Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.
FIRST AND FOREMOST — THE APPOINTMENT OF THE DAY: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Christie Pontis to the E911 Board. Points is a regional legislative affairs manager with CenturyLink. She succeeds Sandra Khazraee and is appointed for a term beginning April 11, 2016, and ending October 28, 2019. More important, Pontis is a member of the elite “Ladies Who Lunch” crew, along with Erin Daly Ballas and Melanie Brown, often seen at the Governors Club.
Now, on to the money chase … or it is race …
PATRICK MURPHY RAISES $2 MILLION IN 16’S OPENING MONTHS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Murphy … raised $2 million in the first quarter this year in his U.S. Senate bid, pushing his cash-on-hand to more than $5.6 million. Republican contender Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach last week was the first U.S. Senate candidate to show his cards — announcing that he’d collected $1.1 million from January through March and now has $3.2 million on hand. Murphy said 85 percent of his first-quarter contributions were in amounts below $200. Campaign manager Josh Wolf said the candidate’s year-opening bank account shows he’s got the financial backing to win.
ALAN GRAYSON’S $1 MILLION TOTAL INCLUDES $200K LOAN via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Grayson also said the total raises his cash-on-hand to double what it was at the end of last year — or to more than $422,000. He’s pulled in 81,000 individual contributions since starting his campaign and since January raised $700,000 online.
FLORIDA DONORS GIVE BIG BOOST TO PRO-HILLARY CLINTON SUPER PAC via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – A handful of big Florida Democratic donors gave $1 million checks to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Clinton … seven-figure contributions came from both Henry Laufer, a Lantana resident and a retired director of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund with a nearly $30 billion portfolio, and his wife Marsha, a retired speech-language pathologist. Two additional $1 million checks came from billionaire Slim Fast founder Daniel Abraham, a West Palm Beach resident. In the weeks leading up to the primary … the group spent more than $350,000 on digital ad buys and radio advertisements in Florida, a state Clinton won by more than 30 points. Priorities USA Action is also playing attack dog against Republican nominees, most prominently Donald Trump. The group has so far spent $30,000 in independent expenditure opposing Trump’s campaign.
MILLIONS FLOW TO POLITICAL PARTIES via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Republicans reported raising more than $1.55 million during that time period, including $95,000 that came from a political committee connected to Gov. Rick Scott. The donors include health care companies, gambling interests and one of the state’s main red light camera vendors. A bill to ban red light cameras was defeated during the session. Democrats took in more than $682,000, including money from law firms and the state’s teacher union.
TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: @spent nearly $1100 at Empire Chinese restaurant, $1975 at Moe’s, $2,470 at Sonny’s, $866 at Vertigo Burgers … And there was $1900 at Carraba’s, $1773 at Gordo’s…gfit ban, what gift ban?
LET’S GET TO WORK RAISES $248,000 IN MARCH via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Let’s Get to Work — the political committee that fueled Scott’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns — raised $248,000 in March. Since January, the political committee has raised more than $1.07 million. The committee received a $100,000 donation from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy. Other contributions included $25,000 from ADT and Florida Jobs PAC, and $10,000 from Growing Florida’s Future and the Real Deal Development Corp. Let’s Get to Work spent $93,763 … nearly $1.6 million since January. Among other things, Let’s Get to Work spent $12,500 on digital media consulting in March. The committee also paid three firms a combined $29,500 for political consulting.
SENATE MAJORITY RAISES $1 MILLION IN FIRST QUARTER via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The committee that raises money and coordinates Republican state Senate races brought in $1 million over the first quarter of 2016. The committee is led by Senate president-designate Joe Negron, whose political committee gave $85,000 during the first quarter, making it the largest single donor. The next largest was Duke Energy ($70,000), billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones ($50,000), private prison company the GEO Group ($50,000), and health insurer Humana ($30,000). The committee spent $107,643 on legal expenses, including $87,643 with the firm Hopping Green & Sams.
