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Sunburn for January 19 – Is Kumbaya over?

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.


With last week’s passage of leadership’s priority bills regarding water policy and disabled Floridians, the Legislature’s Kumbaya moments are seemingly over.

Now it’s on to the House and Senate we know and love … well, know, anyway … with potential food fights teed up and ready to go.

First, Martin Luther King III comes to Tallahassee Tuesday morning to lead a march and rally in support of school vouchers. Good luck getting to work: Capitol Police are expecting 10,000 people to jam the area.

On the other side of downtown, the crew from No Casinos takes over the Press Center to explain its full-court press “to stop the expansion of gambling in Florida.”

Coincidentally, that’s one day before state Senators in the Regulated Industries Committee are set to have a workshop and hear testimony on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe, That’s the one that charitable legislators are calling a “heavy lift.”

Also Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner and Democratic state Rep. Lori Berman plan a press conference to mark the 43rd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

As if talking about abortion isn’t enough in the conservative Capitol, they’ll be joined by Planned Parenthood officials.

But wait, there’s more: The Florida Cabinet meets this week for the first time since Department of Revenue head Marshall Stranburg and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty hit their respective “eject” buttons.

To no surprise, an agenda item reads: “Discussion of appointments for Department of Revenue executive director and Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner.”

It’s not like replacing a department head could generate any problems, right? Oh, wait

We’d say bring popcorn, but the Sergeants-at-Arms won’t allow food into the meeting rooms.

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SUPPORTERS OF FLORIDA TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIP TO RALLY AT CAPITOL via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – led by a special guest: Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader whom the nation is honoring with its annual federal holiday … King is set to be the keynote speaker at the rally, which was organized by the “Save Our Scholarships Coalition” and other school-choice groups to emphasize support for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Tampa-based Florida Voices for Choices says it has more than 240 schools signed up to participate — including three dozen from South Florida and about 30 from the Tampa Bay area … An email advisory from Capitol Police said officers are preparing for as many as 10,000 people.

MARTIN LUTHER KING III MAKES CASE FOR TAX-CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – “I would assume my father would support anything that lifted up and created opportunities for ‘the least of these,’” Martin Luther King III [said] … quoting the Bible. “I don’t think he would get caught up in the politics of it.” The younger King, though, has waded into the complicated racial, religious and partisan politics of the controversial voucher-like program … a day after the national holiday honoring his father, King will headline a Tallahassee rally promoting the program, putting himself at odds with Florida’s statewide teachers’ union as well as the state’s chapter of the NAACP. With black and Hispanic religious leaders from around the state, King will call on the Florida Education Association to drop its lawsuit challenging the program, through which corporations get a 100 percent tax credit for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to low-income students.


HOUSE DISCUSSES BALANCE BILLING REFORM  The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee takes up HB 221, filed by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo to reform the practice of “balance billing” for patients who receive emergency care. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— “New survey shows Florida for-profit hospitals provide quality health care for less” via Florida Politics

FAHP URGES LAWMAKERS TO APPROVE BALANCE BILLING REFORM – The Florida Association of Health Plans President & CEO Audrey Brown urged the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee to pass House Bill 221, sponsored by Carlos Trujillo … which would reform the current system of balance billing. “The current system of balance billing threatens Florida’s consumers by putting them on the hook for the retail cost of health care services. Many times, these costs arise from an emergency situation when, through no choice of their own, they are treated by an out-of-network health care provider … Trujillo’s HB 221 would shield consumers from the practice of surprise balance billing by prohibiting health care providers from billing a consumer for the balance of the retail charges above what the insurance company has already paid in situations when a consumer has no ability to choose an in-network provider.”

SENATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE EXAMINES SENTENCING PROPOSAL  The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will address several draft proposals on sentencing guidelines. Meeting begins 1:30 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

SENATE TALKS DRONE LIABILITY BILL  The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee looks at SB 642 from Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, which could have owners of drones held liable for negligence of drone operators. Meeting starts 1:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

HOUSE CONSIDERS APPEALS COURT MOVE  A proposal to move the offices of the 2nd District Court of Appeals from Lakeland to Tampa will be taken up by the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. Meeting begins 1:30 p.m. in Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

BILL TO MOVE 2ND DISTRICT COURT TO TAMPA RILES POLK LEGISLATORS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – House Bill 815, sponsored by … Shawn Harrison, would move the 2nd District Court of Appeal from Lakeland to the Tampa area. “It’s becoming a public safety issue,” Harrison said. About 50 employees and judges work in the courthouse. A recent air quality report shows the roof of the building sheds particles that cause air quality problems. “We’re not happy with it,” Winter Haven Republican John Wood said … he would prefer a new court building rather than move the court to Tampa. Harrison disagreed, saying that makes little sense because most of the court’s judges already work in Tampa at the Stetson University’s Tampa Law Center. Fifty-percent of all the filings for the 2nd DCA come from either Hillsborough or Pinellas counties, he adds.

UBER, LYFT INSURANCE BILL ON SENATE AGENDA  The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee considers SB 111 from Altamonte Springs Republican Sen. David Simmons, which seeks to establish insurance requirements for transportation services such as Uber and Lyft. Meeting begins 4 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— “Uber launches radio ad against Miami-Dade chairman over proposed legislation” via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald

HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE EXAMINES CIVIL CITATIONS FOR JUVENILES  The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will examine a proposal (PCB CRJS 16-06) to expand the use of civil citations for juveniles committing crimes. Meeting starts 4 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

HAPPENING TODAY: No Casinos President John Sowinski will hold a news briefing to express concern over the proposed Seminole Compact and outline the group’s three-pronged plan to stop the expansion of gambling in Florida. The strategy includes legal, legislative and constitutional amendment components. News conference begins 10:00 a.m. at the Florida Press Center Press Conference Room, 336 E. College Avenue in Tallahassee.

ALSO HAPPENING TODAY: Democrats state Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando and Rep. Shevrin Jones of West Park, will hold an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the fourth-floor rotunda of the Capitol to discuss proposed legislation that sets reporting and investigation requirements in incidents where police use force.

STEVE CRISAFULLI COLLECTS MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH AS OTHER LEGISLATIVE LEADERS IN PRE-SESSION HAUL via Mary Ellen Klas and Jeremy Wallace of the Miami Herald – Crisafulli, who is retiring this year because of term limits and is not even expected to be on the ballot … is the top fundraiser this legislative session, raising $2 million in his two political committees since the last session ended and this cycle began in July. His take rose $350,000 alone during a flurry of fundraisers the first 11 days before session. Early January was a busy time for fundraising for the state’s legislative leaders … top fundraisers collected $1.7 million alone during that time, raising their total since July to $9.6 million. Crisafulli raised nearly twice as each of the next 14 fundraisers, including … Jack Latvala … and Joe Negron … whose fundraising climbed as they were locked in a protracted battle to become Senate president.

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BETTING ON SUBSTANCE: JEB BUSH ROLLS OUT HIS EDUCATION PLAN via Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post – No one can accuse Bush of abandoning substance … “Hey, I’m a substantial guy,” Bush jokes in a phone interview. “I think ideas have consequences.” Bush is now rolling out an education plan, reflecting his passion and interest in the subject and one of his strong suits as governor of Florida. “If you look at the common theme across all [his policy ideas], it is to empower people and take power away from the federal government” … Bush’s plan reflects his preference for a limited but vibrant federal government … a host of conservative reform ideas … a “a complete overhaul of a system from one that serves bureaucracies to one that serves the needs of families and students and is based on four conservative principles: 1) education decisions should be made as close to the student as possible; 2) choice of all kinds should be expanded, 3) transparency is essential to accountability; and 4) innovation requires flexibility” … includes expanded 529 education accounts; a new flexible education account that would replace a mishmash of federal programs with a $2,500 annual scholarship in the Education Savings Account (ESA) of every low-income child under age 5.

