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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – March 2

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica


Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

but there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

Mudville, in this case, is Tallahassee. And Casey is a stand-in for any number of people or issues.

Florida politicos are waking up today to a political environment they could never have forecasted. Jeb Bush is now two weeks removed from the presidential race. Marco Rubio, the final hope of the establishment GOP, is the proud winner of the Minnesota caucuses and is in danger of losing badly in his home state.

The race to replace Rubio in the U.S. Senate remains caustic, yet undefined with one of the state’s most loathed politicians, Alan Grayson, the presumptive frontrunner. The impact of the redistricting rulings continues to be felt with good leaders and great people like Gwen Graham and Dan Webster with uncertain futures. Meanwhile, pols years removed from office, like Mike Haridopolos and Rod Smith, are plotting comebacks.

As for the issues before the Legislature, Tuesday marked the day when things fell apart. The gaming bills are dead. The fracking bill is dead. A deal for ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft is all but dead.

Things are so dead in Tallahassee that for the first time in 21 years, a gubernatorial appointee will lose his job due to Senate opposition. (H/t to Steve Bousquet; see how that works Steve!)

Major tax cuts look dead. Popular sales tax holidays are in danger. Daily fantasy sports may be dead in Florida by next football season. Judicial term limits – a top priority for Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran – appears dead.

Somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright. Donald Trump is basking in the glow of his victories. Those who believe the fewer bills the Legislature passes the better should be pleased today. They’re not necessarily wrong. But I also think of this…

For the second year in a row, the Florida Legislature is poised to finish a session without awarding any of the legal damages owed to the surviving victim of one of the most horrific child abuse cases in state history, reports Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald.

Victor Barahona, the surviving twin brother of Nubia Barahona, was found near death and covered with pesticides alongside his sister’s decomposing body on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County in 2011. They were 10 years old.

“The twins had been sexually abused, starved and forced to sleep in a bathtub for years by the foster parents who adopted them, Jorge and Carmen Barahona,” Klas reminds us. “They were ordered to eat cockroaches and consume food that contained feces and, despite numerous complaints to the child abuse hotline and warnings from teachers, the state failed to stop their parents from routinely beating and binding them inside their West Miami-Dade home.”

If the Florida Legislature can’t pass a claims bill to make the victims of the case whole, what can it do?

No, there is no joy in Mudville — Florida’s politicians have struck out.

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HILLARY CLINTON, DONALD TRUMP CEMENTED AS 2016 LEADERS via Julie Pace and Lisa Lerrer of the Associated Press  Clinton and Trump, emboldened by commanding victories Tuesday across large swaths of the country, are beginning to focus on each other in the race for the White House. Clinton previewed a “love and kindness” message while Trump traded his typical rollicking rallies for a sober media conference where he pressed his case that Clinton is a proven failure as a longtime politician. Both spoke from Florida, where the general election is often won or lost. That wasn’t one of the dozen states that weighed in on a day known as Super Tuesday because it’s the busiest of the 2016 primary season.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won his home state, Oklahoma and Alaska, buttressing his out-of-the-gate win in the Iowa caucuses a month ago, while Marco Rubio notched his first victory, in Minnesota. “Our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat, and that will beat Donald Trump,” Cruz thundered to supporters gathered at the wood-paneled Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas. Still, he’d been counting on more appeal in the Southern states and among evangelical Christian voters. Trump, who dubs his surging campaign the “Trump Train,” has derailed those plans.

Rubio and the other Republicans still in the race, John Kasich and Ben Carson, struggled Tuesday to convey optimism even as they vowed to fight on.

Simple math reinforces a bind for the Republicans who reject Trump, as the brash billionaire businessman carried seven states and continues to barrel toward the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. Trump won at least 203 delegates Tuesday. Cruz collected at least 144 delegates and Rubio picked up at least 71. Overall, Trump leads with 285 delegates, Cruz has 161, Rubio has 87, Kasich has 25 and Carson has eight. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination. Increasingly, leading Republicans talk of a contested convention in July as their best remaining option for stopping Trump, whose divisive rhetoric about immigrants and ethnic and religious groups has some fearing a GOP wipeout in November.

Like Cruz, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was victorious in his home state.

He also picked up victories in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado, and he assured supporters he’d take his fight to “every one” of the remaining contests. With a staggering $42 million raised in February alone, Sanders has the campaign cash to do just that — though Clinton is well on her way to the 2,383 delegates needed on the Democratic side.

