A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER HITS JEB BUSH ON IMMIGRATION COMMENTS via Tal Kopan of Politico
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer says comments from Jeb Bush about immigration being an act of love were “bizarre,” predicting that when the Republican enters the presidential race, those words will come back to haunt him.
“If he was feeling any optimism before that interview, I think it’s gone away after the interview,” Krauthammer said on Fox News’s “Special Report” Monday night of comments Bush made to Fox News Channel over the weekend.
Bush had told the network in the interview that illegal immigration should not be a felony, but is “an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”
“I mean that statement he made about illegal immigrants being an act of love is kind of bizarre,” the conservative columnist said. “I grant him the complete sincerity and honesty of his view, he’s always had that kind of approach. But that’s leading with your chin.”
Krauthammer said lots of would-be immigrants care for their family and children just as much but wait for their turn to enter the country. The problem, he said, are that 11 million people have “jumped the fence” and entered the country illegally.
Krauthammer predicted that Bush will enter the 2016 presidential race but that he will be surprised by the reaction his comments on immigration will provoke.
COLBERT REPORT WRITES JEB’S OBITUARY Watch here
RUSH LIMBAUGH SAYS BUSH BACKLASH IS PART OF A PLAN
Rush Limbaugh told listeners that Bush’s comments comes as a way to preempt any conservative backlash that could come in the future, POLITICO reports.
“I really think when he says, ‘Hey, people come in here as an act of love,’ that’s designed to tick us all off or tick the tea party people off now,” said Limbaugh. “Get it done with and over with and then out of the way, and move on.”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ED BOARD WEIGHS IN here
MEANWHILE … RUBIO WON’T BASE 2016 DECISION ON BUSH
Rubio in an interview with CNN‘s Jake Tapper says what Rubio’s team has been spreading: He won’t base his presidential decision on Bush.
“In my mind when people decide to run for an office of that magnitude they do so under their own criteria, not what someone else is going to do,” Rubio said. “And I’d imagine Jeb would tell you the same thing. His decision, and the decision of many other people who are being speculated about, is not going to be about whether someone else is going to run or not.”
Noting he has “tremendous admiration for Jeb Bush,” Rubio told CNN: “I don’t think if I decide to run it would be a reflection on him, or if he were to run it would be a reflection on me.”
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CURT CLAWSON’S OPPONENTS JOINTLY CALL FOR HIM TO EXPLAIN TIES TO CHILD ASSAULTER via the Naples Daily News
Congressional candidate Curt Clawson’s Super Bowl TV ad said he wanted a three-point shootout with President Obama, but now he’s faced with a three-on-one with the other Republicans in the primary race.
They issued a joint press release calling for him to explain his ties to a man in Utah who lived in a house Clawson owned and who was convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child, according to online court and property records in Utah.
Clawson’s campaign said in a statement he knows the man from childhood, and that the man had been staying in a home Clawson owned in Utah, but that he hasn’t talked to him in years.
Candidates Lizbeth Benacquisto, Michael Dreikorn and Paige Kreegel released a statement “demanding that Curt Clawson explain contradictory statements he made regarding his relationship with … Glen Borst and subsequent falsification of his financial disclosure.”
Clawson’s response so far has been this:
“How low will my opponents go? Now they are sending private investigators to investigate the lives of the victims to relive a tragic event in their lives. This is precisely why very few good people agree to run for office, and instead we end up with career politicians who will say and do anything to get elected.”
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PPP POLL: CRIST 49%, SCOTT 42%
If you needed a salt shaker with the results of the Sunshine State News poll released on Monday showing Rick Scott leading Charlie Crist, you may need an entire canister of Morton’s to go along with Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of Florida’s gubernatorial race.
PPP, in a poll commissioned for the progressive group MoveOn.org, has Crist leading Scott by seven points, 49% to 42%, but the party breakdown in the poll doesn’t jive with what turnout looks like in Florida during a midterm election. This poll is comprised of 44% Democrats, 39% Republican, 17% Independent. That scenario is very wishful thinking for Dems in a non-presidential cycle.
