A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST – FLASH MOB TODAY HONORING CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER MARVIN MCMILLION, BUT SHHHHHHHH!
A flash mob is coming to Tallahassee. Please join meet in the Capitol Courtyard TODAY at 1:25 p.m. for a surprise flash mob in honor of Capitol Police Officer Marvin McMillion. Organizers hope to surprise him by doing the electric slide to thank him for his years of service. Remember this is a surprise, so please don’t tell Marvin! Just grab a friend, your staff, interns and friends and help make a big showing TODAY AT 1:25 p.m. in the Capitol Courtyard.
PROGRAMMING NOTE Yes, Virginia, there will be a special Saturday edition of Sunbun recapping all of the action from the last day of the 2014 Legislative Session.
BEFORE WE GET TO FLORIDA POLITICS, READ THIS: CHANGED LIFE OF THE POOR: BETTER OFF, BUT FAR BEHIND via Annie Lowrey of the New York Times
Is a family with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television and a computer with an Internet connection poor? Americans – even many of the poorest – enjoy a level of material abundance unthinkable just a generation or two ago. … Two broad trends account for much of the change in poor families’ consumption over the past generation: federal programs and falling prices. … Since the 1960s, both Republican and Democratic administrations have expanded programs like food stamps and the earned-income tax credit. …
As a result, the differences in what poor and middle-class families consume on a day-to-day basis are much smaller than the differences in what they earn. … Since the 1980s, for instance, the real price of a midrange color television has plummeted about tenfold … Similarly, the effective price of clothing, bicycles, small appliances, processed foods – virtually anything produced in a factory – has followed a downward trajectory. The result is that Americans can buy much more stuff at bargain prices.
Many crucial services, though, remain out of reach for poor families. The costs of a college education and health care have soared. Ms. Hagen-Noey, for instance, does not treat her hepatitis and other medical problems, as she does not qualify for Medicaid and cannot pay for her own insurance or care. Child care also remains only a small sliver of the consumption of poor families because it is simply too expensive. In many cases, it depresses the earnings of women who have no choice but to give up hours working to stay at home.
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HILLARY CLINTON BESTING GOP HOPEFULS, JEB BUSH LEADS GOP FIELD IN 2016 FLORIDA POLL via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News
If he runs for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, former Gov. Jeb Bush is well poised to be the favorite son of the Sunshine State, something that cannot be said of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, but former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the candidate to beat in Florida according to a new poll.
A Quinnipiac University poll finds Bush out front in Florida over the rest of the 2016 Republican pack. Bush takes 27 percent with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, with 14 percent and Rubio in third with 11 percent. Gov. Chris Christie stands in fourth with 7 percent followed by three candidates — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan — knotted together with 6 percent each. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin takes 4 percent while Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana lags with 1 percent.
Clinton dominates the Democratic field, getting 64 percent. Vice President Joe Biden stands in distant second with 11 percent followed by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with 6 percent. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and former Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana all took 1 percent each.
The poll, which samples more Democrats than Republicans, has Clinton easily besting the various Republican hopefuls. Bush does best against Clinton but still loses by 8 percent while Rubio trails by 12 percent. Clinton runs over the other Republicans, beating Paul, Huckabee and Christie of New Jersey by 18 percent apiece, routing Ryan by 20 percent, and walloping U.S. Ted Cruz by 26 percent.
Clinton and Bush are both seen as favorable among a majority of Floridians, with 58 percent seeing the Democrat in a favorable light while 35 percent view the former governor as favorable. While 37 percent see Clinton as unfavorable, 35 percent view Bush as unfavorable.
The other candidates are not seen as favorable. Rubio is seen as favorable by 43 percent and unfavorable by 36 percent. Huckabee is seen by 36 percent as favorable and unfavorable by 32 percent. Paul gets similar marks, with 34 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable. Christie also gets mixed marks at 37 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable.
Two of the Republicans are upside down in the poll. Ryan is seen as unfavorable by 36 percent and favorable by 33 percent. Cruz gets far lower marks with 30 percent seeing him as favorable and only 19 percent viewing him in a favorable light.
OBAMA REMAINS UPSIDE DOWN IN FLORIDA via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News
Despite carrying Florida twice during his presidential bids, President Barack Obama is underwater in the Sunshine State according to the Quinnipiac poll.
