A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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JEB BATTLES BUSH FATIGUE via POLITICO
“I think it all depends on how much Bush fatigue there is in 2016,” former Chairman Haley Barbour told POLITICO. “Jeb is an outstanding candidate. If you looked at his time in Florida, he was extremely popular personally and his policies were extremely popular and he took on some of the hard stuff. … But I would put it this way — if Jeb’s last name was Brown instead of Bush, he’d probably be the front-runner for the Republican nomination.”
Even Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, who worked for Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, and endorses Bush’s record as governor, calling him a reformer who was ahead of the curve on school choice, acknowledges there’s an issue.
“The biggest thing to hold him back is the last name,” said McHenry, who worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign. “It’s hard to be a third in the line for your family and the presidency, but having said that, the Bush network is unrivaled in any party.”
Bush is making clear moves toward a run, like tapping the family network and quietly making the rounds in places like New York, Florida and other key locales to gauge support in the world of big money. He’s also kept his name and policy platform in the news through a book tour.
And he’ll be in Texas as Bush world invades for the dedication of the George W. Bush Museum and Library. Numerous former administration officials, bundlers and confidants are slated to be on hand, and Jeb Bush’s political future is certain to be a central discussion point.
“I think the Bush network is locked, loaded and ready to fire for Jeb as soon as his wink becomes a nod,” former Bush aide Mark McKinnon said. “I don’t know what he will end up doing, but whatever it is it will be with a lot of reflection, deliberation and planning.”
He added: “I think arguably he could have run and won in 2012, so by 2016 whatever Bush “fatigue” there may be will have dissipated considerably. And Jeb is very much his own man with his own identity. From any angle at any time, the Bush assets swamp any Bush liabilities.”
HOW JEB CAME TO REPRESENT A “HISPANIC CONSCIOUSNESS FOR THE GOP via the Washington Post
For three years, Maria Magdalena Romero had tended to the suburban Miami home of Jeb and Columba Bush, had helped to raise their three children, had twined into the fabric of their lives.
Then, with lurching swiftness, she was yanked away. On a mild winter morning in 1991, two immigration agents appeared at the door of the family home looking for the woman Bush’s youngest son and namesake, then just 10 years old, remembers as “a super nice lady.” They carried deportation orders.
It didn’t matter that Bush’s father was president of the United States at the time or that a Secret Service agent had answered the door. Romero, who was in the country illegally but had a work permit, wasn’t getting a reprieve.
“It was a difficult time for all of us, but most of all for Maria,” Jeb Bush said in an e-mail about that day. His son, Jeb Jr., hadn’t even realized she’d been deported. “I thought she just left,” Jeb Jr. said in a recent interview.
That long-ago deportation is one among many inflection points for the elder Bush in what has been a lifetime of intimate proximity to America’s Hispanic community, to its searing pain and its buoyant joy, to its mores and its politics. While Republicans cast about for leaders who can connect with Spanish-speaking voters, this tall Texas native with the Mexican American wife has remarkably come to represent a kind of Hispanic consciousness for the party.
NELSON, RUBIO AT ODDS OVER INTERNET SALES TAX via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
The Senate today Wednesday to advance a bill that would allow states to collect online sales tax. Florida’s senators were on opposite sides ofthe vote, as is common.
Democatic Sen. Bill Nelson voted for the Marketplace Fairness Act. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted against it. “Making business collect taxes for states they are not in is not fairness, it is a money grab.Hope we can defeat,” Rubio said on Twitter.
The Florida Legislature is considering legislation that would force out-of-state online retailers to collect tax, but the measure appears likely to die. Previous attempts also ran into resistance from Republicans who see it as a new tax.
Economists have estimated that Florida loses $454 million annually in sales tax from Internet vendors.
SALLY BRADSHAW ADVISING MARK ZUCKERBERG BACKED ORG PUSHING FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM
Sally Bradshaw, the former chief of staff to Jeb Bush, is serving as an adviser to Americans for a Conservative Direction, the Mark Zuckerberg-backed organization pressing for immigration reform.
