A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Get ready to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes off the phone. Florida’s long-debated ban on texting while driving will take effect Tuesday. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers will try to encourage Floridians to get health coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act. Later in the week, Republican leaders will gather in Orlando — and probably won’t speak so fondly of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The News Service of Florida has a comprehensive preview of the week ahead here.
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK?
What impact — if any — will the showdown in Washington D.C. have on Florida politics?
Neither may happen this week, but which announcement will come first — Gov. Scott’s choice for LG or Charlie Crist’s plans for 2014?
The beginning of a fundraising quarter is always a busy time for candidate announcements. Besides Charlie Crist’s, who else will throw their hat into the ring to run in 2014. George Sheldon for Attorney General? Adam Hasner for Congress? Bill Young II for State House?
How will the average Floridian handle the new ban on texting while driving, which goes into effect on Tuesday? Will law enforcement hand out a rash of tickets during the ban’s first weeks in an attempt to send a message?
Will any news be made at the RPOF’s Statesman’s Dinner? Or will it just be two days of massive fundraising? Perhaps both, hmmm?
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QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: “To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax. After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one … [T]he American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
TWEET, TWEET: @SpeakerBoehner: “Americans don’t want a shutdown & don’t want #ObamaCare … House plan follows through on both … House votes to keep gov’t running, stop #ObamaCare, & protect our troops; now the #SenateMustAct
THE HOUSE GOP’S ‘TOUCH-THE-STOVE’ MOMENT via Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
After nearly three years of narrowly avoiding government shutdowns, debt defaults and other fiscal follies, House Republicans appear poised to finally grasp the hot stove-top and allow federal government operations to begin shutting down early Tuesday morning. It would be the first shutdown since 1996. Tens of thousands of ‘non-essential’ federal workers will immediately be placed on furloughs. National parks will close, passport applications will be delayed, toxic waste sites won’t get cleaned and there may be difficulties processing some government benefits. Yet U.S. troops will remain at their posts, mail will still get delivered, and federal agencies will open for business on Tuesday, staffed with fewer personnel than usual.
For Speaker John Boehner and 232 House Republicans , the big… risk … is how a shutdown would be received by the American public and media. If the preponderance of public polling is accurate and House Republicans shoulder the blame for a government closure, they could end up jeopardizing their majority to pick a fight they are destined to lose. … Republicans are making the bet that their constituents hate Obamacare so much they’ll swallow a government shutdown. The threat of a shutdown is proving somewhat cathartic for conservative Republicans, many of whom were elected in 2010, promising to do everything they can to kill off Obama’s health care law. Republicans feel comfortable with the possible political repercussions of shutting down the government. They believe that their effort to delay or defund Obamacare is vital for the economy and personal freedom, and worth risking their House seats over. …
Both Obama and Reid – with overwhelming support from House and Senate Democrats – have rejected the Republican proposal. The Senate will vote either late Sunday or Monday to do just that … That would leave the House leadership with a brief window to avoid a shutdown. If there’s a broad public outcry or groundswell to avoid a shutdown – which House GOP lawmakers and aides see as unlikely – Boehner and his top lieutenants still have the option to pass a government funding bill without the Obamacare language. However, they would need to turn to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and the Democrats to do so, and there didn’t appear to be any movement in that direction.
SHUTDOWN IMPACT: TOURISTS, HOMEOWNERS HIT QUICKLY via Sam Hanuel of the Associated Press
Mail would be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits would continue to flow. But vacationers would be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays. … All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers that would be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco and the Washington Monument. … A small number of Head Start programs, about 20 out of 1,600 nationally, would feel the impact right away. The federal Administration for Children and Families says grants expiring about Oct. 1 would not be renewed. …
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children. … Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays … The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, wouldn’t underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended. … The military’s 1.4 million active duty personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees would be furloughed.
OBAMACARE EXCHANGES STILL SET FOR LAUNCH via POLIITCO
Barring some last-minute deal, which gets less likely with each passing moment, the federal government will shut down on Tuesday because of the House and Senate’s inability to pass a spending bill that resolves their deep and persistent differences over Obamacare.
