Sunburn for 5/8 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

BABY ELLA’S FIRST WORD was spoken late Monday evening … Michelle and I were at dinner with great friends Amanda Taylor and Frank Wells in St. Augustine … that’s when Ella said “Dada! Dada! Dada!” … she was looking right at me AND right through me. Eighteen years of “Dadas” flashed before my eyes as I jumped from the table in celebration. … The rest of those dining at the Tasting Room joined in our celebration.

For the record, Ella was promised a pony if her first word was “Daddy.” I guess I need to go see a man about a horse…

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MARCO RUBIO MEETS WITH CONSERVATIVES WHO WANT IMMIGRATION BILL TO MOVE TO THE RIGHT via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio this afternoon met with more than two dozen conservatives, from religious leaders to tea party activists, who offered an array of suggestions on how to make the immigration bill more palatable to Republicans.

“Everybody has concerns about the bill,” said Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute, who was one of the first to emerge from the hour-long gathering at Rubio’s office.

But he said the group was largely in favor of reform and ready to back Rubio, who signaled he wants to take steps to gain more GOP support. “I think it will move significantly to the right,” Nowrasteh said of the bill, which will get a critical Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. Amendments were piling up Tuesday.

WEATHERFORD FIRES BACK AT MIAMI DOLPHINS 

“At no point during the process were any promises made to hear the Dolphins Stadium bill on the House floor,” Weatherford said in a statement. “It’s no coincidence that we haven’t heard about this so-called commitment until after the bill died.”

… “The feedback from Miami-Dade was negative and there were concerns expressed by members on both sides of the aisle,” Weatherford said. “It’s not the fault of the Florida Legislature that Dolphins’ management failed to win legislative approval to force taxpayers to upgrade Sun Life Stadium after paying for a local referendum. Some would call that putting the cart before the horse.”

RETAILERS APPLAUD SENATE PASSAGE OF MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT via contributor Karen Cyphers

Count the more than 7,000 members of the Florida Retail Federation among those pleased with the US Senate’s passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act on Monday.  

The bill, which passed 69-27, allows states to enforce the same tax collection requirements on internet sales as they do those that take place at brick-and-mortar businesses. The Federation has called upon members of Congress to take up and pass the bill.  Retail sales are Florida’s second largest employment industry. Florida retailers pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, provide one out of every five jobs in the state, and collect and remit about $20 billion in sales and retail-related taxes for Florida’s government each year.

According to the Huffinton Post, eBay is the “only high-profile company” to publicly oppose the measure, arguing that it would adversely impact their users, most of whom are small businesses. However, businesses that generate less than $1 million in out-of-state revenue are exempt from the law.

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PATRICK MURPHY DRAWS FIRST SERIOUS CHALLENGER

Ellen Andel, the Vice Mayor of Juno Beach, has entered the race for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat held by freshman Congressman Patrick Murphy. 

Andel plans an official announcement this morning at the Juno Beach Town Center.

The district has a slight Republican registration edge and voted 51.5 percent for Mitt Romney, so several Republicans have been eyeing the seat. Alan Schlesinger, a former mayor of Derby, Conn., who was the GOP’s 2006 Senate nominee in Connecticut, has declared he’s running and lined up Tallahassee-based consultant Rockie Pennington for his campaign.

Other Republicans looking at the District 18 race include state Rep. Gayle Harrell, St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery, former state Rep. Carl Domino, former Tequesta councilman Calvin Turnquest and businessman Gary Uber. Former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner has not ruled out running.

>>>If you thought Murphy was already sending too many fundraising emails, what do you think it”ll be like now that he has a challenger?

EMAIL WHICH I AM SURPRISED IT TOOK EVEN SIX HOURS TO SEND: “It starts now” from Patrick Murphy. 

MEANWHILE … State Rep. Gayle Harrell says she’s not ready to make an announcement on whether she’ll challenge Murphy. “I would not anticipate any formal announcements until the new fundraising quarter,” Harrell said today. “If I do it I would want to have a strong (first) fundraising quarter.”

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HERTZ TO PARK HQ IN LEE COUNTY

The Hertz Corporation is relocating its headquarters from Park Ridge, New Jersey to the Lee County community of Estero. The worldwide rental car agency’s decision to bring up to 700 jobs to Florida over the next two years is part of company consolidation efforts following its November 2012, $2.3 billion acquisition of the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.

