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Sunburn for February 3 – Can we still trust polling?

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.


Iowa’s snow-covered fields and friendly villages were fraught with danger for pollsters, who had a tough time pinning down the state’s fickle electorate.

Most poll-takers took it on the chin when Donald Trump‘s lead in pre-election polls ended with a Ted Cruz victory at Monday’s caucuses. Marco Rubio‘s strong third-place showing among Republicans seemed to sneak up on pollsters, too.

They did better at capturing a tight race on the Democratic side that favored Hillary Clinton. Ultimately, she squeaked out only the slimmest of victories over Bernie Sanders.

 There are lots of specific reasons why some of the numbers were off in Iowa — a not-that-rare occurrence.

And in general, election polls are trickier than most surveys, and polling in caucuses is tougher than in primary states.

On top of that, the whole polling business is facing big challenges caused by people’s increasing reliance on cellphones, declining survey response rates and growing difficulty in identifying likely voters.

“Polling is much harder to do well than it was four and eight years ago,” says Cliff Zukin, a Rutgers University professor and former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

In December, Zukin wrote an election primer warning that “2016 will present election polls with a very challenging environment.”


Now, as we head into New Hampshire, take the surveys from that state with a grain of road-salt.

Pollsters still will be contending with plenty of complicating factors: voters debating among lots of candidates, being bombarded with information and considering options until the last minute.

But at least turnout should be higher than in a caucus state. Plus, pollsters have lots of lessons from Iowa to ponder.

In the end, though, “you’re still trying to predict what somebody’s going to do X days out when they don’t even know what they’re going to do,” says Michael Dimock, president of the Pew Research Center.

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ENTRANCE POLLS: DEMOCRATS DIVIDED BY AGE, IDEOLOGY via Florida Politics – Democratic caucus-goers were deeply divided by age and ideology, with younger participants in the Iowa caucus supporting Sanders and older voters turning out for Clinton. Republicans who said they want a candidate who shares their values propelled Cruz to victory … a closer look at the attitudes of the electorate: More than 8 in 10 Democratic participants under 30 supported Sanders, as did 6 in 10 of those between 30 and 44. But nearly 6 in 10 caucus-goers between 45 and 64 and 7 in 10 of those 65 and older came out to support Clinton. A majority of caucus participants who identified as Democrats came to support Clinton. But among the 2 in 10 Democratic caucus-goers identifying as independents, 7 in 10 favored Sanders. More than 4 in 10 Republicans arriving at caucus sites said the candidate quality that mattered most in their vote was that the candidate shares their values. Among those who said so, Cruz won the support of nearly 4 in 10, versus just 2 in 10 for Rubio and less than 1 in 10 for Trump. Trump edged out Cruz to gain the support of the 2 in 10 wanting a candidate who can bring needed change, while Rubio was the top choice of the 2 in 10 who said they want a candidate who can win in November. Four in 10 Republicans said they are angry and half say they’re dissatisfied with the federal government. Angry caucus-goers were split between Trump and Cruz as their top candidate. Government spending was the top issue for just over 3 in 10 Republicans, followed closely by the economy and terrorism. Just over 1 in 10 said they cared most about immigration. A third of Democratic caucus-goers said the economy is the top issue facing the nation, while about the same proportion chose health care and slightly fewer said income inequality. Less than one in 10 said terrorism is the top issue. Over 4 in 10 Democrats said they were first-time caucus attendees. Six in 10 first-timers favored Sanders … 6 in 10 previous caucus attendees favored Clinton. Nearly half of Republicans were first-time caucus-goers … tended to support Trump. Forty-five percent of GOP voters said they decided on a candidate in the past week, and they broke for Cruz and Rubio over Trump.