The poll finds 50 percent of voters in Florida disapprove of Obama’s job in the White House while 46 percent approve of it. In a January poll, Quinnipiac found 53 percent of Florida voters disapproving of Obama’s performance while 42 percent approved of it.
Obama has his nose above water with women in Florida as 49 percent approve of him and 47 percent disapprove of him. He does worse with men, as a majority — 54 percent — disapprove of Obama while only 42 percent approve of him.
Democrats continue to support Obama with 81 percent approving of him while 91 percent of Republicans disapprove of him. A majority of independent voters surveyed — 52 percent — disapprove of Obama while 43 percent approve of him.
Despite Obama’s poor numbers, the poll shows a former member of his Cabinet — former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — defeating the field of potential 2016 Republican candidates, most of them by double-digit margins.
After winning a third term in 2012, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is approved by 46 percent of those surveyed while less than a third — 32 percent — disapprove of the job Florida’s senior senator has done in Washington.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, in his first term, is approved by 47 percent of the voters while 39 percent disapprove of him. Rubio is one of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates but he has also left the door open to staying in the Senate or going to the private sector.
MEANWHILE ... NEARLY 1 MILLION FLORIDIANS SIGN UP FOR OBAMACARE via Laura Green of the Palm Beach Post
Nearly 1 million Floridians signed up for an Obamacare plan in the inaugural year.
Only California enrolled more people — and not by much. The state ran its own marketplace. It signed up 1.4 million Californians.
Florida doubled its enrollment in the last month, making it one of a dozen states to do so.
The numbers are still preliminary, in a sense, because they count everyone who signed up. Americans who do not pay their premium will not have coverage.
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DEMS CAN’T FIND A CANDIDATE IN CD 13 via Curtis Krueger of the Tampa Bay Times
Eric Lynn, considered a possible Democratic candidate to run for Congress in Pinellas County, has decided not to enter the race.
That leaves Democrats without a declared candidate so far in Congressional District 13, where the incumbent is recently elected Rep. David Jolly.
The filing deadline is noon today.
Lynn, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch of South Florida, grew up in Pinellas County and is now a senior Obama administration adviser on Middle East policy.
In a release sent out Thursday, he said: “I am truly honored by the numerous people from across Pinellas who have reached out to urge me to run for Congress in November, though after much consideration, I remain committed to my current obligations to our national security, the Secretary of Defense and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines I work with every day.”
The Rev. Manuel Sykes, a well-known St. Petersburg pastor, had previously announced his intention to run. But the Pinellas County’s Democratic chairman urged Sykes to stay out of the race, saying national Democrats had found a different candidate. Sykes cited lack of support from the party as a factor in his decision not to run.
MUST-READ BLOG POST: IF 30 MILES DERAILED ALEX SINK, WHAT WILL 2,000 MILES DO FOR JOEL CANTOR here.
THE RETURN OF DAVID RIVERA via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
David Rivera, the former Miami congressman under investigation in a complicated campaign-financing case, announced on Wednesday night that he intends to run again for the United States House of Representatives.
Rivera made his announcement on Spanish-language Mega TV, where he brushed aside talk of the federal investigation as lies propagated by The Miami Herald for its investigative work that has resulted in one federal conviction and the federal indictment of his close gal pal, Ana Alliegro.
In 2012, Rivera lost his seat to Democrat Joe Garcia amid the investigation that ultimately nabbed Alliegro and a little-known candidate, Justin Lamar Sternad, whose campaign was funded with illegal campaign contributions.
Rivera’s Republican opponent, Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo, issued a statement that blasted the new challenger as well as Garcia, whose former campaign manager was recently jailed in an unrelated absentee ballot-request fraud scheme.
“Now more than ever our campaign is about putting an end to the scandals and the corruption that have plagued our community for far too long,” Curbelo said in a statement.
“The unethical conduct of public officials in both parties – including incumbent Joe Garcia – has landed people in jail and embarrassed the residents of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties,” Curbelo said. “We will run a clean campaign focused on reestablishing the public trust and putting an end to this sad chapter in our community’s history.”
