Sunburn for 7/1 – 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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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Early Monday morning is the 150th anniversary of the first shot in the Battle of Gettysburg, which lasted three days. Per the National Park Service’s Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania: “The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the ‘High Water Mark of the Rebellion,’ Gettysburg was the war’s bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties. It was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal ‘Gettysburg Address.'”

THE WEEK AHEAD

The nation celebrates its birthday this week, and by the looks of the state government schedules it will be a long party. The big day for state government watchers of course is today, which begins the new fiscal year and puts the new budget into effect. Nearly 200 new laws take effect on Monday too.

For politicos, July 1 means the start of new fundraising quarter, and for those watching campaigns, former Gov. Charlie Crist talks about what’s going on in his world on TV in the Tampa area on Bay News 9. 

The News Service of Florida has a comprehensive preview of the holiday-shortened week here.

TODAY MARKS START OF NEW FISCAL YEAR

July 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year. The state’s $74.1 billion budget, which will fund 114,481 positions, 3,955 more than in the current fiscal year, kicks in on Monday. The fiscal package also includes the first raise those workers will see in seven years. Also on July 1, almost 200 bills signed into law this year go into effect. 

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OBAMA CALLS BOEHNER, PELOSI TO URGE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION

Obama called House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after the Senate passed its immigration bill to push them to act on immigration reform. Meanwhile, The Hill reports, members of the House’s “Gang of Seven” said their legislation, which has not yet been introduced and is currently undergoing a final review, could be used as building block for a House bill. But Rep. Chris Van Hollen said Boehner’s promise to only bring up an immigration proposal if it has a majority support from House Republicans is “anti-Democratic,” adding that it “could doom” the effort.

OBAMACARE HAS SERIOUS PUBLIC OPINION AND AWARENESS PROBLEMS, ACCORDING TO NEW GALLUP POLL

Released today, a Gallup poll found that overall 81 percent of Americans are aware of the individual mandate provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Yet uninsured Americans who are most directly affected by the new requirement are far less likely to be aware of the mandate, with only 56 percent in the know.  This compares to 85 percent of Americans with insurance.  Overall, Gallup reported Thursday that Americans see Obamacare more negatively than positively, with 44 percent approving and 52 percent disapproving.  Although Republicans and Democrats fall into expected corners on the law, Independents follow the national average: 41 percent see the law favorably, and 53 percent unfavorably.  Even the uninsured aren’t sold: just over half approve of reforms.

Asked in a different way, respondents in this poll believe Obamacare will make the nation’s healthcare situation worse for themselves and the country.  While 22 percent believe the law will improve their family’s health care situation, 42 percent believe it will make their situation worse. Likewise, while 34 percent of respondents feel Obamacare will help the nation, 47 percent see the law as leading in the wrong direction. While the uninsured are slightly more likely to think that the law will improve health care for themselves and the US, even they are divided: 37 percent of the uninsured feel positively about the law, and 34 percent feel negatively about it. 

These findings are consistent with other recent polls, demonstrating that the Affordable Care Act has a serious public opinion problem on its hands as it struggles toward full implementation.

REPUBLICANS WARN NFL, NBA, OTHER SPORTS LEAGUES NOT TO PROMOTE OBAMACARE

Senate Republican leaders have sent letters warning six professional sports leagues not to provide the Obama administration any assistance in promoting Obamacare, TPM reports.

The letters, dated June 27, warn the chiefs of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Professional Golf Association and NASCAR that partnering with the administration to publicize the benefits of the health care law would damage their reputations.

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DENNIS ROSS TAKES ON FBI AND NSA MASS DATA COLLECTION WITH RELEVANCY ACT

US Rep. Dennis Ross announced Friday his introduction of the Relevancy Act, with the goal of eliminating non-discriminatory data collection such as requiring companies like Verizon to turn over all of its caller data.  Under the Business Records Section of the PATRIOT Act, the FBI may seek an order on behalf of the NSA for any tangible thing for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a US person, or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.  Tangible things include books, records, papers, documents, and more.   The Relevancy Act would narrow these activities in two ways: first, but requiring the investigation to be  of a specific person or group of persons, and second, by requiring the tangible things to be related to a person that is subject to an investigation.

TOM ROONEY ANNOUNCES INTRODUCTION OF ACT TO PROTECT WORKERS FROM LOST WAGES UNDER OBAMACARE via contributor Karen Cyphers

US Rep. Tom Rooney today announced legislation to protect workers from losing jobs, hours and wages due to an onerous provision in Obamacare that redefines “full-time” employment as 30 hours, rather than 40 hours per week.   The “Save American Workers Act” was introduced today by Rep. Todd Young of Indiana, with Rooney as an original cosponsor, and will repeal the 30-hour definition of full-time employment to restore the traditional 40-hour definition.