FWD.us, the organization formed to push Silicon Valley’s priorities in Washington, will advocate for a new immigration law through this subsidiary group created specifically to court conservatives.
Americans for a Conservative Direction will spend seven figures to run ads in [seven] states … The sales pitch leans heavily on clips of Sen. Marco Rubio to make its case to skeptical Republican-leaning voters. The ad campaign is the first wave of advocacy advertising from FWD.us
The conservative-oriented FWD.us affiliate running the ads has assembled its own blue-chip board of advisers, including Bradshaw; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Dan Senor and Joel Kaplan, the former George W. Bush advisers; and Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who serves as the campaign manager for FWD.us.
In six states – Texas, Florida, Utah, North Carolina, Iowa and Kentucky – the Americans for a Conservative Direction commercials will feature clips of Rubio extolling the virtues of a tough-but-fair immigration compromise. Voters in a seventh state, South Carolina, will see 60-second ads praising the conservative credentials of Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top Republican advocate for immigration reform.
View the ads here.
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FORMER LG CARROLL LANDS BIG JOB WITH SMALL ARMS FIRM via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Carroll, who resigned abruptly as Florida’s lieutenant governor in March, has landed a job as a senior adviser to Global Digital Solutions, which plans to merge with a small-arms manufacturing company.
Global Digital Solutions says it provides “knowledge-based and culturally attuned social consulting and security-related solutions in unsettled areas.” It plans to merge with Airtronic USA, Inc., which bills itself as the nation’s “largest woman-owned small arms manufacturer.”
Carroll is slated to become president and chief operating officer when the merger is complete.
“I’m delighted to join Global Digital Solutions as a senior advisor,” Carroll said in the press release. “And I look forward to working closely with the team at GDSI and Airtronic to seize what I believe are truly enormous growth opportunities both in the domestic and global arenas.”
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will sign SB 2, limiting police use of drones, today at noon.
GOV. SCOTT ANNOUNCES MOBIQUITY EXPANDS TO GAINVESVILLE, WILL CREATE 260 JOBS
Scott announced that Mobiquity, a leading professional services firm, has selected Gainesville as the site for its expansion and will add 260 jobs over the next three years. Driven by significant company growth and industry demand for its mobile app development expertise, Mobiquity selected Gainesville as the perfect location to expand, leveraging the engineering talent at the University of Florida and in the broader community.
Gov. Scott said, “Mobiquity’s decision to expand in Florida and create 260 jobs is great news for our families. Today’s announcement shows that Florida’s STEM workforce continues to rapidly grow. Strong support for STEM fields is enhanced by Florida’s top-notch higher education institutions – like the University of Florida. Florida is the perfect place for businesses to succeed and grow, and for Florida families to be able to live their version of the American Dream.”
SCOTT SIGNS LAW EXPANDING BAN ON ‘BATH SALTS,’ ‘INCENSE’
The state has expanded its prohibition on the sale of synthetic drugs marketed as “bath salts” and “incenses,” often sold on the shelves under enticing names such as “Cotton Candy” and “Atomic,” and reportedly can result in psychotic episodes, hallucinations and seizures.
Gov. Scott signed legislation (SB 294) on Wednesday that added 27 substances to the list of banned synthetic drugs, a priority of Attorney General Pam Bondi who says the synthetics “are targeted to our youth.” The law – making it a third-degree felony to sell, manufacture or intend to sell the drugs – is effective immediately.
SHULA, SCHWARZKOPF, SPURRIER, PONCE DE LEON AMONG FLORIDA’S LATEST GREATS via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida
The number of “Great” individuals in Florida is now greater than it was.
Gov. Rick Scott bestowed the “Great Floridian” honor on 21 individuals with connections to the Sunshine State on Wednesday.
Scott had already dubbed both University of Florida football great Tim Tebow and South Florida businessman H. Wayne Huizenga with the designation in the prior two weeks.
The 2013 class also includes former Miami Dolphin coach Don Shula, General Norman Schwarzkopf, golfer “Bubba” Watson, and 16th Century Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León, each recognized for making significant contributions to the progress and welfare of Florida.
TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: Again, if you haven’t yet been named a ‘Great Floridian’ by Rick Scott, you need to ask yourself what you’re doing wrong.
“It’s just trying to find people that have done something significant in our state,” Scott said when asked how the individuals were selected on Tuesday.
“It’s a good thing that we have such great people all around our state. One of the great things about the 19.2 million people living in our state is that you can be proud of a lot of them,” Scott added. “There are a lot of great people who live in Florida.”
TWEET, TWEET: @ItsWorkingFL: @Revis24 joins the @TBBuccaneers & saves over $500,000/year in income taxes. http://es.pn/12cKNfz #ItsWorking #OneWayTicket2FL
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POLICY NOTES via the Florida Current
>>>The Florida Public Service Commission holds a commission conference meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss several issues, including petitions for approval of new environmental programs for cost recovery under the Environmental Cost Recovery Clause, by Progress Energy Florida andTampa Electric Co. The agenda can be found here.
>>>The Florida Workers Compensation Joint Underwriters Association’s Safety Committee holds a teleconference meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. Contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408 to participate. The agenda can be found here.
>>>Technical and operational issues related to Medicaid health plans will be discussed 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday during a meeting at the Agency for Health Care Administration.
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ETHICS AND ELECTIONS BILLS HEADED TO SCOTT via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida
The intricate deal, negotiated outside the public eye, would give House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, a victory on what each has identified as one of his top priorities. And it could remove key pressure points for Scott as he looks to force lawmakers to follow his lead on an unrelated budget dispute.
The campaign finance measure (HB 569) would abolish “committees of continuous existence,” shadowy campaign groups that have been blamed for making some political contributions virtually untraceable; however, the unlimited donations that currently flow to CCEs could now be given to other political committees.
At the same time, it would increase the amount that each contributor can give to candidates during an election, boosting that limit to $3,000 for statewide and Supreme Court campaigns and $1,000 for other candidates. Those limits currently sit at $500. The bill would also increase reporting requirements for campaigns.
That measure passed the Senate on a 37-2 vote.
The ethics bill (SB 2) would bar elected officials from taking advantage of their positions to get taxpayer-funded jobs and block lawmakers from lobbying state agencies for two years after they leave office. But the measure approved by the House dropped a two-year prohibition on legislators taking quasi-lobbying jobs with firms trying to influence the Legislature.
House members unanimously backed the proposal, 117-0.
The House and Senate completed a far-reaching agreement on ethics and campaign finance bills Wednesday that could force Governor Rick Scott’s hand in a showdown with the Legislature.
DIGGING THIS – INTEGRITY FLORIDA: “Lawmakers are beginning the process of cleaning up the government and restoring trust with Floridians. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford promised sweeping ethics and campaign finance reform and they have delivered. After a 36-year drought, Florida lawmakers should be commended for advancing good government reforms in our state Capitol. Integrity Florida is grateful to see most of our research recommendations included in the ethics and campaign finance legislation that has been passed. While there is still more work to do to make ethics laws stronger and to fix a broken campaign finance system, Florida is finally moving in the right direction on these issues.”
DOGGING THIS – RICK SCOTT: “I continue to say this, no one has shown me a rationale for raising these limits, so I don’t know why we would do it,” Scott told reporters on Wednesday. “I haven’t seen a rationale yet.”
GAETZ, WEATHERFORD CONFIDENT GOV WILL SIGN THEIR PRIORITIES
Shortly after passing two of their biggest priorities of the legislative session, Speaker Weatherford and Senate President Gaetz said They were confident that Governor Scott would sign off on the bills.
“I think the need to raise the standard of public conduct in this state stands on its own as a moral imperative,” Gaetz said. “And we’re confident that the governor shares the same sense of urgency that the people of Florida share as Speaker Weatherford and I have listened to people all over this state tell us that they want this bill passed, they want this bill signed and they want this bill to be the law.”
