A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
SaintPetersBlog’s first annual list of the ’30 under 30′ — thirty rising stars in Florida politics who are 30 years-old or younger — will be published later this month. Your suggestions for the next generation of top operatives, lobbyists, staffers and politicians are welcomed. Please email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org with your nominations. The deadline for nominations is May 10.
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.
PRESIDENT OBAMA JOKES ABOUT MARCO RUBIO AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER
In speaking about Sen. Marco Rubio and the 2016 presidential race, President Obama quipped: “The guy has not finished a single term in the Senate and he thinks he’s ready to be president. Kids these days!”
Later, the state of Florida was the subject of a joke by Conan O’Brien, who compared the Sunshine State to North Korea.
“Kim Jong-un doesn’t understand we already have an unstable peninsula that will take down America – Florida,” cracked O’Brien.
ANTHONY FOXX WILL BE NEXT TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY
President Obama will tap Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx as the new secretary of transportation on Monday, the Charlotte Observer reports. “The choice is seen as part of an effort to boost the number of minorities in high-level positions on his Cabinet.”
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MEET THE NEW RICK SCOTT via POLITICO
In the Republican wave of 2010, you could scarcely have found a more relentless, caustic opponent of President Barack Obama’s policies than Rick Scott.
What a difference two-and-a-half years make.
… Speaking with POLITICO during a visit to the nation’s capital, Scott pointed to three areas in which he has forged constructive relationships with the Obama administration.
He noted he had worked with a host of federal agencies – including the Departments of Justice and Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers – on Everglades-related issues. On education, he said he has a cordial relationship with Secretary Arne Duncan and spoke with the former Chicago schools chief during the process of choosing a new education commissioner for Florida.
And he touted his success in winning waivers from the federal government in order to shape a Florida-specific plan for dollars spent through the Affordable Care Act – a law Scott strenuously opposed in 2010, and still rejects as a concept. His spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers, boasted that Scott traveled to Washington after Election Day last year to lobby Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for flexibility in implementing health care reform.
And, notably, he declines to haggle over whether he or Obama deserves more praise for Florida’s dropping unemployment rate. After all, as Mitt Romney found out last year, a rising economic tide lifts all incumbents – whether that’s a vulnerable Obama in 2012 or any number of embattled GOP governors next year.
“I don’t think it matters who gets credit,” Scott said. “I think Reagan said, it’s surprising how much you can get done if you don’t care about who gets the credit.”
SCOTT NOW TRYING TO TEMPT CAL BUSINESSES TO FLA
Gov. Scott is now casting his lure towards business owners in California. Scott, who sent a letter advising businesses in Illinois on Tuesday of Florida’s economic outlook, sent a nearly identical message to the Golden State.
“Although Florida’s economic formula is working, we know California’s formula of more taxing and more spending isn’t working,” Scott wrote.
Scott sent a similar letter to businesses in New York in March 2012. On Thursday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called the pitch from Scott, along with like proposals from Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey, “showboating.”
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SINK WAITING FOR A SIGN FROM GOD BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR via Patrick Manteiga of La Gaceta
Alex Sink was breakfasting at Troy’s in Ybor City when someone asked her if she is going to run for governor.
She said, “I’m just waiting for a sign. The good Lord will tell me what to do.”
Her comment was heard at the next booth, where a man started to scribble. Moments later, he held up the back of a note bad. It read, “Please run.”
Is this the sign Ms. Sink was waiting to see?
DECISIONS AT HAND FOR REPUBLICANS THINKING OF CHALLENGING PATRICK MURPHY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
One name that has resurfaced in recent Republican chatter: former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who lost a 2012 congressional run to Rep. Lois Frankel in a Democrat-tilted Palm Beach-Broward district.
Knowledgeable sources say Hasner, who lives in Boca Raton but grew up in northern Palm Beach County, has not ruled out running in District 18 and has talked to the National Republican Congressional Committee about the race.