USA Today and the Wall Street Journal have reported that businesses have planned to bring on more part-time workers next year or cut hours for full-time employees to spare some costs of compliance.  Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s have already began to hire part-time workers to replace full-time employees who left, and home retailer Anna’s Linens Inc. is considering cutting hours for current full-time employees to avoid the insurance mandate. Regal Cinemas has also announced they would be cutting the hours of thousands of employees as a result of mandates in the health care act. Cutting employee hours to avoid costs under Obamacare will lead to greater widespread underemployment and shift responsibility for health coverage cost sharing to state and federal taxpayers.

DIAZ BALART, ROS-LENTIAN, WEBSTER AND YOUNG AMONG 23 PERSUADABLE HOUSE REPUBLICANS ON IMMIGRATION via James Hohmann of POLITICO

 

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Steve Israel tells his caucus in a memo, “With bipartisan passage of a comprehensive bill in the Senate, the onus now falls on the House to pass legislation that echoes the spirit of the Senate and upholds our basic principles: to secure our borders, protect our workers, unite families and offer hardworking immigrants an earned pathway to citizenship. To achieve our ultimate objective – passage – we’ve identified 23 Republican colleagues in districts where constituents will demand progress on immigration, and where those pressures could persuade our Republican colleagues to support true comprehensive immigration reform.”

In 12 of these districts, more than 10 percent of the voting age population is Hispanic. [Fewer than 30 percent of districts represented by House Republicans are more than 10 percent Hispanic.]

IN CONGRESS, GET READY FOR THE SUMMER RERUNS

Lawmakers headed home for the July Fourth recess Friday after what was likely the most productive stretch of legislating we’ll see this year. The Senate passed historic immigration reform, a sweeping farm bill, and water-resources legislation—all with resounding bipartisan majorities.

That cooperation will almost certainly come to a screeching halt when Senate Democrats come back in July and throw down with Republicans over President Obama’s stalled nominees.

Sayonara bipartisanship.

Meanwhile in the House, Republicans leaders still can’t seem to do much of significance. The Republican majority couldn’t even get a farm bill passed, let alone something as historic as immigration reform. Despite months of work in the Senate, House Republicans won’t even have their first meeting on immigration until after the break.

And neither chamber is doing much of anything to prepare for this fall’s looming fight over how to increase the country’s credit limit.

In other words, Congress is about to begin airing summer reruns. Maybe the fall lineup will bring some fresh programming.

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GWEN GRAHAM CRITICIZES SOUTHERLAND ON STUDENT LOAN ISSUES

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland represents a student-heavy district, home to Florida A&M University, Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College and Gulf Coast Community College. Yet in his short tenure in Washington, Southerland has voted to slash Pell Grant eligibility and freeze Pell Grant funding, as well as voting to change student interest rate formulas– votes which his opponent Democrat Gwen Graham hopes to draw attention to her in her campaign to oust him.

“Congressman Southerland’s vote to make students pay more for college is no different than a tax increase on middle-class families,” Graham said a vote by Southerland that she assumes will increase student loan interest rates up to 8.5 percent.  The bill in reference was designed, in fact, to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates on July 1, opting instead to tie rates to prevailing market trends and ending federal subsidies. This method is expected to cut the deficit by $3.7 billion over ten years, and was voted on largely along party lines.  Nevertheless, speaking at an event with students on Thursday night, Graham tied Southerland’s education record to Florida’s economy, and vowed to make college more accessible, not more expensive.

NON-STOP FUNDRAISING PLEAS

From the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to supporters: “We’re in deep trouble.” But yet: DCCC’s 2013 monthly numbers: $6.0M, $5.4M, $10.2M, $6.3M, $6.0M. NRCC’s 2013 monthly numbers: $4.7M, $5.0M, $8.1M, $5M, $4.4M.

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CRIST COMFORTABLE WITH PARTY SWITCH via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

What kind of Democrat would oppose President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, support a constitutional ban on gay marriage and back legislation that every environmental group in Florida reviled as gutting growth management?

The kind of Democrat who used to be a Republican struggling to tamp down backlash from the conservative GOP base, i.e., Charlie Crist.

