Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
Today’s SachsFact is brought to you by the public affairs, integrated marketing and reputation management experts at Sachs Media Group: It’s Earth Day, the 45th annual celebration of our special blue orb. Communities throughout Florida are marking the event with activities to support environment-friendly policies and practices. Earth Day marks what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, the same year the Beatles broke up and computer floppy disks were introduced. Florida celebrations will occur this week from Pensacola and Tallahassee to St. Petersburg, Orlando and Coral Springs. So think green – and take an extra moment to take in Florida’s unique environmental treasures.
DAYS UNTIL My Apple Watch ships 1; Avengers: Age of Ultron debuts: 2: Sine Die: 9; Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election: 27; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 246; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 327; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 496; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 567.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of the best in the process, Rachel Perrin Rogers. Belated wishes also to AT&T’s Andrew Hall and the Herald-Tribune‘s Lloyd Dunkelberger. Best wishes today to Apryl Marie Fogel, who recently launched ALToday.com, Rep. Frank Artiles and Doug Wheeler.
WELCOME BACK TO #THEPROCESS, Rep. James Grant.
TWEET, TWEET: @SteveCrisafulli: Welcome back to the Florida House, Representative @JamesGrantFL! We saved 70 bills to vote on tomorrow just for you!
Here’s what Grant is returning to…
SPECIAL SESSION SEEMS IMMINENT AS MEDICAID FIGHT CONTINUES via Kelli Kennedy and Gary Fineout of the Associated Press
Florida House leaders met behind closed doors while Senate leaders held a special hearing in a last-ditch attempt to agree on Medicaid and finalize a budget as the need for a special session seemed imminent.
Impassioned senators, including many Republicans, tried to put aside politics and put a human face on the bickering between the House, Senate, Gov. Scott and the Obama administration over Medicaid expansion and funds for hospitals that serve low-income patients.
Florida has known for well over a year that federal funds for hospitals would end June 30. That’s because the Obama administration is transitioning to a system that uses taxpayer money to help individuals buy health insurance instead of reimbursing hospitals for caring for them.
The fight has stalled the Legislative session, where House and Senate budgets are $4 billion apart and are unlikely to be reconciled before session ends May 1. Republican Senate leaders conceded Tuesday that they might not pass a state budget until June, just before the end of Florida’s fiscal year.
Florida recently submitted its formal proposal to the feds and is still required to have 30 days of public input.
Senate Budget Chief Tom Lee said he met with Scott. Lee contended the governor was open to “compromises” but refused to go into details. But he did not directly ask whether Scott would veto a budget that used state money to replace federal hospital funding, or if it included Medicaid expansion. Lee said the door was “cracked open,” but conceded it’s problematic for Republicans to find a deal that doesn’t violate their “principles” regarding President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Meanwhile during a closed-door meeting, the House Majority Office presented GOP legislators with arguments why they should remain opposed to Medicaid expansion and cited a study that maintains that Medicaid coverage does not improve health care.
HOW REPORTERS COVERED THAT SUPER SECRET HOUSE GOP MEETING ON MEDICAID via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times
For more than an hour, House Republicans met to discuss Medicaid expansion and how it relates to the Low Income Pool, the two issues that have made the legislative session screech to a halt. But Republicans decided to ban the public from the meeting, claiming they wouldn’t talk about pressing legislative matters.
So reporters had to stand outside and wait for lawmakers to come out and recap what they couldn’t discuss in public. Yes, this is Florida, which prides itself on its open meetings law. And yes, despite that pride, legislators can lock out the press so they can discuss matters like Medicaid expansion.
Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout listened in to the meeting by placing his ear at the crack of door. It’s not glamorous, but Fineout was able to catch certain phrases here and there. Here’s what he told the rest of us as we waited for Republicans to end their secret meeting.
“We’re asking you to trust us,” Speaker Crisafulli told Republican members. “Feel good about where you are.” (applause)
Crisafulli told the caucus that former Gov. Jeb Bush was taken out of context when he was recently quoted on Medicaid.
“We’re going to get beat up by the press,” Crisafulli said.
“We’re going to do what we can do to get out of town constitutionally, whether it’s through a special session or extended session,” Crisafulli said.
That sure sounds like strategy and discussing action on future legislative action. But afterward, Crisafulli pointed out that Medicaid expansion is not legislation that is before the House. It is, however, in front of the Senate, which Fineout said would subject the meeting to the open meetings law.
