Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
Florida’s elected officials reacted on Twitter to the Las Vegas shooting that left 59 people dead and wounding more than 500. Here’s a selection:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson): “Thoughts & prayers are with the victims of this horrific attack. At some point we, as a society, have to stand up and say enough is enough.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (@marcorubio): “I’m praying for all the victims, their families, and our first responders in the #LasVegas #MandalayBay shooting.”
Gov. Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) “[email protected] and I are praying for Las Vegas and all the innocent lives senselessly taken.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi (@AGPamBondi): “Heartbreaking news out of Las Vegas — praying for the victims, their families and our country.”
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (@adamputnam): “Terribly saddened to wake up to news of so many killed & injured in Las Vegas. Prayers for all at the scene, their families & loved ones.”
CFO Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis): “50 lives are lost, 200+ are injured and countless families are changed forever. Praying for all involved in last night’s Las Vegas shooting.”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran (@richardcorcoran): “Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to the victims and families of the tragedy in Las Vegas. #PrayForLasVegas”
“Rick Scott orders flags at half-staff for Las Vegas shooting victims” via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott Monday has ordered flags at half-staff “in honor and remembrance of the victims of the act of violence committed in Las Vegas during the late-night hours of Oct. 1.” The U.S. and state flags will be flown at half-staff “at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida,” according to a statement from his office. “The flags shall be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff until the expiration of the President’s national directive until sunset on Friday.” “Ann and I are praying for Las Vegas and all the innocent lives senselessly taken in this tragic attack,” Scott said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to every family impacted by last night’s shooting.” President Donald Trump‘s proclamation is here.
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— THERE’S ALWAYS A FLORIDA ANGLE —
“Accused Las Vegas gunman previously lived in Central Florida, brother says” via David Harris and Michael Williams of the Orlando Sentinel – “An asteroid just fell out of the sky,” said Eric Paddock, 57, who lives east of Orlando. “We have absolutely no [idea] why in the world he would do something like this.” Paddock said his brother sold his 2-year-old house in Viera, north of Melbourne, and moved away partly to escape Florida’s humidity. He lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, near the Arizona border, The Associated Press reported. Like his son, Stephen Paddock’s father also had ties to crime, gambling and Las Vegas. Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, who sometimes went by Patrick Benjamin Paddock, was a bank robber who was put on the FBI’s most-wanted list in 1969. A former garbage-disposal salesman and serviceman, according to a 1960 article by the Arizona Republic, he was arrested in Las Vegas that year and tried to run an FBI agent over with his car before he was captured. He made the list after escaping from a federal prison in La Tuna, Texas, on Dec. 31, 1968, having served eight years of a 20-year sentence. The FBI at the time described Hoskins Paddock as a frequent gambler and avid bridge player. He had a wife and four children in Arizona, officials said in 1969.
“Vegas gunman was gambler, ‘trusting,’ Brevard neighbor says” via Eliot Kleinberg, Julius Whigham II and Olivia Hitchcock of the Palm Beach Post – Retired hotelier and corporate pilot Don Judy was surprised in 2013 when he went to welcome Stephen Paddock, his new neighbor at their community near Melbourne on the Space Coast. Paddock told him he was a professional gambler who traveled back and forth to Las Vegas, as well as a real-estate speculator. Right away, he said, the man handed him a house key and asked him to check on his home periodically. “That was strange because that was only our first meeting,” Judy told The Palm Beach Post … Judy said Paddock “never said anything about guns” and that the only time Judy saw anything close to anger was when the neighborhood management firm refused to give Paddock a gate pass he could transfer between the different rental cars he’d arrive in. He was denied, meaning he needed to register each car separately. “He said, ‘Dang it. They won’t give me a pass.’” He also said that when Paddock first gave him the house key, he told him, “‘Listen. I’ve bought all this new stuff. Shop-Vac, ladders, tools. If you need anything, feel free to come over.’ I thought, ‘Wow. The guy’s very trusting.’