Weatherford and Gaetz pointed out that they have now achieved three of the five shared goals they announced before the session, with a revamp of the state’s pension plan and an elections reform measure still working their way through the process. The two suggested that was already a strong record.
“But there’s nothing like going 5-for-5, so we’re still shooting for it,” said Weatherford.
WANNA KNOW WHO REALLY LOVES THE RAISING OF CONTRIBUTION LIMITS?
Charlie Crist. The most prodigious fundraiser in the history of Florida politics.
If there is one single person who stands to benefit the most from raising individual contribution limits from $1,000 per person per election cycle to $3,000 per person per election cycle, it’s Crist.
He’ll never be able to raise the kind of money Rick Scott can spend out of his own personal fortune, but if Charlie can ask each of his donors to kick in three times what they normally would have been able to, Crist can easily raise $75 million to $100 million for his expected gubernatorial campaign.
Even if Scott raises and spend twice that, at some point there is the issue of diminishing returns. There’s only so much airtime to purchase, after all.
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BUDGET PROGRESS SLOW AS MCKEEL, NEGRON MEET via the News Service of Florida
Lawmakers exchanged offers on some low-profile parts of the state budget Wednesday, setting aside for now the thornier issues in the health-care and education budgets. L
awmakers agreed, for example, to fund further excavation at the Dozier School for Boys through the University of South Florida instead of through the Department of Juvenile Justice.
And the House offered $13 million for spring restoration, a new issue. House Appropriations Chairman Seth McKeel said that the Legislature would work with the Department of Environmental Protection to figure out how to spend the money.
Left untouched were issues like a new system of reimbursing hospitals under the Medicaid program for low-income Floridians and differences over tuition increases and financial aid. “I think we can make some more progress on health and education over the next day or two,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron.
McKeel and Negron plan to meet again Thursday.
GARY FINEOUT EXPLAINS WHAT “COMPRESSION” IS IN BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS
In case you did not know what “compression” means as it relates to legislative budgeting, the inimitable Gary Fineout explains:
In theory it’s an attempt to compress the per-student funding ranges that exist from one district to another. It’s an effort to recognize that property values (which drive property taxes) are not in the same in every county. So the state adds extra money to help smooth out the range.
The way it’s handled can be a big, big deal, however.
And that’s what’s happening this year.
The Senate is insisting on pumping $30.5 million more into compression than the House.
And right now the House isn’t budging on this. Said Fresen: “We believe that the FEFP works the way that it is.”
Translation: The Senate way of using compression creates a geopolitical rift. That’s because pouring extra money into compression in essence dramatically impacts some counties more than others.
Duval County, for example, got a $411 per-student increase in its funding under the initial Senate plan compared to $401 in the House plan. Miami-Dade got a nearly a $417 increase in per-student funding in the initial House budget compared to a $399 per-student jump in the Senate budget.
Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Tuesday that the difference between the House and Senate approaches in compression amounted to a $4 million difference.
There’s more from Fineout here, including an explaination of the Florida Education Finance Program and a budgetary term known as “sparsity.”
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS BILL GETS A HAIL MARY IN THE HOUSE via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald
LATE-FILED AMENDMENT BARS LOCAL FERTILIZER REGS UNTIL 2016 via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post
A late-filed amendment to a swiftly moving environmental regulation bill (HB 999) would block communities from regulating fertilizer-use on lawns until 2016 and would create a 15-member Fertilizer Regulatory Review Council to perform “a comprehensive review of existing scientific data relating to the environmental fate of nutrients in urban settings.”
The Council must complete its review by Jan. 15, 2016. Until then, “local governments may not adopt new ordinances to regulate non-agricultural fertilizer or its use.”
The amendment was filed on Tuesday – just before the amendment filing deadline – by state Rep. Jake Raburn of Lithia, a vegetable and fruit grower in Hillsborough County. Lithia is also the headquarters of Mosiac, “the world’s leading producer of phosphate and potash fertilizers,” according to the company’s website.