Of course, the Sunshine State News poll had its own problems, including an oversampling of voters sixty-five years or older, which is the one cohort with which Scott runs strong. It also showed Scott leading Crist among Hispanics, which most political observers, including Republicans, doubt is the reality.
PPP’s automated polls were part of a series the group did to gauge Medicaid approval in Florida and other battleground states.
Fifty-eight percent of Floridians think Scott and Co. should accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage, while 33% do not.
Crist’s support of expanding Medicaid is a +9 winner for him as 42% of Floridians are more likely to support him because he supports accepting federal dollars to expand the program. For Scott, it’s an eleven-point loser.
GOP DISCOUNTS PPP’S FINDINGS
“This polling doesn’t pass the common sense test,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. “A Democratic pollster, working for a Democratic attack group, not only found Charlie Crist winning in Florida, but also claims Republicans are losing noncompetitive races in Kansas and Georgia. Despite the outlandish claims made in this polling, Charlie Crist will continue to be weighed down by the disaster known as Obamacare and his support for the policies of a deeply unpopular president.”
Blair also took a shot at PPP’s polls of the special congressional election in Pinellas County last month.
“And if you think PPP is an accurate outfit, please call Congresswoman Sink’s office for her response,” added Blair.
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PAM BONDI LEADS DEMOCRATS IN SUNSHINE STATE NEWS POLL via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News
Attorney General Bondi starts off with a solid lead over her two Democratic rivals, in part due to her opposition of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law which remains unpopular in the Sunshine State.
A Voter Survey Service poll, commissioned by Sunshine State News, shows Bondi leading both former state Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon and Florida House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston by the same margin. Bondi takes 44 percent when matched up against both Sheldon and Thurston while the Democratic candidate takes 35 percent. While 1 percent of those surveyed back other candidates in the race, 19 percent say they are undecided.
When matched up against Sheldon, Bondi holds a strong lead with voters who say there is an “excellent” chance for them to vote in November. Bondi takes 48 percent of these voters while Sheldon garners the support of 34 percent of them. While two-thirds of Democrats — 67 percent — back Sheldon, Bondi has the support of 80 percent of Republicans. Independents break Bondi’s way with 40 percent of them backing her while 27 percent support Sheldon.
Bondi leads Sheldon with Hispanics taking 48 percent of them while 26 percent back the Democrat. Almost half of men surveyed — 48 percent — support Bondi while 33 percent say they plan to vote for Sheldon. Women go Bondi’s way by a smaller margin, with 42 percent backing the Republican and 37 percent supporting Sheldon.
The poll finds Bondi out front across most parts of Florida, beating Sheldon by double-digit margins in North Florida and the Panhandle, her home base in Tampa Bay, Central Florida and the southwestern part of the state. Sheldon leads Bondi in his home region of Southeast Florida.
Bondi takes 46 percent of Hispanics when matched up against Thurston while the Democrat gets 24 percent of them. Once again, Bondi takes 48 percent of men while 32 percent of them back Thurston. Women break Bondi’s way by a smaller margin, with 41 percent of them backing her and 37 percent of them supporting Thurston.
NEW PEW REPORT FAULTS FLORIDA VOTING, BUT STATE SAYS PROBLEMS ARE FIXED via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
A new report by the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts says states generally fared better in 2012 than previously in their handling of elections and voting. But the report singled out Florida as an exception, concluding that wait times for voters increased by 16 minutes, when elsewhere in the United States, wait times decreased by three minutes.
Pew’s main conclusion: “Florida is neither a high- nor low-performing state, and though its overall EPI (Elections Performance Index) score increased slightly between 2008 and 2012, the boost was less than the average improvement across the country. Florida was held back to a large degree by dramatic spikes in average wait time to vote and rejected registrations.”
Gov. Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, immediately debunked the report’s findings, noting that the Legislature passed a series of changes to the election laws in the 2013 session that addressed many of Pew’s findings. How effectively those changes improved things won’t definitively be known until this fall, when Florida has statewide primary and general elections.
REAX: League of Women Voters of Florida president Deirdre Macnab said, “Credit has to go to our 67 elected Supervisors of Elections whose work everyday ensured the integrity of our voter database. This result underscores the pointlessness of the Secretary’s repeated efforts to purge already accurate voter files. Now it is time to focus on what can be done to get more Florida voters to the polls with minimal waiting.
