last Fall.

***Do you need some “Success Insurance” for Session?  Add some clout to your lobbying team and contact former Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp. Having served both in the Executive Office of the Governor and in the Florida Legislature, he has an in-depth understanding of how the legislative process works behind the scenes. Since leaving public office, he has used his knowledge and experience in state government to help a wide range of clients successfully pursue their goals and objectives.  Don’t take success for granted.  You can reach Governor Kottkamp at Lgjdk1@aol.com.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA: FEDERAL JUDGES, TAX DAY, TRANSPARENCY AND FHSAA HALL OF FAME

On Context Florida: The McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court decision, according to Mark Ferrulo, erodes our democracy by allowing even more rampant influence-buying and corruption of the political process by the rich and powerful. Our federal judiciary also plays a vital role, he adds, and recent Court decisions demonstrate the need to fill empty judicial seats quickly with qualified judges. Tax Day marked the end of one of the most stressful times of the year for small business owners and individuals alike, says Indian River County Tax Collector Carole Jean Jordan. Florida leads the nation in open and transparent government that is accountable to the people, writes Pensacola City Council member P.C. Wu, who is also current president of the Florida League of Cities. However, some citizens use minor technicalities in open-records laws to exploit loopholes and file frivolous lawsuits. The Florida High School Athletic Association named eight Florida legends in the past two months into the Hall of Fame, says Associate Executive Director for Administrative Services Peggy Jones. The FHSAA is proud of the opportunity to recognize outstanding Floridians, either those beginning a life-long relationship with athletics, or reflecting on a life well spent.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

THE FLAWED JAMEIS WINSTON INVESTIGATION via Walt Bogdanich of the New York Times

Police took 34 days to identify Florida State’s star quarterback as a suspect in a rape investigation, and they didn’t interview witnesses for another 10 months.

***The Public Affairs Consultants Team of Jack Cory, Keyna Cory and Erin Daly guide their clients through the legislative, state agency and local government process. They do so by providing governmental consulting, lobbying and professionally coordinated grassroots programs for businesses, professionals, non-profits, local governments and associations. Recently named a Leading Association LobbyistThey Cover Florida Like the Sun.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jessica Ehrlich. I hope she blows out all of the candles and wishes not to run for Congress.

NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN YOUR TAILGATE: FSU’s season opener against Oklahoma State for the 2014 Cowboys Classic will be a 8 p.m. kickoff on ABC Saturday, Aug. 30.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sunburn will be off on Friday in honor of Good Friday and the Easter weekend.

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.