JUSTIN GRABELLE BOOSTS CD 11 RACE BY $137K IN Q1 via Florida Politics – Grabelle … raised more than $137,000 in the first quarter of 2016 in his campaign to take over for retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent … Grabelle’s first quarter performance follows a $111,664 haul from the last three months of 2015 that left him with just shy of $100,000 on hand to start the year. The 34-year-old candidate, who was Nugent’s chief of staff, didn’t include how much money his campaign spent in the first quarter in the announcement, though he is most certainly behind U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, who announced he would run for CD 11 instead of his current CD 10 seat back in February.
JACK LATVALA’S FLORIDA LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE RAISES $113,357 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Florida Leadership Committee trailed only Scott‘s Let’s Get To Work, which raised $248,000, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s Florida Grown, which raised 126,250, during the month … The new donations, combined with spending of almost $50,000, left Florida Leadership Committee with about $1.9 million … “I work hard,” Latvala said. “I’ve got a number of friends running for the Legislature that I want to see elected, and people that I think will be good for the state, so I want to be prepared to help them.”
RICHARD CLARK BREAKS $60 K BARRIER IN HD 12 RACE via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Clark, a JTA lobbyist, resumed fundraising in March after five months of dormancy. A $9,500 March brought Clark up to $60,000 even, leaving him just over $50,000 on hand. Clark, a former Jacksonville City Councilman, raised money from luminaries, including Susie Wiles, the co-chair of the Florida Donald Trump campaign; Husein Cumber, who was a key fundraiser for George W. Bush in 2004; Deno Hicks of Southern Strategies Group; and Sleiman Holdings, owned by Toney Sleiman.
WILLIAM MCBRIDE KICK-STARTS HD 27 RACE WITH LOAN, ZENAIDA DENIZAC STALLS via Florida Politics – McBride kick-started his campaign with a six-figure loan while fellow Republican Denizac raised just $1,900 … McBride and Denizac are running to replace Deltona Republican Rep. David Santiago, who is running for Congress, in the GOP-leaning seat. Denizac, a former Deltona City Commissioner who filed in early January, finished her third month with about $1,200 on hand compared to $259,000 for McBride. While $250,000 of McBride’s March haul came in through loans to his campaign, the personal injury attorney was also able to bring in $9,000 in contributions and got through the month without spending any of that money.
— “Adam Putnam’s political committee raises over $126K in March” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics
— “Consumers for Smart solar spends nearly $268,000 in March” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
— “Flores vs. Korge emerges as most expensive state Senate race with Broward and Orlando contests next” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
— “Rod Smith, Keith Perry add to war chests in race for Florida SD 8” via Christopher Curry of the Gainesville Sun
— “Marlene O’Toole outpaces fundraising, but Dennis Baxley loans $100K to keep lead in SD 12” via Florida Politics
— “Dean Asher’s March fundraising leads in SD 13 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— “Debbie Mayfield, Ritch Workman post ho-hum March fundraising figures in SD 17 race” via Florida Politics
— “Frank Artiles tops $209K in one month in challenge to Dwight Bullard” via Florida Politics
— “State House candidates from Sarasota and Manatee counties collect big checks in March” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune
— “HD 14 Dems Leslie Jean-Bart, Kim Daniels raise over $16K each in March” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics
— “Republican Wenda Lewis builds 6-figure money lead in HD 21 race” via Florida Politics
— “Democrat Alex Barrio jumps out to fundraising lead in HD 48” via Florida Politics
— “Byron Donalds raises more than $3K in bid for HD 80 seat” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics
— “Bob Rommel, Lavigne Kirkpatrick boost their HD 106 campaign coffers in March” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics
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HAPPENING TODAY – CLINTON HOLDING THREE FLORIDA FUNDRAISERS via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Her campaign has announced no public events … She begins with a 1 p.m. fundraiser at the home of Marsha and Henry Laufer in Manalapan. Then Clinton holds an event at 5:30 p.m. the Hilton Downtown in Miami along with U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, Kristin Davis and Raúl De Molina, a Spanish TV personality, including a performance by Carole King. Her final fundraiser is at the Miami Beach at the home of Tiffany and Alex Heckler.