But Tuesday is also the day that Obamacare’s new health insurance marketplaces — some run by the states, many run by the feds — are scheduled to start signing up customers. And President Barack Obama has made it clear that, even if the government closes, the health care show will go on.
STEEP SMOKING PENALTY via Jackie Winchester of the News-Press
Smokers will have a decision to make Tuesday: Should they quit their habit or pay more for it?
As part of the Affordable Care Act, smokers will face up to a 50 percent surcharge on health insurance rates.
When the Health Insurance Marketplace opens Tuesday, people will be able to compare insurance plans, and they’ll be asked whether or not they smoke. A yes answer means paying more, which supporters say is only fair, given smokers incur more health costs.
The state Department of Health said health care costs caused by smoking Floridians are about $6.3 billion a year, $1.2 billion of which is paid by Medicaid. Tobacco Free Florida figures show about 17 percent of Floridians are smokers, and 28,600 deaths a year in the state are caused by tobacco use. A 2012 study showed 22 percent of Lee County adults were smokers.
WOULD FEDS OK ALTERNATIVE TO MEDICAID EXPANSION? via The News Service of Florida
With Republican lawmakers refusing to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the Florida Senate came up with a different approach this spring. Led by Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, the Senate wanted to accept federal Medicaid money and use it to pay for low-income people to receive private health insurance.
The Senate plan died in the House. But a decision Friday by the federal government indicates Florida might have been allowed to move forward with the Senate plan if the House had approved. The feds approved a similar Arkansas proposal to use Medicaid money for private coverage.
Here is a link to a New York Times story about the Arkansas decision.
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A WEEKEND OF FUNDRAISING EMAILS
“I want to make sure this message gets through” — Barack Obama; “Do you understand?” — Joe Biden; “Barack needs your help” — Michelle Obama; “Friend, show your resolve” — Marco Rubio; “We can’t wait any longer” — Rubio; “My colleague Ted Cruz” — Claire McKaskill; “Once” — Ted Deutch; “This is vital” — Lois Frankel; “Crossing the line” — Lois Frankel; “Did you see this?” — Lois Frankel; “Justice for Benghazi’s victims” – Dan Webster; “The time is now” — Jessica Ehrlich; “Enough is enough” — Gwen Graham; “This is despicable in every way” — Erin Hannigan, BarackObama.com; “Sorry!” — Democratic Headquarters; “A bad dream” — Chuck Engel, House Majority PAC; “Take a stand against Rick Scott” — Nan Rich; “By the end of the day” — United for Care
CONTEXT FLORIDA EXCLUSIVE FROM GWEN GRAHAM: PARALYZING POLITICAL GAMESMANSHIP HAS BECOME THE NEW NORMAL Full op-ed here
The dysfunction in Washington is so disturbing to us in North Florida because it is so out of touch with our values. From Panama City to Tallahassee, we are problem solvers: when we encounter challenges in our businesses, our communities and in our homes, we roll up our sleeves and get to work finding solutions.
Unfortunately, Congressman Steve Southerland has shown us yet again why he is part of the problem in Congress: voting for a divisive plan that even Republicans say is jeopardizing a government shutdown – a move that would hurt North Florida middle class families and deliver a self-inflicted wound that our economy simply cannot afford.
Congressman Southerland’s willingness to go along with the shutdown is especially infuriating because Congress has serious work to do. To take just one example, on October 1st the Farm Bill will expire again – leaving farmers and rural families without the security and stability they deserve. After scuttling Farm Bill talks earlier this summer, Congressman Southerland could have and should have spent this past week working on fixing this problem instead of sending our country spiraling towards a crisis which he helped create.
We cannot allow this dysfunction to continue. In Congress, my commitment to the people of North Florida will be to work with both Republicans and Democrats to focus on solutions instead of partisanship – because these problem solving values are at the core of what makes North Florida and our country great. Simply, enough is enough.