LENNY CURRY OFFICIALLY STEPS DOWN FROM THE RPOF via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News
Republican Party of Florida Chairman has officially announced he will be stepping down from his position in the party, according to a letter from Curry released by the RPOF Thursday evening.
In the letter, Curry says he’s considering a run to become mayor of Jacksonville. “In recent weeks, a number of my friends and neighbors in Jacksonville have encouraged me to consider a run for mayor,” he wrote. “Jacksonville is not just my home, it is a place of great opportunity; a place where I have made my dreams come true. I feel obligated to give myself the time to fully consider and explore how to serve this community I care for so deeply.” Curry seemed hopeful about the future of the party. “I am confident that the party will continue on this same path, and in November, we will celebrate a resounding victory for Rick Scott, our Cabinet, and growing majorities for our House and Senate chambers,” he wrote.
BLAISE IGNOGLIA NOT INTERESTED IN SUCCEEDING CURRY…
“I will continue to run an effective campaign to be the next State Representative from District 35, serving the people of Hernando County,” said Ignoglia. “I also remain committed to serving as the Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida as we continue our tireless work towards the re-election of Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, CFO Jeff Atwater, our House and Senate members and candidates, and those running for elected office throughout this great state.”
… NEITHER IS JOE GRUTERS
“While I intend to run for a full-term as RPOF chairman in January of 2015, I will not be running in May,” Gruters told me Thursday.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Gov. Scott made it clear that his choice to succeed Curry is Clay County’s Leslie Dougher.
TWEET OF THE DAY: @TheRickWilson: My platform for RPOF Chairman includes 1) Reign of terror 2) Purges and interrogations 3) Running and screaming 4) Throne of skulls
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SENATE PASSES DREAMER TUITION BILL via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com
After more than a decade of failed attempts, the Legislature is on the verge of passing legislation allowing students here illegally to compete for in-state college tuition rates.
The Senate passed the measure, HB 581, on a 26-13 vote, with supporters saying students brought here at a young age should not be burdened with higher tuition rates because mistakes made by their parents.
Opponents have said universities and colleges already have the ability to waive in-state tuition fees, so there is not a need for the bill. In addition, the measure could cost universities an additional $49 million annually once fully implemented, a number that was first presented during final floor debate.
State Sen. Aaron Bean, who opposes the bill, predicted what he thought the message from state universities will be during next year’s legislative session.
Under the bill, students here illegally who attended a Florida high school for three years can compete for waivers offering in-state tuition. Other types of students like those in the military, seniors and graduate students are also eligible.
The portion dealing with students here illegally has dominated the conversation, but the bill has other provisions.
It eliminates the ability of public universities and colleges to raise tuition up to 15 percent without lawmaker’s approvals. The University of Florida and Florida State University are carved out, and would be allowed to increase tuition up to 6 percent without legislative approval under the bill.
PIC DU JOUR: DREAMers line up for selfies with Sen. Latvala here.
CHARLOTTE’S WEB MARIJUANA STRAIN OK’D BY HOUSE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
Following emotional debate, the House voted 111-7 to approve legislation uthorizing the use of a marijuana strain for treating patients with cancer and severe epilepsy.
The Senate is poised Friday — the two-month session’s final scheduled day — to endorse the move. The House sponsor of the measure (CS/SB 1030) Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Niceville, urged parents of children with Dravet Syndrome, looking on in the audience, to now work on Gov. Scott.
Scott’s surgeon general, John Armstrong, has cautioned against the legislation saying the effects of the so-called Charlotte’s Web strain is untested.
“Get eyeball-to-eyeball with him,” Gaetz said on the House floor. “Move his heart the way you’ve moved ours.”
TWEET, TWEET: @bsfarrington: Gov. Scott says he’ll sign low-THC medical marijuana bill
LATVALA, SHERIFFS HELP TAKE OUT BRANDES’ NRA-BACKED GUN BILL via Michael Van Sickler of the Times/Herald
It’s not often that a bill backed by the National Rifle Association dies in the Florida Legislature, which is dominated by proud gun-owning conservative Republicans and Democrats.
But that’s what happened thanks to the combination of the lobbying force of the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the legislative acumen of Sen. Latvala, who for the second straight day helped kill a controversial bill.
SB 296 would have allowed those in lawful possession of guns to conceal weapons without a permit during mandatory evacuations and local emergencies, such as riots. That’s not the same as a gun owner, and could apply to adult children or spouses of gun owners with clean criminal records who are found carrying guns.
