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Sunburn for February 4 – “The Winnowing” is not a horror movie

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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, Jim Rosica, and material from the Associated Press.


To hear exiting presidential primary candidates tell it, their campaigns never die. They are just suspended.

Make no mistake. When they suspend a campaign, as Rand Paul did Wednesday and Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley did right after the Iowa caucuses, it’s not to take a break for household chores or a reflective week at the beach. It’s game over.

Suspending a campaign is a term of art in politics that has little if any legal significance but may give the hopeful-no-more some wiggle room for continuing to raise money, if anyone is still inclined to give it, and for winding down operations.

Also, it sounds better than quitting.

The ex-candidates’ campaign websites live on — mostly phantoms now, but with the “donate” link still active. The frantic appeals for cash subside, although Rick Santorum appealed for money to help pay the bills after suspending his 2012 Republican primary campaign.

Huckabee now says on his site “I have suspended my campaign” and he’ll finally be “spending some time with my dogs.” O’Malley, a Democrat, says “I am suspending my campaign for the presidency.” Paul’s still has him wanting to “unleash the American Dream” and an outdated schedule of campaign events. The site hadn’t caught up with the Kentucky senator’s video announcement: “Today I will suspend my campaign for the presidency.”

A suspension may imply that if rival campaigns implode, the candidate can always jump back, a road rarely taken. One of the few exceptions: Ross Perot suspended his third-party presidential campaign in July 1992 only to renew it that October, a month before the election.

Candidates who power through much of the race before quitting have some standing afterward: a coveted endorsement to give, a prominent convention speaking slot to negotiate, perhaps substantial delegates to steer to a favored contender. But those who make little impact in the primary campaign have little impact outside of it.

For these departed, the bottom line of a suspension is that employees are let go, advisers disperse, donors place their bets on those still politically alive, and the campaign world moves inexorably on without them.

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RAND PAUL QUITS via Laurie Kellman and Adam Beam of the Associated Press – Paul dropped his struggling Republican campaign for president Wednesday and is returning to the Senate to run for re-election. Vowing to continue his drive for less-intrusive government and more restrained foreign policy, Paul, low on support and cash, said he looks forward to earning another Senate term representing Kentucky.

It was an end long in the making. Paul launched his presidential candidacy determined to improve the Republican party’s appeal with younger voters and to upend the way Washington works. But his appeals to reject American political dynasties and “to take our country back” were ultimately out-shouted by Trump and … Cruz. Also discordant was Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy, especially after Islamist-inspired attacks in Paris, San Bernadino, Calif. and elsewhere flared around the globe in 2015. Paul was low on the lifeblood of presidential campaigns, too — he had just over $1 million at the start of 2016, according to campaign finance records.

paul, rand - polling

RICK SANTORUM ENDS WHITE HOUSE BID, BACKS MARCO RUBIO — Santorum said Wednesday on Fox News Channel that he is “suspending our campaign as of this moment.” He described Rubio as a “born leader” and praised his “optimistic” message. Santorum entered the race in May as a heavy underdog in a crowded Republican field featuring more than a dozen high-profile candidates — many of them newcomers to presidential politics.


TED CRUZ TARGETS PAUL’S SUPPORTERS via Katie Glueck of POLITICO – Bill O’Brien knew exactly what to do when Rand Paul officially dropped out of the 2016 race. He went on a dialing spree. O’Brien, one of Cruz ‘s New Hampshire co-chairs and a former state House speaker, had tried “15 to 20” state reps by noon, looking to pull Paul supporters over to team Cruz. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, another co-chair for Cruz here, did much the same when he heard the news in the midst of an MSNBC appearance. Back on the Cruz campaign bus, he too was calling Paul-aligned activists and lawmakers, and even members of Paul’s leadership team. It’s not a coincidence that Cruz’s co-chairs had an identical game plan: They’ve been courting Paul’s supporters for months, hoping to siphon support away from a campaign on its last legs. Now those legs have given out, and Team Cruz is ready to pounce. In their pitches, Cruz’s supporters are mixing an homage to the Paul family while claiming common ideological ground. Smith and O’Brien declined to say how many Paul supporters had already come on board as of late Wednesday morning, but Smith said the number was “significant.”

DONALD TRUMP SAYS CRUZ’S IOWA VICTORY BASED ON FRAUD via the Associated Press – In attacks posted on his official Twitter account … Trump says “either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.” A previous tweet … accused the Cruz campaign of telling Iowa voters that Ben Carson was quitting the race so he could steal Carson votes.