— “8 things I learned from the Iowa entrance polls” via Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post

WHICH CANDIDATES HAVE IOWA REGRETS? via James Pindell of the Boston Globe –The candidate who probably wishes he hadn’t spent so much time in Iowa: Chris Christie … The time Christie spent in Iowa, particularly in the past few months, made a lot of sense in theory. He had a strong campaign organization in the state — especially for a moderate — built around Governor Terry Branstad’s team. Iowa’s results could determine who wins the crowded establishment lane in New Hampshire (aka the fight for third) … Here’s the problem: Christie’s strategy worked for … Rubio … but not for Christie. In December, Christie’s team probably didn’t know that’s how it would play out. But looking back … Christie … could be thinking he should have spent more time in New Hampshire, where … John Kasich is the one on the move in polls. The candidate who probably wishes he had spent more time in Iowa: Ben Carson. Carson held the lead in some Iowa polls before his campaign collapsed. His campaign manager and other senior staff left. His fundraising dried up. There is no energy at all with Carson’s campaign. And yet he is still in fourth place in nearly every Iowa poll with about 10 percent support. Had he spent more time and built a bigger organization in Iowa, he could have been a contender for third or even second place.

HILLARY CLINTON SAYS SHE HAS “SOME WORK TO DO” via the Associated Press – She said in an interview on CNN’s “Situation Room” that she’s pleased that so many young people are participating this year in the Democratic nominating contest and recognizes that rival Sanders did well among that group … Clinton says that in next-up New Hampshire and beyond, she’ll be emphasizing her plans to help young people start their lives, including a proposal to make college more affordable.

TED CRUZ POLLSTER: DONALD TRUMP’S DEBATE-DODGE HURT HIM IN IOWA via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO – Bryon Allen, a partner at Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, which works for Cruz, offered a three-pronged assessment on his firm’s website … First, polling the Iowa caucuses is hard, but WPA’s polling found that Trump‘s decision to skip the last GOP debate before the caucuses, held in Des Moines, indeed hurt him. Secondly, other reliable pollsters — the Des Moines Register and Quinnipiac University — didn’t have enough days in the field after Thursday’s GOP debate. That was a mistake, Allen continued. Lastly … it’s time for most pollsters to reassess how they poll presidential races. “The public pollsters need to do what most campaign pollsters did years ago and develop different models, sampling protocols, and methodologies for different types of races. It’s not a one-size-fits-all world out there and things like special elections and caucuses require a more sophisticated approach than do high-turnout general elections,” Allen wrote.

NH: EXPERTS SAY VOTE SHOULD TOP 500K via David Solomon of the New Hampshire Union-Leader –New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has yet to release his much-anticipated and usually accurate prediction of voter turnout for the First in the Nation primary … he felt confident enough to make this prediction: It will be big. “The primary that had the most number of votes cast, when you combine both parties, was 2008,” he said. “The turnout was more than 500,000, more than half the voting-age population of the state.” All indications are that the 2016 New Hampshire primary will beat that record or at least come close. “I think we’ll definitely see half a million, and it could easily go over that,” said UNH political science professor Dante Scala.

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KELLY AYOTTE WON’T ENDORSE IN GOP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – New Hampshire Sen. Ayotte, the state’s top elected GOP official, will not endorse a Republican presidential candidate ahead of her state’s primary. “I’m going to stay out of it … I’ve been hearing from people throughout.” Ayotte is not eager to do anything to divide state Republicans. But her endorsement could go a long way to uniting the state’s more moderate voters. And though Iowa senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley appeared with candidates in Iowa while staying neutral, Ayotte has no plans to hold similar events.

RIVALS LOOK TO NEW HAMPSHIRE FOR A SHOT AT BREAKING TRUMP’S STRIDE via Alexander Burns of The New York Times – Emboldened by Trump’s defeat in the Iowa caucuses, his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination are preparing to challenge him aggressively in the New Hampshire primary — and perhaps even to aim a fatal blow at his campaign by seeking to deny him victory in a second consecutive state. Trump towered over the Republican presidential race for months, using his gift for provocation to please the party’s conservative base and smother his opponents in the news media. He held a comfortable advantage in national polls, and in New Hampshire his lead seemed unassailable. But Republican leaders supporting his competitors now believe there is a chance to break Trump’s grip on the state, as the party establishment closes ranks around a smaller number of candidates and he faces new threats on the right … a group of candidates who fared poorly in Iowa —ChristieKasich and Bush — have been working to regain their footing in the race in New Hampshire, in large part by going after Trump.