The bill, which passed the House last month 80-36, was “insane”, said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who worked with Latvala to add an amendment to the bill that would have limited the exemption for concealed weapons permits to 24 hours. It also would remove the exemption once the carrier of the weapon reached their destination upon evacuation.
It passed 23-15, with the support of Tampa Bay senators Latvala, and John Legg of Trinity, another Republican, and Arthenia Joyner, a Democrat. Tom Lee, Wilton Simpson, and Bill Galvano and the sponsor of the bill, Jeff Brandes, voted against the amendment.
After the amendment was added, Brandes pulled his bill. Afterward, he said he wasn’t going to bring it back this session.
Brandes said he’ll try to bring it back next year.
LAWMAKERS STRIKE $100 MILLION TAX-BREAK DEAL via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
Likely sealing one of the final deals of this year’s legislative session, the Senate introduced a $100 million package of tax cuts that includes breaks for everyone from the owners of overweight pets to politically generous title insurance companies.
The sweeping measure includes more than a dozen items in all. Among them:
A three-day sales-tax holiday on school supplies (which would cost $40 million), a three-day holiday on hurricane-preparedness supplies ($4 million) and an eight-day holiday on the first $1,500 of energy efficient appliances ($1.7 million).
Permanent sales-tax exemptions for child car booster seats ($2.2 million), kids’ bicycle helmets ($200,000), “therapeutic” pet food sold by veterinarians ($2.5 million) and college meal plans ($11.6 million).
More tax credits for the “New Markets” incentive program ($7.7 million) and the “Community Contributions” incentive program ($14.7 million) that helps Habitat for Humanity.
An exemption from the state’s communication services tax for prepaid calling plans ($7.2 million), an item that has been heavily lobbied by cell phone companies such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.
The package also includes a handful of other provisions that don’t directly cut taxes, such as a provision that would make it easier for local governments to reduce or repeal local businesses taxes. Another would make it easier for local tourism-advertising bureaus to get more detailed hotel-tax data, a measure requested by Senate President Gaetz.
SPORTS STADIUM-SUBSIDY BILL STUMBLES, THEN ADVANCES via Tonya Alanez of the Orlando Sentinel
An effort to require sports teams vying for taxpayer money for stadium projects to face more competition and scrutiny stalled, and then advanced, in the Senate.
After more than 30 minutes of debate, the bill was temporarily postponed when Senate President Gaetz said he was “getting mixed signals.”
With little comment, the measure was recalled late in the afternoon and advanced for a final vote Friday.
Under the measure, the state Department of Economic Opportunity would evaluate projects on their economic impact. They would have to involve at least $100 million in construction, and priority would be given to new franchises.
The measure would impact the proposals for new Major League Soccer stadiums in Orlando and Miami, as well as renovations already underway at Daytona International Speedway.
The House passed its version (HB 7095) on a 93-16 vote.
BILL GUARANTEES REPRESENTATION TO SPECIAL NEEDS FOSTER CHILDREN via Ian Cummings of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Special needs children in foster care would be provided attorneys under a bill that passed the Florida Legislature.
The measure now goes to Gov. Scott.
Aimed at helping at-risk children in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, the measure was sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Erik Fresen.
This year’s budget includes $4.5 million to help pay court-appointed attorneys to represent children with physical or mental disabilities in custody cases or other court proceedings. Under the bill, the attorneys’ fees would be capped at $3,000 per child, per year.
LEGISLATURE REJECTS EXEMPTION FOR BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
An attempt by Florida’s Boys & Girls Clubs to gain an exemption from state child-care standards failed amid pushback from competitors that included for-profit day cares and the YMCA.
The controversy erupted after lobbyists for the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls clubs were able to get an amendment inserted into SB 674. The bill was designed to strengthen background-screening requirements for organizations that work with vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and the disabled. The one-paragraph amendment said a national organization that, among other things, offers activities that contribute to the development of good character, after-school care and delinquency prevention programs, would not have to comply with screening requirements or “the minimum standards for child-care facilities.”
Three weeks later, the full legislation passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote.