TRUMP’S CLAIMS OF SENATE ENDORSEMENTS RING HOLLOW via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – … even after Trump seemed to boast about forthcoming Senate endorsements, none has arrived. They’re coming “very soon,” he said, “you watch.” But there’s scant evidence to support Trump’s claim.

NEW TRUMP AD FEATURES SUPPORT FROM EVERYDAY PEOPLE via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – Trump is airing a new TV ad that shows regular people backing the real-estate mogul … will air in New Hampshire and is called “Voters Speak,” features a montage of interviews from Trump supporters praising the real estate mogul for his plainspoken approach. Among the people seen commending Trump in the ad are women and minorities – groups that the mogul has come under fire for making insensitive statements about.

KEYS TOURISM BOARD USES TRUMP HAIR JOKE IN NEW AD via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald –  A new Florida Keys tourism ad uses a spiky-browed bird as a stand-in for GOP presidential contender Trump. The ad with a close-up of a snowy egret asks: “Donald, is that you?” The campaign, aimed at tourist eyeballs as well as free news coverage, will go up on Metro stations in Washington, D.C., the tax-funded tourism board said … the $300,000 campaign by Tinsley uses “presidential campaigning” as inspiration, and includes a shot of a couple on a hammock under a headline about “swing states.” Trump is the only actual candidate referenced.

THE KIND OF DAY IT WAS: @TheRickWilson: I’m just going to say that today has been peak weird on everything political.

AS FIRST-IN-THE NATION PRIMARY LOOMS, THE FRENZY BUILDS via Sarah Schweitzer of the Boston Globe – The swirling vortex of the presidential nomination process landed in this state … powered by staffers bleary from little sleep and candidates committed to wins in a contest that for many is do-or-die. With ‘Jeb!’ and ‘Bernie for President’ signs jostling for space on highway dividers and standing room only at candidate events across the southern tier, New Hampshire claimed the focus of a race that has veered unpredictably for months, taking its latest turn in Iowa with Trump temporarily dethroned and Clinton buoyed. “Y’all treat politics like we treat football in Texas!” Cruz shouted in triumphant greeting at a rally here, recycling a line he’d used in Iowa before his win in the Republican caucuses there. With seven days before the first-in-the-nation primary, candidates descended on veterans’ halls and churches and town halls while their staffs announced a torrent of events for the next week, including 19 for Kasich, 17 for Christie, 16 for Cruz, 12 for Rubio, 10 for Bush, and three for Trump.

MARCO RUBIO RIDES CASH INFUSION INTO NEW HAMPSHIRE via Anna Palmer of POLITICO – “There has been an enormous uptick in online fundraising,” said one insider. “Peer-to-peer solicitation is also experiencing dramatic growth.” Rubio reported having $10.4 million in the bank at the end of the year, but has had to increase spending on ads significantly as BushCruz and others have spent more than $20 million in attack ads against him. One Rubio national finance committee member said over the past two days they had been contacted by multiple potential super PAC contributors and also had roughly a dozen donors reach out about wanting to give to the official campaign.

BUSH, AN ALSO-RAN IN IOWA, MAY BE PIVOTAL IN NH via Jonathan Martin and Ashley Parker of the New York Times – “If Rubio beats him badly in New Hampshire, Jeb is toast,” said Senator Lindsey Graham … added that Mr. Bush must either “tie Rubio or beat him” in this state. The burden falls so heavily on Bush, who won just 2.8 percent of the vote in Iowa, because of Republican anxieties about the top two finishers there, Cruz and Trump: Many party leaders fear that the nomination of Trump or Cruz would lead to an electoral rout this fall. “If Jeb doesn’t do well there, and he’s still got millions and millions to spend, does he stay around?” mused Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, a Rubio backer. “Who knows … more money has been spent attacking Republicans by fellow Republicans in this election than any cycle in the history of the party.”

POLL: BUSH RISES TO SECOND PLACE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics –  Trump continues to lead the Republican field in New Hampshire, but a new poll of likely Republican primary voters shows Jeb Bush is in second place. Trump maintains a strong lead over his Republican opponents with 31 percent, according to a Harper Polling survey of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire. Bush comes in second with 14 percent, followed by John Kasich at 12 percent. Marco Rubio is at 10 percent, while Ted Cruz is at 9 percent.