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BIG BEER WINS A ROUND IN LEGISLATIVE BATTLE WITH MICROBREWERIESvia James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
A bill that would require craft brewers to sell their suds to a beer distributor and make them buy it back to sell at their own breweries has cleared a Senate panel.
The measure (SB 1714) has so infuriated craft brewers and beer enthusiasts that some on Twitter have christened it with the hashtag “#growlergate.” The Community Affairs committee approved the bill Tuesday.
Sen. Jack Latvala was so incensed at the idea of craft brewers having to pay someone else to sell their own product that he likened it to a mobbed-up racket. Latvala has championed the microbrewery cause.
The requirement is similar to paying “protection to ‘Vinnie’ in New York,” he said.
The bill also is favored by the Big Beer lobby, which is feeling the heat from craft beer’s competition.
Sen. Kelli Stargel is sponsoring the bill, which also allows the most popular size of beer “growlers,” the 64-ounce size (that’s a half-gallon).
Growlers are jugs, usually made of glass, that brewers sell their beer in when drawn from a tap. State law allows 32-ounce (quart-size) and 128-ounce (gallon-size) growlers, but not the 64-ounce, considered the industry standard.
Stargel said the distributing requirement for craft beer was to uphold the state’s three-tier system of alcoholic beverage regulation.
TWEET, TWEET: @AbelHarding: When your legislator tells you he/she is “for small business,” ask where he/she voted on this issue.
LAWMAKERS LOOK TO EXPAND, REGULATE TELEHEALTH via Kelli Kennedy of the Associated Press
A Senate bill would increase the use of telemedicine in Florida and establish requirements for health providers who treat patients remotely. A companion bill is also making its way through the House, but that bill doesn’t require doctors to have a Florida license – only that they be licensed in their home state and registered in Florida.
The Senate bill requires doctors providing telemedicine services to patients within the state to be licensed in Florida or meet an alternative requirement. For example, an insurer using a doctor that’s in-network in another state would also be allowed to treat a Florida patient. The bill recently passed a Senate committee, but has two more stops before it’s heard on the floor. Dozens of other states have passed legislation supporting telemedicine.
The Senate bill also would require Medicaid to reimburse for telemedicine services and allow doctors to negotiate payment rates with insurers. The House bill doesn’t address payments.
But critics worry that requirements for doctors in other states could compromise patient care. Some say that doctors practicing telemedicine in Florida should be licensed here.
The Florida Chamber and several other groups, including ones representing nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses and pharmacists all support the bill.
But the powerful Florida Medical Association is strongly opposed, worrying it doesn’t require treatment by a licensed Florida physician or mandate a review of the patient’s medical history. The organization said such technology holds great promise, but does not support the bill in its current form.
PUSH TO END GREYHOUND RACING STALLS
Some Florida legislators are making a push again this year to end a requirement that greyhound dog-tracks have on-site races if they want to keep card games and other betting options.
But despite the support of top lawmakers and the wife of Senate President Don Gaetz, the proposal stalled in a Senate committee on Tuesday.
Instead, the panel passed a stripped down bill that requires dog tracks around the state to report all injuries to racing greyhounds.
Sen. Maria Sachs tried to get the Senate Gaming Committee to vote for the proposal. But she backed off the effort after questions arose over whether it would allow an expansion of gambling.
Other senators on the panel, however, said it was clear there weren’t enough votes to pass the proposal.
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PRESSURE, AND A CHANGE OF HEART GIVES NEW LIFE TO RICHARDSON BILL IN HOUSE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted 11-0 to approve a bill (HB 227) created to help James Richardson, accused of killing his seven children by poisoning them with insecticide in the DeSoto County town of Arcadia, just days before Halloween 1967.
Richardson spent 21 ½ years in prison — including four years on Death Row—before being released in 1989 after then-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno was appointed by Gov. Bob Martinez to review the case.
While Richardson was behind bars, a babysitter for the children, Betsy Reese, told neighbors that she had killed them, but was never charged.
Rep. Dave Kerner, sponsor of the bill, said he was drawn to the case because he had served as a police officer in North Florida and is aware of the state’s “legacy of injustice.”
