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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.6.16

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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 and Jim Rosica.

DRIVING THE DAY – PRESIDENT OBAMA TO VISIT ACTIVE MILITARY IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press – Obama is coming to Florida in the final weeks of his presidency … the president will meet with active duty service members at MacDill Air Force Base, the home of the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command. While in Tampa, President Obama is also expected to deliver remarks on the counterterrorism campaign and meet with uniformed leadership from both commands.

HAPPENING TODAY — ADAM PUTNAM PRESENTS CABINET WITH FLORIDA GROWN CHRISTMAS TREE — Agriculture Commissioner Putnam is scheduled to present Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater with Florida grown Christmas trees at 8:30 a.m. outside of the Executive Office of the Governor on the Plaza Level of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. The 2016 trees are provided by Ergle Christmas Tree Farm in Dade City. Floridians harvest Christmas trees each year from more than 100 Christmas tree farms across the state.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT A GREAT PERSON – SYDNEY RIDLEY JOINS SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP via Florida PoliticsRidley, former right-hand woman to lawmaker Dana Young, is joining the firm‘s Tampa office. The top-tier lobbying concern announced the move Monday. “Sydney represents the future of the lobbying business,” said Seth McKeel, managing partner of SSG’s Tampa Bay office and a former House member. “She’s sharp, respected, energetic, and she’s very excited about delivering for our clients – a perfect fit for our team.” The two had been talking about Ridley, 28, joining the firm “for a little while and the timing prior to session seemed right so we pulled the trigger and couldn’t be more excited,” McKeel said. Ridley will be part of the team traveling back and forth between Tampa Bay and Tallahassee working on behalf of clients as the 2017 Legislative Session cranks up, he added.


On the ways of the Florida House, that is.

State representatives are scheduled to meet in Tallahassee this week for “Legislator University.” The two-day initiative is the brainchild of Speaker Richard Corcoran, and is meant to train new lawmakers on the finer points of policy making.

So what exactly does Corcoran have in store for lawmakers?

Think of Legislator University as one-part TED talk and two parts orientation. There are seminars aimed at giving members insight into how to balance their work and family lives and one providing insight into what senior members wish they had known when they were first starting out. Members will have the chance to attend breakout sessions focused on gaming, Medicaid, and workers’ compensation.

In a memo releasing the schedule, Corcoran said he wanted to give members “the maximum freedom to explore the topics” that interest them the most.

“We hope that you will fully embrace these learning opportunities,” he said in the memo last week.

And just like any university, there are a few mandatory classes. Members are required to attend sessions about civility and professional conduct, sexual harassment, and ethics in the Legislature.

But the mandatory sessions are meant to be both informative and interesting. The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that Shelby Scarbrough, a motivational speaker, is scheduled to talk about civility in politics and applying the same principles to legislating.

The mandatory session on civility — called “Civility and Professional Conduct in the Legislative Process” — kicks off the two-day Legislator University at 9 a.m. in Reed Hall, 102 HOB.

The full schedule can be found here. All of the seminars, except for the ones during the working lunches each day, are expected to be live streamed and archived on The Florida Channel.

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RICHARD CORCORAN SHOWS HIS CARDS: HE’S ON A MISSION TO OVERTURN SUPREME COURT RULINGS, CHANGE COURT via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald —Corcoran had an idea in 2012 when three of the Florida’s Supreme Court’s liberal justices were up for a merit retention vote: raise money to defeat them. The Land O’Lakes Republican was determined that several decisions — from redistricting to school vouchers, to the death penalty and other issues — needed to be reformed. He approached business groups seeking their support. “My pitch was this: that the enemies of business regulations, a good business environment, a small business environment, a good social environment…the enemy is not the House of Representatives, not the state Senate. not the governor. The enemy is the seven individuals who meet in private in black robes,” Corcoran told the Associated Industries of Florida conference in Tallahassee Monday. … He didn’t like the response he got from the business groups. … Now, Corcoran said, he wants to return to those unnamed business groups in the wake of the court’s worker’s compensation ruling and ask: “How do you like Fred Lewis now?” Corcoran wouldn’t name the groups but the implication is that the members of AIF, a business-backed lobbyist group, was complicit in retaining the court’s majority which this year invalidated the limits on legal fees from the 2003 workers compensation reform. … Corcoran now is in a position to influence the future of the state’s highest court by making 9 appointments to the Constitutional Revision Commission, the unique panel that convenes every 20 years to update the state Constitution. He told reporters Monday he has a litmus test: his appointees must support term limits for Florida Supreme Court justices.