If he could do it over, Crist would take back each of those stances, he said in a Political Connections interview on Bay News 9. Never before has Crist stated so clearly that he took positions and actions he did not actually believe in to appease fellow Republicans while running against Marco Rubio in the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

“When you’re in a Republican primary — especially 2010, which was kind of the zenith I think of a very hard right turn, if you will — I really felt like a round hole in a square peg. It was difficult for me,” Crist said in the interview.

>>>Crist on Alex Sink, who said Crist would be “a disaster” for the Democrats to nominate for governor. He was more charitable about her: “She’d be fine,” he said, shrugging off her comments.

FPL, GEO GROUP, FLORIDA CRYSTALS BOLSTER ‘LET’S GET TO WORK’ 

This week, Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign got a little sweeter, with $1 million in contributions, significantly from Florida Power & Light, private prison company GEO Group, and sugar production firm Florida Crystals.

With the latest offerings to “Let’s Get to Work,” the governor’s political action committee currently stands at about $7.65 million. Since June 2010, Scott’s PAC has collected nearly $27.8 million with just under $10 million in expenditures, according to most recent figures on the Let’s Get to Work website.

Among the most recent supporters to Scott’s PAC in the past week: Juno Beach-based FPL— $250,000, Florida Crystals Corp. — $150,000, Boca Raton-based GEO Group — $100,000, West Palm Beach-based Agribusinesses Agro Industrial Management — $50,000, South Bay-based Okeelanta Corporation — $50,000.

SCOTT’S RE-ELECTION ODDS IMPROVE IN POLL OF FLORIDA INSIDERS

A new Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll of more than 120 of Florida’s most plugged-in political players finds them nearly evenly divided on whether Gov. Rick Scott will win a second term, with 51% predicting Scott wins and 47% predicting he loses. Just two months ago, the poll found 60% expecting Scott to lose.

While more than seven in 10 Democrats still expect to retake the Governor’s Mansion in 2014, Republican optimism in Scott’s chances has climbed from just 53% of Republicans in April expecting him to win to 75% today.

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OTHER STATE GOVERNORS FIRE BACK AT SCOTT FOR LETTERS TO BUSINESSES via The Naples News

For months, letters signed by Florida’s chief executive have been landing in the mailboxes of the nation’s top business leaders.

The letters — typed neatly on letterhead carrying Gov. Scott’s swooping signature — tout a low unemployment rate, absence of an income tax and the state’s education system. All of the letters say Florida has a business friendly environment that works, while other states don’t.

… Aside from the influx of mail with a Tallahassee postmark, there’s one common denominator among the six states: All of the governors are Democrats.

“This is an unserious PR stunt that will do nothing to create jobs,” said Lis Smith, spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

SCOTT SIGNS GUNS, RIGHT-TO-SPEAK BILLS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Scott’s office announced he had signed 46 bills into law.

Most notably, he signed a bill that would suspend a mentally ill person’s gun rights (HB 1355). It prohibits people who voluntarily go into treatment from buying guns and was supported by guns-rights advocates. Those affected can later petition a court for their rights back if they can show they are not a danger to themselves or others.

Among the other bills approved are a measure that gives people a right to speak at public meetings of government bodies (SB 50) and an anti-identity theft law that makes it illegal to intentionally or knowingly possess personal identification information of another person without authorization (HB 691).

Scott also OK’d a bill removing the current requirement that the Tampa Port Authority vote to approve any expenditure over $15,000 by the port director (HB 1367), and a measure that changes Tampa’s city workers’ pension plan, allowing those who work fewer than six years to get back money they put in “upon the termination or partial termination of the plan” (HB 533).

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Scott will hold a ceremonial bill signing for a measure  that imposes additional penalties on people who use deceptive and unfair trade practices against a member of the military.  2:30 p.m., Davis Conference Center, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa. 

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DUKE ENERGY’S NEW CEO STARTS TODAY

Lynn Good, who has been the chief financial officer for Duke Energy, will take over as company president and CEO on Monday, succeeding the retiring Jim Rogers. The North Carolina-based Duke is the largest electric-power holding company in the country and merged last year with Progress Energy. 

EPA APPROVES BUSINESS-BACKED PLAN FOR FLORIDA’S WATER via the News Service of Florida

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the state’s plan to set new water standards on Friday. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard said in a release that the federal approval “marks a significant step forward in protecting and restoring water quality across the state.” The EPA also filed a motion in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee to amend a consent decree to reflect the change. The EPA and DEP had reached agreements in November and March allowing the state agency to establish the new numeric nutrient criteria for 98.9 percent of the bodies of water in Florida.

The EPA continues to review the remaining waterways. The state Legislature approved a measure (HB 1808) in May – signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on May 30 – that allows the state to set the new nitrogen and phosphorus levels for almost every body of water in Florida. The bill was a priority of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida and a requirement of the EPA and DEP agreements.