Lobbyists for the Boys & Girls Clubs – a roster that includes former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp – said they were trying to clarify a longstanding exemption already enshrined in law that says Boys & Girls Clubs are not considered child-care facilities and do not have to screen their personnel. The organization has been battling the Department of Children and Families over whether it needs to be licensed under current law in order to receive federal grant money distributed through the state agency.
But the language drew protests from other groups, including the Florida Association of Child Care Management, a lobbying group that represents private child-care providers, and the Florida State Alliance of YMCAs. They said the language appeared to dramatically expand Boys & Girls Clubs’ existing exemption.
The amendment, for instance, began with the legally far-reaching word “notwithstanding,” which essentially means that it would supersede anything else written in state law.
They also noted the new language would drop a requirement that the Boys & Girls Clubs charged “only a nominal annual membership fee” to be exempt from screening requirements.
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LAST-MINUTE INTRIGUE DOESN’T SWAY HOUSE LEADERSHIP FROM CERTAINTY OF BEER BILL’S DEMISE via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
Despite a trial balloon floated by a politically influential Tampa beer distributor, House leaders continued to insist that a contentious beer regulation bill won’t make it out of this legislative session.
Tom Pepin, CEO of Pepin Distributing Co., told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that he and craft beer interests worked out yet another version of the legislation.
“We have worked out all the details to get the bill heard on the floor,” he said.
Rep. Dana Young shot that idea down as soon as she heard it.
“Over the last 24 hours, the craft brewers and beer distributors have made great progress toward finding a common sense solution,” she said. “I am delighted that they are working together to reach a solution.
“However,” she added, “given that tomorrow is the last day of the 2014 session, I do not anticipate a bill this year.”
Young said she’ll help them bring any agreed-upon bill to the Legislature next year.
Speaker Weatherford also said reviving the Senate bill (SB 1714) on the last day of session would require a two-thirds vote because it wasn’t fully vetted by the House.
“I think the hill’s pretty steep,” he said. “I don’t think the incline has gotten any better for it.”
ON MOVING THE FLORIDA CAPITOL TO ORLANDO via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel
When incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner is termed out of office in 2016, it seems he wants to bring home a memento.
The Florida Capitol.
Gardiner filed the joke amendment, which would re-locate the 2016 legislative session — which would be his last — to Orlando. The amendment is filed to another bill (HB 9) by Sen.Anitere Flores, which would also move up the legislative session start date from March to January.
Legislators for decades tried to move the state Capitol from remote Tallahassee to Orlando, prompting the construction of the current 22-story Capitol building in the 1970s. But moving the Capitol would dramatically reduce Gardiner’s commute to work.
Gardiner said he had received “lots of positive feedback” so far. No word, though, on where he wants lawmakers to meet in Orlando (Walt Disney World?), or how they plan to keep Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell out.
“Good idea, senator,” Maxwell said in an email, likely delivering the kiss of death to the language.
PENSION BILL BACKERS, OPPONENTS WAITING UNTIL SESSION’S END BEFORE DECLARING EFFORT DEAD via Sascha Cordner of WFSU
The sponsor of a measure aimed at overhauling the state’s pension system says that effort’s dead, but bill supporters and opponents alike say they won’t declare the win or loss until the 2014 Legislative Session comes to an end.
It’s Day 59 of the 60-day legislative Session. But, with session coming close to close, a procedural move by Clearwater Republican Senator Jack Latvala may have blocked this year’s effort to overhaul the state’s pension system.
“Well, the maneuvers that took place on pension reform at this point look pretty promising. Unfortunately, we don’t get real excited until the handkerchief falls on the final day, because they always maneuver to get what they want. So, we’re not giving up,” said Andy Ford.
REWRITE OF FLORIDA CHARITIES LAWS HEADS TO SCOTT’S DESK via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
The House voted 133-3 for comprehensive legislation to combat fraud and deceptive practices by charities in Florida.
The bill (HB 629) now goes to Gov. Scott for his signature.
The changes were advocated by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agencies oversees charitable solicitations in Florida. Putnam said the law needed improvement because of the widespread abuses chronicled in an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting called “America’s Worst Charities,” which exposed rogue charities that pocketed millions of dollars in profits under the pretense of raising money for veterans or sick children.