“Kathy Castor: Too many suffer from ‘our country’s gun violence epidemic’” via the Tampa Bay Reporter – “I am shocked and saddened by the horrific act of gun violence in Las Vegas. I am praying for the victims and their families and know many across the Tampa Bay area are doing the same. Day in and day out, too many American families suffer the consequences of our country’s gun violence epidemic. Certainly, we can come together to pass common-sense safety requirements such as background checks and limits on civilian use of military-style weapons, and to enforce the laws on the books. The sorrow that I and so many around the country feel for the innocent men and women whose lives were cruelly cut short by this heartless act of domestic terrorism is immeasurable. We will never allow these acts of terror to control us – but after so many lives lost around our country for so long by public acts of gun violence, we must ask ourselves why this is allowed to continue. We owe it to the victims of these horrible acts of gun violence to take steps that will ensure more innocent lives are not lost to future tragedies.”
“Pride Fund blames legislators for lack of gun controls” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence chastised lawmakers for failing to ensure citizen’s safety following the shooting in Las Vegas. Another day, another deadly shooting in America,” said a statement released by Jason Lindsay, executive director and founder of the Pride Fund. “Last night’s massacre is another reminder that no one is safe when access to guns is so easy. We’re heartbroken and horrified for those involved as well as the community as a whole.” The nonprofit supports requiring background checks for all gun sales, prohibiting suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and high-capacity magazines, preventing those convicted of hate crimes from purchasing guns, undertaking federally-funded research on gun violence, and restricting access to assault weapons, like the ones used in Sunday night’s shooting “No other country faces the daily onslaught of shootings and murders that the United States does, where 93 people are killed every day by gun violence,” the statement said. “For too long, lawmakers have failed in their responsibility to ensure the public safety by not taking action.”
— “How far-right trolls named the wrong man as the Las Vegas shooter” via Abby Ohlheiser of The Washington Post
— “Las Vegas shooting: Orlando-area doctor hid in store closet for an hour” via Naseem S. Miller of the Orlando Sentinel
— “Two Sarasota women witness horror during Las Vegas shooting” via John Rogers of WFLA
— STORMS —
“Puerto Rico is getting a surge of aid, governor says” via Richard Fausset of The New York Times – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told reporters that over the next two days, more than half a million barrels of diesel fuel and nearly a million barrels of gasoline would reach Puerto Rico. The fuel is badly needed to power emergency generators and to distribute food and other supplies across the island. Rosselló said that the Defense Department had increased its footprint on Puerto Rico to 6,400 people, from roughly 4,600 two days earlier, with more coming, and that other federal agencies were also sending more staff to aid in the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria … The Trump administration’s response to the disaster has become a heated political issue. Some Puerto Rican officials, including the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, have made televised pleas for a faster and more robust response. Others, like the governor, have spoken more positively about federal efforts.
“Rick Scott declares emergency amid Puerto Rico crisis” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida – Scott issued the executive order for all 67 counties to help accommodate people who relocate to Florida due to Hurricane Maria. The executive order includes a series of steps to help prepare for an influx of people from the U.S. territory. For example, it allows the suspension of state laws, rules and orders that could be tied to the emergency and designates Wesley Maul, interim executive director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as coordinator of the state’s response to the crisis. Also, it directs that public shelters be made available at the request of local emergency-management officials and allows pharmacists to dispense up to 30-day emergency supplies of prescriptions to evacuees. The order allows “sufficient funds’ be made available from unappropriated surplus funds and the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund. It also bars businesses from selling or renting “at an unconscionable price” supplies, equipment or provisions related to the emergency.