TWEET, TWEET: @PPPPolls: Started a national poll tonight that we’ll release Thursday but already clear- Trump’s standing significantly diminished

TRUMP NETS SCOTT BROWN’S ENDORSEMENT via the Associated Press – [Former] Massachusetts Sen. Brown will endorse the billionaire developer at a rally in New Hampshire … Brown’s backing marks Trump’s first endorsements by a current or former senator and provides additional evidence that some in the Republican establishment are beginning to warm to a potential candidacy.

TWEET, TWEET: @RealDonaldTrump: My experience in Iowa was a great one. I started out with all of the experts saying I couldn’t do well there and ended up in 2nd place. Nice … Because I was told I could not do well in Iowa, I spent very little there – a fraction of Cruz & Rubio. Came in a strong second. Great honor … I don’t believe I have been given any credit by the voters for self-funding my campaign, the only one. I will keep doing, but not worth it! … The media has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly. Brought in record voters and got second highest vote total in history!

COUNTER TWEET: @MViser: Number of NH events candidates have announced so far before election day: Kasich: 19 Christie: 17 Cruz: 16 Rubio: 12 Bush: 10 Trump: 3

JEB BUSH CALLS FOR RACE ‘RESET’ IN NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY via Jim O’Sullivan of the Boston Globe – Bush, who has staked his flagging presidential bid on a strong performance in this first-in-the-nation primary state, called for New Hampshire voters to ‘reset’ the race. “The reset has started as of tonight,” Bush said, adding, “Next Tuesday, we’re going to surprise the world.” Having already written off a solid showing [the] Iowa caucuses, Bush set up what could be the last stand for the man once presumed to be the dominant Republican in the contest. Bush has wagered much of what is left of his comeback prospects on a strong performance in the Feb. 9 primary … Bush sought to build a firewall, painting as unqualified the three candidates he called most likely to emerge from Iowa. Addressing a crowd of about 300 in a sweltering Alpine Hall, a fiery Bush said of front-runner Trump, “Do you want someone so unstable, so unserious to be commander in chief?”

NEW BUSH TV AD RUNNING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE BLASTS TRUMP via WMUR – “Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is keeping up his assault on the Republican front-runner on the airwaves,” the clip says. “In a new ad titled ‘Turn Off Trump,’ the Bush campaign hits Donald Trump on statements he made about veterans like John McCain and remarks about Carly Fiorina’s appearance.” The ad will be running in the Boston/New Hampshire markets.

EVEN GOLDMAN SACHS HAS BAILED ON BUSH via Max Abelson and Michael Moore of Bloomberg Politics – Bush turned out to be such a bad investment for bankers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that the hundreds of thousands of dollars they threw at him has become a company joke. At least one senior person at the firm likes to remind his colleagues that their donations to his White House race haven’t worked out so well … contributions from employees of one of the most politically connected companies in the U.S. have plummeted. After donating almost $900,000 in the first half of 2015 to four favorite candidates and their fundraising committees, the firm’s bankers gave about $243,000 in the second half … Rubio took over from Bush as the preferred candidate of Goldman Sachs donors, who gave … about $118,000 in the second half of 2015, almost twice what he got in the first six months. Even so, the sum wasn’t close to the more than $700,000 that bankers at the firm gave Bush and his fundraising groups in the first half of the year. Their contributions plunged in the second half to about $47,000. “It’s like buying a stock and watching it fall,” said Steven Shafran, a former Goldman Sachs partner who contributed to Bush’s super PAC and was a senior adviser at the Treasury Department to Hank Paulson.