Charitable groups that have violated certain laws in other states will be banned from doing business in Florida and paid telemarketers hired by charities will have to undergo background checks.
Charities that collect more than $1 million a year but which spend less than 25 percent of the money on their cause must make detailed public reports to the state, including family relationships among board members.
VOUCHER PROGRAM EXPANSION STALLS AGAIN IN SENATE via The Associated Press
A proposal to expand Florida’s main private school voucher program continues to have trouble in the Florida Senate.
Democrats on Thursday banded together to block consideration of a House bill that would allow more students become eligible for the program.
It required a supermajority vote to consider the legislation (HB 7167), but supporters came up two votes short in the 40-member Senate.
The Florida House has made expanding the voucher program a top priority.
Florida already has a popular program where nearly 60,000 students from low-income families attend private schools. State figures show that more than 80 percent of the schools participating are religious.
Speaker Weatherford said he still “feels very good” about the bill’s prospects.
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SPEAKER WILL WEATHERFORD will give his farewell remarks at approximately 11:00-11:30 a.m.
SINE DIE WHEN?
Everyone wants to know when the 2014 Legislation Session will end. But which Capitol insider will come closest to predicting when session will end?
According to Kevin Cate and Franco Ripple at CateComm, who have organized an online competition to reward the political aficionado who comes closest to predicting when Sine Die will occur, the mean of all of the picks from lawmakers, reporters, and insiders made since the budget was printed on Tuesday indicates Friday at 9:53 p.m. will be the witching hour.
There are over seventy entries so far in the #CateSineDie contest with one from Speaker Weatherford, who predicted session could end “not soon enough.”
Closest to predicting when session will end without going over will win a $200 bar tab, if the prediction was made before noon on Friday, April 25.
HELPING KEN PLANTE via Mark Landreth of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists
“As we did last year, we will have a donation corner set up on the Fourth Floor Rotunda, as well as the get well poster that I will personally hand deliver to him. Last year, I brought the posters to Ken and read each message to him. It brought him such joy to hear the well wishes from his friends and colleagues.
“Today, I am asking if you will consider stopping by the Fourth Floor to visit us and consider making another donation to help Ken. We are hoping to raise an additional $18,000 to cover his medical costs through the end of this year. If you cannot make it to the capitol then I ask for your consideration of an additional donation to help us raise these much needed funds for his medical care. The information to send your check is below.” Kenneth A. Plante Trust c/o Wilbur E. Brewton 225 South Adams Street; Suite 250 Tallahassee, FL 32301
WHY YOU’LL SEE A LOT OF LOBBYISTS WEARING PINK TODAY … AND PUBLIX BUTTONS
Fred Leonhardt explains his last day of session traditions: “I wear a pink carnation (Marvin Arrington) and an “I Love Publix” button (Randy Roberts) in memory of two great friends who served as lobbyists.
TWEET, TWEET: @bsfarrington: Treating sine die like New Years Eve – lots of celebrating then waking up hungover and swearing to loss weight, eat right and exercise
CONTRIBUTION LINK CONTINUES ITS SINE DIE FOOD DRIVE
While the legislative budget “cools off” on the desks of lawmakers, Tallahassee-based political consulting firm Contribution Link hopes to collect at least 200 pounds of food before the end of session.
Collecting 200 pounds of food to aid local homeless individuals is not the only challenge; the true test is if it can be done before Sine Die.
Anyone interested in dropping off food items can stop by the Contribution Link Tallahassee location at 118 E. Sixth Avenue where there will be collection boxes set just outside offices’ open garage door. Any food product will be accepted — canned or non-canned, perishable or not.
The drive is in cooperation with the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, and Contribution Link wants to raise enough donations to help stock the BBHC food pantry with healthy food for all ages.
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DEBATE OVER DAVID BECKHAM’S PROPOSED SOCCER STADIUM CENTERS ON WATERFRONT PORTMIAMI PROPERTY via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
Depending on who’s talking, David Beckham’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami is either a “land grab” by the retired English footballer and his investors — or a thorn in the side of Royal Caribbean Cruises and its “secret agenda” to develop the waterfront, publicly owned property.
Beckham’s group and its chief detractor, the Miami Seaport Alliance, traded those and other barbs Wednesday during a debate at the Downtown Bay Forum. It was the first time the two sides went up against each other in public, instead of on television.