Tuesday’s results left little doubt as to the front-runners in the race.

REPUBLICAN SUPER PACS AIRED 6000 ADS AGAINST TRUMP BEFORE SUPER TUESDAY via Cady Zuvich of TIME magazine – The ad blitz, however, may be too little, too late. Trump’s Republican rivals have been slow to attack him and only recently have singled him out on the airwaves. “I don’t think [Republicans] saw him as a true threat,” said Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising. “He breaks the mold of what we’ve seen in the past 50 years.” Conservative Solutions PAC — a super PAC supporting Rubio— waged a $4.5 million anti-Trump campaign in just the past week.

NO REPUBLICAN NOMINEE HAS EVER WON ALL OF THE DIFFERENT STATES TRUMP HAS via Philip Bump of the Washington Post – Going back to 1960, well before all of the states regularly weighed in on the nomination, no Republican nominee has won the states of Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia and South Carolina. Much of that is because of the long-standing split between Northeastern Republicans and Southern ones … almost always when a nominee lost only one or two of these states, he often lost it in New England. There’s nothing necessarily significant about these eight states, beyond that they’re the ones Trump won. Trump, too, has a loss, just like the 1980 nominee, Ronald Reagan. The reason it’s worth noting, though, is simple: All of these people ended up being the nominee.

TWEET, TWEET: @ChuckTodd: Cruz and Rubio camps are no longer pretending they can win this nomination before Cleveland. Both camps pushing convention scenarios.

FOX NEWS BOTCHES, CORRECTS REPORT OF FLORIDA GOVERNOR ENDORSING TRUMP via Hadas Gold of POLITICO – By 9:32 p.m. anchor Bret Baier seemed to confirm the news: “Getting two sources saying Governor Rick Scott is in fact going to endorse Donald Trump,” Baier said. But no endorsement was going to be coming from Scott, at least not on Tuesday. But with Trump taking the stage in Florida, Baier couldn’t report the news on camera, so he turned to Twitter to correct the report. “Just got official word from governor’s office that there is no endorsement tonight said to be in Tallahassee,” Baier tweeted. Baier later also corrected the report on air after Trump’s press conference.

IN PALM BEACH, TRUMP MOCKS RUBIO via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – At a packed press conference at the Mar-a-Lago luxury golf resort in Palm Beach, Trump spoke on a stage lit with blue and red lights in a room with ornate gold decorations lining the walls and ceiling. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduced the billionaire businessman. “I know it was a very tough night for Marco Rubio….” Trump said. “He is a lightweight, as I’ve said many times before.” Trump said special interests and lobbyists “want to have their little senator do exactly as they want” and plan to invest up to $25 million over the next two weeks in Rubio’s candidacy leading up to the Florida primary on March 15.

MARCO RUBIO’S TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NOT-AT-ALL SUPER TUESDAY via Phillip Bump of the Washington Post – First, there was his campaign’s odd — stupid — decision to raise expectationsas people were still voting, predicting that they might win as many as four states. He won just one — the Minnesota caucuses. … Rubio got up to speak at his rally on Tuesday night and actually said that Trump was falling in the polls as he, Rubio, was rising. That was his argument: Trump is heading down, and we are headed up. At this point, that’s a bit like my saying that I’m this close to being higher than a 747 because I jumped into the air and it descended from 35,000 to 30,000 feet.

THIS STORY POSTED ON BLOOMBERG AT 5:35 P.M. — “Rubio team raising expectations for Super Tuesday” via Michael Bender of Bloomberg Politics

JOHN KASICH STRATEGIST TAUNTS RUBIO AS MORE HYPED THAN CRYSTAL PEPSI via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO – In a memo sent out Tuesday night, John Weaver argued that after a month in which Kasich had played “an away game,” the GOP race is moving onto his home turf after Tuesday “and the race will fully reset when it gets to Ohio on March 15.” … “Sen. Rubio has been more hyped than Crystal Pepsi, but he has flopped even worse,” Weaver wrote. “Even a well-conceived, high-financed marketing campaign won’t work if people don’t want to buy the product. That’s the Rubio campaign’s problem. … Behind the nice packaging, voters are discovering there is little substance.”