HAPPENING TONIGHT – Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jayer Williamson is holding a fundraising reception in his bid for House District 3. Event begins 6 p.m. at the Fisher House Bait Shop, 600 South Barracks St. in Pensacola. RSVP with Lauren at email@example.com or call (850) 438-0955.
HAPPENING TONIGHT – Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush will be in Tampa at a fundraising luncheon hosted by former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford. Co-hosting the event, which begins at noon, is A-list lobbyist Slater Bayliss of Cardenas Partners. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will appear beginning noon at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.
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SPOTTED in the New York Post Page 6 section – Former [New York] Mayor Michael Bloomberg consoling failed presidential candidate Marco Rubio at this weekend’s Longines Global Champions Tour in Miami. Michael was there to watch daughter Georgina compete in the equestrian event, where she owns the team Miami Glory, and placed fourth in the Grand Prix Saturday, winning about $50K … Rubio was there with his daughters in a VIP area.
FIRST IN SUNBURN – DAVID JOLLY TAPS NEW CAMPAIGN MANAGER – Jolly has tapped Max Goodman to serve as his new campaign manager. Goodman had served as political director for the Clearwater Republican’s bid to succeed Sen. Marco Rubio for the last eight months. “Max Goodman, our Political Director for the last eight months, has assumed the additional responsibilities of day-to-day operations as our new Campaign Manager. Max is one of the brightest political minds in the state, a tireless fighter, and exactly the right person to manage this campaign from here to victory in November,” said Jolly via email. Nick Hansen, who had managed Jolly’s congressional campaign and helped launch the Senate campaign, will transition to a role as a senior adviser. “Nick has served as my trusted Senior Political Advisor since the day I declared my candidacy for the House and he remains in that role today in our U.S. Senate campaign. He is an invaluable asset.”
CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA TRAVELING TO ISRAEL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Lopez-Cantera is traveling to Israel this week as part of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association delegation. The trip is meant to develop existing relationships, as well as promote new partnerships. “The United States’ relationship with Israel is critical, and I am traveling there to gain a firsthand appreciation for the security challenges they face and hearing firsthand how the United States can and will stand with Israel in facing those challenges,” Lopez-Cantera said … “It is important we make sure our relationship with Israel, our greatest ally, is at its strongest.”
>>>Look for Senate President Andy Gardiner to formally endorse CLC on Tuesday.
WHAT BRIAN HUGHES IS READING — TODD WILCOX WINS RLC STRAW POLL via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY – In a straw vote of attendees [of the Republican Liberty Caucus of East Central Florida], conducted by Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott after the hourlong U.S. Senate forum ended, [Todd] Wilcox received 128 votes, [Carlos] Lopez-Cantera received 36, [Ron] DeSantis received 35, [Carlos] Beruff received 3 and [David] Jolly received 2. Note: Wilcox and DeSantis were the only ones there. Yet somehow DeSantis got one less vote than Lopez-Cantera. Not a good indication of his stumping skills.
LINDA CHAPIN ENDORSES SUSANNAH RANDOLPH IN CD 9 RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Chapin is a longtime figure in Orlando Democratic politics, an activist first elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners in the 1980s. In 1990, after Orange County was chartered to have a strong chairman position, she was the first executive chair of Orange County [a position that later was renamed “mayor.”] Today she serves on multiple community boards and is the chairwoman of the Orlando Health Board of Directors. Chapin is known as a power-player in Orlando with deep involvement in civic and social policies, women’s health and the environment. “For years Susannah has been a tireless defender and passionate advocate of women’s rights in Central Florida,” Chapin stated in a news release … “In the continued fight to close the gender wage gap and shatter the glass ceiling, there is no one better to lead the charge in Washington than Susannah.”