“Puerto Rico exodus begun; groups struggling to help” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Monday morning there was a line through the parking lot at the Puerto Rico Family Response Center in Orlando: Puerto Rican families waiting for it to open to offer relocation help in Florida, and LatinoLeadership Inc. President Marytza Senz, who is running the ad hoc center, said she also took 40 calls by 7:30 a.m. That’s in addition to the 150 or more calls that came in over the weekend, she said. “We are overwhelmed,” Senz said … Gov. Scott announced that the state would be opening Puerto Rico disaster relief centers at Orlando International Airport and in Miami to help the still-unestimated number of islanders who are or will be fleeing to Florida … Other agencies are gearing up too, along with various churches and civic groups. Yet coordination and red-tape management are already adding to more fundamental problems, like families who once had decent lives showing up in the Sunshine State not just without paperwork, but in some cases without an extra set of clothes. LatinoLeadership and the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce have established the Puerto Rico Family Response Center at LatinoLeadership’s modest and hard-to-find center at 8617 E. Colonial Dr.
“More than 8,000 stand in line for emergency food assistance from Hurricane Irma losses” via Jason Ruiter of the Orlando Sentinel – The center for Lake and Sumter counties opened Saturday — the first in Central Florida — and will take applications through Wednesday. More than 8,000 people signed up by Monday afternoon. Food for Florida will open locations Saturday at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee and Oct. 21 at Orlando Live Events in Casselberry and Camping World Stadium in Orlando, where officials expect about 10,000 applicants a day. Each center will be open for five days. Bill D’Aiuto, regional director for the Florida Department of Children and Families, which is handling the program, said there were “a lot of tears of joy” at the Leesburg site from people who will receive benefits to help them get back on their feet after Irma. “We’ve heard from some that this is the first help they’ve received since the storm,” he said.
“Curfew lifted in Florida Keys three weeks after Hurricane Irma” via The Associated Press – Monroe County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Becky Herrin said in a news release that sheriff’s deputies will be actively patrolling residential neighborhoods and keeping an eye out for suspicious people and suspicious activity. Officials in the Keys have also reopened to visitors three weeks after Irma devastated the island chain. Airline and cruise ship traffic has returned to Key West and traffic is flowing on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway.
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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Gambling amendment now has 600,000 signatures” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at limiting gambling’s expansion in the state now has more than 600,000 signatures, its backers said Monday. Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the amendment, said it’s “over halfway towards its goal of gathering 1.1 million signatures in order to reach the required number of 766,200 valid petitions to appear on the 2018 General Election ballot.” As of Monday, Division of Elections records show the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment officially has 274,282 verified signatures. “Tens of thousands of Floridians are signing our petition each week and we are on track to accomplish our goal of securing enough signatures for ballot placement by year’s end,” said John Sowinski, chairman of Voters in Charge.
“Andrew Gillum hires new finance director to ramp up fundraising” via Florida Politics – Akilah Ensley heads to the Gillum camp from Invictus Strategy Group, a political and nonprofit fundraising consulting shop she founded. Her past experience also includes a stint as deputy director of major gifts at the Truman National Security Project. “Our campaign is thrilled to add Akilah R. Ensley, a nationally-recognized leader in Democratic politics and nonprofit causes, as our new Finance Director,” said Gillum communication director Geoff Burgan. “She brings a wealth of knowledge to the Gillum campaign, including numerous statewide campaigns in the Southeast. With the Democratic primary under a year away, her addition comes at a critical time, and we’re thrilled that she’ll be leading the charge as we run a strong people-powered campaign to take back Florida.” Ensley does arrive at a crucial time. While the Tallahassee mayor got off to a strong start on the fundraising trail, recent contributions — both to his campaign and his committee, “Forward Florida” — have slowed somewhat.
“Democrat Lauren Baer announces run for CD 18” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – Baer, a Democrat from Palm Beach Gardens, announced her run for Florida’s District 18 congressional seat … occupied by Republican Rep. Brian Mast. Baer served as a senior adviser for Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. She also advised former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. She currently works as a consultant for the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Her key issues include job creation and economic policies that “preserve and expand the middle class,” environmental issues, improving public education and health care. If Baer wins, she would be the second person in American history to be in a same-sex marriage while in Congress. She and her wife, Emily Meyers, have an 11-month-old daughter.