EMAIL FROM THIS MORNING I DIDN’T OPEN via Rubio: “This is just the beginning”

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EXIT POLL: WOMEN, BLACKS, OLDER VOTERS FOR CLINTON IN VA, GA via Nancy Benac and Emily Swanson of the Associated Press – Showing the same strength among African-Americans that she did in South Carolina, Clinton was supported by about 8 in 10 black voters in Virginia and Georgia … Black voters made up about half of Democratic voters in Georgia and about a quarter of Virginia. It was a different story in [BernieSanders‘ home state of Vermont … claimed overwhelming majorities of both men and women, and huge majorities of voters across all age groups. Half of Vermont Democrats said they want the next president’s policies to be more liberal than Barack Obama’s — far more than in any other state voting Tuesday.

REPUBLICAN GROUP TO INTENSIFY CAMPAIGN AGAINST TRUMP via Maggie Haberman of the New York Times – A “super PAC” that was formed by members of the Ricketts family is boosting its staff and planning a full-fledged campaign against Trump — and his surrogates — in an effort to thwart his rise, including hiring the former communications director to Jeb Bush and creating an opposition research wing. Tim Miller, who was Bush’s top spokesman during his presidential run, will now work for Our Principles PAC, the group founded in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses to try to prevent Trump from winning the nomination … With additional funding from sources other than Marlene Ricketts, the group is planning to focus on daily opposition research attacks on Mr. Trump, particularly in March 8 and March 15 states.

SUPER TUESDAY HAD A SILVER LINING FOR SENATE REPUBLICANS WORRIED ABOUT TRUMP via Amber Phillips of the Washington Post – Take heart, Senate Republicans. On a night when Trump was celebrating his primary victories in states across the nation, results from a GOP Senate primary in Alabama suggest that maybe some Trump supporters can still tell the difference between all Washington incumbents and their own incumbent. Sen. Richard Shelby won his five-way primary on Tuesday night. He had 64 percent of the vote with almost half of precincts reporting. The 81-year-old will avoid a runoff against one of his little-known challengers and probably will win a sixth term to the Senate in November. For Senate Republicans worried about the Trump Effect on their ability to keep control of the chamber in November, Shelby’s win is good news. It suggests that Republican voters’ frustration with the status quo, as symbolized by Trump’s likelier-than-ever nomination, may not extend to their own members of Congress.

TRUMP TO CAMPAIGN AT UCF ON SATURDAY via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Trump is scheduled to appear at the CFE Arena at noon on Saturday … Free tickets were available at his website. This will be Trump’s first campaign appearance in the Orlando area since he made an appearance at the Sunshine Summit conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in November. The CFE Arena is located at 12777 Gemini Boulevard North on the UCF campus.

OH, RICK  “Endorsing Trump, GOP office-holder? Go fetch your shinebox” via Rick Wilson of the Daily Beast

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ALAN GRAYSON AND DAVID JOLLY CONTINUE TO LEAD U.S. SENATE RACE, ACCORDING TO NEW PPP POLL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Jolly … leads with 26 percent of the vote. Congressman Ron De Santis is second with 14 percent. Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera is third with 11 percent, and former CIA contractor Todd Wilcox is fourth with 2 percent. However, 47 percent of all Republicans asked said they had no preference … nearly six months before the primary election. In the Democratic race … Grayson leads … Patrick Murphy by 11 percentage points, 33%-22%. However, 45 percent of all Democrats say they don’t have a candidate yet.

RICK SCOTT ISN’T PICKING A SIDE IN SENATE RACE THAT INCLUDES HIS NUMBER TWO via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott is keeping the door shut on an endorsement of his lieutenant governor, who is running in a crowded U.S. Senate race that got a little more crowded this week with the addition of another key ally of the governor’s.  “I am not endorsing in the Senate race,” Scott told reporters after a reporter asked if he would consider endorsing [CarlosBeruff. “There’s a lot of good candidates running. My lieutenant governor’s in that race. Carlos Beruff, I think, entered just in the last couple of days. He was the chairman of my hospital and health care commission and did a good job. My lieutenant governor’s done a great job.”