The legislation, however, drew a hearing Tuesday only after the Florida Legislative Black Caucus appealed to House Speaker Will Weatherford.
Subcommittee Chairman Matt Gaetz had refused to schedule a hearing on the measure, telling the Palm Beach Post that he had problems with a bill cast to help only one person. On Tuesday, however, Gaetz said his thinking had changed.
TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: A succinct appraisal of the #FLLeg from Sen. Tom Lee: “Up here, it’s always about the money.”
WEDNESDAY’S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA INCLUDES SALES-TAX HOLIDAYS, TAX CUTS, IN-STATE TUITION AND FINANCIAL LITERACY Full blog post here
Wednesday’s legislative agenda includes a number of issues, starting with the continuing debate over in-state tuition for undocumented students, mandated financial literacy high schools and streamlined charter school contracts.
The Senate Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will consider additional penalties for crossing county lines to commit certain crimes. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government will meet to address insurance industry regulations, and the Finance & Tax Subcommittee will propose a number of sales-tax holidays.
Telemedicine will get another inspection by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services and the Senate Rules Committee will undertake a bill protecting the confidentiality of information in the state’s prescription-drug monitoring database.
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ERIC EISNAUGLE WINS SPECIAL ELECTION IN HD 44
Republican Eric Eisnaugle won a special election to represent state House District 44, which includes parts of West Orange County including Winter Garden, Oakland and Lake Buena Vista.
Eisnaugle took 74 percent of the vote, besting Democrat Shaun Raja, who earned 26 percent.
Eisnaugle will serve out the remainder of Steve Precourt’s term, which runs through 2014. Precourt resigned to seek a job at the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Chip Case: Congrats Representative Eric Eisnaugle! 74.5%!!!!! What… No 75%?!?!?! A true Statesman win today…. Florida will be served well! Team Eisnaugle…. Great job! Dowless/Hawkes/Case/Palmer!
TWEET, TWEET: @JohnKonkus: @weRjamestown is proud of our work to help the @FloridaGOP in the #HD44 special election. Congrats to Rep-Elect @EricEisnaugle.
TWEET, TWEET: @repclayingram: Welcome back to the Florida House, @EricEisnaugle! See you at work in the morning!
JOHN LINDSEY ENDS GOP PRIMARY BID AGAINST JOHN WOOD via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News
Conservative activist John Lindsey announced he was ending his Republican primary challenge to state Rep. John Wood.
The two candidates battled in the 2012 Republican primary as Wood was running for a third term in the Florida House. Wood took 65 percent of the vote in the 2012 primary while 35 percent of the Republican voters in the Polk County district backed Lindsey. Back in 2010, Lindsey set his sights a little higher, taking 31 percent when he battled Dennis Ross in the Republican primary during the race for an open congressional seat.
As he bowed out of the race, Lindsey praised Wood for introducing HM 625 to use the power included under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to call a national constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment. If two-thirds of the states pass similar motions, a “convention of states” can be called to pass the amendment.
Still, even as he ended his bid against Wood, Lindsey insisted he was going to remain active in 2014 and 2016. Lindsey pledged to do all he could to help Gov. Rick Scott win in November and said he planned to run, once again, for the House seat in 2016 when Wood faces term limits.
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CONTEXT FLORIDA: TRIPLE THREAT TO SCHOOLS, BULLYING, MINI-CASINOS AND CHARLES KEATING JR.