THE BUSH → MARCO RUBIO DONOR SHIFT IS REAL AND IT’S ACCELERATING via Catherine Miller and Jeremy Singer-Vine of BuzzFeed News – Approximately 119 previous Bush donors gave to Rubio for the first time in December. That’s part of an accelerating trend over the last few months as Bush’s candidacy slowly tanked during the fall … Bush himself also appears to have picked up some donors who’d given to Rubio but never Bush in these months, but not as many as Rubio, and not on the same trajectory … Elsewhere, Cruz also picked up some Bush donors, albeit on a smaller scale as his candidacy took off in the final months of 2015.

FULL-PAGE BUSH AD TAKES AIM AT RUBIO via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO – Union Leader … ad paid for by the Bush campaign … features an open letter from eight of the 10 most recent Republican speakers of the Florida House.

THE RUSH TO DERAIL MARCO RUBIO via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO – BushChristie and Kasich now have a clear goal for their long-shot efforts in New Hampshire: Stop Rubio. But how? At various points … each tried to paint Rubio as a rookie senator and immigration flip-flopper. Rubio finished third in Iowa anyway, within a whisker of Trump and miles ahead of anyone else in his lane. This time around, on top of their standard attacks, Bush, Christie and Kasich are adding a localized approach. Their message to New Hampshire voters: Rubio doesn’t love you like we do, and he doesn’t deserve your love back. Separately, the three camps are plotting a barrage of criticism in the days to come, largely to accuse Rubio of failing to put in the one-to-one courtship with New Hampshire voters and then attempting to waltz in late and walk away with their hearts. “I think the voters will expect a certain level of exposure here that they haven’t gotten in terms of asking [Rubio] tough questions,” a top Christie adviser said.

RUBIO CAMPAIGN DISPATCHES ITS ARMY AND NEW LINES OF ATTACK via Jeremy Peters of the New York Times — The Rubio operation in New Hampshire is similar to what the campaign has constructed in South Carolina and Nevada, which vote later this month, and in Florida, which has a critical primary on March 15.In Nevada, … the campaign is already making upward of 20,000 phone calls each week ahead of the Feb. 23 caucuses. … In Florida, the campaign has launched its program for volunteers to make calls from home.

RUBIO TRADES INSULTS WITH CHRIS CHRISTIE via Anna Palmer of POLITICO – “Chris has had a tough couple of days,” Rubio said in an interview with ABC News … “He’s not doing very well, and he did very poorly in Iowa. And sometimes when people run into adversity they don’t react well and they say things they maybe will later regret.” he tried to downplay Cruz’s victory … “Well, look, as we always said, Ted Cruz was the front-runner in Iowa, basically his entire campaign was in Iowa … For us, we’ve been involved in multiple states … We’ve been doing that in multiple states and despite that we came just a few thousand votes short of being in first place.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MikeMurphy: Rubio is now canceling :60 spots in NH. Probably switching to :30s to launch new attacks on Christie, Jeb, JK, anybody but Trump #TrumpLover

HOW IS THIS A STORY? “Rubio says Hollywood has bigger problems than ‘Oscars So White’ ” via Zeke Miller of TIME

TED CRUZ PICKS UP JEFF DUNCAN’S BACKING via the Associated Press – South Carolina congressman Jeff Duncan says he’s endorsing Cruz for president because the Texas senator has “a history of following through” on his word. A tea party favorite like Cruz, Duncan is scheduled to appear alongside the Texas senator at a rally in the state.

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FEDERAL CANDIDATES SPEAK IN FLAGGER COUNTY  U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox and congressional candidate Brandon Patty will speak to the Flagler County Republican Club starting 6 p.m. at the Palm Coast Community Center in Palm Coast.