LEON PANETTA IS BACKING ERIC LYNN IN CD 13 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Former Defense Secretary Panetta is endorsing Lynn in the race for the open Pinellas County 13th Congressional District seat being vacated by David Jolly. “I am proud to endorse Eric Lynn for Congress,” Panetta said in a prepared statement. “I know Eric well, and as a valued adviser to me during my time as Secretary of Defense, he proved that he has the resolve, experience, and good judgment that it takes to be a strong and effective leader in Congress. During these challenging times both at home and abroad, Eric has the knowledge and courage to fight to protect the national and economic security of all Americans and their families.” The endorsement is a nice feather in Lynn’s hat, as he battles a tremendous lack of name recognition in the Democratic primary race against Charlie Crist.
NO FLORIDA SENATE BID FOR DWIGHT DUDLEY AS HE BEARS DOWN ON BEING RE-ELECTED IN HD 68 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Dudley says that if last year’s redistricting of the Senate districts had turned out differently, he may have chosen to run for the Senate, but that simply didn’t happen. “If there was a seriously useful well drawn seat, but it didn’t turn out that way,” he says, adding that “I’m certainly content to continue to represent the people where I’m from.” Regarding the 2016 legislative session that’s now in the books, Dudley is proud of the “many bad things” that he feels he had a role in helping to kill, such as the gun proposals like open carry and campus carry, both of which went down to defeat.
SAVE THE DATE: Republican state rep. Chris Latvala kicks off his House District 67 re-election campaign with a fundraiser Monday, May 2, at the Island Way Grill, 20 Island Way in Clearwater. RSVP at 727-545-9566 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE: Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters hosts a fundraiser Wednesday, April 27, for her re-election effort in House District 69. Reception begins 5:30 p.m. at the Sirata Beach Resort Royal Palm Meeting Room, 5300 Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach. RSVP to Katie Ballard at 954-803-3942 or Katie@ballardconsult.com.
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BILL NELSON CALLS ON U.S. HOUSE TO PASS BILL FOR ZIKA FUNDING via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – With the House of Representatives poised to support a bill that would provide that $1.9 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus … Nelson went to the floor of the Senate to advocate they do exactly that. “So when you look at where this virus is, unfortunately, there’s more of the people with the virus that we know of in my state of Florida than any other. Nationwide there are multiples of hundreds. In the state of Florida, just under a hundred that we’ve identified,” Nelson said. “Well, one little bit of good news that I can give you is that the bill that we passed in the Senate before the Easter recess is now in the House, and it will be taken up by the House tomorrow. They should pass it and send it on to the president’s desk for signature.”
PUBLIC HAS MORE TIME TO COMMENT ON MODIFIED MOSQUITO TEST via The Associated Press – The public has more time to file comments on a proposal to release genetically modified mosquitoes in a test in the Florida Keys. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined the trial would not harm humans or the environment. A final decision is still pending. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District wants British biotech firm Oxitec to test its modified mosquitoes near Key West. The district is looking for new ways to kill the species that carries Zika and other viruses. The original comment period was 30 days. Responding to public requests for more time, the FDA extended the deadline until May 13. Oxitec will host meetings in Key West to discuss the trial. The mosquito control board also will discuss it at its monthly meeting April 19 in Marathon.
EDITORIAL: DON’T PLAY POLITICS IN ZIKA FIGHT via the Orlando Sentinel – Republican leaders have insisted there’s plenty of money available to fight Zika from other sources, including leftover dollars that Congress set aside in 2014 to deal with another public health threat, the Ebola virus. And when the Obama administration announced last week that it would redirect nearly $600 million from Ebola to Zika, GOP leaders such as House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers declared victory. But Obama administration officials stressed that the Ebola transfer covers less than a third of the funds requested for Zika, and the Ebola funds would need to be replaced. Ebola has re-emerged in recent weeks in two African countries, Liberia and Guinea. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a smart or sustainable approach to fighting Zika.