SURVEY NAMES BILL NELSON FLORIDA’S MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN via Florida Politics – The poll found 40 percent of Florida voters approve of the third-term Senator, compared to 32 percent who disapprove. The numbers put him ahead of two of the Sunshine State’s other statewide elected officials: Scott and Rubio. Democrats were the most satisfied with Nelson’s job performance, with 53 percent approving and 15 percent saying they disapprove. Independents also favored the Senator 44-to-28, though Republican respondents said they disapproved of him by a 49-27 margin. Scott had about the same number of fans in the poll — 38 percent said he is doing a good job — though his 48 percent disapproval rating is through the roof compared to Nelson. The second-term Republican did fine with GOP respondents, who came in at 62-27 in favor though just 14 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents polled felt the same way. Scott isn’t in last place, however. Just 31 percent of those polled said Rubio, one of the five remaining Republican presidential candidates, was doing a good job, with 55 percent disapproving of the first-term Senator’s performance.

BASHING OBAMACARE NO GUARANTEED VOTE-GETTER IN FLORIDA, POLL SHOWS via Florida Politics – Bashing Obamacare might not be the same vote getter it was in past Florida elections, according to a poll y Public Policy Polling … 42 percent of voters support and 41 percent oppose the Affordable Care Act. While not a ringing endorsement of the controversial health care law, the numbers are a far cry from early unpopularity. “Obamacare is not a political liability for Democrats anymore,” PPP President Dean Debnam. “Voters are pretty evenly divided on it nationally and in key states like Florida so at this point it’s really a wash.” The tight split went across all age groups and was similarly close among both men and women, with males disapproving of the law 45-to-43.

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GAMBLING LEGISLATION APPEARS DEAD FOR 2016 SESSION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Tom Lee, chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday said the chamber’s gambling bills wouldn’t be heard at the panel’s meeting. Lee, a Brandon Republican, made the announcement as the meeting was about to begin, but didn’t get into details. With committees generally unable to meet after Tuesday, the 50th day of the Legislative Session, the Senate’s gambling legislation and the proposed Seminole Compact appear dead for 2016. Lee did say it was up to state Sen. Rob Bradley, the Fleming Island Republican who chairs the Regulated Industries Committee, to “revive” it.

… CONCESSIONS TO PARI-MUTUELS SAME AS “RANSOM,” TOM LEE SAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Echoing a Seminole Tribe attorney …  Lee opened the possibility that provisions added to the Seminole Compact to placate the state’s pari-mutuels were a “ransom” that tanked the legislation. “There are a lot of different factions in the Legislature … Some people view what I call the ‘wealth redistribution’ bill, which is the ransom being demanded by the industry to pass a Compact, as untenable … That’s because it results in a massive, historically large expansion of gambling in Florida.” A House panel cleared provisions benefiting horse and dog tracks, expanding their ability to offer slots and cards.

SENATOR KILLS OWN FRACKING BILL, BLAMES DISINGENUOUS OPPONENT via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A Senate bill that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on oil and gas hydraulic fracturing while state regulations were developed won’t be reconsidered in the 2016 legislative session, its sponsor said Tuesday. On Tuesday, Sen. Garrett Richter, the Naples Republican who is the bill’s sponsor, told the committee that when oil prices go back up, fracking will resume in Florida — but without the regulation provided in his bill. … Richter also accused an opposition group, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, of being “disingenuous” in getting changes to the bill while continuing to oppose it. Other opponents had instead supported a permanent statewide fracking ban.

AFTER BUS TOUR, TV ADS AND PERSONAL APPEALS, GOV. SCOTT SEES HIS $1 BILLION TAX BREAK TURN INTO DEAD DUCK via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The $400 million tax break package being cobbled together by Republican House and Senate budget negotiators isn’t going to look anything like the proposal pitched by Scott, [who] outlined a $1 billion tax-cut plan that would kick-in over two years. The bulk of the reductions — $770 million — permanently erased the corporate income tax paid by retailers and manufacturers, a move the governor said was going to fire the state’s economy. Scott in recent months aired recent television spots, bus-toured Florida and took the rare step of personally testifying before House and Senate panels to promote his $1 billion tax cut package. Scott also wanted $250 million in economic incentives. But lawmakers have kissed off that Scott priority, too.

FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL’S CONFIRMATION AGAIN POSTPONED WITH A REHEARING UNCERTAIN via Michael Auslen and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – This may have been his last shot. There are no more scheduled meetings of the Ethics and Elections Committee during the legislative session. That committee has already postponed a hearing and vote on [JohnArmstrong‘s confirmation twice. If the surgeon general isn’t confirmed by the full Senate during this session … he’ll lose his $141,000 job running the Department of Health. Senate President Andy Gardiner‘s spokesman, Katherine Betta, said “it’s possible” that Ethics and Elections could meet again, but that decision has not been made.

— “Compact vote, confirmation snub latest setbacks in Scott’s tough session” via Matt Dixon of Politico Florida

CONTROVERSIAL CHILD CUSTODY STANDARD SOFTENED BY SENATE IN BID TO WOO HOUSE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Facing stiff House opposition, Sen. Tom Lee … changed what had been a legal presumption in the bill (CS/SB 668) that 50-50 custody was the way to go to a “premise,” a looser standard that he said would still provide some guidance to judges. Lee said his wife is a judge who shares with him stories of divorces where animosity brims “like a Jerry Springer show.” Current custody and alimony laws, he said, “have been designed by people who make millions of dollars in this system — not the people who are paying these fees.” Opposing the legislation were a host of divorced women and organizations such as the National Organization for Women and the Florida League of Women Voters, who insist the proposed changes will hurt women and children. Some warned that it could reopen already settled divorce cases, dragging people back into court.

JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS BILL LIKELY DEAD IN SENATE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A House initiative to place term limits on state Supreme Court justices and appellate judges was assigned to three committees of reference in the Senate … Judiciary, Ethics & Elections, and Rules. Under Senate rules, though, “Unless approved by the President, no committee shall meet after the fiftieth (50th) day of a regular session except the Rules Committee.” Tuesday was the 50th day of the 2016 Legislative Session, which is scheduled concludes March 11. “It received the same references as the Senate companion, which was not heard in its first committee of reference,” said Katie Betta, spokeswoman for Senate President Andy Gardiner. “To bring a bill to the Senate floor that was never heard in a Senate Committee requires unanimous consent” of the chamber, she said. That suggests the bill is lifeless.

YOU ALL ARE THE WORST — LEGISLATURE BALKS AT APPROVING PAYMENT TO VICTIM OF TORTURE AND ABUSE IN BARAHONA CASE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – For the second year in a row, the Florida Legislature is poised to finish a session without awarding any of the legal damages owed to the surviving victim of one of the most horrific child abuse cases in state history. Victor Barahona, the surviving twin brother of Nubia Barahona, was found near death and covered with pesticides alongside his sister’s decomposing body on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County in 2011. They were 10 years old. The twins had been sexually abused, starved and forced to sleep in a bathtub for years by the foster parents who adopted them, Jorge and Carmen Barahona. A report commissioned by David Wilkins, then secretary of the Department of Children and Families, found that the agency’s “failure in common sense, critical thinking, ownership, follow-through, and timely and accurate information-sharing” defined the care of Nubia and Victor. Senate President Andy Gardiner “does not have a philosophical objection to claims bills” … But there is no money in the budget for claims against the state. Despite the lack of money in the state budget, Victor’s claim bill, SB 48, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores … won unanimous approval in two Senate committees. But a companion measure, HB 3529, by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz … never got a hearing in the House.

***In Marion County alone, the horse industry’s annual economic impact is $2.62 billion and nearly 20,000 jobs–completely dwarfing any Seminole Compact estimates. Totally opposed by horsemen, the “partial decoupling” plan now in play would put horsemen on forced welfare with an artificial “set aside purse pool,” wiping out free enterprise and Florida’s ability to compete for horse racing business with other states.  United Florida Horsemen want legislators to know that “Partial Decoupling” is being peddled by casino-only interests, the goal of which is to channel money directly into their corporate bottom lines that would have normally been circulated into Florida’s economy.***

ANDY GARDINER: ENTERPRISE FLORIDA SURVIVAL AT STAKE AFTER INCENTIVES DIE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Gardiner says he personally delivered the unpleasant news to Scott … that Enterprise Florida will have no new money next year for incentives to attract jobs. “He was disappointed, and rightfully so,” Gardiner said in an interview in his Capitol office … “I said, ‘Governor, there comes a point where the Senate backed you on the incentives, we did everything we could, but now we have to start thinking about how we bring this thing in for a landing.’ And with no movement from the House, we really were in a situation where we needed to move on.” Gardiner said Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership that recruits companies to the state, now needs to develop a strategy to “survive” without taxpayer support.