LIBERTARIAN U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE AUGUSTUS SOL INVICTUS ADMITS LSD USE, DESCRIBES EXPERIENCES IN JOURNALS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Now there are his LSD Journals, which contain writings full of pathos, philosophical meditations, classical references, anger and descriptions of imagined violence. The set of writings posted on his campaign website … ends with the words, “Let the Earth be drowned in Blood.” Invictus confirmed … the writings are “in real time during acid trips … They are both a literary experiment and a record of my experiences. Of course I acknowledge LSD use: that is the entire point of the journals.” In explaining … why he released them, he referred to two excerpts, including one referencing the mythological god named Zagreus, with whom he relates. “‘Beneath the silk & steel, the slick hair & friendly eyes Zagreus there lurked. This downtown elegance is all part of the packaging I’ve been using to smuggle in All this Wild F- Culture The veil is now lifted — the trap is now sprung.’ Also: ‘I am the suburban time bomb detonating downtown at full cultural capacity.’” he stated. “To answer your question directly, I think it’s clear there is a message for the world. If you spent time trying to understand it spiritually rather than trying to analyze it from a mundane, political perspective, I daresay that message would leap off the page at you,” he added.

CO-CHAIR OF CONGRESSIONAL PRO-CHOICE CAUCUS ENDORSES SUSANNAH RANDOLPH IN RACE FOR FL-09 – Congresswoman Diana DeGette endorsed Randolph … adding to the rapidly growing list of Progressive leaders who have lined up to support her campaign … DeGette has represented Colorado’s 1st District since 1997. DeGette succeeded Congresswoman Pat Schroeder who endorsed Randolph early on and is now a constituent of FL-09. “With the rights of women under fire every day, Susannah is the best candidate in the primary to stand strong in the fight to defend women from injustice,” said Rep. DeGette. “I am proud to endorse Susannah and would be honored to serve with her as we continue to fight inequality and protect reproductive health care for all women.”

BOB POE’S SELF-FUNDING, EARLY CONTRIBUTIONS, GIVE HIM APPARENT MONEY LEAD IN CD 10 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – When Poe jumped into the Orlando-based Congressional District 10 Democratic race last month, the millionaire entrepreneur promised to match contributions, and his early donations have given him a fund of $342,000 … That includes $325,000 that’s now in the bank, which could make Poe the instant money leader in a Democratic field that has two well-established candidates … Val Demings and Geraldine Thompson. He’s starting the race with more than the one-to-one match he pledged for campaign contributions. In a little more than three weeks, he raised about $76,000 … and put in about $250,000 of his own money.

BUT … VAL DEMINS CAMPAIGN POLL SHOWS COMMANDING POSITION via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Demings holds a commanding lead of more than 20 points over her nearest Democratic rival in the race for Florida’s newly drawn 10th Congressional District, according to a new poll commissioned by her campaign. Demings’ 44-22 percent lead over state Sen. Geraldine Thompson cuts across racial, ethnic and gender lines, the Public Policy Polling survey of 506 self-described likely Democratic voters shows. … Poe pulls only 7 percent of the theoretical vote.

ANDREW KORGE TO FILE FOR STATE SENATE, NOT CONGRESS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – A Democrat and the son of prominent Hillary Clinton donor Chris Korge, Andrew Korge had filed to run for the Legislature before flirting with a congressional race. Korge plans to send paperwork to Tallahassee Wednesday filing for Senate District 39. The expected Republican candidate in that seat would be Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami, who would have to move to the district. Korge said he’s intends to do the same. The seat leans Hispanic — which Flores is but Korge is not — but also Democratic. Flores and Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard had worked out a deal where Flores would run for District 39 unopposed by a Democrat in order to avoid facing her colleague Bullard in District 40, where both now live.  

EYE-POPPING FUNDRAISING NUMBERS FROM MIKE CLELLAND – The former state representative, who pulled off a major political upset in 2012 before losing his House seat two years later, and is now running for the state Senate, is already off to a furious fundraising start: During his first month back on the campaign trail, he raised $210,000 — $140,000 of that in hard-dollars, $70,000 for his political committee Common Sense for Central Florida. We believe that is the largest one month total ever for a non-SE Florida Democrat.