IT’S “WHISKEY AND WHEATIES” ALL OVER AGAIN via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – For the fourth year in a row, lawmakers will try to tear down the wall that separates tequila from tangelos. Senate President pro tem Anitere Flores … filed a bill (SB 106) to repeal the Prohibition-era state law requiring businesses, such as grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in Florida. “As legislators, we shouldn’t burden businesses with archaic regulations when they must be more innovative and forward thinking than ever to compete with the digital marketplace,” the Miami Republican said in a statement. A companion bill will be filed in the House by state Rep. Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican. The “whiskey and Wheaties” bill has long been a heavy lift. It’s failed even when watered down to simply allow a door in the wall between a main store and an attached liquor store. The repeal again is supported by Floridians for Fair Business Practices, a coalition that includes Target, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods Market. The measure will add to customer convenience and bolster competition, they say.


JEFF BRANDES FILES COMPUTER CODING AS FOREIGN LANGUAGE BILL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Sen. Brandes filed legislation Monday to allow Florida high schools to offer computer coding classes that “along with the earning of a related industry certification satisfies two credits of sequential foreign language instruction.” Senate Bill 104 also requires the state college and university system to recognize the credits as foreign language credits. “Software development and coding is one of the largest skill gaps we have in Florida, said Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican. “We believe there is now, and will continue to be, an incredible demand for coders. My goal is to ensure that Florida students have the skills employers value.” … The 2017 measure … requires students and parents to sign a statement acknowledging and accepting that “a computer coding course taken as a foreign language may not meet out-of-state college and university foreign language requirements.” It also allows the Florida Virtual School to offer computer coding courses, and says districts that don’t offer courses “may provide students with access to the courses through the Florida virtual school or through other means.”

BRANDES TO FILE FLOOD MITIGATION BILL via Florida Politics – Brandes says he will file legislation for the 2017 Legislative Session to fund flood mitigation in affected communities. The idea is to lower the cost of flood insurance by decreasing flood severity in areas covered by the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System. The legislation will create a matching grant program, in part through the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund, for “local projects (that) reduce flood risks and acquire conservation land for the purpose of mitigating flood risk,” Brandes’ office said in a statement. The matching grants, to be administered by the Division of Emergency Management, would not exceed $50 million a year for “technical and financial assistance to local governments implementing flood risk reduction policies and projects.” His bill also would authorize the Florida Communities Trust to “undertake, coordinate, or fund flood mitigation projects and to acquire and dispose of real and personal property or specified interest when necessary or appropriate to reduce flood hazards.”

RANDY FINE CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE BUT DROPS PRIVATE COVERAGE FOR STATE PLAN via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Fine … described the health care market as a “disaster” and attributed the situation in part to government involvement. But Fine, a Republican elected in 2016 to represent southern Brevard County, dropped the family health plan that he, his wife and two children were insured under and tapped into Florida’s state group health insurance plan, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. “Until I got this great state health insurance, I typically have paid for my own health insurance,” Fine told the crowd at Associated Industries of Florida annual conference in Tallahassee. … A millionaire who founded a casino management company, Fine pays $180 a month to cover himself, his wife and his two sons, That’s $2,160 per year. Florida taxpayers are picking up the remainder of the tab which, according to a cost report for 2014-15, is $15,168 annually. Fine told POLITICO Florida that he dropped his individual health insurance policy and tapped into the sate group health plans to “broaden his perspective on things.” “I wanted to understand what government health insurance is like,” he told POLITICO Florida, when asked why he dropped his plan to enroll in one that was subsidized by taxpayers.