On Context Florida: Although Florida is the nation’s fourth wealthiest state, it ranks 43rd in public school funding, writes Marc Yacht. Florida public schools face a triple threat: charter school expansion; voucher growth and draconian measures punishing teachers, administrators, and schools. Bullying is defined as “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees,” which Jamie Miller says could describe every teacher who ever gave a pop quiz. Anti-bullying bills, while sounding great, no doubt will result in unintended consequences. The push for ‘decoupling’ greyhound racing and gambling facilities could turn dog tracks into mini-casinos, according to former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. Decoupling is not really about the free market; it is about gambling permit portability. In one of those strange coincidences, Charles Keating Jr. died just two days before the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical majority subverted the nation in its hideous McCutcheon decision, notes Martin Dyckman. Keating enlisted five senators to intervene with federal regulators while he ran his California-based Lincoln Savings & Loan like a personal piggy bank.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Thomas Arnold, Jerry McDaniel, James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: One Homecare Solutions LLC
Michael Corcoran, Matt Blair, Michael Cantens, Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Teradata
Jon Johnson, Travis Blanton, Melanie Brown, Amy Christian, Johnson & Blanton: Correct Care Solutions
Chris Dudley, Towson Fraser, Southern Strategy Group: The Haskell Company
Keith Pollakoff: Silver Airways Corp
Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: Socata North America
PREVIEWING THE SECOND ROUND OF TALLYMADNESS
About 10,000 votes were cast in the 1st Round, which eliminated some of the state’s best known and respected in the field.
Three of the four No. 1 seeded lobbyists remain: Ron Book, Jon Johnson, and Nick Iarossi.
Book will face off in the 2nd Round against No. 8 seed Jim Magill; Johnson will face No. 8 seed Jeff Hartley; and Iarossi will face No. 9 seed Jennifer Green.
Three No. 2 seeds are also still standing. In this second round, No. 2 seed Chris Dudley takes on No. 10 seed Allison Carvajal; Bill Rubin takes on No. 10 seed Scott Ross; and Mark Delegal takes on No. 7 seed March Reichelderfer.
Here’s one to watch: the 2nd Round matchup between No. 3 seed David Ramba and No. 6 seed Dean Cannon. Formidable, to say the least.
And here’s the wheelhouse of what makes TallyMadness the true battle of peers: three No. 5 seeds, all experts in their own, will face three No. 4 seeds, each unquestionable forces in the process: Gus Corbella v. Paul Bradshaw; Claudia Davant v. Travis Blanton; and Rhett O’Doski v. Katie Webb.
You will also have the chance to take sides in the contest between No. 6 seed Gary Guzzo and No. 14 seed Monica Rodriguez. Rodriguez took out No. 3 seed Marion Hammer in the 1st Round of voting.
An even larger gap was closed by No. 16 seed Alan Suskey in the 1st Round, when he defeated No. 1 seed Brian Ballard. Suskey goes on to the 2nd Round facing No. 8 seed Slater Bayliss.
Then, take a look at these match-ups, each between lower-seeded but by no means lesser esteemed lobbyists: No. 10 seed Amy Christian faces No. 15 seed Richard Reeves; No. 11 seed Sean Pittman will square off against No. 14 seed Missy Timmins; and No. 11 seed Adam Babington will be on the virtual court against No. 14 seed Ron Pierce.
Those who emerge in these contests move on to the Sweet 16. It is up to you to select who does so.
WHY FLORIDA LOBBYISTS MAY BE BETTER OFF THAN THEIR NY PEERS
Reviewing the latest data on lobbying compensation in the state of New York, state and local lobbyists were compensated $191 million in 2013, according to the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics. A total of $210 million was spent on overall lobbying activity at the state and local level.
Compare that with what was spent in Florida. According to Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel, $226 million was spent in 2013 to lobby Florida’s legislative and executive branches.
In other words, in the 3rd largest station in the country, $210 million was spent on lobbying; in the 4th largest state, $226 million was spent on lobbying. But that’s not the complete picture.
Consider that the dollar figure about how much is spent to lobby in New York includes what is spent at both the state AND the local level, including New York City. The $226 million price tag Deslatte arrived at does not include any of the money spent to lobby in the local political hotbeds of Florida, such as Miami-Dade. Undoubtedly, there are tens of millions of dollars spent just on lobbying South Florida’s city and county governments. Just ask Ron Book about all that.
Moreover, New York’s state budget for 2014 is $132.6 billion, whereas the state of Florida’s budget will likely come in at around $74 billion. So in New York, there’s less money being spent to lobby a state government with nearly twice as much money to dole out as in Florida. What fun is that?
Rarely does anyone in Florida get to rub a Yankee’s nose in how well they are doing compared to their colleagues from up North, but in the case of the lobbying profession, Floridians may just be better off than their peers in New York.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Alli Liby-Schoonover and campaign treasurer extraordinaire Thomas Kiernan.