Several other Republicans are expected to make decisions soon. State Rep. Gayle Harrell is expected to declare whether she’s in or out shortly after Friday’s end of the legislative session. Harrell has the deepest Treasure Coast political roots of the potential GOP candidates.
St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery said he’s also nearing a decision. Mowery recently trekked to Washington for talks with the NRCC and others. A Mowery selling point is the fact he was elected as a Republican in a heavily Democratic county.
Former state Rep. Carl Domino has launched an exploratory committee and is also nearing an announcement. An eight-year veteran of Tallahassee, Domino listed his 2011 net worth at $24.2 million and could potentially self-finance a campaign if he decides to run.
Alan Schlesinger, a former Connecticut resident who was the 2006 GOP nominee for Senate in the Nutmeg State, says he’ll open a congressional campaign this week.
Hobe Sound businessman Gary Uber, who owns home health care companies, has also been considering a run and says he’ll decide soon.
Republican insiders say former Tequesta councilman Calvin Turnquest and Juno Beach Vice Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Andelhave also expressed interest.
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BUDGET NEGOTIATORS REACH DEAL ON EDUCATION, ECON. DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT …
Budget negotiators struck a series of deals in an evening meeting Friday, bringing them closer to a final agreement on a $74 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Here are highlights of the agreements they reached:
–$70 million for Everglades restoration funding.
–$45 million for economic incentives. Gov. Rick Scott requested $278 million.
–$480 million for teacher and instructional pay raises, though the House and Senate want it to be based on merit. This will be less than the $2,500 per teacher increase that Scott wanted because the House and Senate opted to expand it to all instructional personnel, such as aides.
–A 3 percent tuition increase for colleges and universities.
–A $9 million increase to Bright Futures and $13.8 million increase to the Florida Resident Access Grant.
–$70 million in spending authority for Florida Forever, but only $20 million of that is cash. The other $50 million would come from selling surplus lands.
HOSPITAL MEDICAID FUNDING COMPROMISED REACHED
Over the weekend, the House and Senate compromised on allocations for hospital Medicaid funding, providing an additional $88 million and relieving fears of safety net hospitals. The Senate backed down from its original position of providing no extra funding; and shifted its position that counties using local taxes must share half the federal funding they draw down to sharing just ten percent of additional federal funding. The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida sees Saturday’s compromise as a positive sign, however specific hospital funding is not yet determined.
STATE EMPLOYEE RAISES SET via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida
State employees would get a raise of at least $1,000 under a deal struck Saturday by House and Senate negotiators …
Under the plan agreed to by Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron and House Appropriations Chairman Seth McKeel employees making up to $40,000 a year would receive a $1,400-a-year raise, though it wouldn’t kick in until Oct. 1. Employees earning more than $40,000 would see their annual salary boosted by $1,000, again beginning Oct. 1.
If signed by Gov. Rick Scott, the pay increase would be the first for state workers in six years. About 35 percent of state employees would also receive a $600 merit bonus.
“I think this is the best day for state employees in almost seven years,” said Doug Martin of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: Seems legislators are sometimes like journalists: Won’t get it finished until the hard fast deadline is upon them. Tick, tick, tick…
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NO LOVE LOST BETWEEN PARTIES IN ALIMONY BILL via contributor Karen Cyphers
Debates surrounding Florida’s alimony reform legislation, now pending Governor Rick Scott’s signature, are about as contentious as the divorce proceedings the law regards. SB 718 ends permanent alimony, limits payments based on income and length of marriage, prevents second spouses from supporting ex-wives and husbands, and requires judges to give equal child custody to each parent in most cases. Opponents protested in front of the governor’s office on Friday, hoping to spread their belief that the measure stifles judges’ ability to determine divorce settlements case-by-case, and wrongly permits already divorced parties to seek new judgments based on these reforms. Proponents, including Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel and House sponsor Ritch Workman, believe the measure will provide a more equitable metric than Florida courts currently use when calculating alimony, child support and custody arrangements. If signed into law, Florida will join Massachusetts as the only states having passed major alimony overhauls.