Also, the company – which noted Gov. Rick Scott and other state leaders assisted in the decision – pointed to Florida’s growth in the rental car market.

TWEET, TWEET: @ItsWorkingFL: .@Hertz welcome to Florida! We have the perfect climate for business! #ItsWorking

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EMAIL OF THE DAY: “Brinksmanship is Not Leadership” from former Senator Nan Rich, who may not have a lot else going on, but at least sends well-written emails.

RUTH COLUMN: THE GOVERNOR WHO WASN’T

Scott managed to get through the legislative session without once publicly meeting with Florida House and Senate leaders to discuss — anything.

Or put another way, J.D. Salinger was more of a chatty social butterfly than the hermit governor.

It might have been understandable in 2011 to suggest Scott was a stranger to Tallahassee and unfamiliar with the tribal customs of the denizens of the Capitol. Even in 2012 one might conclude the governor kept getting lost trying to make his way from his office to the mosh pit of moolah changers upstairs.

But by 2013, don’t you think it might have finally sunk in to the Thomas Pynchon of Tallahassee that maybe it would be a good idea to invite Senate President Gaetz or House Speaker Weatherford to sit down and share three straws over a Boston cooler if for no other reason than to pretend he is actually running the state?

SOTO ASKS SCOTT TO VETO FORECLOSURES BILL via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Democratic Sen. Darren Soto is asking Gov. Scott to veto a bill that would allow for a speedier foreclosure process in some cases.

The bill (SB 1666/HB 87) passed the Senate on the last day of session by a 26-13, mostly party line vote. It was pushed by Sen. Jack Latvala as a way to continue to clear the backlog of foreclosure cases clogging Florida courts. The bill would make changes to the “expedited foreclosure” process already in law, including cutting the number of hearings and allowing other lien-holders besides the mortgagee to use the expedited process.

But Soto argues the bill is “anti-homeowner” and would be a massive reduction in homeowner rights. 

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BIRTH CONTROL IN FLORIDA MORE COSTLY IN LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS by contributor Karen Cyphers

A study on drug pricing in Florida suggests that contraceptives cost more to consumers in low-income neighborhoods than in wealthier ones, but may create as many questions as it seeks to answer.  

The study was released this week at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ annual meeting. It compared the pricing of seven commonly-used contraceptives and cross-referenced these costs across various counties with median household incomes from the 2010 census. Using data from MyFloridaRx.com, they found that nearly all contraceptives were more expensive in the low-income zip codes, and significantly so for two drugs.  

MEDICAID MANAGED CARE PLAN TO BEGIN IN AUGUST via News Service of Florida

Two years after getting approved by lawmakers, Florida’s shift to a statewide Medicaid managed-care system will start Aug. 1 for seniors who need long-term care in the Orlando area.  The state Agency for Health Care Administration held a contract-signing ceremony this week with seven health plans that eventually will provide long-term care services to about 85,000 people across the state. That is the first part of a long-debated Medicaid transformation that also will later include the broader Medicaid population. The seven companies that received contracts in all or some of the regions were American Eldercare, Amerigroup Florida, Coventry Health Care of Florida, Humana, Molina Healthcare of Florida, Sunshine Health and United HealthCare of Florida.

Also, another plan, Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County, has filed a bid protest in the state Division of Administrative Hearings. If is successful, it could receive a contract in a region that includes Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

AHCA will start the changes Aug. 1 in a central Florida region that includes Orange, Brevard, Osceola and Seminole counties. The long-term care changes will gradually expand to other areas and are expected to be in place statewide by March 2014.

PERSONNEL NOTE: NEW COMMS COORDINATOR AT FDLE

Linda McDonald will be the new communications coordinator in the Office of External Affairs at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. She’ll be the main FDLE spokesperson, the agency’s commissioner, Gerald Bailey announced Tuesday.

McDonald, a North Dakota native, most recently was a state purchasing operations communications analyst with MyFloridaMarketPlace. She has also served as the communications deputy director and communications director for the Florida Department of Management Services, and previously was communications director for First Professionals Insurance Co., a medical malpractice insurer in Jacksonville. 

SOUTH FLORIDA CASINO REVENUES INCREASE via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

As revenue for casinos continues to climb in Florida, one thing is clear: The gambling industry here is ripe for expansion, experts say. “There’s more than enough population to support it. It’s a deep market,” said Carlo Santarelli, of Deutsche Bank Securities. “Quite easily, you could have half a dozen destination casinos across the state.”

