Sunburn for 5/7 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

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DEMOCRATS SAY GUN CONTROL BILL IS COMING BACK FOR VOTE via the Huffington Post

Senate Democrats believe that they have several new votes in favor of a bill that would expand background checks for gun buyers, after weeks in which those who opposed the legislation faced strong political backlash at home…. the bullish talk from Democrats — from leadership on down — is yet another indication that the party feels good about the fallout from the failed gun vote and is increasingly eager to try again.

One of these votes currently in play may be Senator Johnny Isakson, who sponsored a background check bill on the state level in Georgia. A gun control advocate who met with Senator Isakson today tells me that he said he is open to voting for Manchin-Toomey if and when it comes up again — and that he is in active talks with Senator Joe Manchin about the measure.

RUBIO AMNESTY RIPPED BY NATIONAL REVIEW via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Mark Krikorian, perhaps the most-eloquent and thoughtful immigration hardliner, breaks down the Senate immigration bill and Sen. Marco Rubio’s involvement in it in the National Review:

With its Obamacare-style expanse and complexity, the bill contains much more than what is sketched above. Democrats packed it with as many loopholes and immigration-lawyer schemes as they thought they could get away with. Rubio’s staff, like most GOP Senate staff, are relative amateurs on immigration, while Schumer’s people are pros. This is how Ted Kennedy dominated immigration policy for so long. (The House GOP committee staff on immigration, on the other hand, are professionals with long experience.)

Opposition to the bill should be the obvious position for conservatives who care about immigration enforcement and don’t want to open the spigots even wider to low-skilled immigration. Whatever the discrepancies between Rubio’s assurances and the reality of the bill, though, he has now lashed himself to it. His convoluted justifications for various provisions suggest that he’s decided to do what he must to sell it. He’s made the laughable argument that the bill doesn’t give anything new to illegal immigrants because they can already return home and apply to come here legally. (This sounds a lot like what Mitt Romney called “self-deportation.”) He’s claimed that amnesty must precede enforcement because the enforcement measures would throw millions of illegals out of work, creating a humanitarian crisis. In fact, the three security triggers, if enacted on their own, would have only a gradual impact on the existing illegal population.

In the months leading up to the introduction of S.744, conservatives looked hopefully to Rubio as their representative on the Gang of Eight, someone who would make sure its plan didn’t turn out to be a call for de facto open borders. Early on, Rubio may well have seen that as his role. But he is now much less the conservative ambassador to the Gang of Eight than the Gang’s ambassador to conservatives.

RUBIO HAS HIGH-TECH FRIENDS ON IMMIGRATION REFORM via the New York Times 

As he helps lead an effort to overhaul the nation’s  immigration laws, Rubio is getting support from major players in Silicon Valley, such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame. Tech firms are looking to hire engineers from other countries and are lobbying heavily on the immigration issue.

FORMER CLAY SHAW STAFF TO LEAD COMMS. FOR REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOC.

The Republican Governors Association announced that former Clay Shaw staffer Gail Gitcho will join the organization as its Communications Director, assuming responsibility for the RGA’s communications strategy in the 38 gubernatorial elections between now and the end of 2014.

Gitcho previously served as Communications Director for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign. She [was] also Communications Director for U.S. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts in 2010-2011, Press Secretary at the Republican National Committee in 2009-2010, Mid-Atlantic Communications Director for U.S Senator John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and as a Regional Press Secretary on Governor Mitt Romney’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Gitcho worked for Shaw from 2004 to 2007.

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SCOTT HEADS INTO 2014 WITH PRIORITIES IN HAND via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

(I)n the end, (Rick) Scott largely got what he wanted. The teacher pay raises will be structured a little differently from the $2,500, across-the-board boost that the governor envisioned. And the sales-tax exemption will begin in 2014 and sunset in three years, meaning that accomplishment could be wiped away if Scott is defeated next year.

But the takeaway for most Republicans, at least publicly, is simple: Scott got what he asked for.

“I think the governor gets two wins,” said Senate President Gaetz. “I think it gives him a lift going into the summer and into the election cycle. And I’m for Rick Scott for governor, so I’m glad he got the wins.”

At the same time, Republican leaders said, the politics weren’t necessarily what drove them to back Scott.

“His priorities were good priorities,” said Speaker Weatherford. 