TWEET, TWEET: @NateSilver538: There have been a few polls *released* since Iowa, but none yet *conducted* after Iowa. Misleading headlines abound.

BUSH PLEADS WITH SUPPORTERS AFTER FIERY NH STUMP SPEECH: ‘PLEASE CLAP’ via Allegra Kirkland of Talking Points Memo – Bush can’t seem to catch a break … resorted to asking a group of unmoved voters in New Hampshire to applaud his stump speech … Bush was met with complete silence after giving what the [New York] Times described as a “fiery” speech at the Hanover Inn, where he vowed to prioritize national security as President. “I won’t be out here blowharding, talking a big game without backing it up … Please clap,” he pleaded as the audience remained quiet. According to the Times, the crowd laughed before finally breaking out into applause.

NEW BUSH AD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: ‘I KNOW HOW TO DO THIS’ via Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post – … called “Backbone” in which he takes a subtle swipe at his opponents … The new message is a more intimate appeal to voters compared to a two-minute ad that directly attacks GOP front-runner Trump and also started airing Wednesday.

— “John Thrasher touts Jeb Bush in New Hampshire” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush will hold a 10 a.m. business tour and employee town hall in New Hampshire at the globe manufacturing company, 37 Loudoun Road in Pittsfield. Doors open at 9 a.m. at 7 p.m., the former governor will join his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, at a town hall meeting at the West Running Brook Middle School cafeteria, 1 West Running Brook Ln. in Derry. Doors open at 6 p.m.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @Brianecorley: FL PPP Update: According to the Florida Division of Elections: 28,862 ballots were sent last weekend our military/overseas voters!

STAT OF THE DAY — RED STATES OUTNUMBER BLUE FOR FIRST TIME IN GALLUP TRACKING via Jeffrey Jones of Gallup – Gallup’s analysis of political party affiliation at the state level in 2015 finds that 20 states are solidly Republican or leaning Republican, compared with 14 solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic states. The remaining 16 are competitive. This is the first time in Gallup’s eight years of tracking partisanship by state that there have been more Republican than Democratic states. It also marks a dramatic shift from 2008, when Democratic strength nationally was its greatest in recent decades.


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CARLOS LOPEZ CANTERA DOUBLES DOWN ON TERM LIMITS PLEDGE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – “I have long believed term limits ensure new ideas and fresh perspectives in government, and I am committing to only serving two terms in the U.S. Senate … Too many politicians get to Washington, become part of the broken system and never leave. In addition, I recently signed the U.S. Term Limit Amendment Pledge. I am backing up my position by self –imposing term limits. Very few in Washington are willing to do this, but after twelve years, and sometimes in as short as two, if you haven’t been a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

RFK JR. ENDORSES ALAN GRAYSON via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and progressive radio host, touted Grayson‘s strength in standing up against special interests, particularly on energy and environmental issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline. He heralded Grayson as “the lone, true environmental defender in this Senate race … It’s a comfort to know Democrats like Alan Grayson still exist in Washington … He’s one of those who will not compromise in what they believe and fight for. We need Alan in the Senate.”

AL LAWSON MAKES HIS RUN FOR CORRINE BROWN’S CONGRESSIONAL SEAT OFFICIAL via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Lawson is the highest-profile person who says he will run for the seat regardless of what Brown does. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum toyed with the idea but decided against it last week, partially because his odds weren’t great with Lawson also in the hunt. Other potential candidates, like state Rep. Mia Jones and former state Sen. Tony Hill, said they will run only if Brown doesn’t. Like Brown, Jones and Hill are Jacksonville Democrats. Brown hasn’t submitted re-election paperwork to the state, and there is a slight chance she won’t run in this North Florida district or at all.

— “Washington power brokers cast cloud on Democratic primary in FL 10” via Jacob Engels of the East Orlando Post

DAVID SANTIAGO SAYS HE DECIDED TO RUN FOR CONGRESS BECAUSE OF URGING FROM D.C. CONSULTANTS via Florida Politics – The second-term HD 27 lawmaker held off entering the race for Ron DeSantis’ CD 6 seat, despite favorable poll numbers, until he got his marching orders from his friends in Washington, D.C. “I was contemplating the opportunity to get into this race and it was at the behest of many calls of people who are in DC that are affiliated,” Santiago said on the Daytona Beach-based Marc Bernier show. “Some are in the consulting business; some are from within the party.” The former Deltona city commissioner said he “just didn’t see the path to victory” and had decided to “stand on the sidelines” until his phone started ringing off the hook.