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BILL NELSON STAYING OUT HELPS RICK SCOTT, CHARLIE CRIST AND NAN RICH via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News
Bill Nelson turned 71 on Sunday and it’s increasingly appearing that the lone Democrat holding statewide office in Florida would prefer to stay in Washington instead of Tallahassee… Buzz about Nelson challenging Scott has faded in recent weeks as Alex Sink had her moment in the limelight as she pondered, and eventually decided against, making a second gubernatorial bid. Now Nelson appears to be closing the door to running against Scott.
… With Sink out altogether and Nelson continuing to show no interest, the two main contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination will be Charlie Crist and Nan Rich. Crist is the man to beat, especially with Sink and Nelson out. Having spent years running for office as a conservative Republican, Crist would have been blown out by Nelson in the primary. But he is not the only Democrat who should be happy about Nelson’s decision to stay out. Rich should see some benefits by being the liberal alternative to Crist, but she hasn’t made much progress in the race despite entering last April.
… Scott is also a winner with Nelson staying out. Of all the Democratic possibilities, Nelson offered Scott the most problems. As things stand, Scott’s still an underdog against Crist but his chances against the former Republican are much better than they would have been against Nelson.
‘LIFELONG’ DEMOCRAT NAN RICH, NEW DEMOCRAT CRIST WORK THE CROWD AT PALM BEACH CO. DEM. DINNER via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Democratic governor candidate Nan Rich took a not-so-subtle jab at potential 2014 primary rival Charlie Crist while both attended the Palm Beach County Democratic Party’s fundraising dinner Saturday night.
“As most of you know, I am a lifelong Democrat,” former state Sen. Rich said — leaving unsaid that former Republican Gov. Crist has been registered with the party for less than a year.
As the only Democrat actively campaigning for governor, Rich was given five minutes to speak to the crowd of about 450 Democratic activists at the Marriott near Cityplace. She struggled to get the audience’s attention at first, but drew applause when she declared her longtime support for the party’s platform.
“I’m a Democrat because of our party’s values and principles…These are my values and they have always been my values,” Rich said.
Crist has said for months that he’d make a 2014 decision in the fall. Many expect him to announce in October before the Florida Democratic Party’s Oct. 25-27 convention in Lake Buena Vista.
“We’re in the season but I’m not sure exactly when,” Crist said when asked about his timetable for making a decision. “I just have to continue to think about it and listen to good people around the state and we’ll figure it out. It’ll work itself out.”
THE HARDEST DECISION ALEX SINK EVER HAD TO MAKE via Lane DeGregory via The Tampa Bay Times
She had hoped to decide by January. Then she said summer, which turned into September. All year, she had agonized: Should she run for governor again?
Finally, with time to launch a campaign running out, Alex Sink broke the news last Friday: She would not try in 2014 for the job she almost won in 2010.
Instead, she would continue to work with entrepreneurs through her Florida Next Foundation and support candidates “who I believe share my vision.”
The announcement wasn’t entirely unexpected. It was widely known that Sink’s kids, both in graduate school in Gainesville, didn’t want her to run. Neither did her 90-year-old dad. They knew how much money she would need, how ugly campaigns could be.
But there was another, more private factor that weighed on Sink’s decision, and she thought about it every time she walked into her closet and forced herself not to look to the right.
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: “Governor Rick Scott will highlight Coca-Cola’s investment in Florida and the jobs that have been created,” reads a release. Coca-Cola Main Street Juice Plant, 705 Main Street, Auburndale; 3:00 p.m.
LITTLEPAGE COLUMN: GOV’S CHAMELEON ACT DISREGARDS FACTS ON ENVIRONMENT
Scott made a big splash earlier this month when he announced $37 million would be spent to begin reversing the damage in some of the state’s springs that are now polluted and losing flow.
“We care about the quality of water; we care about the flow of water,” Scott said to much applause.
Really? Let’s review:
One of Scott’s first acts as governor was to cancel a springs restoration effort that Jeb Bush began when he was governor.
Next up was Scott’s dismantling of the Department of Community Affairs, which at least tried to add some reason to the explosive growth that leads to more pollution and more strain on the Floridan aquifer.