DEAL FALLS THROUGH, UBER TARGETS SEN. ANDY GARDINER via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – After a deal was nearly reached with taxicab and Uber supporters on legislation to provide a legal framework for the app-based ride hailing company to operate in the state, Uber officials are taking aim at Gardiner, whom they blame for holding up the bill … “Senator Gardiner’s actions raise a very important question: is Senator Gardiner going to listen to the voices of the people of Florida, or is he beholden to one special-interest taxi company?” said Uber spokesman Colin Tooze. That “special-interest taxi company” is Orlando-based Mears Transportation. Gardiner is a longtime friend of Paul Mears III, the company’s CEO. Now that the deal has fallen through, Uber is again looking to run the ads against Gardiner.

UBER BLASTS ANDY GARDINER AS BEING IMPEDIMENT IN GETTING RIDE-SHARING BILL PASSED via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “We are calling on Senator Gardiner to set his personal self-interest aside, set special interest politics aside, and follow through on his word,” said Colin Tooze, Director, Public Affairs with Uber, in a conference call. The “personal self-interest” is a reference to Gardiner’s relationship with Roger Chapin, the vice president with Mears Transportation in Orlando and board member with Florida Taxicab Association. That group has been pushing the Legislature to enact tough regulations on Uber and Lyft. The key difference between the Senate and House bills has to do with the Senate’s insistence requiring that the ride-sharing driver to have insurance coverage even when he or she is not logged into the Uber or Lyft app. The House legislation … includes insurance requirements of $50,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per incident and $25,000 in coverage for property damage while logged on to the network. It would also set requirements for driver background checks and would block local governments from establishing rules for rideshare programs. That provision has drawn opposition from the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties. A measure in the Senate sponsored by Dave Simmons and supported by Gardiner has yet to come to the Senate floor for a vote. Its insurance requirements for Uber and Lyft are more expensive than the House version.

MY TAKEJEANETTE NÚÑEZ’S TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD, BUDGET CONFERENCE via Florida Politics – What do you do when you are asked to carry the water for a colleague running for the Florida Senate, who is looking to curry favor with a large business in his district by requesting funding for a line item nobody asked for, the state doesn’t need, and the Senate vehemently opposes? You do what Rep. Núñez has been doing for Rep. Ritch Workman, which is to stick to a script that on the surface sounds believable, but is problematic on several fronts. You have to give her credit: Her commitment to the sound byte that “DMS vetted” Harris Corp.’s sales pitch for $7 million in new radios is a discipline that even Marco Rubio would admire. As it turns out, DMS never requested those radios. And neither did the Department of Financial Services. Nor the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Nor any other agency for that matter. Harris has made its attempt to short-circuit the looming mega-procurement to build the next-generation State Law Enforcement Radio System as regular as the Sine Die Sausage or even Ron Book’s late night laps in the Fourth-Floor Rotunda. In 2014, Harris’ lobbying team attempted to prevent a $1 million line-item to fund a business case that is required before the contract is competitively bid.

— Seven million dollar budget proposal for police radios causes sharp divide” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida

SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES AOB REFORM powered by Legislative Intelligence from LobbyTools – SB 1248, from Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, takes several steps to reduce abuse of AOB agreements, which allow third parties to claim the insurance benefits resulting from loss, rather than receiving an upfront payment from homeowners. In part, the bill offers stronger prohibitions against water remediation businesses, contractors or subcontractors who act as insurance adjusters. It bans them from either offering or receiving referral fees of more than $25. Also, the measure provides new consumer protections, such as requiring contractors and remediation businesses to adhere to a printed scope of work and materials. According to LobbyTools, De la Portilla offered an amendment specifically protecting homeowner’s properties from liens placed on them by contractors with an AOB agreement.


The bill train to Gov. Scott continued Tuesday, with another packet of legislation heading to his desk for review and possible signature. The latest bills include:

HB 59 – Relating to Agritourism – Prohibits local government from regulating “agritourism” activity on land classified as agricultural.

HB 75 – Relating to Electronic Monitoring Devices – Prohibits the wearer of such a device from “removing, destroying, altering, tampering with, damaging, or circumventing operation.”

HB 91 – Relating to Severe Injuries Caused by Dogs – Provides for discretionary, rather than mandatory, quarantine or impoundment of dogs that cause severe injuries to humans.