DEMOCRAT JOE GARCIA SAYS HE’S RUNNING FOR CONGRESS IN MIAMI AGAIN via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – “We did great things when we were in Congress and I want to continue work on the issues that matter to South Florida, because we deserve better,” Garcia said … “We deserve quality jobs that pay a living wage, lower college tuition, action on climate change, and comprehensive immigration reform.” Garcia lost his swing Westchester-to-Key West seat in an off-year election when fewer Democrats go to the polls. Running in a presidential year — and in a redrawn district that comfortably favored President Barack Obama in 2012 — Garcia hopes to have better luck, assuming he wins the primary. Another Democrat, Annette Taddeo … is already in the race.

***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.***

HOUSE PANEL MOVES TAX CUTS BUT WITHOUT SCOTT’S NUMBER ONE GOAL via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida House Finance & Tax Committee … passed a package of tax cuts that’s just short of $1 billion over two years. It’s a lot less then Scott wants from the Legislature and it leaves out the centerpiece of Scott’s tax cut plan: the repeal of corporate income taxes on retailers and manufacturers … the biggest piece of the tax-cut pie is a priority of Florida businesses: a reduction of the sales tax on commercial leases from 6 percent to 4 percent over two years with a net savings to businesses of $269.5 million. The permanent elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment would save businesses another $73 million, a House analysis shows. Noticeably absent from the House package is the first tax cut priority listed on Scott’s website: the permanent elimination of the corporate income tax on manufacturing and retail businesses, which he estimated would save about $770 million a year.

TOM LEE FAULTS RICK SCOTT’S BUDGET, BUILT ‘ON THE BACKS OF LOCAL TAXPAYERS’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – You can add the influential voice of Senate Appropriations Chairman Lee … to the list of Republicans howling about Scott‘s budget — and its heavy reliance on higher property tax bills. “We’re building the increase on the backs of local taxpayers and then we’re running around the state and doing a victory lap,” Lee told the Times/Herald. “I’m opposed to the way we are funding public education largely on the backs of local taxpayers.” An alternative plan developed by Sen. Don Gaetz … would divert about $254 million in state tax revenue to the public school budget, and package that as a tax cut. But that would likely doom Scott’s own package of $1 billion in business-friendly tax cuts next year.

DON GAETZ DEFENDS DECISION TO SHIFT MENTORING FUNDING TO A GRANT SYSTEM via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “There is nothing in this budget that cuts one penny out of any of these programs,” said Gaetz, chair of the education appropriations subcommittee, during the Senate Appropriations meeting. “Instead, we’re actually increasing it. Based on our recommendation for aftercare and mentoring programs by $10 million. I thought that only in Washington was a 50 percent increase viewed as a cut, but apparently it is in some quarters of Tallahassee. It is simply not true.” Under the plan, money would be awarded by a committee of members appointed by Scott, Senate President Andy Gardiner, and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and could include Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and other top officials.

SENATORS DIVIDED OVER USING STATE PARK MONEY TO CONTROL LAKE O DISCHARGES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Joe Negron proposed amending the Senate budget to include $750,000 in recurring funds and $6.75 million in nonrecurring funds for the South Florida Water Management District …  to purchase additional land for the Caulkins Water Farming pilot project. The project helps stem flooding of South Florida farms, and control harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Negron’s amendment was opposed by Alan Hays, chairman of the appropriations committee tasked with environmental issues … Hays’ objection to using parks money for the project was because there are already several bills working through the Legislature that seek to increase park attendance. “I just don’t like this amendment because you overpower the state parks,” Hays said. Despite Hays’ objections, the committee approved the amendment, as Negron promised to work with Hays to modify the proposal once the appropriations bill comes up for a full Senate vote.

HOUSE GREEN LIGHTS OPEN CARRY BILL via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Florida inched one step closer to becoming the 46th state in the country to allow concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their firearms in public after the House passed a bill supporting the measure by a vote of 80-38 … would make it legal for anyone with a concealed weapons permit to openly carry their firearm in public. Current Florida law does not allow CCW permit holders to openly carry. Anyone who willfully infringes on concealed weapons permit holders’ right to openly carry (like law enforcement officers) would face a $5,000 fine. Government entities who try to infringe upon the open carry rule could face an even higher penalty of $100,000 for infringing on CCW permit holders’ right to carry.