“He wanted more money for education, which we gave him and, frankly, I think we would have done anyway, because we believe in investing in our education system,” Weatherford said. “But then his other priority was a tax cut. And we as conservative Republicans believe in cutting taxes.”

Though it might have seemed like it to anyone listening to his talks with reporters, Scott did not focus exclusively on his two priorities. There was other legislation that he was involved in, including the approval of an Everglades restoration plan that Scott helped negotiate, and bills moving through the process proved to be valuable leverage to help encourage lawmakers to accept the governor’s plans.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: SCOTT SHOULD VETO HB 655 via Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Florida Squeeze

Governor Scott made an effort publicly to expand Medicaid coverage in Florida but as we learned recently he made little effort to push the House to his position on this issue. Now HB 655, a bill which strips local governments of significant control over such issues as earned sick time. It is ironic that the legislators talk about the need for “uniformity” in laws when the Republican Party has long advocated that government closer to the people is more equipped to make decisions on matters such as this. But as we’ve found with

The Governor, despite his big money and disappointing first two years in office has an opportunity to create a legacy here and win the Health Care fight. Scott is a political outsider, not part of the old boys club that has long dominated the legislature, and while his governing philosophy had previously been to align himself with this group of cozy and entitled insiders, he has shown signs of promise this calender year. Scott has stated he believes in local control and has publicly advocated expanding health care coverage for Florida’s working families. 

This bill provides the Governor with a unique opportunity to win a battle on one of his stated priorities. It is also gives him a political opportunity to put some further distance between himself and an out of touch legislature. A veto would enhance the Governor’s re-election credentials and indicate to some potential voters that he has grown in both independence and stature over the past few months.

SCOTT HOLDS PEP RALLIES FOR TEACHER PAY via News Service of Florida

Fresh off of a legislative session that included approval of $480 million for education pay raises — even if it wasn’t in his preferred form — Gov. Rick Scott has launched a “Teacher Pay Raise Pep Rally Tour” to call attention to the policy. Scott spent time Monday at schools in Sunrise, West Palm Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach, and will head to Ocoee on Tuesday and Tampa on Friday. The pay raise is included in the budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

***The Tampa Bay Young Republicans will be hosting the 2013 Inaugural TBYR Shootout on May 17, 2013 at the Tampa Bay Sporting Clays. This event will feature a combination of skilled shooters and seasoned politicos as they put their shooting skills to the test. Included in your registration for this event, we will be providing breakfast, lunch, and awards for those who rise to the challenge. There will also be a grand prize up for grabs, a duck hunting trip in Arkansas for two. Do you have what it takes? Register today at tbyr.com/events.***

COCA COLA ANNOUNCEMENT

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam joins Coca Cola to announce a “major investment in the state’s citrus industry.” 10:45 a.m., Main St. Juice Plant, 705 Main St., Auburndale. 

DUKE ENERGY FILES TO INCREASE PRE-CONSTRUCTION FEES ON NUCLEAR PROJECTS

Last week, prior to the end of legislative session in which various proposals were considered to curb utilities from charging customers pre-construction fees on nuclear facilities, Duke Energy filed papers with the Public Service Commission to seek nearly $175 million next year from customers.  These charges would go toward funding a proposed Levy County nuclear plant as well as the recently closed Crystal River plant.  If the PSC consents, Duke customers would be paying just over one dollar more per month toward these projects.

GRETNA TO APPEAL RULING ON BARREL RACING LICENSE via News Service of Florida

The parent company of Gretna Racing will appeal a ruling Monday by Administrative Law Judge John Van Laningham that found the pari-mutuel facility’s horse barrel-racing license shouldn’t have been approved. Gretna intends to make the requisite modification to the racing to comply with the judge’s order while they “appeal its arbitrariness.” Van Laningham ruled that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, violated state law when approving the license for Gretna Racing to run its horse racing contests.

HIPERGATOR, FLORIDA’S MOST POWERFUL COMPUTER, TO BE UNVEILED TUESDAY via contributor Karen Cyphers

Here’s a big number: 150 trillion calculations per second, or in human terms, what Florida’s most powerful supercomputer is capable of. HiPerGator, the Unviersity of Florida’s most recent innovation, will be unveiled Tuesday, May 7.  The installation makes UF one of the nation’s top public universities in research computing infrastructure, making possible the acceleration of research across industry sectors including projects on life-saving drugs, weather and climate, and the analysis of materials to produce better body armor for our troops. 