Meanwhile … “Dave Aronberg won’t seek Brian Mast seat” via Aronberg ended speculation that he might be induced to challenge Mast. “I’m focused on the opioid epidemic and a number of important issues as State Attorney, and so I have no intention of running for any other office in 2018,” Aronberg told The Palm Beach Post.
“Attack mailers target House candidate Yvonne Fry” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times –The attacks on Fry seek to tar her as a “liberal” in the conservative district, citing her support for a referendum on the Go Hillsborough transit tax proposal, her supposed opposition to oil and gas fracking in Florida, and her opposition to a proposal by the Legislature for a referendum on increasing the homestead tax exemption. Fry’s campaign consultant, Brock Mikosky, blamed [opponent Lawrence] McClure‘s consultant, Anthony Pedicini, for the attacks, but suggested McClure must have known about them. Pedicini, who has extensive ties to the state Republican Party and GOP legislative leadership, has been linked in the past to the use of outside committees to attack political opponents. McClure denied any knowledge of the attacks and said he considered them inappropriate. But Pedicini didn’t specifically deny Mikosky’s accusation. “The Yvonne Fry campaign needs to stop lying about things,” he responded via text message, declining to answer further questions. McClure said he intended to question Pedicini about that but hadn’t done so by mid-week.
“Second Democrat files to take over for Bill Hager” via Florida Politics – James Bonfiglio, an Ocean Ridge resident, filed paperwork to run for the Palm Beach County district on Sept. 18. He joins Ryan Rossi, who filed May 1, in the Democratic Primary for the race. Bonfiglio graduated from the Loyola University School of Law in 1979 and was admitted to the Florida Bar shortly after, according to his website for his law firm. Also running for the seat are Republicans Matt Spritz and Tommy Zeichman, who are both attorneys.
“Bob Rommel draws NPA challenger in House District 106” via Florida Politics – Kristopher Knudson, a resident of Marco Island, filed for the seat in late July … through the end of August he had raised $150 for his campaign … $50 of that money came from Laura Knudson, who lists her occupation as “waitress/wife to candidate” on the official finance report. The other $100 came from James Corley, a retiree from Champaign, Illinois, who also appears to be close with Knudson. Despite the 27-year-old candidate’s only two contributions coming from friends and family, his campaign lists a $5.20 expenditure for accepting a donation through fundraising support company Stripe.
— “Jack Miles endorses Stockton Reeves in HD 47 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Congressman duped into holding sham hearing for Ukrainian TV” via Betsy Woodruff and Andrew Desiderio of The Daily Beast – Former Rep. Connie Mackreached out to the office of Rep. Ron Estes — a freshman lawmaker who won the special election to replace CIA Director Mike Pompeo — to reserve a room in the basement of the Capitol for an event on the Ukrainian banking sector … the fake “hearing” was broadcast in full on Ukraine’s NewsOne and described to viewers as the “U.S. Congressional Committee on Financial Issues.” But not a single member of Congress attended. The network teased the “shocking details” about the “highest levels of corruption in the NBU,” referring to the National Bank of Ukraine. Panelists at the event included Sergiy Taruta, a former politician in Ukraine, Oleksandr Zavadetskyi, a former NBU employee, and James Woolsey, the former CIA director under President Bill Clinton who also served as an adviser to President Trump’s campaign. A pamphlet handed out to attendees was evaluated by a Ukrainian fact-checking website as having “mostly correct” data about the NBU but “manipulated in almost all occasions.” Estes’ office told The Daily Beast that the congressman had nothing to do with the event, and that they reserved the room “as a courtesy” for Mack, who is now a registered lobbyist at Liberty International Group, “to host an event on allegations of corruption in Ukraine.” An Estes spokesman added that the office policy for booking rooms has been updated to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
“Rick Scott, Florida delegation continue to push against the Maduro regime” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Appearing at the 2017 Latin American Summit … Scott announced he would bring out a proposal for the Legislature to vote on early next year ensuring state agencies do not do business with companies working with the Maduro regime. This is not the first time Scott has proposed the state government should not work with supporters of the Maduro regime. In the meantime, on Capitol Hill, a proposal backed by a key South Florida Republican offering aid to the Venezuelan people continues to build momentum. U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel the top Democrat on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who used to chair that committee, are championing the “Venezuela Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act” which would make the State Department and USAID Administrator provide humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people. The proposal would also make the American ambassador to the U.N. push that body for assistance for the Venezuelan people. Engel and Ros-Lehtinen have the support of nine other members of the Florida delegation as Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Ron DeSantis and Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrats U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are co-sponsoring the proposal.