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5 BIGGEST QUESTIONS OF SESSION ANSWERED via Gary Fineout on his blog, The Fine Print, including:

A kinder, less partisan Legislature? Nope.

There had been signs right before the start that the Legislature might chart a less confrontational path than in previous years. But the impasse over Medicaid expansion and disagreement over election law changes resulted in a whole lot of acrimony in the waning moments of the session.

Republicans complained that the opposition by Senate Democrats to the election bill (after it was first appeared to be a bipartisan effort) was all about politics.

House Democrats meanwhile used a procedural move to slow down the pace of the session in the final few days that left both sides fuming and scowling. And it turns out that one of the casualties may in fact be Scott’s proposal to eliminate sales taxes for manufacturers who purchase the equipment. The tax cut was pushed through by Republicans who refused to answer questions or even debate the measure when it came on the evening of May 1. The result was a vote much closer than anticipated and one that turned to be under the two-thirds requirement for bills that affect local tax revenues.

Weatherford and House staff contend the tax cut bill is not in danger of falling due to a legal challenge. They offered several theories that hinge on your definition of words like “aggregate” and “insignificant.”

Weatherford for his part questioned who want to sue over a tax cut. Fair enough. But it’s worth wondering whether or not the vote would have been that close if House Republicans weren’t scrambling to push through the tax cut bill. (The reason for the rush, of course, was that there were fears that Scott would veto bills being sought by Weatherford and Gaetz if he didn’t get his tax cut proposal. Scott signed the bills within an hour of the House vote.)

5 MOST IMPORTANT BILL THAT FAILED via Terrence McCoy of the New Times

5. “Revenge porn”; 4. “Medical Marijuana”; 3. “The Growler Bill”; 2. “Sun Life Stadium Bill”; 1. “In State Tuition For Kids of Undocumented Workers”

9 THINGS YOU MAY NOT HAVE NOT WERE IN THE STATE BUDGET Full list here.

RED-LIGHT CAMERA AMENDMENT SPARES COSTS OF APPEAL AND IMPROVES UPON IMPORTANT SAFETY LAW

The passage of a 226 page omnibus transportation,  which cleared the Florida Senate unanimously and the House with a vote of 114-1, includes provisions intended to remedy various administrative problems with red-light camera ticketing. Despite some voicing concern that the changes made this year could raise costs for drivers, in reality the measure will do just the opposite.  The red-light camera amendment, filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, provides a means of appealing such tickets in a way that could spare drivers significant costs in the appeals process by providing more time under which to appeal or pay up and capping the administrative costs associated with an appeal. The main critique of the bill regards which category of public employee gets to review red-light camera appeals.  The 2013 changes do not specify who is to handle appeals, but allows cities and counties to use their own code enforcement boards or to contract these responsibilities out to courts or judges. Some fear that if hearing officers are permitted to decide appeals they have incentive to charge the maximum fines.  Yet in reality, the process under the 2013 law is the same as is followed in various other administrative or municipal contexts, such as with code enforcement boards.

Of course, the most important question is whether red-light cameras successfully deter drivers from running red light, which together with running stop signs is the most common type of crass, resulting in about 120,000 injuries and deaths every year, including those of bicyclists and pedestrians. A 2012 telephone survey by AAA found that 92 percent of drivers said it is unacceptable to run a red light if it is possible to stop safely, however 38 percent admitted they had done so in the past month.  This is unsurprising, considering that a red light is run about every 20 minutes at each intersection.  Significant reductions in red light violations at camera intersections have been thoroughly noted, making the Brandes amendment an important one to pass, not only for the sake of reducing costs of appeal for drivers who feel they were not in the wrong, but also for the sake of the countless lives that will be spared injury or worse.

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BOB BUCKHORN ADVISING RICK KRISEMAN? via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Interesting spotting: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and wanna-be St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman noshing together at Seasons 52 in Tampa this week.

It’s not that surprising that they would be schmoozing as they’ve been friendly for years. Both Democrats were active in the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, and Krisesman served on St. Pete’s city council while Buckhorn served on Tampa’s council.

DARRYL ROUSON LEAVES MORGAN & MORGAN via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

So much for getting cushy high-paying jobs once you get in the state Legislature.