STATE DEVELOPING PLAN FOR BP DISASTER MONEY

Florida has moved a step closer to determining how to spread around money it gets from the federal fines imposed on BP for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Gulf Consortium to create the process for developing Florida’s spending plan for its share of money from the 2012 Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act.

“Development of a comprehensive and thoughtful plan will ensure that Florida moves towards environmental and economic recovery of the Gulf,” Scott said in a statement. The June 2012 Act directs up to $21 billion from fines imposed on BP to the five Gulf Coast states. The consortium is comprised of the 23 Gulf Coast counties.

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ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST SACHS FOR ALLEGEDLY LIVING OUTSIDE OF HER DISTRICT

Tamarac resident Matthew Feiler was among the many voters upset to hear that State Senator Maria Sachs may not indeed live in the district she was elected to represent, which would be a violation of the Constitutional requirements of her office.  On Thursday, Feiler filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics, alleging that Sachs falsified public documents and committed perjury in official proceedings. Video footage taken by a private investigator and  a news report by Bob Norman with Channel 10 news in Miami suggested that Sachs continues to live in her $1.5 million Boca Raton estate while claiming residence at a 740 square foot condo in her  Ft. Lauderdale district.

Other investigations on Sachs’ residency have been ongoing by Media Trackers Florida, who were told by a resident in a neighboring apartment that Sachs’ apartment had been vacant for at least six months; and the unit became the focus of a Senate confirmation hearing during the 2013 session when Sachs’ landlord’s daughter Barbara Stern was nominated to serve on the Florida Elections Commission.  If Sachs is indeed skirting residency requirements, she is not alone in doing so. Saint Petersblog posted a column yesterday detailing what looks like a proliferation of South Florida Democrats living outside of their elected districts.

MIKE FASANO FOR TAX COLLECTOR?

Still trying to put down rumors that he’s not running for the Pasco County Commission in 2014, Representative Mike Fasano finds himself at the center of speculation as to who might be appointed Pasco County Tax Collector after nine-term Democrat Mike Olson passed away on Wednesday.

By law, Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a successor, who will serve until a special election is held in 2014. The winner would then have to seek re-election in 2016. Scott’s spokesman, John Tupps, said the governor was aware of Olson’s death and was working on filling the vacancy.

While it’s difficult to imagine Scott appointing Fasano, an occasional critic of the governor and a maverick within the GOP, it’s for exactly those reasons Fasano might make the ideal political choice for Scott.

Wouldn’t it be easier on Speaker Will Weatherford and the rest of the Republican caucus if Fasano was collecting taxes in Pasco County, rather than playing the role of Florida’s version of John McCain in Tallahassee?

Wouldn’t it make life easier on Corcoran if Fasano were in Dade City full-time rather than playing devil’s advocate (or is it the people’s advocate?) when Corcoran ascends to Speaker?

You see, the politics makes sense to appoint Fasano.

The question is, does Senator Mike even want the job.

KRISTIN JACOBS RUNNING FOR HD 96 SEAT IN BROWARD 

Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs filed on Thursday to run for the House District 96 seat that will be vacated next year by Rep. Jim Waldman.

Jacobs, who lost in a Democratic primary for an open congressional seat last year to now Congresswoman Lois Frankel, joins former Rep. Steve Perman of Coconut Creek in the Democratic primary for the seat, which is a near Democratic lock. So far, no Republicans are in the race. 

TWEET, TWEET: @ChrisSpencerFL: Wearing a @mattgaetz campaign shirt at gym in St Pete, guy comes up to me and says “Isn’t that the death penalty guy?”

YESTERDAY WAS THE END OF THE Q2 FUNDRAISING PERIOD

June 30 marked the end of the second quarter for fundraising purposes for candidates.  For 2014, 2016 and 2018 candidates, political committees, committees of continuous existence, electioneering communication organizations and independent expenditure organizations that file with the Division of Elections, the reports for the quarter that ends Sunday are due July 10.

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APPOINTED: Sandy Balfour to the Citrus County School Board; Dr. Steven P. Rosenberg to the Board of Medicine; Cliff Walters to the Board of Pilot Commissioners.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

James McFaddin, Southern Strategies Group: Five Star Quality Care, Inc

David Ramba: East County Water Control District

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 HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to the inestimable Sarah Bascom. We also missed Rep. Travis Cummings’ and Carrie Madden’s b-day. Celebrating today is once-and-future Tampa City Council candidate Scott Strepina.  

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.