BOTH SIDES OF ALIMONY REFORM PUTTING PRESSURE ON RICK SCOTT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – As Scott reviews the legislation (SB 668), representatives of the Florida National Organization for Women, the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups plan to meet with his staff … according to FL-NOW lobbyist Barbara DeVane. Their goal: To explain “why this dangerous bill is wrong for Florida’s families and deserves his veto,” she said. At 10 a.m., however, bill proponents will gather on the steps of the Old Capitol facing the courtyard to show their support, said Larry Rutan of Florida Family Law Reform. “It’s a fair law,” he said. “I don’t see how anybody can complain about it.” Scott has until next April 19 to act on the measure, the final one sent to him by the Legislature out of the 272 general and local bills it approved this past Session. The bill passed the Senate 24-14, then was approved by the House 74-38. Among other things, the bill changes the way Florida judges can award alimony with the intent to eliminate what critics have called “forever alimony.”
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at 10:30 a.m. at Fresh Express, Inc., 4757 The Grove Drive, Suite 260 in Windermere.
SCOTT WRONG TO SUSPEND APPOINTEE FOR MALFEASANCE, JUDGE SAYS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott had no authority to suspend a political appointee from office without providing any evidence of “malfeasance,” a circuit judge ruled Monday. The decision by Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips represents a defeat for Scott and for a top adviser, Melinda Miguel, who had urged the governor to suspend David Di Pietro and Darryl Wright, a second member of the board of the North Broward Hospital District.
SENATE PRESIDENT AIMS TO RESTORE BRIGHT FUTURES SCHOLARSHIPS via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Bright Futures, which once covered the entire cost of tuition and fees for top-performing students, now offers partial financial relief. To cut costs, lawmakers capped the scholarships, meaning even the top Bright Futures awards cover only half of the average tuition, and a lower award covers about 40 percent. A more robust Bright Futures program may become a reality if Joe Negron is successful as he makes lifting the academic quality and reputation of the Florida’s state universities a priority of his two-year term, which begins after the November general election. Ultimately, Negron said Florida should have state universities like North Carolina, Virginia or Michigan, which are attractive to top-performing students in state as well as out of state. He also wants to improve the “2 plus 2” program, in which students spend two years at one of Florida’s 28 state colleges and then transfer to a state university. But Negron said equally important to him is making the state universities attractive to students and helping them pay for their higher education.
LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools
Off: Amanda Cogan has stepped down as district secretary for Shalimar Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.
On: Lisa Goodson is Gaetz’s new district secretary.
Off and on: Kevin Reilly has left the job of deputy staff director for the House majority leader for a new position as legislative affairs director for Gov. Scott’s office.
Off: Gloria Perez is no longer district secretary for Riverview Republican Rep. Ross Spano.
On: Pamila Briest is replacing Perez in Spano’s office.
On: Ethan Perry has joined the Office of the General Counsel as legislative research assistant.
Off: Grace Arana is has stepped down as district secretary for Miami Republican Rep. Frank Artiles.
Off: Irena Sas will no longer be district secretary for Boynton Beach Democratic Rep. Lori Berman.
Off: Daniel Martinez has stepped down as legislative assistant for Hialeah Gardens Republican Rep. Manny Diaz.
On: Joseph Sosa will take Martinez’s place as Diaz’s district secretary.
Off: Peter Campbell has stepped down as district secretary for sunrise Democratic Rep. Katie Edwards.
On: Linda Segall is Edwards’ new district secretary
Off: Kayla-Ann Lott has stepped down as legislative assistant for Gainesville Republican Rep. Keith Perry.
Off: Clarice Redding is no longer district secretary for West Palm Beach Democratic Rep. Bobby Powell.
Off: Erin Muir is no longer legislative assistant for Key Largo Republican Rep. Holly Raschein.
On: Kate DeLoach is taking Muir’s place.
On: Virginia Morgan has moved up to the job of legislative assistant for Miami Democratic Rep. David Richardson. Morgan previously served as district secretary.