HB 127 – Relating to Continuing Care Facilities – Provides financial requirements for certain nursing homes to be designated as Gold Seal Program facilities.

HB 131 – Relating to Unattended Persons and Animals in Motor Vehicles – Provides immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a person or animal.

HB 241 – Relating to Children and Youth Cabinet – Revises membership of Children & Youth Cabinet from 14 to 16 members.

HB 273 – Relating to Public Records – Amends the state’s public records law as it pertains to third party contractors.

HB 381 – Relating to Public Records/Florida State Boxing Commission – Exempts from public record disclosure any “proprietary confidential business information” provided by a promoter to the Florida State Boxing Commission.

HB 541 – Relating to Addresses of Legal Residence – Requires a voter registration application to include the applicant’s address of legal residence and certain other distinguishing information.

HB 545 – Relating to Human Trafficking – Makes several changes to the criminal code involving offenses of human trafficking.

HB 479 – Relating to Special Districts – Changes law on special districts, including making districts publish additional information on their websites, such as a calendar of public meetings and ensuring budgets are accessible for longer periods of time.

HB 5103 – Relating to Alzheimer’s Disease Research – Makes a technical change to allow Ed & Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program to carry forward money it doesn’t use from an appropriation.

HB 7033 – Relating to OGSR/Emergency Notification Information – Removes scheduled repeal of public records exemption for emergency notification information held by a government agency.

HB 7035 – Relating to OGSR/Office of Financial Regulation – Removes scheduled repeal of public records exemption for information received from state or federal agencies held by Office of Financial Regulation.

HB 7091 – Relating to Trust Funds/Termination & Administration/Working Capital Trust Fund/DCF & Operations and Maintenance Trust Fund/DOH – Terminates specified trust funds within Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health.

Scott has until next Tuesday to act on the bills.

HOUSE, SENATE IN SESSION – Senate session begins 10 a.m.; the House starts at 10:30 a.m.

GOVERNORS CLUB BUFFET MENU – Wednesday is Italian day at the Governors Club, with a lunch buffet menu that includes Red Bean and Ham Soup; Antipasti Flatbread Sandwich Board; Salad Bar with Caprese Salad and Italian Salad; Sliced Beef Brisket with Tomato Garlic Demi; Palermo Chicken; Tri-Colored Cheese Tortellini with Pomodoro Sauce; Fried Calamari & Shrimp; Italian Vegetables; Italian Herb Roasted Potatoes, finish with the (ever popular) Assorted Mini Desserts.

DARREN SOTO ENDORSED BY OCEAN CHAMPIONS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP IN CD 9 RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Ocean Champions is an environmental group that focuses on oceans and ocean wildlife, and has designated 68 “champions” in the current Congress. “[Soto] has a track record of leadership and success in the Florida Senate on critical ocean issues that are important to the people of Florida and his district,” David Wilmot, president and co-founder of Ocean Champions, stated in a news release from Soto’s campaign. “Senator Soto will bring firsthand knowledge of resource conservation, water quality, and wildlife management issues to Congress and work to ensure healthy oceans for the Nation.”

ROD SMITH MAKES STATE SENATE RUN OFFICIAL WITH COURTHOUSE ANNOUNCEMENT IN GAINESVILLE via Florida Politics – Smith announced he’s again running for state Senate in the new Senate District 8 … The former State Attorney and state Senator stressed the importance of North Central Florida “coming together as a family” to win the election, and implored the crowd to get involved in his campaign, whether through fundraising or holding events in their home. “In North Central Florida, as a community, we have to work together to get things done,” Smith said. “We have to come together.” Smith, who held two terms in the Senate in the early 2000s, said the contest will be expensive and that he expects Republicans to fight tooth and nail to put a GOP lawmaker into the new seat, which slightly favors Democrats.

GREG EVERS FOR AG. COMMISSIONER? via Rick Outzen for Florida Politics – Evers is being mentioned in Tallahassee as a possible candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture in 2018 … Evers grew up on his family farm. His farm is in Baker, where he has grown cotton, soybeans, peanuts, wheat, and corn over the years. The senator has been mentioned for several local races, including Santa Rosa County Sheriff and Okaloosa County Property Appraiser. However, his contacts with political action committees, lobbyists and the NRA could help him pursue a statewide position like AG Commissioner.