NUCLEAR BILL POWERS THROUGH SENATE, REVVING UP IN THE HOUSE via contributor Karen Cyphers
The most recent events in the progress of a well-intentioned but complicated nuclear power bill involve a unanimous Senate vote and a brief respite in the House, where the bill has been placed on Monday’s special order calendar. SB 1472 revises provisions of a 2006 law that allowed power companies to charge consumers for pre-construction costs for nuclear plants. The Senate measure, if adopted, would require utilities to repay costumers for these charges if the nuclear project is halted. The House version, HB 7167, goes a bit further, prohibiting utilities from seeking advance costs for projects unless they first receive a determination of need from the Public Service Commission. Utilities oppose both measures, pointing to major upgrades that have been completed on existing nuclear plants using these pre-construction funds, and reminding lawmakers of the well-reasoned purpose of the 2006 law: to encourage cleaner and cheaper energy for Floridians.
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COMPETITION INJECTED INTO STATE LICENSE TAG PRODUCTION
For the past 30 years, Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc., or PRIDE, has had an exclusive contract under which prison inmates produce Florida license tags. Yet during weekend budget negotiations, language was stripped by the Senate opening the door for Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to seek a more competitive process when costing out alternatives for the manufacturing of plates. According to the Tampa Bay Times, part of the issue is that Florida’s current plates, with embossed raised digits, are difficult cameras and officers to read — and the equipment to create flat plates costs more. But this may not be the last word. The House has been supportive of PRIDE; and it was suggested that alternative language may again present itself for an uphill battle back into the budget.
HOUSE LINES UP SLIMMER OVERHAUL OF CITIZENS INSURANCE via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida
The House appears poised to approve an overhaul of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. next week that will require heavy negotiations with the Senate.
The 78-page House proposal (HB 909), along with several companion bills, was put in position on Friday for a final vote next week.
The measure is slimmer, in terms of pages and provisions, than the Senate measure (SB 1770) that was approved on Thursday.
“Whatever we do on either side we have got to get the governor to sign it,” said Rep. Bryan Nelson who has carried most of the House Citizens efforts this year. “If we don’t have something the governor is going to sign we lose – if nothing else – the clearinghouse which we know is going to benefit everyone in Florida.”
NEXT STOP ON THE IRONY TRAIN: LIBERAL LAWSUIT REVEALS DEMOCRATIC COLLUSION ON REDISTRICTING MAPS via contributor Karen Cyphers
Oh, the cries, when emails between Republican legislators and their consultants regarding Florida redistricting maps were made public; but who is shocked to learn that Democratic legislators and their political consultants were equally if not more deeply involved with the redrawing of state political lines? According to the Florida Times Union, emails between prominent Democrats and their consultants were made public as part of a lawsuit filed by Common Cause, the League of Women Voters Florida and the National Council of La Raza regarding the Fair District amendments, which were intended to strip politics from the redistricting process. Only adding to the irony, these emails show that Democratic operatives working with US Representatives Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Ted Deutch, Corrine Brown, and others, sought the approval of these legislators before giving the nod to then-Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, who filed the party’s maps with the Senate. The Florida Democratic Party claims these emails only reflect the goal of ensuring that new political lines comply with Fair Districts. But you can read more and decide for yourself.
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‘FLORIDA VOICES’ GOING SILENT
Florida Voices, the opinion-oriented website and op-ed distribution network co-founded by Tampa Tribune alums Rosemary Goudreau (now editorial page editor at the Sun-Sentinel) and Rosemary Curtiss, is going silent on Friday.
“We had such high hopes when we launched 18 months ago,” editor Goudreau writes in an email to friends and colleagues. “But as you know, the business of online media is a tough slog [and] we couldn’t drive the audience needed to grow advertising dollars. We operated Florida Voices on a shoe string and paid people next to nothing, but still we’ve run out of money.”
As one of the columnists for Florida Voices, I am personally disappointed to see FV fold up shop.