If Beckham and his investors really intend to privately fund construction of a $250 million stadium to be used about 25 times a year, then they must plan to make their money by developing the remaining port property, argued John Fox, a Royal Caribbean lobbyist who heads the alliance.
Miami Beckham United has said it could oversee the development of the entire, 36-acre port property after building a 25,000-seat stadium on about 12 acres, though the county would be able to bid the actual construction work to outside firms as well.
The group’s lobbyist, Neisen Kasdin, tried to turn the tables on Fox by suggesting Royal Caribbean, with its port headquarters, must have a “secret agenda” to develop the site itself. Port administrators had envisioned a major commercial development on the property.
“Sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s a smoke machine,” he said.
The Seaport Alliance, which includes cargo interests and auto magnate Norman Braman, unveiled a collection of television and radio ads last week comparing Beckham’s stadium to the unpopular ballpark deal for the Miami Marlins. The Latin American Business Association has signed onto the coalition, as have 11 mayors from cities across Miami-Dade County, including Homestead, Coral Gables and North Miami Beach.
FUNDING RESOLVED FOR 2 EVERGLADES PROJECTS via The Associated Press
State and federal authorities have resolved a funding stalemate over two delayed Everglades restoration projects.
One project includes a series of detention basins that will help replenish Everglades National Park. The other would allow water managers to store water in the Kissimmee River Basin rather than flushing it east and west of Lake Okeechobee.
Both were authorized years ago and are largely complete, but the work stalled as officials disputed funding and land issues.
South Florida Water Management District Director Blake Guillory said Wednesday that the agreement Florida and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow officials to finish both projects.
The projects are not part of the Central Everglades Planning Project, another restoration plan still awaiting a federal funding resolution.
SECURITY APP GAINS FOOTHOLD ON COLLEGE CAMPUS via Richard Burnett of the Orlando Sentinel
Among all the mobile apps dotting the digital landscape – from gaming to couponing – Orlando startup TapShield LLC has focused on one designed to save lives on college campuses. TapShield’s system is the newest entry in an increasingly competitive field of campus-security apps. The free app draws on cloud-based computing, GPS and social media to give users a high-speed link to campus security, company officials say.
Its first customer, UF, has given TapShield a showcase that has caught the eye of other universities and potential corporate clients. About 10,000 UF students have downloaded the Android or iPhone app since its launch in February, according to the company.
Jordan Johnson said he got the idea for TapShield while he was president of the UF student body in 2009, when the school had a rash of attacks and robberies by suspected gang members. He focused on mobile communications as a potential solution that would go beyond the blue-light emergency phones on campus that are linked directly to campus police.
Nobody was too impressed with his idea then, he said.
Four years later, UF police have embraced TapShield. After a competitive bid, the school awarded the company a $70,000 contract to install the software as part of its dispatch system.
Based on UF’s experience, Valencia College in Orlando is considering TapShield, said Paul Rooney, assistant vice president for security and a former Orlando police chief.
The University of Central Florida, however, was more reserved about using a mobile-app system like TapShield. Traditional 911 systems are “the most reliable” emergency system for a college campus, the college said.
“We are interested in how systems have been working at other universities,” spokesman Chad Binette said in an email. “We also want to be certain that any new technology we adopt would be reliable and effective across our many campuses located throughout Central Florida.”
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NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Silvia Alderman, Akerman LLP: Stofin Co., Inc.
Jason Gonzalez, Shutts & Bowen: Shutts & Bowen LLP
Christopher Kise, Foley & Lardner: Tampa Bay Downs, Inc.
Gene McGee, Adam Roberts, GMA Inc.: MorphoTrust USA
NOTEWORTHY: Southern Strategy Group passes the 1,000-followers mark on Twitter. Follow the firm at SoStrategyFL
Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Pete Dunbar and Screven Watson
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Former state Senator Paula Dockery, Former state Representative Keith Fitzgerald, Dr. Darryl Paulson, William March.
Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Legislative wrap-up
Political Connections on CF13: Legislative wrap-up
The Usual Suspects which airs on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Gary Yordon, and Sean Pittman.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Charlie Crist Deputy Campaign Manager Jessica Clark and Joe Culotta. Celebrating today is the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Adam Giery.