Off: Chris Hudtwalcker has stepped down as legislative assistant for Miami Democratic Rep. José Javier Rodríguez.
Off: Alyssa Gay has also stepped down as district secretary for Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube.
On and off: Cynthia Futch will now be full-time administrative assistant for the Senate Committee on Rules. Futch replaces the retiring Cissy DuBose.
Off: Devon West has stepped down as legislative assistant for Cape Canaveral Republican Sen. Thad Altman.
On: Caroline Crow takes West’s place as secretary for Altman.
Off: Tamara Holliday has stepped down as legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.
On: Alexis Mansolo, previously a receptionist for the Senate president’s office, has now moved up to become Benacquisto’s secretary.
Off: Brody Enwright has stepped down as legislative assistant for Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano.
Off and on: Rich Reidy has stepped down as legislative assistant for Lutz Republican Sen. John Legg for a similar role with Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala.
Off: Lizbeth Mabry is no longer Latvala’s legislative assistant.
Off: Matthew Alford has stepped down as legislative assistant for Hollywood Democratic Sen. Eleanor Sobel.
PERSONNEL NOTE – UBER HIRES EX-MARCO RUBIO ADVISER, GROWING FLORIDA TEAM via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The company has hired Javi Correoso as its public affairs manager for the state … fresh off Rubio‘s presidential campaign, where he worked as the Florida and national Hispanic engagement adviser. Correoso, who also worked on Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, served as a public face for the late presidential candidate on Spanish-language TV and radio. He was previously a spokesman for the 2014 statewide campaign against a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, and he consulted on U.S. House and Senate races for the LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Hispanic nonprofit backed by the billionaire Koch brothers. Before that, Correoso was a senior aide to then-U.S. Rep. David Rivera, and executive director of the Miami-Dade Republican Party.
AG LAWYER RESIGNS AFTER COKE BUST via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Christopher P. Arnold, 32, was arrested on charges of DUI and possession of cocaine April 3 after a Florida State University police officer spotted him driving erratically … the officer said Arnold’s speech was “slow and slurred” and he had difficulty maintaining his balance during the stop … He declined to take part in field sobriety tests or provide a breath sample. After he was taken into custody, officers found a small plastic bag of suspected cocaine in a small baggie attached to his credit card. Arnold resigned a few days later, April 7, said Kylie Mason, press secretary for the Attorney General’s Office. He submitted a short resignation letter the same day.
FLORIDA BAR PASSAGE RATE AT 58% FOR FEBRUARY EXAM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – About six out of 10 first-time test takers passed the February sitting of the Florida Bar Exam … The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, which develops and administers the twice-yearly exam, reported that 485 of 830 first-timers passed, or 58.4 percent. Florida International University College of Law graduates had the best passage rate, with 22 of 26 takers passing, or 84.6 percent, followed by Nova Southeastern University College of Law, with 24 of 32 passing, or 75 percent. At the bottom was Florida Coastal School of Law, with 16 passing out of 49 takers, or 32.7 percent. Altogether, 1,967 people sat for the exam, including those who already have taken the exam one or more times. Of those, 546 passed and are eligible to be sworn in as members of The Florida Bar. The test was given Feb. 23-24 in Tampa. Like many state bar exams, it is given twice a year, in late February and late July.
HERITAGE SEEKS 14.9% INSURANCE RATE HIKE via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – The state’s fourth-largest homeowner insurer, Heritage Property & Casualty, is seeking an average 14.9 percent rate increase for former customers of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. effective Sept. 1. If approved, former Citizens policyholders in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties would be hit particularly hard. More than 17,000 single-family homeowners in Broward and Palm Beach counties could see rates increase by at least 19.5 percent a year, according to the company’s estimates. In Miami-Dade, 11,695 customers could see bills increase by 16.3 percent or more. Heavy recent claims losses and a recent surge in lawsuits related to assignments of benefits are to blame, company president Richard Widdicombe said by phone.