Lisa Ard, Cornerstone Procurement Strategies: Florida State Beekeepers Association

Frank Bernardino, Anfield Consulting: City of Flagler Beach

Edda Ivonne Fernandez: AARP

Pamela Burch Fort, The Commerce Group: Florida Solar Energy Industries Association

Bill McCollum, Denton: Lyft

Melissa Patino: Executive Office of the Governor

Marlene Quintana, GrayRobinson: RB Jai-alai

Robert Richter: Florida East Coast Industries

Ron Silver, Ron Silver and Associates: National Association of College Stores

FLORIDA TAXWATCH NAMES ROBERT CRUZ NEW CHIEF ECONOMIST via Florida Politics – Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro said the hire “will further Florida TaxWatch’s status as the premier government watchdog in the Sunshine State … We are excited to welcome Dr. Cruz to our team … He brings a breadth of experience to our organization with a professional career spanning 33 years as a university professor, academic researcher and economics consultant to private sector firms and public sector agencies.” Cruz most recently worked as the department chair of the business school at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall Campus and has worked as a professor in the Andreas School Business at Barry University.

GATORS, RAYS AND DOLPHINS ARE FLORIDA’S FAVORITE SPORTS TEAMS, POLLSTERS SAY via Orlando Rising – According to a survey by Public Policy Polling … the University of Florida Gators were the favorite college team for 29 percent of survey respondents, with their archrival, the Florida State University Seminoles, taking second place with 19 percent support. Baseball fandom was more evenly split, with Tampa Bay’s ballclub tying with the Atlanta Braves for the top spot at 13 percent. Florida’s first baseball team, the Miami Marlins, was the favorite team for 12 percent of survey respondents, followed by the New York Yankees at 10 percent and the Boston Red Sox at 9 percent. Another 7 percent of Floridians named the Chicago Cubs as their favorite MLB team. The Dolphins were the apparent victors when it came to the NFL, with 1 in 5 Floridians cheering for the two-time Super Bowl winners, though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers garnered a decent 15 percent support.

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY – PART 1: OPENING DAY FOR GRAPEFRUIT, CACTUS LEAGUE GAMES via the Associated Press  – March means the start of major league exhibitions. At least two games will be televised nationally each day by MLB Network, at least one each from the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona. ESPN will also broadcast a number of games later in the spring. March 2: Reds at Indians (tape delay), midnight, MLB Network (MLB Network online); Tigers at Yankees, noon, MLB Network (MLB Network online); Angels at Giants, 3 p.m., MLB Network (MLB Network online); Indians at Reds, 8 p.m., MLB Network (MLB Network online).

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY – PART 2: ALINEA’S MIAMI STINT IS MORE THAN A MODERNIST EXPERIMENT via Zachary Fagenson of the Miami New Times – Grant Achatz [and] the dozens-strong staff of Alinea will then wrap up a two-month sojourn in Miami and Madrid, made necessary by a renovation at the Chicago flagship for the restaurant’s tenth anniversary. Tickets are sold out, though someone might cancel or a few limited, last-minute seatings could be released. When Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas announced they were taking Alinea on the road, it seemed unlikely they would land in Miami. Though the city’s food scene is steadily improving, it faces hefty competition from global culinary hubs. But the Faena Group, an Argentine development company helmed by the top-hatted and white-clad Alan Faena, called yearning to host the series of 17-course dinners. “They expected me to say, ‘There’s no way we’re going to do this in Miami when we could choose Paris or London or New York,’ ” Kokonas says. It’s hard to say what sealed the deal. Perhaps it was Faena’s shiny new hotel. Or maybe it was how the leader embodied artistic eccentricity. Maybe it was Miami’s perch on the global elite’s itinerary or Damien Hirst‘s hulking, gilded mammoth skeleton presiding over the hotel’s courtyard. Such experimental cuisine is polarizing. People love it or hate it. But that misses the point. It’s an experience. The great hope is that the restaurant’s brief appearance here will signal to cooks and the dining public that there’s more to Miami than travel guides let on. Perhaps Alinea … will persuade more of them to come to Miami. After all, the rent is still cheaper here than in most of the world’s sprawling urban centers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Manny DiazGreg Holden‘s better half, Mollie, and my ol’ fraternity brother James Miller (he’s the tall guy at the Florida Retail Federation).

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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