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AIF EMPHASIZES JOB-KILLING ASPECT OF WORKERS’ COMP INCREASES via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Business leaders emphasized the risk rising workers’ compensation costs pose to Florida’s economic competitiveness during an Associated Industries of Florida-sponsored discussion … “There are other governors competing against our governor for the next plant, the next manufacturing facility, the next high-tech jobs,” said Tom Feeney, president and chief executive officer of the business lobby. “They are suddenly able to use our workers’ compensation situation against Florida, the same way our governor uses high taxes and high regulations that other states have to attract businesses,” Feeney said. “It’s putting us at a competitive disadvantage.” Bill Herrle, Florida director for the National Federation of Independent Business, agreed and emphasized that the repercussions will travel throughout the economy. “We know that this is going to be debilitating to small business,” Herrle said. “But we need to carry the message out there that this is affecting every layer of employment, including our very important public sector.” The event coincided with a trial judge’s final order refusing to stay her ruling that a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums were illegal, because they were reached in violation of Florida’s open-government laws. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers had issued an oral preliminary ruling Friday refusing to stay that decision. On Monday, she put it in writing. The legal issue remained alive, however, because the 1st District Court of Appeal had blocked Gievers’ order before she even issued it. Proceedings will determine the increase’s legality before that appeal court.

— “Corcoran promises House will pass work comp bill” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REFORM, REPEALING TAX ON COMMERCIAL LEASES AMONG 2017 FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION PRIORITIES — The Florida Retail Federation released its 2017 legislative agenda Monday in preparation for the upcoming legislative session. According to the trade association, the agenda highlights issues that are important to the state’s retailers and business community. “Our legislative agenda, which is determined by our members each year, ensures that FRF is laser-focused on those issues important to retailers statewide, and which play a big factor in the success of our members,” said Randy Miller, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Our governmental affairs team is one of the most talented and influential in this state, and we look forward to working with Governor Scott, his administration and our Senate and House leaders in identifying legislation that will enhance Florida’s businesses.” According to the the 2017 agenda, the association said it supports workers’ compensation reforms that will “decrease rates for Florida’s retailers;” continued efforts to provide retailers renewable energy options; and the repeal of the sales tax on commercial real estate leases. Florida is the only state that assesses a sales tax on commercial leases, and the FRF said it “supports efforts to repeal the tax, reduce the tax rate, modify the taxable base, or any combination thereof, in order to lessen this tax burden.” Among other things, the association said it will oppose efforts to increase the minimum wage, legislation that would require retailers to sell certain products, and online lottery ticket sales.

RICK SCOTT TO MAKE PORT FUNDING TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida –”What is the biggest geographical advantage we have? It’s our 15 seaports,” said Scott at the Associated Industries of Florida’s annual meeting. Scott has pushed for increased ports funding since taking office in 2010. The industry scored a big win during last session when Scott signed a bill into law that increased from $15 to $25 million the amount that must be allocated each year to the Florida Seaport Transportation Economic Development program. The FSTED council selects priority seaport projects to help fund. It is a 50-50 match program that also requires local contributions.

SCOTT AND CORCORAN POISED FOR BATTLE OVER STATE’S WELCOME MAT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Corcoran (has) set his sights on Visit Florida as another agency poised for trimming. Scott on Monday … told reporters he was still optimistic that Visit Florida money would be maintained. “I’m comfortable the Legislature is going to continue to be supportive of Visit Florida,” Scott said. “Let’s look at the numbers. We have increased funding for Visit Florida since I’ve been elected. And look what’s happened: tourism has skyrocketed.”