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LEGISLATURE WANTS TO BE DROPPED FROM FEDERAL REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT via the Associated Press – Lawyers for the House and Senate filed the request … A spokeswoman for Senate President Andy Gardiner said he does not see a reason for the Legislature to defend the court ruling. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown has filed a lawsuit that contends her new district violates federal voting laws and diminishes the voting clout of minorities. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

AMY BAKER SAYS DEO HAS ‘SERIOUS MISUNDERSTANDING’ ON STADIUM INCENTIVES via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – the Legislature’s top economist … defended her agency’s work in a strongly worded email … The back-and-forth was over the Department of Economic Opportunity’s recommendations that the stadiums where the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars play and the Daytona International Speedway be eligible for taxpayer-funded incentive money for construction projects … House Speaker Steve Crisafulli also pushed back against the DEO recommendations because the proposal does not explicitly rank the applicants — a criticism he also leveled last year. Baker, who heads the Legislature’s economic office, pushed back “to clear up a serious misunderstanding” she said the DEO had. She said the model the DEO had used to determine return on investment, known as the “Legacy” model, was designed for a different purpose. “At no point have we suggested — nor do we believe — that the ‘Legacy’ model is an appropriate tool for this purpose,” Baker wrote in the email.

HOUSE READY TO OK GUNS ON CAMPUS AND OPEN CARRY via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – A measure allowing Florida’s 1.4 million concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns onto college campuses appears set for a final House vote. … Another measure that would let permit holders openly display their holstered weapons on streets, public buildings and many other places also was teed up — with both bills set for final House votes Wednesday.

BILL TO REVAMP MEDICAL MARIJUANA REGULATIONS CLEARS HOUSE PANEL via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida –The bill, filed by Rep. Jason Brodeur, must be heard by one more panel — the House Health and Human Services Committee, which Brodeur chairs — before it heads to the House floor. Among other things, the bill would require physicians either to be board-certified as oncologists or neurologists or to specialize in the treatment of cancer, epilepsy or physical medical conditions in order to prescribe marijuana, as well as to obtain a second concurring opinion in order to prescribe to minors. Brodeur’s bill would increase costs for dispensing organizations.

MEANWHILE … THREE NURSERIES THAT DIDN’T GET LOW THC CANNABIS LICENSES SUE HEALTH DEPARTMENT via Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald –The suit … alleges that DOH forced nurseries to move forward with growing the drug ahead of schedule before legal challenges to the licenses issued last November had been cleared … the nurseries — McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery, San Felasco Nurseries and Tornello Landscape 3 Boys Farm — say some of those licensed to grow the drug don’t meet minimum standards set by DOH. The nurseries filing the suit were beat out for the five available licenses to grow cannabis low in high-inducing compound THC.

LAWMAKER BOWS TO GOP PRESSURE, DROPS CAP ON RENTAL CAR FEES via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – A bill that would have capped the fees at $10 a day moved ahead in the House only after it was amended to eliminate the fee cap. The amended bill won support from lobbyists for rental car companies. The bill (HB 1119) is sponsored by Rep. Kristin Jacobs … who said she filed it to help unsuspecting consumers who rent cars in Florida and are charged from $4 to $15 a day by rental car companies, in addition to the tolls themselves, to cover cases in which renters pass through electronic toll booths where there are no humans to accept money. Jacobs’ bill was likely doomed in the House Transportation & Ports Subcommittee unless she removed the fee limit, so she took it out. “Up here, you know how far that went … So I’ll take a baby step — can they just tell us what the fees are?”

MANDATORY RECESS BILL MOVING THROUGH STATE HOUSE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The state House Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted 13-0 to approve a House Bill 833, which would require public schools to provide 100 minutes of recess each week to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The measure also applies to sixth-grade students enrolled in a school that contains one or more elementary grades. “Recess is about choice,” said Robert Mayersohn, with the Florida PTA. “It’s about choice of how, where and when a student plays. This unstructured play is about a break from the structure and expectations we have for our children meeting the high academic standards.”