SENATE PRESIDENT: GUN BILLS ARE “IN TROUBLE” via Kristen Clark and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Andy Gardiner … said the proposals are “in trouble,” as far as the Senate is concerned. One of the bills allows concealed weapons permit-holders to carry openly and another lets them carry concealed on public college and university campuses. Gardiner has been consistent that the fate of the bills rests with Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla … the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where both bills await another hearing. Diaz de la Portilla said he won’t hear the campus-carry proposal in his committee for the second year in a row, and he indicated last week he could change his mind and not hear the open-carry plan, either. Gardiner confirmed today that outcome is likely.

HOUSE MOVES FORWARD WITH A DRAFT COMPACT BILL AS POSTURING OVER FUTURE OF GAMING CONTINUES via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – House Regulatory Affairs Committee Chairman Jose Felix Diaz … is drafting three bill relating to gaming, including one that tracks the governor’s proposed compact with the Seminole Tribe — to be released no sooner than next week. One bill would establish the parameters of the compact, another would apply to other pari-mutuel facilities and the third would be a constitutional amendment. Meanwhile, the Senate President Andy Gardiner said … “the compact is just a heavy lift” but expects a bill to come up in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee next week. “It’s never the compact, it’s everything else that potentially comes with it that makes it a little bit of a challenge,” Gardiner said. “Keep in mind we don’t even budget for the compact now and even if we passed it, it doesn’t come into effect until next year and wouldn’t even have an impact. We’ll find out next week because I think it will be up in committee and I think that will be an indication if we can even get it done.”

STEVE CRISAFULLI CONTENDS SEMINOLE COMPACT NEEDS “CHANGES” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – “We’re certainly focused on what details that bill can have in it that would work for this body,” he said. “And then we have to have a discussion at some point with our Senate partners to see if there is something we can move.” Another concern comes from the pari-mutuel racetracks, which feel slighted because they have long desired to add slots to boost flagging revenue because of decreased interest in dog and horse racing. A case now before the Florida Supreme Court could answer the question of whether slot machines are allowed outside South Florida if local voters in a particular area approve of them. That would include Brevard, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach and Washington counties. A favorable ruling could upend the Compact provisions.

BILL WOULD ALLOW MILITARY FORCE TO KEEP OUT REFUGEES via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press – Florida’s governor would be able to use military force to keep out immigrants or refugees from certain parts of the world under a bill passed by a House committee … The “Prevention of Acts of War” bill would let the governor designate so-called restricted people – those he determines are from countries where “invaders” live or train in preparation for an attack in the United States … The bill – which faces a number of hurdles, including little demonstrated interest from the Senate – would prohibit any state or local government employee or any person receiving state assistance of any kind, including Medicare, from helping certain immigrants or refugees entering or resettling in Florida unless the immigrants were born in the Western Hemisphere. Anyone assisting a restricted person would have to turn that person’s personal information over to the state. The state would be allowed to monitor restricted people.

HOUSE WANTS TO BAN SANCTUARY CITIES via the Associated Press – The Florida House wants to investigate and penalize any cities, counties and sheriffs that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities … voted 80-38 for the sweeping measure sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz … he sponsored the bill (HB 675) in response to a 2015 incident in San Francisco in which a woman was fatally shot by a Mexican immigrant. Opponents said the bill would cause immigrants to no longer work with local law enforcement agencies, but supporters said the legislation is needed to ensure federal laws are followed.

FEDERAL COURT ORDERS FULL COURT HEARING IN CHALLENGE TO 2011 ‘DOCS V. GLOCKS’ LAW via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – In the one-page ruling, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to grant an en banc hearing to reconsider a 2-1 decision that upheld the controversial law in July … the full 11-member panel will rehear the case decided by three of its members. The hearing is a victory for medical groups that argued that the law infringed on doctors’ First Amendment rights and is a setback to the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates who pushed for the law. Dubbed the “Docs vs. Glocks” law and signed by Scott, it subjects health care providers to possible sanctions, including fines and loss of license, if they discuss or record information in a patient’s chart about firearms safety that a medical board later determined was not “relevant” or was “unnecessarily harassing.” The law, however, did not define these terms.