Scott then neutered the state’s five water management districts by gutting their budgets and driving out valued employees experienced in protecting the environment.
And while that $37 million is appreciated, here’s the reality of it.
The Legislature had already set aside $10 million of that for spring restoration during the last legislative session.
The rest of it is coming from the water management districts, local governments and other state agencies.
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FLORIDA CHAMBER FOUNDATION EDUCATION SUMMIT ENGAGES LEADERS
Thought leaders and businesses discussed the growing need for globally prepared talent at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Education Summit last week in Orlando. The event, which also hosted live stream viewers, was a fully interactive discussion with industries spanning the gamut- from manufacturing and sales to technology and education.
Florida’s Education Commissioner Pam Stewart spoke about the New Generation Florida Standards and how these standards will make Florida students able to compete in business both nationally and internationally.
Panelists from private and public foundations spoke on leading the change toward technology in classrooms which allow teachers the ability to teach more effectively while providing students with the right tools to succeed. Audience members and panelists alike engaged in solutions and ideas to harness the talent in a changing generation of workforce members. On college and career readiness, Mark Wilson said, “These aren’t third graders, they are our future workforce. [Our] solution has to be so disruptive that [people] say, ‘we can never do that.’ Then we say, ‘why?’”
FLORIDA’S GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS COULD TURN SOUR SOON via Matt Dixon of the Times Union
As Florida’s long-range revenue picture comes into focus, on the surface it seems like lawmakers have a unique dilemma: how to divvy up growing state revenues. State economists have released numbers showing that budget-writers will be working with $845 million more in revenue than last year. The seemingly rosy picture, though, comes with potential pitfalls. Take, for instance, the $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration. Those cuts are likely to be included in any budget deal Congress hammers out to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
What does that affect in Florida?
“That is not just state government, it’s local government and a large number of private contracts between Floridians and the federal government,” Amy Baker, head of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, told the Senate Budget Committee Thursday.
Baker, the state’s top economist, spent the past two days briefing lawmakers on Florida’s long-range financial outlook. Much of the news is good — revenue is increasing, job creation is up, and wages are growing — but it’s blunted by likely congressional inaction.
If the sequester continues, it could cost Florida $2.2 billion in direct federal spending, according to the Federal Funds Information for States. That number jumps to nearly $8 billion and nearly 80,000 jobs when the “ripple effects” from that cut are taken into consideration.
Congress also is embroiled in a fight over the debt ceiling, currently $16.7 billion. If Congress does not increase the nation’s ability to borrow by Oct. 17, the federal government will be left with just $30 billion in the bank.
During her presentation, Baker did not have specific numbers related to how surpassing the debt ceiling would affect Florida, but it’s on her radar.
STATE’S OPTION TO BUY U.S. SUGAR LAND LOOKING LESS AND LESS LIKELY via Jonathan Mattise of the TCPalm
Despite plenty of clamor at the local level, even some Tallahassee environmentalists are downplaying the state’s option to buy U.S. Sugar land.
The state still has until Oct. 12 to buy 153,200 acres of U.S. Sugar Corp. land at a $1.1 billion price tag. Afterward, all or part of the land will be available at market price for six years.
Environmentalists have long pegged the deal as the solution to restore natural water flow from Lake Okeechobee through sugar lands into the Everglades, sparing the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
But state officials and lobbyists say the option isn’t even in discussion, and there isn’t a clear way the money could be set aside in two weeks, anyway. The South Florida Water Management District has said it has all the real estate it needs for now.
… At the Florida Senate Indian River Lagoon committee meeting Tuesday in Tallahassee, Sierra Club lobbyist David Cullen urged Stuart Republican Sen. Joe Negron’s panel to reconsider the U.S. Sugar deal. In an interview the day before — when Cullen didn’t know his group would push harder on the land deal — Cullen posed the same question Negron asked him at the meeting: How is the state going to pay for it?
The state has about $3 billion in reserves, including money for emergencies, Negron said.