SENATE PASSES ‘DIGITAL ASSETS’ BILL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Senators unanimously OK’d the bill (SB 494) … with a 36-0 vote, sending it to the House. Under the bill, someone of a person’s choosing could have access to and control their financial accounts, social media and almost anything else the person has online after their death, such as “emails, text messages, online photographs, documents stored in the cloud, electronic bank statements, and other electronic communications or records.” The “asset” manager could be next of kin, a friend, an attorney, or anyone the person selects.

TOM LEE CALLS BILL TO LIMIT LOTTERY A “TAX CUT” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A bill that would limit the variety of Florida Lottery scratch-off tickets was cleared by a Senate panel … after its sponsor curiously defined it as a “tax cut.” The Regulated Industries Committee cleared the measure (SB 790) on an 8-2 vote, with … Jack Latvala and Joe Negron opposed. It limits the “number of scratch-off games which may be available for sale by the (lottery) department at any one time” to no more than 20. “The department currently offers up to 75 different scratch-off games” … an amendment would hold ticket prices to no more than $10, rather than a $5 cap as originally proposed. Now, games cost as much as $25. Bill sponsor Lee said he was protecting the state’s poorest residents, whom he said the Lottery targets with its advertising to buy tickets. “It doesn’t mirror the Lottery’s mission of maximizing revenue in a manner that, I believe, is consistent with the dignity of the state and the welfare of our citizens,” he said.

OP-ED OF THE DAY: CRITICISM OF NEW WATER LAW OFF-BASE via Charlie Dean and Matt Caldwell for the Tampa Bay Times – The comprehensive water bill has been the subject of newspaper editorials … now that it’s the law, Floridians deserve to know about the many benefits it will provide … editorials critiquing our work are par for the course. But viewpoints based on conjecture and not on fact are not helpful to the process. Republicans and Democrats were nearly unanimous in supporting this priority for prominent members of Florida’s business and environmental communities … the bill was improved with stronger protections for springs, more stringent water quality standards and significant improvements to Florida’s water governance structure. We believe the end result is the most ambitious and forward-thinking water reform Florida has seen in decades. A common refrain from critics has been that the law fails to establish water conservation as a priority. In reality, the state is already bound by law to use water conservation as an essential part of the criteria used to issue water-use permits, along with other requirements designed to promote water conservation. The new law goes a step further and provides regulatory incentives for saving water during a permit’s time frame. It also creates a new and innovative nutrient and sediment reduction and conservation pilot project that will be implemented statewide. Other criticisms, such as claims that the policy fails to keep Floridians informed about how much water is being used per day, are also off base. The law requires monitoring of all new and renewed permits that withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day from groundwater where the inside diameter of a well is 8 inches or greater. It also allows water management districts to adopt more stringent monitoring requirements.

HAPPENING TOMORROW — Rep. Katie Edwards‘ bill to allow a first-of-its-kind needle exchange pilot program in Florida, HB 81, is on the agenda for Judiciary at 9 a.m. The Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Oscar Braynon, has moved through all its required committees and is awaiting a floor vote in the Senate. Braynon has been pushing this bill for years and it looks finally to be moving towards passage this session.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend a rally at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda, 400 South Monroe St. in Tallahassee. Scott will be joined by legislative leaders to rally support for his $1 billion tax cut and his $250 million Enterprise Fund proposals.

LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

HOUSE BUDGET DISCUSSED  The House Appropriations Committee will discuss the proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Meeting starts 8 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TAKES UP BUDGET – Along with an agenda of related bills, the Senate Appropriations Committee will also discuss the Senate’s proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

HOUSE IN SESSION  The House floor session begins 3 p.m. in the House Chamber.