On another note, I fully believe the demise of Florida Voices proves yet again how extraordinarily difficult it is to launch, maintain and make successful an online news/opinion venture. That I’ve been able to do this with SaintPetersBlog is nothing short of a miracle, for which I am eternally grateful to my readers, investors, partners, and advertisers.
I guess the question is now: Where will we go to read the very interesting writings of former Senator Paula Dockery?
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4TH FLOOR FILES features public interest advocate Susan Glickman. Here’s the file on Susan.
LOBBBYIST OMAR FRANCO EARNS DISTINCTION
Franco, who heads law firm Becker & Poliakoff’s Washington, D.C. office, was ranked as one of the nation’s most powerful Hispanic lobbyists by Latino magazine. One of seven Hispanic lobbyists profiled in the latest issue, Franco is president of the Hispanic Lobbyists Association and the only Hispanic on the board of the American Lobbying Association. His clients include the City of Hialeah and Florida Gulf Coast University. Earlier in his career he served as chief of staff for Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. Latino targets “opinion leaders, influencers, stakeholders, educators, students, members of Hispanic organizations and corporate executives.”
GOOD READ ABOUT CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYING
“There has been a quiet upheaval in the lobbying industry,” according to Tom Edsall, who looks at how the industry is “relying on new tactics to shape the legislative outcomes it wants” in the face of new restrictions and reporting requirements.
“For example, constricted definitions of lobbying contained in Congressional regulations have been construed to exempt from disclosure money spent on grass roots mobilization; on television, digital and social media campaigns; and on public relations efforts to build support among voters and key elites.”
“The growing network of ‘strategic communications,’ digital practitioners and the newly created PR subsidiaries of old-line lobbying firms is, in effect, supplanting special pleaders’ traditional tactics while simultaneously enhancing their ability to operate out of the limelight. Many of the activities most people would call lobbying now fall outside of its legal definition. They have become a large but almost invisible part of special interest influence on public policy.”
LAWMAKERS’ DOC REVEALS FINGERPRINTS OF LOBBYIST PUSHING FOR A $10 MIL BUDGET APPROPRIATION Full blog post here
As Michael Kinsley once famously explained, a gaffe is when a politician speaks a truth they didn’t intend to reveal.
Well, what’s the word to explain when a politician tells a truth they didn’t intend to reveal, except instead of speaking it, they lay it out in Excel.
That’s what happened last night during negotiations between the Florida House and Senate’s budget chiefs, Rep. Seth McKeel and Sen. Joe Negron. In one of the “side-by’sides” – spreadsheets comparing the proposed spending between the House and the Senate — whoever worked on the section dealing with capital outlays for the higher education budget left in an embarrassing detail about which lobbyist pushed for a specific project at Florida A&M University.
As you can see in the picture to the right, a $4 million appropriation for “FAMU – Pharmacy Phase II” is included in the House’s budget, but not the Senate’s. What you should also notice is the note about lobbyist Matt Forrest of Ballard Partners having pushed for $10 million.
There’s nothing wrong with Forrest pushing for a budget appropriation — that’s his job. But I doubt he wants his fingerprints all over this side-by-side.
Then again, Forrest isn’t a registered to lobby the Legislature for FAMU (Brian Ballard and Carol Bracy are; perhaps staff got confused and put in the wrong name), so who knows what’s really going on here.
If only the legislative staff had put in a note about that.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
David Browning, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Optometry Eye Health Fund
Chris Coker: City of Belle Glade, Progress Energy
Julie Fess: Millennium Laboratories
Mike Fischer: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Rich Heffley: MCNA Dental Plans
James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: R’Club Child Care, Inc.
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DID YOU SEE ‘HOUSE OF NERDS’?: The White House Correspondents’ Association on Saturday night presented a spoof of the popular Netflix series House of Cards, with Kevin Spacey playing his character from the series, a fictional Republican majority House whip, bargaining over tickets to the correspondents’ dinner. It features a wide range of Washington characters, from Obama’s “magical” confidante Valerie Jarrett to a bromance between House whips Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy. Watch here.