To place 150 trillion calculations in context to speed, if each calculation were a word, HiPerGator could read the millions of library volumes shelves several hundred times in one day. To place HiPerGator in context to other processors of its sort, an equivalent supercomputer at Ohio State ranked 11th among US academic institutions when it was installed in 2012.  According to the UF Data Center, HiPerGator will also “keep UF in the forefront of inquiry into the origin of the universe.”  That’s big stuff. But they had me at HiPerGator. Check it out at 4:30 p.m. at 2008 NE Waldo Road, Gainesville.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA LAUNCHES NEW BRANDING, WEBSITE TO ENCOURAGE MORE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteer Florida today launched a new logo and website with the goal of reaching more Floridians to serve their communities and better capture the energy of its programs. The new website includes an interactive map of Florida volunteer centers and AmeriCorps programs; a searchable database for volunteers to seek opportunities based on location and interest; blog posts from staff and partners; and various other resources. Volunteer Florida administers AmeriCorps programs; coordinates volunteers in times of disaster; and more.  Its new branding and website was developed via competitive contract with Sachs Media Group.

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EPILOGUE – CON’T

AND ON THAT NOTE … A CONSERVATIVE’S APPEAL FOR A HEALTH COVERAGE SPECIAL SESSION Via Karen Cyphers Full column here

Not what we want to think about just upon sine die; but a perfect storm approaches in 2014: the clock is ticking under which Florida could draw down $1 billion in federal funds for that year to expand health care coverage for the uninsured, the deadline is near for when Americans will be required to have qualified health coverage or else face penalties, and Florida’s gubernatorial election will in no small part hinge on how this is all handled.  It is unsurprising that regular session fell short of a solution, and if anything this reflects that House and Senate leadership take health coverage expansion seriously enough to prevent shoddy laws from being passed on the fly.  With, in recent days, PPACA being referred to as a “train wreck” by even its allies, the worst case scenario would be Florida jumping on board without enough attention to detail.  All of which suggests that this issue is precisely what special sessions are for: a limited focus on a complex, consequence-laden cause.

Gov. Scott was among the more public and effective opponents to “Obamacare” and he could apply this same resolve via special session toward finding a state solution that rebukes aspects of PPACA, expands coverage regardless, and gains federal support and funding to do so.   Lest Florida’s notable progress on the jobs front get lost beneath a pile of attack mail showing how these same workers can’t access health care. 

DISGRACEFUL FINAL ACT BY BULLY BOY AND GIRL, JACK LATVALA AND ELEANOR SOBEL via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Sen. Eleanor Sobel fancies herself a feminist, but nobody who saw her “deliberate” the confirmation of PSC Commissioner Lisa Edgar Friday would believe it. 

Liberal Democrat Sobel practically salivated as she chewed on the garbage served up by Sen. Jack Latvala who voted for Edgar’s confirmation in the committee he chairs, then led the effort to kick her to the curb in the waning hours of session.

The burly, surly senator cited aging newspaper clippings and discredited ethics charges, but failed to have his way with Edgar, despite back-up from his lapdog, Vice Chairman Sobel. Edgar, a 24-year public servant, wife, and mother of two became the first and only PSC commissioner to be appointed by three Republican governors and confirmed by three Senates on bipartisan votes.

There was a principled case to be made for giving Edgar “a gold watch” and sending her off to the lucrative life of lobbying that awaits senators in the Age of Eight is Enough. Nobody knew that better than Edgar, who began her career as a Senate staffer and whose public and private life has been examined under the microscopes of some of the best reporters at some of Florida’s best newspapers.  

But Edgar has a public servant’s heart and no fear of looking people in the eye. She got out of a sick bed to appear before Chairman Latvala and Vice Chairman Sobel and their ethics and elections committee, which recommended her for reappointment without telling the public that they didn’t really mean it.

FHSAA “GRATIFIED” THAT THEY ESCAPED LEGISLATIVE GAUNTLET

Of all the post-session statements released, the Greatest Sigh of Relief Award may go to the Florida High School Athletic Association which narrowly escaped the legislature gaining greater control over their organization and ultimately sunsetting their role for good.  But their relief may be short-lived, according to Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel, who said that the bill will return next year unless the FHSAA shapes up.