SCOTT DECLINES TO COMMENT ON PROPOSAL TO REPEAL IMMIGRATION BILL HE SIGNED IN 2014 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Last week, Sarasota state Senator Greg Steube filed a bill (SB 82) that would repeal legislation approved by the GOP-led Legislature in 2014 that offers lower in-state tuition rates in Florida state colleges and universities for undocumented immigrants. Passage of that bill was uncertain until the end of that year’s session, but was strongly supported by then-House Speaker Will Weatherford and Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala. “I haven’t seen it,” Scott [told reporters] … “I think there are about 2,000 bill that are being proposed during the session, so as I go through the process if they get to my desk, I’ll review,” he added. “I need to look at the bill.” The legislation is a political power keg, as are most items concerning immigration. Scott campaigned as a tough on immigration candidate in 2010 when first running for governor, getting behind what was then known as an “Arizona style” immigration proposal that asked suspects stopped by the authorities for proof of their citizenship, similar in nature to the conversion SB 1070 immigration law passed earlier that year in Arizona. “We need to come up with an immigration policy that works for the country,’’ Scott told the Miami Herald back in late 2010. “If you’re stopped in our state — no different from if you’re asked for your ID — you should be able to be asked if you’re legal or not.”

AFTER THE PHOTO-OP: HOW AN ENTERPRISE FLORIDA DEAL WENT SOUR via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – In the code-name world of Enterprise Florida, it was known as “Project Assassin.” Altair Training Solutions Inc. was going to do big things for Hendry County, one of the most economically distressed counties in Florida, and its neighbor to the west, Collier. But in a case that likely will only intensify Corcoran‘s criticism of Scott‘s economic incentive programs, Altair’s Florida expansion ended up in a quagmire of liens and lawsuits.

FLORIDA’S PENSION PLAN PERFORMING WELL OVER LONG TERM via The Associated Press — A new state report finds that Florida’s massive retirement account for public employees did not meet its goals over the past year, but that it’s still doing well over the long term. Researchers who work for the Florida Legislature released a report this past week that looked at the performance of the Florida Retirement System pension plan. The pension plan, which is worth about $141 billion, has nearly 1 million active and retired enrolled members. The report found that the State Board of Administration did not meet its investment goals for the pension plan during the fiscal year that ended this past June. The board attributed this to devaluations in Chinese currency as well as turmoil in Europe. However, the state board did meet or exceed investment goals over the last three, five, 20 and 25 years.

FLORIDA MAY BE PONDERING ‘NOVEL’ LETHAL INJECTION CHANGE via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — In a move that would be certain to spur more litigation over the state’s already embattled death penalty, Florida corrections officials appear to be planning what could be a dramatic change to the triple-drug lethal injection process — including the use of a drug never before used for executions. The Department of Corrections has spent more than $12,000 this year stockpiling three drugs likely to be used to kill condemned prisoners, according to records obtained by The News Service of Florida.

DONALD TRUMP MAY DETERMINE FATE OF MEDICAL POT IN FLORIDA via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — More than 71 percent of voters approved an amendment expanding medical marijuana in Florida last month, but the fate of patients who rely on the drug and the burgeoning marijuana industry could largely depend on President-elect Donald Trump. … Florida and 27 other states now have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. But federal law still bans the growth, cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana for any purpose. Yet the marijuana industry has been allowed to grow in recent years because of a memo issued by the Obama administration in October 2009 to federal prosecutors telling them to direct limited federal resources into investigations of large-scale drug dealers that aren’t in compliance with state laws or are involved with foreign drug cartels. The memo said sick patients following state laws shouldn’t be targeted. … Trump’s recent announcement of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general could spell trouble for the industry. Sessions is a former federal prosecutor and harsh anti-drug warrior. During a hearing in April he called marijuana “dangerous” and said “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

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FLORIDA EARLY VOTE, A RETROSPECTIVE via Steve Schale — When early voting started, I thought Presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day – namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming that 3% of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton. I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68% of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4%, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes. This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8% to upper end of 8%, just to break even. Both of these numbers are above Romney’s Election Day win in 2012 (I can’t remember McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

… So here are the toplines: 9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race. 9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump’s margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2% out of the two-party voters. 69.3% of the vote was cast before Election Day. Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes — roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote) On election day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton. … Clinton’s nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we’d see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day. However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. … Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes. How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes — out of 7.6 million cast. Trump’s Election Day margin almost matched it.