St. Petersburg Democrat Rep. Darryl Rouson is out of work at the heavy-hitting trial lawyer firm Morgan & Morgan because he needs to focus on politics right now, said John Morgan, the firm’s founder.

“It’s hard to be a trial lawyer if you’re not in trial. It’s hard to be in a Tampa court room if you’re always in Tallahassee,” Morgan said.

“I think the world of Darryl and I’d welcome him back with open arms after this,” Morgan said. “He’s a great lawyer. But right now, this isn’t the right fit.”

A major Democratic donor and President Obama fundraiser, Morgan acknowledged he broached the topic with Rouson, but he said the separation is amicable and that rumors to the contrary are just that: “false” rumors. Morgan, for instance, supports a medical-marijuana initiative. Rouson opposes it and passed a bill this session that tries to crack down on the sale of pot pipes.

Rouson couldn’t be reached.

HD 61 CANDIDATE SHARON CARTER TO HOLD MEET AND GREET THURSDAY

House District 61 candidate Sharon Carter is scheduled to hold a meet-and-greet event from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Dunns River Island Cafe, 11154 N 30th St., in the University Corners Plaza, Tampa.

Carter, 48, works in construction project management and is the former vice chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee. She is one of four Democrats who have filed papers to run for the inner city and East Tampa seat that state Rep. Betty Reed, will leave in 2014 because of term limits. The other candidates are Tatiana Denson, Ed Narain and Sean Shaw.

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NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Carole Green, Capitol Strategies Consulting: Loveland Center, Inc

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MEDIA NOTES

ANDREA SAUL NAMED COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR LEAN IN via contributor Karen Cyphers

Andrea Saul, former press secretary to presidential candidate Mitt Romney and communications director to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, is setting on a new course as leadership with Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg in the role of communications director.  This is not the first time the two women’s worlds have intersected. In 2011, within the same week that Saul was campaigning for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Los Angeles, Sandberg was hosting President Obama at her home for a $38,500 per person Bay Area fundraiser. And in 2012, Sandberg and Saul were listed on The Hill’s “25 Women to Watch” feature, which identified them both as “natural leaders, inspirational figures, or gutsy risk-takers.”

JIM ROSICA TO THE TRIB

Rosica starts next week as the Tallahassee correspondent for the Tampa Tribune/TBO.com. Rosica most recently covered the just-ended legislative session, and two previous ones, for The Associated Press. Rosica also is a former Tallahassee Democrat reporter, who left there to get a law degree at Drexel University and also previously worked at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. He also studied at American University and Rutgers. The Tribune returns to a full time Tallahassee presence after an absence during the last year. (Via the News Service of Florida).

SUNSHINE STATE AWARDS ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR 2013 TOP JOURNALISM HONORS

The 2013 Sunshine State Awards have released their list of finalists in the running for Florida’s top journalism honors, which is open to all print, broadcast and online journalists.  The competition recognizes quality journalism and is judged by out-of-state professionals.  Among the many categories, a few stand out as relating to politics, government and public affairs. Nominated for best State/Local Election Coverage are Brendan Farrington, Associated PressMiami Herald staff; and Jonathan Mattise, George Andreassi & Scott Wyland,Treasure Coast Newspapers.   Nominated for best overall Election Commentary are Mitch Perry, Creative Loafing; Adam C. Smith, Tampa Bay Times; and Eve Samples, Treasure Coast Newspapers. The Government/Politics category includes nominees Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel; Thomas Himes, The News-Press; and capitol reporter John Kennedy, Palm Beach Post. Awards will be presented in July during a one-day conference hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists South Florida Pro Chapter.

TIMES STILL RELYING ON LUCY MORGAN FOR SOME OF ITS BEST SCOOPS via Emily Thompson of American Journalism Review

“It was the end of our legislative session in Tallahassee, and one of the lobbyists called Lucy up to give her a tip,” says Tampa Bay Times Assistant Political Editor Amy Hollyfield. “She had to be very persuasive to get him to talk to someone else. But he did, and we broke a story about Sen. Marco Rubio going to the Legislature and asking them to end Florida’s early election primary in 2016. 

“It’s because of Lucy Morgan that we broke that national story.”

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CAN’T WAIT TO READThe Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies by Jonathan Alter.

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.