SEMINOLE CASINO WORKERS TO LOBBY LAWMAKERS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – More than 100 orkers at Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino are taking a field trip to Tallahassee today. On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott met with tribal leaders in South Florida, where he was told up to 3,700 current casino employees could lose their jobs if the Compact isn’t approved by the Legislature. The agreement grants continued exclusive rights for blackjack to the Seminole Tribe in return for $3 billion over seven years to the state. The employees will gather in the Capitol Courtyard at 11 a.m. Wednesday, then disperse to meet with individual members.

FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES LEGISLATIVE EVENT — Among the featured speakers at the Florida Association of Counties “Legislative Day” event is Gov. Scott, Ag. Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senate President Andy Gardiner and Sen. Latvala. Event begins with briefings at 9 a.m. at the Florida State University Turnbull Conference Center. Gardiner will speak at a 6 p.m. reception at the Governors Club.

HARVARD PROFESSOR TO PROVIDE BRIEFING ON THE SCIENCE-BASED RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES OF MARIJUANA – Sen. Jack Latvala, the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society from Drugs will hold a public forum featuring Bertha K. Madras, who is a researcher and professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, serving at McLean Hospital’s Drug and Alcohol Program. Madras, a member of the Expert Committee of Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization and former deputy director for Drug Demand Reduction for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy will share her knowledge of what science says about marijuana. Event begins 11:30 a.m. in Room 229 of the Senate Office Building, with a question and answer session immediately following.

***A special message from Florida’s horsemen: While legislators debate using hard-earned taxpayer dollars for corporate relocation incentives, Florida employers who’ve been hard at work for decades could lose everything, thanks to “decoupling”— a Big Casino cash grab and gambling expansion plan tucked inside the Seminole Compact. It seems senseless to kill established Florida businesses, while spending public money in hopes new business may materialize. But Florida could do just that when “decoupling” leaves horse racing investors with NO WAY to do business and NO CHANCE to recoup financial return.  Gambling policy should be about growing Florida’s economy. Not padding the pockets of Big Casinos. Florida’s horsemen oppose decoupling in ANY form.***


Melissa AkesonChristopher Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: Lauderdale Marketplace Investments; Lauderdale Marketplace Investments

Travis BlantonJon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Florida Supportive Housing Coalition; Florida Supportive Housing Coalition

Ron BookRana BrownKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book: Carfax; Clean Energy; Drug Policy Alliance; Town of Davie

Monesia Brown: Wal-Mart Stores

Fred KarlinskyLeslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: Grand Incentives

Sherri Hull: Southwest Airlines

Deborah Linton: Arc of Florida

Frank MatthewsTimothy Riley, Hopping Green & Sams: Spooner Petroleum Company

Kellie Ralston: American Sportfishing Association

Kathryn Roberts: Realtor Association of Sarasota & Manatee

Robert Robey: Indivior PLC

Gary Sumner, Mang & Santurri: First American Title Insurance Company; Florida Surplus Lines Association

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority

Leigh Walton: Pitney Bowes

David Wilkins: Accenture

GROUNDHOG DAY 2016: PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL SEES NO SHADOW, PREDICTS EARLY SPRING via Jason Samenow of the Washington Post – [The] world’s most famous furry forecaster … failed to see his shadow …  Maning spring is right around the corner, or so the folklore says. The groundhog’s prediction came … with fair skies and temperatures in the mid-20s. If this winter’s days truly are numbered, it will be remembered for both its mildness and brevity. Since December, most of the Lower 48 have experienced above-normal temperatures — the Blizzard of 2016 on Jan. 22-24, also known as Snowzilla, notwithstanding … consider the last time the rodent called for an early spring in 2013, punishing cold and snow gripped the eastern United States deep into March. The prosecuting attorney in Butler County, Ohio, went so far as to seek the death penalty for Phil for “misrepresentation of early spring.” But then a Pennsylvania law firm came to Phil’s defense, claiming the Ohio attorney had no jurisdiction to prosecute the groundhog.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: I think a certain graphic designer I know has too much time on his hands…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to The Man, Tom Gallagher, as well as Sen. Arthenia Joyner and Carolyn Pardue.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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