— “Jeb Bush’s education plan echoes what he did in Florida” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

MARCO RUBIO PLAYS UP PERSONAL SIDE IN N.H. CAMPAIGN STOP via Akilah Johnson of the Boston Globe – The day after a sharp debate performance … Rubio … brought his campaign road show to New Hampshire … showcasing a more personal side in his bid for president. Rubio took the fight to several of his opponents at [the] debate, attacking … Cruz’s voting records and questioning other candidates’ commitment to conservative values. And while he also took direct aim at … Clinton, a Democrat, and … Christie, a Republican … Rubio’s address focused on why his life experiences are more in step with those of everyday Americans.

RUBIO SAYS FAITH IS THE ‘SINGLE GREATEST INFLUENCE IN MY LIFE’ via the Associated Press – Rubio promised to keep “talking about God” as he campaigned across Iowa … reminding influential evangelical voters of his commitment to Christian values just two weeks before the state’s leadoff caucuses … he spoke of how Christian conservative values would guide his decisions in the White House, if he is elected. The Florida senator, a Catholic, opened up about religion when confronted by an atheist during a town hall-style meeting in Waverly, Iowa. “No one’s going to force you to believe in God. But no one’s going to force me to stop talking about God,” Rubio told the atheist …  “Not only am I a Christian, not only am I influenced by my faith, but it is the single greatest influence in my life. And from that I’ll never hide.”

DOES RUBIO FAVOR A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP? YES, NO, MAYBE via Teddy Davis of CNN  Rubio appears to have a different answer today than he did in June when it comes to immigration reform. In June, asked if he supported a “path to citizenship” Rubio said, “I do.” Now, in Iowa, Rubio’s response was much more ambiguous: “It’s not a yes or no answer.”

CHRIS CHRISTIE UNDER FIRE FROM RUBIO FOR SUPPORTING SONIA SOTOMAYOR via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “I wish that you would read the statement we sent you from May when she was nominated which was she’s not my kind of judge. She wouldn’t be my choice for the court,” Christie said on Fox News. “And what I was saying then was those folks deserve an up or down vote after their confirmation … Elections have consequences and the president has the right to appoint his justices. But I said very clearly in May that she was not my kind of judge. I would not have appointed her. So what Senator Rubio was doing is what senators do all the time. They talk and talk and obfuscate and make sure that people don’t understand the full context of things because they never have to be held accountable for anything.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush will be speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. Rubio will be fundraising in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee before returning to New Hampshire.

DONALD TRUMP HINTS AT BIG ENDORSEMENT via Facebook – Trump will make a “major announcement” during a visit at the Iowa State University Hansen Agricultural Student Learning Center in Ames, Iowa. Doors open at 3 p.m. Mark Halperin, in a tweet, speculated it might be an endorsement from Sarah Palin.

TED CRUZ MOCKS TRUMP FOR DONATIONS TO DEMOCRATS via Katie Glueck of POLITICO – Cruz … added fresh fuel to his rivalry with Trump, aggressively highlighting donations Trump previously gave to Democrats and swiping at him for his frequent broadsides against Cruz on Twitter. “We need a leader prepared to do whatever is needed to keep this country safe,” Cruz said in New Hampshire. “Typically, that doesn’t include spending time on Twitter.” Cruz has been seeking to cast Trump as a newcomer to the conservative cause who, until recently, was a liberal with close ties to Democrats. “I’m pretty sure Ronald Reagan didn’t write checks and support Democratic politicians like [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo and [former congressman] Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton,” Cruz said, when asked whether Trump, like Reagan, has merely evolved in a more conservative direction. “I’m pretty sure Reagan didn’t write a huge check to [then-Chicago mayoral candidate] Rahm Emanuel in December of 2010 after, by the way, the big tea party wave, after the 2010 election … Every candidate tries to compare themselves to Reagan. At the end of the day, Americans are going to assess who’s telling the truth.”

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DRIVING THE DAY — DAVID JOLLY WANTS FEDERALLY ELECTED OFFICIALS TO SPEND MORE TIME DOING THEIR JOB AND LESS ON RAISING MONEY via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics – Jolly … is throwing his weight behind a measure that could limit the amount of funding federal candidates could raise. While a bill being introduced by Jolly would not cap the amount of contributions or otherwise limit the fundraising potential of candidates, it would make it harder to bring in the vast stream of finance currently flowing into federal elections. Jolly is proposing that federally elected officials … could not spend any time directly soliciting contributions for re-election or election to another office. Jolly proposed the bill after becoming enraged over the re-election expectation in Congress. Newly-elected Representatives are told to log four hours each day making calls for campaign cash. Meanwhile, their workload expectation is just two hours a day.