WAS REPUBLICAN DOMINATION OF LEGISLATURE WASTED AGAIN via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News

No matter how many post-session news stories sing the praises of a new spirit of cooperation between the two chambers of the Legislature, a plain-as-day reality remains: The Senate and House were not always on the same page in 2013, despite solid Republican majorities in both chambers.

With 15 new members taking seats in the Florida Senate after the 2012 elections, conservatives had high hopes in 2013 that their agenda would fare better than it did in previous years. But, in the 2013 session, the Senate killed conservatives’ hopes on enacting parent empowerment, moving new state employees’ pensions into a 401(k)-style system, and finding a Florida-based solution to accepting federal dollars mandated by President Barack Obama’s health care law for Medicaid expansion.

In short, despite the influx of new members, the Florida Senate remains where conservative bills go to die.

***The 2013 Session is over and now is the time to begin preparing for 2014. That is why the Public Affairs Consultants Team of Jack Cory, Keyna Cory and Erin Daly are traveling the state of Florida, coordinating Grassroots Programs with their clients and Members of the Legislature. For over 20 years Public Affairs Consultants have successfully helped their clients through the legislative, state and local government process by providing Governmental Consulting, Lobbying and Grassroots programs. They “Cover Florida like the Sun”.***

EPILOGUE – CON’T: LEGISLATIVE WINNERS AND LOSERS: SUGAR FARMERS SWEET ON EVERGLADES DEAL

Florida’s sugar farmers joined with environmental activists to praise Everglades restoration legislation which was unanimously passed by the House and Senate and is certain to be signed into law by Gov. Scott, whose priority water quality plan is funded through the plan.  

Representatives from US Sugar Corp, Florida Crystals Corp, and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida worked with policymakers and environmental advocates to set terms that provide a framework for the funding of ecosystem restoration project construction.  

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sen. Wilton Simpson, calls for Florida’s sugar farmers to continue their on-farm Best Management Practices (BMPs), paid for entirely by farmers. Over the past 17 years, these practices have reduced phosphorus levels by 55 percent.  

“The unanimous, bipartisan support in both the House, and now the Senate, to move Everglades legislation and restoration forward proves the success of true compromise and what we hope will be a lasting collaboration between legislators, farmers and environmental groups,” said Robert Coker, Senior Vice President of U.S. Sugar. 

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1600 VOTES ALREADY CAST IN ESCAMBIA CO. FOR SPECIAL ELECTION FOR HD 2 via Rick Outzen

Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford says that 1,600 votes have been cast the GOP primary for House District 2 in Escambia County. Only 271 are Early Voting, balance are returned Absentee Ballots.

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4TH FLOOR FILES: The latest installment of “Fourth Floor Files” features Claudia Davant. Her clients include Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Everglades Foundation. Here’s the file on Claudia.

APPOINTED: Laurel Moore Lee to the Circuit Court of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County).

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Renier Diaz de la Portilla: Ron Book, P.A.

Natalie King, Ron Pierce, RSA Consulting: Walt Disney World

WEATHERFORD, CRISAFULLI AND CORCORAN AND SOME PEANUTS AND CRACKERJACKS

The Sox and Yankees are playing on Friday, May 31st, and the Florida House of Representatives leadership invites you to join them at Yankee Stadium for the game for a fundraiser benefiting House Victory.

Speaker Weatherford, Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli and Chairman Richard Corcoran will be attending on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida as the two historic teams square off for the fourth time this season.  To date, Boston is up 2-1 against New York. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact Krisin Seidel Lamb at 850-222-7920 or klamb@rpof.org.

***Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry joins Lori Halbert of Live with Lori, Political Food for Thought on Thursday, May 9, at 7am to discuss Republican priorities for 2013. The one-of-a-kind Florida-based program, seen on FOX affiliate Sun Sports Network, is a cross between a political news show and a traditional cooking show, providing viewers an insider’s look at their political leaders in a casual setting. Interview covers how Curry first got involved in politics, and how he became Chairman of one of the county’s largest political operations. Go to Live with Lori, Political Food for Thought for local listings.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend, Representative Matt Gaetz

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.