SPECIALTY PLATE REDUCTION BILL DRAWS FLURRY OF AMENDMENTS ADDING PLATES via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics – Lawmakers are filing a flurry of amendments to a bill aimed at reducing the number of specialty license plates on Florida roadways … at least 16 amendments to Jeff Brandes’ omnibus new plate bill adding at least one specialty plate each … adding plates in the proposal doesn’t necessarily defeat the purpose. Groups wishing to sell specialty license plates now have to presell 1,000 plates before they can be manufactured. If that group didn’t maintain at least 1,000 plates for 12 consecutive months, the plate would be discontinued. Under Brandes’ bill, that threshold would be increased to 4,000 … Adding new plates to the allowable list seems to run counter to that plan. However, under the provisions of the bill, those plates not meeting the increased standards would get canceled anyway. According to Brandes’ office, they think that’s the reason they’re open to any plate proposal.

ALIMONY BILL BACK BEFORE HOUSE LAWMAKERS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Judiciary Committee will consider the bill (HB 455), sponsored by … Colleen Burton of Lakeland … Among other things, Burton’s bill “effectively end(s) permanent alimony” by limiting judges’ discretion in awarding alimony after a divorce by providing a preset formula for how much an ex-spouse should get and for how long … It creates a “rebuttable presumption” that changing or ending alimony is retroactive to the date when a party asks for it. The measure also requires those who pursue a change in alimony to pay the fees and costs of the other side if they lose. The bill puts at odds ex-spouses – largely men – who say “forever alimony” isn’t fair, and their former mates – mostly women – who counter that they shouldn’t be penalized for staying home to raise children and then having trouble later in life re-entering the workforce.

***Mark your calendar! Join us at The Edison on February 11 for Pancakes at the Park to celebrate the half-way mark of session. Make a donation to enjoy delicious pancakes from 7-10 a.m., served by city, county, and state elected officials. All donations benefit the Foundation of Leon County Schools.***

HOUSE, SENATE SEND 10 TO 20-LIFE CHANGE TO GOV. SCOTT via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida House … voted to remove aggravated assault from the list of crimes requiring a minimum sentence of 20 years under the state’s 10-20-Life Law … the law has been called into question for being unflexible, including in cases when people have been convicted for firing warning shots. A taskforce created by Scott in 2013 recommended that the Legislature “eliminate any unintended consequences” under 10-20-Life. “It’s probably the best thing that I’ve done since I’ve been here,” said Rep. Neil Combee … the bill’s sponsor.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will provide an update on the Florida’s preparedness efforts relating to the Zika virus at 1:30 p.m. at the Hillsborough County Health Department, 1105 East Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will discuss job creation at 9:30 a.m. at Kaman Aircraft Corporation, 780 Whittaker Road in Jacksonville.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam opens the annual Florida State Fair, which runs through Feb. 15. at 6:35 a.m., Putnam and attorney General Pam Bondi hold a “Flip the Switch” media event to turn on the lights of the fair at the Family Friendly Midway. at 7 a.m., Putnam and Bondi will attend the “Fresh from Florida” breakfast, a casual breakfast featuring Florida produce at the Agriculture Hall of Fame Building. at 12 p.m., Gov. Scott will host the Governor’s Day Luncheon with Putnam, Bondi, and CFO Jeff Atwater in the Charles M. Davis Special Event Center. Media can enter the Florida State Fairgrounds at Gate 4, at the intersection of I-4 and Orient Road.

SCOTT’S POLITICAL COMMITTEE STARTS YEAR WITH SPENDING BINGE via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott’s Let’s Get To Work committee spent nearly $1.4 million in January, about double the amount he spent in the previous eight months combined … The bulk … (almost $1.2 million) in January was on “media production” according to campaign records. Let’s Get to Work released a new television commercial early in January to tout his job creation efforts and promote his top legislative priorities. For January, Scott has raised $579,832 and spent almost $1.4 million. Almost half of the money Scott raised in January came on Jan. 29, when he collected $255,000 from just five groups and business

FRANK ARTILES ANNOUNCES HE IS RUNNING FOR SENATE DISTRICT 40, LIKELY CHALLENGING DWIGHT BULLARD via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Artiles … has decided to run for Senate District 40, the redrawn Miami-based district that now holds incumbent Bullard and Anitere Flores … which leans Democratic. “I will open my account and officially kick off my campaign post session, but I have every intention of running for that seat and running to win.”