“We would love to see that (deal) happen, but I don’t see that happening,” Cullen said the day before the lagoon meeting. “I don’t see anyone in leadership saying, ‘That’s a great idea.’ ”
The Senate’s top lawmaker, President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, also didn’t give the idea rave reviews Monday.
“It seemed to me that a lot of the problems were upstream from where U.S. Sugar is,” Gaetz said in an interview. “You’ve really got to take into account those issues, not just try to assume that by dealing with U.S. Sugar, that you’re going to deal with all the problems, or even most of the problems.”
STATE WORKFORCE BOARDS UNIFYING UNDER NEW NAME, CAREERFORCE FLORIDA via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Gov. Rick Scott’s directive to rebrand Florida’s 24 help-wanted centers under a single name will soon be a reality as the state replaces “workforce” with CareerSource Florida.
Some local workforce officials say it’s a smart move that is long overdue. Some don’t like it.
Early last year, Scott included the rebranding in his budget proposals after programs in Tampa and Orlando misspent public money and “workforce” developed image problems.
After 18 months, lots of research, and about half a million dollars, the state will soon launch its new identity.
“There’s more to be gained by unifying than by maintaining a system that’s fragmented with 25 different names,” said Adriane Glenn Grant, vice president of external affairs at Workforce Florida, the state agency overseeing local boards that match job-seekers with employers, using federal funds.
Those boards now have separate identities: Workforce Net in Pinellas County, Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance in Tampa, Workforce One in Broward, and South Florida Workforce Investment Board in Miami.
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BIG SUNDAY READS
DID EARLY VOTING ACTUALLY HURT FLORIDA TURNOUT? via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel
Florida policymakers have been battling for the last decade over how easy it should be to vote, a conflict that will produce new rules – and, no doubt, some confusion — for voters next year.
Those arguing for easier access – especially more early voting — maintain that fewer barriers will lead to increased participation. But political scientists who’ve studied voting patterns for decades have never made such a leap, and a new study suggests early voting in Florida actually decreases turnout.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and released in the American Journal of Political Science this month, also says that other types of “convenience” voting efforts – like same-day voter registration – actually do increase turnout.
The researchers’ findings don’t sit well with some Florida election officials.
Seminole County Elections Supervisor Mike Ertel said the study was like “comparing apples to office chairs.” He said Florida’s turnout might have dipped last year in part because of the long length of the ballot, which featured 11 long-winded constitutional amendments.
“It could be argued that early voting more greatly dispersed the voters, making the lines shorter, thus increasing turnout,” Ertel said.
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BILLS WOULD BAN PORN FOR SEX OFFENDERS via The News Service of Florida
Members of the House and Senate have filed bills that would bar sexual offenders from viewing or possessing pornography, saying the move could help prevent offenders from committing future crimes. “I believe there is a way that we can strike a balance between keeping civil liberties safe and also keeping the public safe from the risk of re-offenders of sexual violence,” said Rep. Katie Edwards, a Plantation Democrat who filed the House version (HB 73) this week. The Senate version (SB 182) is sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican from Lakeland.
REP. NEIL COMBEE REVIVES “WARNING SHOT” BILL via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press
(Combee) has filed a bill to exempt anyone who fires a warning shot in self-defense from the state’s minimum-mandatory-sentencing laws.
Combee filed the bill last week in response to the conviction of a woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a gun near her estranged husband during an argument. His action came the same day an appeals court granted the woman, Marissa Alexander, a new trial.
Under Combee’s proposed legislation, those in situations such as Alexander’s would be exempt from the state’s “10-20-Life” law, which requires anyone who shows a gun while committing certain felonies to be sentenced to 10 years in prison. If someone is shot and wounded during the commission of those crimes, the sentence increases to 25 years to life.
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LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND
With a hat-tip to LobbyTools, here is latest on who is on and who is off the legislative staffing merry-go-round.
Still on: Shannon Hardy, legislative assistant to Senator Greg Evers, moved to his office in Milton.
On: Margaret Thomas has joined the Education Committee as a legislative analyst.
On: Michele McCloskey has been hired as an administrative assistant by the Regulatory Affairs Committee.