— “Carlos Lopez-Cantera condemns as ‘dangerous game’ Barack Obama’s Iran policy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Alan Grayson ad with congressional footage appears again, this time in debate” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “Ron DeSantis wants to know if Patrick Murphy, Grayson ’feel the Bern’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

LIBERTARIAN AUGUSTUS INVICTUS PROMISES TO PUBLISH “LSD JOURNALS” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate … Invictus — the Orlando lawyer who admitted sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood as part of a Pagan ritual — is now promising to release two years of “LSD journals” … “I am pleased to announce that I will be publishing two years’ worth of LSD journals on 31 January 2016.” He also included a picture of two pages of handwriting that includes the declaration, “F- you America. This is your next Senator from Florida.” His campaign, launched in May, has often been marked by statements, behavior and revelations of his past that many have found ranging from far outside the political mainstream to bizarre.

COMBAT VETERAN BRIAN MAST ACCUSED OF EXPLOITING PROSTHETIC LEGS FOR POLITICAL GAIN via Javier Manjarres of The Shark Tank – Mast is being accused by a few of only running for the U.S. Congress because he had lost both of his legs in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan … Here is what we reported: Several Palm Beach residents … are saying that one of Mast’s congressional opponents and his or her financial backers, are pushing the narrative that “he is only running on his legs,” and that the reason why Mast wears shorts is to exploit his prosthetic legs. On a live media call with reporters last week, Mast, and his guest on the call, Rep. Steve Russell (R-Ok), who has endorsed him, both were asked to comment on the political attack. “This is politics. It’s a full contact sport as they say, so people are going to say whatever they want. I don’t mind telling anyone, two prosthetic legs hopefully not one day ever define me. Prosthetic legs don’t define me. I think they are an example of what my commitment to America, and I’d like to think that commitment to America is what defines me as person” … Russell was in disbelief that such an accusation could even be made against anyone who has sacrificed so much for his or her country.

RICARDO RANGEL JOINS GRAVIS MARKETING, WILL CONTINUE CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Rangel is joining Winter Springs political consulting firm Gravis Marketing yet will continue his campaign for Congress in the Orlando-based Congressional District 9. “Absolutely,” Rangel said about continuing his campaign, in which he’s not one of the leaders in a packed Democratic field … Rangel will be director of campaigns and governmental affairs.

GET TO KNOW BOB POE, THE 10TH DISTRICT’S BEST HOPE? via Jacob Engels of the East Orlando Post – At first glance Poe might seem like an unlikely fit, but the former Florida Democratic Party head has a unique history that could prove powerful. “I am a successful entrepreneur, longtime political activist and accomplished artist. I grew up in a working class family, moved to Orlando in 1969, graduated from Evans High School …” You are a proud progressive… how will you package your platform in a way that appeals to people beyond your base? “My experience has taught me that finding common ground and building on it is much more effective than dwelling on areas of disagreement. My economic message does that. I have an economic plan that transcends traditional political boundaries … Republicans call people like me “Job Creators.” But, I understood that it was my customers – hard working men and women who pay their bills and pay their taxes – who were the real ‘Job Creators’ … Often times, Democrats haven’t been able to articulate a winning message or, if they did, they didn’t have the financial resources to get that message out there. I’ll have both.”

RICK BAKER STILL UNDECIDED ABOUT CD 13 RUN via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times –He loves public service, his current job as St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards‘ local fixer seems to be at a turning point with the Sundial development more or less complete, his kids are no longer youngsters, and his prospects for winding up in a President Jeb Bush administration appear a whole lot slimmer today than a year ago. So what’s Baker thinking? Not much that he wanted to discuss publicly. He said he is still keeping the door open on a congressional run, and he dismissed an intriguing rumor that he is interesting in running for mayor against Rick Kriseman in 2017. “That is not on my radar screen right now,” Baker said.