ALLEN WEST VISITS TRUMP TOWER, TALKS WITH MIKE PENCE via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – According to a pool report, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. West told reporters he met with Pence and with Trump’s incoming national security adviser and deputy national security adviser — Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn and K.T. McFarlandWest, Flynn and McFarland emerged from an elevator about 1:50 p.m. … “We talked about some national security issues, and you know how maybe I can continue to serve my country,” said West, who lost a 2012 re-election bid and is now executive director of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank based in Texas. Asked if any particular job in the Trump administration was offered or discussed, West said: “Nothing was offered. I mean they know my reputation very well. I’m just a simple soldier and I’m the third of four generations that served this country going back to my father in World War II, and we still have a relative of ours that is continuing to serve in the Army now.” West declined to offer an opinion on potential candidates for secretary of State. “He can choose whoever he wants for secretary of State. I’m just considering how I can best serve this country and through this administration,” West said.

THE PLUM BOOK IS HERE FOR THOSE ANGLING FOR JOBS IN TRUMP’S WASHINGTON via Lisa Rein of The Washington Post – The biggest Help Wanted ad in eight years materialized in Washington … A plum-colored paperback listing 9,000 political jobs for those who want to work in Trump’s administration. The 226-page Plum Book — so called for the desirable jobs that change hands at the end of a presidential term — lists every patronage position in the executive and legislative branches that could be filled by Trump supporters. They’re the policymaking and support positions that will form the spine of the real estate developer’s new government, and they’ll be vacated by the Obama administration by Jan. 20. Could be filled, because the president-elect made a campaign promise to shrink the federal bureaucracy — and transition officials say he plans to make good on that pledge. Many of these positions could be abolished after Trump takes office in January. The current tally is 2,000 jobs more than when the George W. Bush administration ended in 2008, a sign that government — at least the political positions that reward supporters — has grown over eight years. Trump officials said it’s safe to say that the entire bureaucracy, including political appointees, will be significantly scaled back. One transition official … described recent conversations on the team as it considers how to shape the federal government in the Trump era. “Oh, they had five people doing that? We’re only going to hire two,” the staff has discussed … “In addition to imposing a hiring freeze on all federal employees, which will reduce the federal workforce through attrition, the number of political appointees will drop significantly,” said Cliff Sims, a Trump spokesman. “‘Drain the swamp’ was not just a campaign slogan. President-elect Trump is building a streamlined, innovative government focused on serving the people, not the special interests.”

JUDGE DISMISSES LAWSUIT CHALLENGING BOBBY POWELL’S ELECTION via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post — A Leon County judge Monday dismissed a lawsuit over the election of Riviera Beach Democratic state Sen. Bobby Powell, apparently avoiding the possibility of a costly do-over contest. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said he lacked the legal jurisdiction to hear the claim by Ruben Anderson, a Democrat, and Ron Berman, the Republican who lost to Powell in last month’s election. Robert Hauser, a West Palm Beach attorney representing Anderson, said it would be several days before a decision is reached on whether to appeal Lewis’ ruling. … But in his ruling, Lewis sided with Powell’s attorney, Mark Herron, who argued in a recent hearing that since the lawmaker had already taken office, it was up to the Senate to decide, not a court. Senate rules, though, also require any such election “contests” to be filed before the Legislature’s organizational session, a date which has already passed.