— “Opponent asks: does Frank Artiles read the bills he votes on?” via Florida Politics

THIRD DEMOCRAT ENTERS HD 9 RACE FOR 2016 via Florida Politics – Joshua Johnson entered the race to take over for termed out Democratic Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda last week, setting up another obstacle for former Rep. Loranne Ausley. He joins Arnitta Jane Grice-Walker in pursuit of the Democratic nomination in the left-leaning District 9 seat. Ausley, a House member from 2000 to 2008, is the prohibitive favorite in the race. Since announcing she would seek the seat in May she has been raking in campaign contributions and currently sits with about $169,000 on-hand.

COCOA DEMOCRAT JOINS HD 51 RACE via Florida Politics – Cocoa City Councilman Michael Blake joins Republican Cocoa Beach Commissioner Tim Timulty, who filed for the seat this past February, and HD 50 Rep. Tom Goodson, who’s looking to shift districts. The former Cocoa mayor will likely have a hard time gaining traction in the district because it tilts heavily toward the GOP.


actual press release

***Florida hospitals are on a mission. A mission to increase access to health care, improve the quality of care and reduce costs for patients. Find out more about the Florida Hospital Association’s “Mission to Care” and its new website that provides hospital prices and quality ratings in a consumer-friendly, searchable format.***


Robert Brown: Agency for Persons with Disabilities

James DaughtonWarren HusbandGregory BlackPatricia GreeneAimee LyonAndrew Palmer, Metz Husband & Daughton: Solar Energy Industries Association

Richard Gentry, Gentry & Associates: DraftKings; FanDuel; Fantasy Sports Trade Association

Fausto Gomez, Gomez Barker Associates: AM Analytics

Armando IbarraJessica Fernandez, Ai Advisory: Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association

Jeff SharkeyTaylor Patrick Biehl, Capitol Alliance Group: Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe County

Joseph Steele, Smith & Associates: Compassionate Care Hospice Group; Waterstone Development Company

M. Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: Fresh Air Educators

J. Larry Williams, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: NorthStar Contracting Group

GOVERNORS CLUB THURSDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU: For the final lunch of the week, legislators will get a chance to enjoy a diverse range of yummy foods at the Governors Club, including a few items with a German flair, such as Breaded Pork Schnitzel and Grilled Bratwurst with Mushroom Demi Sauce, as well as New England Clam Chowder; Classic Cold Cut Wrap Board with Chips; Chef Salad; Tuna Salad & Chicken; Baked Flounder with Lemon Caper Wine Sauce; Roasted Mojo Chicken; California Vegetable Mix & Vegetable Rice, ending with Peach Cobbler and Assorted Mini Desserts.

WHAT ADAM BABINGTON IS READING — STAR WARS SUCCESS PROPELS DISNEY TO WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL BRAND via Kristen Schweizer of Bloomberg Business – With Star Wars’ brand value alone estimated at $10 billion, Disney is reaping rewards from the $4 billion it paid for Lucasfilm in 2012, according to Brand Finance, which ranks brand strength based on familiarity, loyalty, promotion and marketing investment. The latest Star Wars installment was the fastest film to take in $1 billion and is Disney’s most successful. Star Wars toys have so far generated more than $700 million … Toymaker Lego A/S fell to the No. 2 spot following a fine by German regulators for trying to prevent retailers from discounting Lego products, as well as Lego’s refusal to sell Ai Weiwei the bricks in bulk, which the Chinese artist called an act of censorship. The Top 10 powerful brands list was rounded out by companies including L’Oreal SA, Nike Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.

LATE COMMITMENTS HEADLINE FLORIDA STATE’S RECRUITING CLASS via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff were able to fill a variety of needs for Florida State with the biggest gains coming on the offensive and defensive lines … added five offensive linemen and five defensive linemen … Three of those additions on the line — offensive linemen Landon Dickerson and Jauan Williams along with defensive linemen Brian Burns and Shevar Manuel — were last-minute commitments. All four are composite four-star prospects. “When you got a chance to get those guys, you better jump all over them because high quality offensive and defensive linemen are hard to find,” Fisher said. “You take as many as you can get because of injuries and sometimes they just aren’t there.” The Seminoles ended up with 13 from the state of Florida but recruited from 10 states. Six of those commitments came … as they had one of the top classes in the country. “I’m very happy with the group we’ve got,” Fisher said.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sen. Dwight Bullard.

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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