FIRST IN SUNBURN – GAYLE HARRELL ENDORSES REBECCA NEGRON IN CD 18 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican, is backing Rebecca Negron in the race to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy in congressional District 18. In a statement Harrell said Negron will “bring the issues that matter most to our community to the forefront.” Negron called Harrell a “trusted local Republican leader in our community.” Negron, a Martin County school board member and wife of Senate President Designate Joe Negron, has received a host of endorsements since jumping in the race in April.

IN PRIMARY CHALLENGE, DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ FACES UNPRECEDENTED TEST via Mike Lilles of The Hill – The Democratic National Committee (DNC) chief has infuriated many Democrats with her handling of the party’s presidential primary debates. She drew further howls from liberals for deeming a whole generation of young women “complacent” about their abortion freedoms … now she’s facing a primary challenge from a liberal Wall Street reformer who says she’s a corporate shill detached from her district. Timothy Canova, a professor at the Shepard Broad College of Law in Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, says Wasserman Schultz‘s positions on trade, criminal justice, consumer protection and drug policy reform — among others — are evidence that she’s sold out to corporate interests at the expense of her constituents. It marks the first primary challenge to Wasserman Schultz since her arrival on Capitol Hill in 2005.  Canova, a former aide to the late Sen. Paul Tsongas … is pointing to a host of votes that, he says, make Wasserman Schultz a bad fit for the district.

***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.***

ON THE GOVERNORS CLUB BUFFET MENU: Lawmakers returning to Tallahassee from the long weekend break will not go hungry. The Governors Club offers a sumptuous lunch buffet Tuesday that includes: White Chicken Chili; GC Club Sandwich Board with Chips; Mix Green Salad with Toppings; Cole Slaw & Potato Salad; Southern Fried Chicken; Sliced Barbeque London Broil; Maple Glazed Salmon; Green Beans with Bacon; Baked Beans & Mashed Potatoes; and Apple Crisp & Mini Desserts.

WHAT FRANCISCO GONZALEZ IS READING: THE TENNIS RACKET via Heidi Blake and John Templon of BuzzFeed – Secret files exposing evidence of widespread match-fixing by players at the upper level of world tennis … The sport’s governing bodies have been warned repeatedly about a core group of 16 players – all of whom have ranked in the top 50 – but none have faced any sanctions and more than half of them will begin playing at the Australian Open … It has been seven years since world tennis authorities were first handed compelling evidence about a network of players suspected of fixing matches at major tournaments including Wimbledon following a landmark investigation, but all of them have been allowed to continue playing.

FURIOUS 8 OFFICIALLY BECOMES FAST 8, WILL PROBABLY STILL HAVE PLENTY OF ROAD RAGE via Danette Chavez of AV Club – Vin Diesel has displayed ample ability to be both Fast & Furious on screen, but he’s also proven himself proficient at promoting the films behind the scenes. The actor regularly shares news on the franchise via his social media accounts, including the extensive search for a director and the possibility of a protracted conclusion to the series … Diesel has dispensed with the ampersand again for the title of the new film. Now it’s Fast 8 that will ride roughshod over the box-office competition this spring, leaving the Furious 8 moniker its dust. Fast 8 will travel on “new roads” come April [2017], with F. Gary Gray directing.

N.W.A. TO REUNITE AT COACHELLA WITH EMINEM FILLING IN FOR EAZY E via The Count – With a Guns N’ Roses reunion already on the bill, original members of hip-hop group N.W.A. will also at take the stage this year’s Coachella. On the heels of award winning biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” Ice Cube has announced he will be joined by Dr. DreDJ YellaMC Ren and Eminem, (who is filling in for the late Eazy E,) to redux N.W.A. during his performance at Coachella 2016. “I’ve got some tricks up my sleeves … I’m gonna try to bring the members of N.W.A. together. Give everybody a little history lesson on Ice Cube and N.W.A., West Side Connection, everything I’ve been doing over the years,” Ice Cube explained.

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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