“Behind ‘grassroots’ campaigns over Airbnb, millions of industry dollars” via Chris Kirkham of the Wall Street Journal – The stakes are high: Closely held Airbnb has a $31 billion valuation … and has more than doubled its worldwide listings over the last two years. The hotel industry stands to lose market share as Airbnb continues to grow. A Morgan Stanley report last year found that nearly half of Airbnb users surveyed said they had substituted Airbnb for a traditional hotel during their travels in the last year. While many top hotel executives have sought to downplay the threat posed by Airbnb, the industry’s lobbying group has sharpened its attack and developed publicity campaigns with affordable housing advocates and other neighborhood groups to sway policy makers. Meanwhile, Airbnb has organized residents who use the platform to show up at local hearings, where they stress how it provides them crucial supplemental income. “As far as the resources going toward this issue, I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Troy Flanagan, vice president of state and local government affairs for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said its relationships with local advocates are “partnerships in a coalition setting,” while Airbnb’s approach is to flood city and state government with professional lobbyists. “Just by the sheer number of corporate employees and lobbyists they have walking in city halls and state legislatures, they’re up there with Wal-Mart,” he said.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will address Florida business leaders starting at 9 a.m. at the Gulf Power Economic Symposium at the Baytowne Conference Center, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. in Miramar Beach. At 3 p.m., the governor will then visit volunteers in Orlando at the American Red Cross distribution warehouse at 2200 Consulate Dr. in Orlando.
“OJ Simpson’s lawyer blasts Pam Bondi as ‘stupid,’ says Simpson definitely coming to Florida” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times – Simpson‘s lawyer Malcolm Lavergne is outraged with Florida Attorney General Bondi, blasting her as “possibly the stupidest person on the planet’ … “What a complete stupid b—-. F— her,” Lavergne said in an incensed interview … “She has zero standing to even talk about Mr. Simpson’s case. She’s the attorney general, she has nothing to do with it. It’s virtually a foregone conclusion that Simpson will be moving to Florida when he chooses and once Nevada approves it. That’s handled by the Nevada Division of Parole and Florida department of corrections, not the attorney general.” Lavergne said Simpson plans to live in a private location in Nevada for probably the next few months before requesting transfer to Florida. Lavergne argued Simpson has a right to move to Florida under the rules of the Interstate Compact, which says states must automatically accept transfers if certain criteria are met, such as the offender being a resident of the receiving state, having family in that state and having means to support themselves.
“Pam Bondi urges collaboration at human trafficking summit” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Bondi stressed the importance of global collaboration to end sexual slavery during opening remarks at Florida’s Human Trafficking Summit in Orlando. “If we don’t tackle this worldwide, we’ll never solve the problem,” Bondi said. “This is a transnational crime and a worldwide problem.” Bondi spoke to an audience of more than 500 attendees that included law enforcement, service providers, human trafficking survivors, health care professionals, educators, legislators and community leaders during the summit at the Rosen Centre Hotel. Bondi urged corporations, businesses, hospitals and schools to train their employees and students about how to recognize human trafficking. She pointed to an Uber driver that noticed in his rearview mirror that an older man and young girl did not look right. His call to law enforcement ended a human trafficking ring, she said. Uber is now training its 40,000 drivers on the signs of sexual coercion and abuse.