SHOULD JACKSONVILLE ACCEPT AIRBNB’S TAX MONEY? via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union – For years, the website allowed anyone to rent their abodes … like hotels to strangers. In Jacksonville and most cities, the website has done so without paying bed taxes, arguing that it is up to the person renting his home to pay the taxes. But two months ago, a PricewaterhouseCoopers tax manager hired by Airbnb sent the Duval County Tax Collector a boiler-plate contract to allow the website to start sending in tax payments for its hosts. City attorneys are going through the contract with Duval County Tax Collector Michael Corrigan before presenting it to the City Council … The Airbnb contract is similar to ones agreed to in Orange County, Pinellas County and the state revenue department, which handles taxes for 22 counties. The bed tax is limited in what it can be used for. It is intended to pay for a county’s tourist-related costs — marketing, beach maintenance and in Jacksonville, stadium improvements. The proposed contract, among many other things, includes a clause that would exempt Airbnb from paying back taxes.
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CAROL MARBIN MILLER ACCEPTS AWARD FOR MIAMI HERALD’S “INNOCENTS LOST” SERIES via Florida Politics – Miller, one of the writers of the Miami Herald’s “Innocents Lost” investigation … accepted the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for the 2014 series on behalf of the newspaper. Miller and co-writer Audra D.S. Burch spent three years looking into Florida’s child welfare system “by following the lives – and deaths – of children within the system,” according to a news release. In remarks, Miller advocated for daily watchdog and beat reporting, saying she wanted to inspire her audience “to go back to your communities and support and advocate for investigative journalism.” She also stuck up for the state’s public records law, which comes under assault every legislative session from lawmakers seeking new exemptions from the public’s right to know. “These records are there for everyone who lives in Florida and pays taxes, and (exemptions are) there to protect powerful interests,” she said.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE TO RELEASE EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK STAMP via USPS.com – The Everglades National Park Forever stamp is the sixth of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. The stamp image is a photograph by Paul Marcellini of Miami. The June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony for the National Parks Forever Stamps pane will take place at New York City’s Javits Center at 11 a.m. as part of World Stamp Show-NY 2016. Dedication ceremonies will also take place at or near each of the National Parks depicted on the stamps. Individuals are asked to spread the news on social media by using the hashtags #FindYourPark, #NPS100 or #NPSStamps.
CAN’T WAIT TO READ TODAY the new book from Ed Morrissey, Going Red, which takes readers inside the battlegrounds that will decide the election, weaving together data and the stories of people and leaders in these communities to answer the most pressing questions facing conservatives in 2016. Quoted in the book are Peter Schorsch, Rep. Shawn Harrison, Tom Jackson, and POLITICO’s Marc Caputo.
ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda features an in-depth interview with the woman now famous for calling Gov. Scott an ‘as*hole,’ during a tense confrontation at a Gainesville Starbucks. As Scott retaliates with an attack ad, Cara Jennings speaks out to Gomes about her life as a community activist, her beliefs in Anarchism and why, on occasion, she refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. While Jennings tells Gomes ‘as*hole’ was probably not the best word to call the governor, she goes on to list several other ways to describe Gov. Scott.
THE LATEST GAME OF THRONES TRAILER TEASES FIRE AND BLOOD via Kwame Opam of the Verge – Each new trailer gives us a clearer picture of what to expect. And more than any other trailer before it, this spot teases as much as it can. Here, we see Davos and Melisandre at the Wall, leaving us wondering just what will happen with Jon Snow. Meanwhile. Cersei is sending Jaime into battle against their foes, Daenerys is a prisoner among the Dothraki, Arya is in training, and Tyrion must face down a few dragons. We also see a few good glimpses at the return of the Greyjoys, as well as Sansa working toward vengeance against the people who slaughtered her loved ones. It’s going to be an exciting, bloody season. Game of Thrones returns April 24.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our great friends, Stephanie McClung and Fred Piccolo (the better looking Piccolo brother). Also celebrating today is Jared Rosenstein.