TWEET, TWEET: @RepJoeSaunders: House Dems just used our new numbers to kill a bill that would have kept fracking chemicals from the sunshine. #PowertotheBackRow
SENATE VOTES TO REINSTITUTE BAN ON DYEING BUNNIES via the Associated Press
Florida’s Legislature rescinded a 45-year-old animal dyeing ban last year and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law. That was after groomers told lawmakers they wanted to dye their show dogs.
The ban had been put into place to prevent people from buying the colored animals during Easter. The animals often would be released afterward and die.
The new ban as passed by the Senate would exempt farms that use dyes on animals for “protective health purposes.”
The House has a similar provision in an animal cruelty bill passed earlier this month.
***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.***
INSURERS URGE HOUSE TO REJECT CUT TO TAX CREDIT via the News Service of Florida
Insurers ramped up their opposition to a Senate plan that would repeal a tax credit the industry has enjoyed since the late 1980s. After the Senate voted 39-0 to approve the plan (SB 1832), the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the Florida Insurance Council, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the American Insurance Association issued news releases urging the House to reject the proposal. The bill trades the industry tax credit for a $12-a-year reduction in vehicle-registration fees. The tax credit applies to part of the salaries of insurance company workers. Bill sponsor Joe Negron, R-Stuart, estimated the insurance industry has received $3.34 billion through the tax break since 1987. Supporters of the bill say it would help roll back vehicle-registration fee increases that hit consumers after being approved in 2009.
STATEMENT FROM PROPERTY CASUALTY INSURERS
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) today called on Florida lawmakers to oppose the salary tax credit legislation that passed the Senate and was immediately certified to the House this morning.
“PCI and its member companies urge members of the House to oppose the salary tax credit legislation that would raise taxes on insurance companies, who have consistently placed clean, high-wage and sustainable jobs in the Sunshine State,” said Donovan Brown, state government relations counsel for the PCI. “Florida businesses are already taxed enough, and removing this tax credit would hamper job growth within the state.”
“This 15 percent performance-driven tax credit is a part of the overarching consideration that our member companies take into account when deciding to place or maintain jobs in Florida. And, we believe it is working,” concluded Brown.
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4TH FLOOR FILES talks to Jennifer Jankowski Green about the FAPL, Brendan Farrington and LinkedIn. Here’s the file on Jennifer.
FUNDRAISER FOR TERRI SEEFELDT TONIGHT
A fundraiser hosted by a bevy of Apopka leaders and residents in support of Terri Seefeldt’s candidacy for House District 31 will be held tonight.
Seefeldt, committeewoman on the Orange County Republican Executive Committee, seeks to assume the seat currently held by Rep. Bryan Nelson.
Members of her host committee include former Congresswoman Sandy Adams, Apopka Mayor John Land, Commissioners Bill Arrowsmith, Commissioner Joe & Ceryl Kilsheimer, Commissioner Bobby Olszewski, and former Mayor Gary Brewer.
The fundraiser begins at 5:30 pm at the Offices of Old Florida National Bank at 1420 West Orange Blossom Trail in Apopka. To join the host committee or attend the event, RSVP to Beth Babington.
KEEP AN EYE ON THIS
The SEC could by the end of the month propose a new disclosure rule requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose to shareholders all of their political donations, reports Nicholas Confessore of The New York Times. More about this here
NETFLIX DROPS OUTSIDE FIRMS
While much of the political world has been obsessed with ‘House of Cards,’ Netflix is giving the cold shoulder to lobbyists. The company, which spent $300,000 on lobbying during the first quarter, dropped its outside firm. Greenberg Traurig and Kountoupes Denham are no longer working for the company.
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BILL CLINTON TO SPEAK AT UCF GRADUATION: Clinton will speak at a commencement ceremony at 2:30 p.m. May 2 at the UCF arena, addressing graduates of UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs and the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. It will be Clinton’s third visit to UCF, and he will be the first president to speak at a UCF graduation since Richard Nixon addressed students in 1973.
TODAY IS TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER OR SON TO WORK DAY
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, along with the Governor’s Office, celebrates the 20th anniversary of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in the Capitol courtyard from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. There will be information about the importance of education and the top growing careers in Florida.