What Mike Grissom is reading – “Enterprise Florida could give employee pay raises” via the News Service of Florida – President and CEO Pete Antonacci advised members of the agency’s Finance and Compensation Committee of recommended increases as a way to keep employee salaries competitive with the private market. “Salary adjustments were recommended for retention and marketplace competition purposes,” Enterprise Florida spokesman Nathan Edwards said in an email. The proposal must still go before Enterprise Florida’s Executive Board, which has not set a date for its next meeting. Antonacci … previously recommended against using a bonus program that was approved under his predecessor. In August, Scott sent a letter to the members of the boards of directors at Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA outlining his opposition to employee bonuses at both agencies. “Employees are the key to success in any organization,” Scott, who serves as chairman of Enterprise Florida board, said in the letter. “But, after a long legislative session where the spending at these organizations was greatly debated, I do not believe that employee compensation should include bonuses at this time.”
“Tallahassee gets more time to ready Scott Maddox records for FBI” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – The city of Tallahassee has asked the FBI for more time to produce thousands of pages of documents involving communications of City Commissioner Maddox and some of his closest former and current associates. City Attorney Lew Shelley said the FBI granted the request. The subpoena, issued Sept. 6, asked that the records be delivered to a federal grand jury meeting at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tallahassee or to the FBI’s local office. “The city attorney has been in conversation with the FBI and the FBI has agreed to extend the time to provide the documents requested by the subpoena,” Shelley said in an email. “The city attorney will be in further conversation with the FBI at the end of the week as to when the documents will be provided.
— “Beach bigwigs gave $200k to a shadowy PAC. Now, they want a refund.” via Nicholas Nehamas, Joey Flechas and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald
“Florida has 40 of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.” via Sarah Elsesser of the Palm Beach Post – WalletHub looked at 515 cities across the United States and compared them based on 15 key measurements including population growth, unemployment rate and income growth. Out of the 515 cities, 40 of them were located in Florida, the studied reported. Lehigh Acres came in third on the overall ranking. Fort Myers (7), Cape Coral (15) and Boynton Beach (19) made the cut for the Top 20, according to the study. WalletHub also broke down more specific rankings – such as highest poverty rate decrease and highest job growth – and Fort Myers was on both of those lists.
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
Assignment editor: Senate President Joe Negron and DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein will visit the Caulkins Water Farm Expansion in Martin County on Tuesday, then hold a press conference to discuss its expansion from its existing 413 acres to 3,200 acres. That’s 10 a.m., at 14100-15484 SW Citrus Blvd., Palm City.
“Constitutional panel moves two public proposals” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) on Monday moved forward on two public proposals to amend the state’s governing document: One to close the “write-in loophole,” and another to repeal a provision on high speed rail. The next chance for commissioners to directly sponsor public proposals will be on Oct. 17, during another meeting of the full Commission. Commissioners also adopted a recommendation from their Rules Committee to extend the public filing deadline to this Friday because of Hurricane Irma … At Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Sherry Plymale sponsored a public proposal turned in by former lawmaker and now Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg. It would open primary elections to all voters in which a major-party candidate has only write-in opposition … Also, Commissioner Carolyn Timmann sponsored another public proposal to remove subsequently repealed language in the constitution that mandated a high-speed rail system in the state.
Happening today – CRC panels at work – Two committees of the CRC will hold meetings, beginning with the Declaration of Rights Committee at 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building in the Capitol. The Judicial Committee meets at 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building in the Capitol.
“Rob Bradley seeks to beef up Florida Forever” via Florida Politics – The Fleming Island Republican filed a bill (SB 370) in the state Senate to put $100 million a year into the Florida Forever land acquisition fund. The Department of Environmental Protection has asked for $50 million for Florida Forever in next year’s state budget. The current 2017-2018 state budget included nothing for the program. “As a conservative, I believe in absolute fidelity to the Constitution,” Bradley said in a statement. “I am filing this bill because the Constitution demands, and the overwhelming majority of Floridians who voted for Amendment One in 2014 demand, that we protect the natural resources of our state.” The bill appropriates funds under Amendment One, passed in 2014, that mandates state spending for land and water conservation. Bradley chairs the chamber’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee.