SUSIE WILES ENDORSES BLAISE INGOGLIA’S RE-ELECTION FOR RPOF CHAIR via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – “As Florida’s Chief Strategist for President-Elect Trump’s presidential campaign, I can say that the organization built under Chairman Ingoglia‘s leadership was a crucial element to our success as we worked together with the Republican National Committee to deliver Florida,” said Wiles. “To continue that success in the future, we need a steady hand and consistent leadership who will continue to focus on the grassroots. “I can’t think of anyone to better serve in that role than Blaise Ingoglia,” Wiles continued. “I am proud to support him in his bid for re-election and am excited to see the new levels of success our party will find with him at the helm again.” The endorsement comes on the heels of a highly successful campaign season for Republicans, especially for part-time Florida resident Donald Trump. A veteran campaign strategist, Wiles was largely credited with Trump’s success in the Sunshine State, which carried a crucial 29 electoral votes for the president-elect.

WHAT SHANNON SHEPP IS READING – AFTER A SOUR DECADE, FLORIDA CITRUS MAY BE NEAR A COMEBACK via Greg Allen of NPR – After 11 years of fighting a debilitating disease, Florida’s citrus industry is in a sad state. The disease, called citrus greening, is caused by a bacterium that constricts a tree’s vascular system, shriveling fruit and eventually killing the tree. The bacterium is spread by a tiny insect called a psyllid. Florida’s signature orange crop is now less than a third of what it was 20 years ago because of this disease. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture says this year’s orange crop is expected to be the smallest in more than 50 years. But, at Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, researchers are now optimistic they’ll win the battle to save Florida oranges, thanks in part to recent advances in developing tougher varieties of citrus. For nearly a century, orange and grapefruit growers have planted varieties developed at the Center at Lake Alfred in central Florida. It’s a 600-acre campus that’s part of the University of Florida, where hundreds of staffers are focused on finding a cure for citrus greening. Fred Gmitter, a horticulture scientist, has worked for 30 years developing new varieties for citrus farmers … “But look up ahead there on the right,” Gmitter says. He points to one tree that stands out. Unlike the others, it’s full of fruit and looks healthy. He says, “Our growers wanted to call this variety ‘Bingo.’ ” It’s a small mandarin orange variety, seedless and easy-to-peel, that was developed over years using painstaking conventional breeding Florida growers think the new variety will help them compete for market share with clementines from California and Spain. Gmitter picks an orange from the tree. “I wish the people … could smell this as I’m peeling it,” he says. It’s also delicious — sweet, tart, tender and from a tree that after nine years, is still healthy despite a citrus greening infection.

WHAT CHRIS SPENCER IS READING – FLORIDA POLY INTRODUCES NEW AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES COURSE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MIT More info here –  A brand-new course called “Autonomous Systems and Self-Driving Vehicles” starts in the spring 2017 semester. Dr. Dean Bushey, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel with more than 10 years of experience developing and advancing autonomous systems, will teach the course. Dr. Bushey will partner with professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston where the same course will be taught during the spring semester. MIT professors will provide video conferencing lectures to Florida Poly students … The course breaks students into groups of five to upgrade a small race car. They’ll start with learning basic motion control, then advance to object detection. These building blocks will take students through the final phases as the cars learn to map a course and finally race against each other at the end of the semester. By the end of the semester, the cars will be capable of independently following a yellow line, stopping at a red light and stopping for sudden obstacles. Excitement for the course is building, with 15 students already signed up. The autonomous vehicle course is being launched as Florida Poly prepares for the arrival of SunTrax, a new testing facility being built near the University. SunTrax is a joint venture between Florida Poly and the Florida Department of Transportation designed to test tolling and autonomous vehicle technology.

CORRECTION: in Monday’s Sunburn, we said that Jeb Bush had unsuccessfully campaigned for governor in 1990. In fact, the year was 1994. We apologize for the error.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Vickie Brill.

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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