On: Ranay Willis-Dawson is Rep. John Wood’s new district secretary.
Off: Martha Adeyemo is no longer an administrative assistant for the Local & Federal Affairs Committee.
TWEET, TWEET: @SenChrisSmith: Sick and tired of hearing “__ law was not intended for this scenario” If you listen to the debates we warn you of all your bad ideas!
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AMANDA MURPHY WINS GOP ENDORSMENTS IN HD 36 SPEC. ELECTION
Democrat Amanda Murphy has picked up three more endorsements – all from Republicans, including Ann Hildebrand.
Murphy’s campaign said it received endorsements from former Pasco commissioners Hildebrand and Sandra Werner as well as Ray Gadd, assistant schools superintendent.
“Pasco Schools can’t afford to have anyone but Amanda Murphy representing (and) speaking up for them. It’s time to invest in our children and their future, and that’s exactly what Amanda plans on doing,” Gadd said.
The support followed an endorsement this week from another prominent Republican, millionaire philanthropist Frank Morsani.
The Hildebrand endorsement also stands out in that it came after Hildebrand contemplated running for Fasano’s seat herself, but bowed out because of residency issues. The former commission chairwoman lives in Auburn, Ala., most of the year.
CHRIS LATVALA TO HOLD FUNDRAISER IN TALLAHASSEE ON OCT. 8
Chris Latvala, candidate for House District 67, will hold a fundraiser on Oct. 8 at the Florida Insurance Council in Tallahassee. Hosts Charlie Dudley, Charlie Guzzo, Jane Hennessy, Cecil Pearce, and Paul Sanford invite you to join them from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at 150 S. Monroe Street, Suite 206.
NEW LEADER MARK PAFFORD SAYS HE’S UP TO CHALLENGE OF RAISING MONEY FOR HOUSE DEMOCRATS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
State Rep. Mark Pafford has a history of modestly financed campaigns and a liberal voting record that has displeased the businesses who stroke big checks for candidates across Florida.
That’s no problem in a House district where Democrats hold a 15-point registration advantage and Pafford hasn’t faced tough opposition. But with House Dems installing him as their leader-designate for the 2014-16 term, Pafford is now in charge of recruiting and raising money for House races statewide.
… Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce — two groups that influence where the Florida business and lobbying establishments direct their contributions — both ranked Pafford 119th out of 120 House members on their 2013 legislative scorecards.
But Pafford said his record and reputation for outspoken liberalism shouldn’t hinder the flow of money to other Dems.
“This isn’t about Mark Pafford,” he said. “The caucus isn’t going to … careen to one side or another.”
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NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Chip Case, Jefferson Monroe Consulting: Florida Academy of Pain Medicine; Florida Independent Pharmacy Network
Winn Peeples: Hialeah, Inc.
Alex Villalobos: Grossman Roth, PA
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AMAZON REMAINS MUM AS PERMITS SOUGHT FOR POTENTIAL SITES via The News Service of Florida
Fueling speculation about the online retailer Amazon, companies have sought permits in two Central Florida regions previously discussed as possible Amazon distribution-center locations. But a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based internet company said in an email Friday that there wasn’t anything to report about Amazon’s Florida plans.
The Ledger newspaper of Lakeland reported Friday that a contractor, The Conlan Co., which has previously built a warehouse for Amazon in Chattanooga, Tenn., was issued a permit by Lakeland on Sept. 19 to clear land that could house one of the warehouses, known as a “fulfillment center.” The Tampa Bay Times reported Sept. 19 that an affiliate of USAA, which is considered one of Amazon’s biggest landlords, applied for building permits for land in Ruskin which has been eyed for a 1.1 million square-foot warehouse.
The race for the centers was spurred in June when the governor’s office announced that Amazon intends to create more than 3,000 full-time jobs and pump more than $300 million in investments into Florida by the end of 2016 through the construction of more than one “fulfillment” center.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tampa Bay political consultant Steve Lapinski.
I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU UN-FOLLOWED ME @NicolasJanovsky