“Proposal seeks to ensure nursing home air conditioning” via the News Service of Florida – Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Chairman Rene Garcia filed the measure … It is the second Senate bill seeking to address the air conditioning issue, which has drawn national attention since the Sept. 13 deaths of eight residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Four other residents subsequently died. Garcia’s bill … would require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have emergency power sources and fuel supplies that would last at least four days. To meet that requirement, facilities could store generators and fuel supplies on-site or contract with companies that could provide them in a “timely” manner when requested. The bill also would require the Florida Public Service Commission to ensure that electric utilities prioritize restoration of electricity to medical facilities with 50 residents or more, including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
“Grower asks state for edible cannabis rules” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Surterra Wellness, the Atlanta-based company with medical cannabis dispensaries in Tampa and Tallahassee, on Monday asked the state to let it begin offering edible products in Florida. Voters last year overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical cannabis, and lawmakers passed legislation in June to implement the amendment. That bill allows patients to use cannabis pills, oils, edibles and “vape” pens with a doctor’s approval, but it bans smoking. Florida law requires the state’s Department of Health to determine “any shapes, forms” edible products can take and what other ingredients they can contain. No medical marijuana provider can offer edibles after the rule goes out.
Happening today – Board of Governors committees meet in Lee County – The Florida University System Board of Governors’ Facilities and the Budget & Finance Committees will meet beginning 9 a.m. at Florida Gulf Coast University Cohen Center, 10501 FGCU Blvd. South in Fort Myers.
Public Service Commission meets, workshops – The Florida PSC will hold a regular meeting, followed by a workshop about electric utilities’ 10-year site plans beginning 9:30 a.m. At the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way in Tallahassee.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Senate Victory names new executive director” via Florida Politics – Longtime Democratic operative Josh Weierbach has been bumped up to the executive director gig at the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, still colloquially known as Senate Victory, the fundraising panel to elect D’s to the Senate. It’s chaired by Sen. Jeff Clemens. Weierbach, 30, has been Senate Victory’s political director for two years and came through big time during the SD 40 special election last week, which saw Annette Taddeo flip the seat in a surprise 4-point victory over Jose Felix Diaz. His socko performance under pressure in that hard-fought Miami-Dade contest earned him plenty of praise, with one insider describing him as an “air traffic controller and always one of the coolest heads in the room.” In 2015, FloridaPolitics.com named Weierbach one of its “30 under 30” rising stars of Florida politics, saying at the time he “is no armchair quarterback, disinterestedly watching elections play out from afar: He spends his time on the front lines of Florida politics.”
Jason Altmire’s new book, ‘Dead Center,’ out today via Florida Politics – Altmire, a Democrat and former Pennsylvania congressman, said Bill Nelson, Kathy Castor, Ted Yoho and Vern Buchanan are mentioned in the book, which includes a discussion about Florida’s ban on campaign contributions during legislative session. “The introduction to the book focuses on the extreme political reactions to the Pulse nightclub shooting,” he told Florida Politics. “I also highlight the great work done by the Bob Graham Center at UF.“ The Amazon link is here and info about the book can be found on his website, www.jasonaltmire.com. Altmire, a Keystone State native known as a centrist Democrat, represented western Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District.
On this week’s edition of The Rotunda – Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum speaks out on the city’s mysterious FBI investigation that he says is making a direct impact on his campaign for governor. The Rotunda host Trimmel Gomes also travels back in time with Democratic Senator-elect Annette Taddeo to her early pledge to never give up after losing three previous elections. Democratic Consultant Steve Schale weighs in on the latest political storms and victories. Plus Gomes looks into a new report that claims Florida’s Public Service Commission has been “Captured” by the utility industry. Ben Wilcox, research director of Integrity Florida and a co-author of the report discusses the reports’ findings.
Happy birthday to Sen. Travis Hutson.