PIC DU JOUR: Fineout, with his ear to the, um, door.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Lucy Morgan: “For the life of me I cannot think of anything more stupid than the Florida House going into secret session today in the midst of a financial crisis that is wrecking the budget and abandoning health care for some one million Floridians…What sort of speaker leads his people this way? An abolutely tone deaf idiot.”
RICK SCOTT SAYS HE’LL CALL SPECIAL SESSION IF LAWMAKERS DON’T PASS BUDGET via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Scott unexpectedly announced Tuesday that if the Legislature can’t settle its budget differences before May 1, he plans to call lawmakers back for a special session next month and ask the Senate and House to adopt a “continuation budget” to fund critical needs of the state next year at existing levels.
Scott issued a statement Tuesday afternoon that said: “I believe that a compromise can be reached that allows for a significant tax cut and historic per student education funding, while supporting critical state services if the House and the Senate begin working immediately working on allocations that set aside adequate reserves to wait for the federal government’s decision on the LIP (low income pool) amendment.”
By calling for a continuation budget, Scott is giving up on his two biggest legislative priorities: a package of tax cuts and higher funding for public schools.
Scott also said he plans to convene a Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to “examine the revenues of Florida hospitals, insurance and healthcare providers and how any taxpayer money contributed to the profits or losses of these institutions in Florida.”
TWEET, TWEET: @SteveBousquet: On Gov. Rick Scott floating a “continuation budget,” Senate budget chief Tom Lee says: “That’s a made-up word … there’s no such thing.”
TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Scott’s pledge to call House & Sen into special session to pass continuation budget sans a deal has the makings of a Tallahassee trainwreck
SCOTT’S CALLL FOR HURRY-UP, TEMPORARY BUDGET REJECTED via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
Gardiner said he had no plans to follow the governor’s order and chided him for arriving late to the legislative fight.
… “We welcome him to the table in week eight,” Gardiner said, but he added, “We don’t have to have a budget until June 30.”
Gardiner said the hurry-up, patch Scott was seeking was impractical. The Orlando Republican also warned that forcing lawmakers into a special session without the framework of an agreement in place was politically risky.
“It’s easy to call a legislative session. But hard to get out of,” Gardiner said.
TWEET, TWEET: @SteveBousquet: First rule of governors and special sessions in Tallahassee: Never call one unless you’ve cut a deal with Legislature in advance
TWEET, TWEET: @FLHistoricCap: For the record, we will still offer snacks and drinks on our back steps on May 1st, regardless of whether session has ended.
TWEET, TWEET: @TroyKinsey: Just in: @KevinCate reports the average of #CateSineDie predictions is 4:49pm on May 1. Cristonian optimism abounds on the 4th floor.
REALITY CHECK — FEDS HAVE UNTIL JULY 4 WEEK TO GIVE FLORIDA AN ANSWER ON MEDICAID AMENDMENT via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
Florida’s budget showdown over hospital funding may not get resolved until mid-summer, thanks to a little-noticed series of deadlines that accompany the state’s official request to draw down billions in healthcare funding.
The decision by the Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek proposing an amendment to the existing Medicaid waiver and to solicit written input on the proposed amendment triggered time requirements that mean that legislators may not know the fate of the Low Income Pool until July 4.
That’s because the federal government will have until then to render an official response to Florida’s application to revamp the program as proposed by the Florida Senate.
An April 2012 rule makes clear that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must make 1115 waivers or extensions of 1115 waivers available for the public to review and to submit written comments or make comments for 30 days. Moreover, the agency cannot make any decision on the waiver until 15 days after the public comment period has closed.
Before the proposed amendment can be submitted to the federal government, though, Florida, too, has to make the waiver language available for the public to review and to submit comment for 30 days. Florida’s 30-day clock started ticking when Dudek announced the proposed amendment and, in a press release, solicited comments on the proposal from the general public.
After the 30-day clock expires the state can officially send the application to the federal government. The government will have 15 days to determine whether the application is complete. Only complete applications can trigger the time requirements.
MORE REALITY — SENATE HAS $600 MILLION IN RESERVES IT CAN PUMP INTO HEALTH CARE, ANDY GARDINER SAYS via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
Senate President Gardiner released a statement saying that the Senate may use $600 million available in reserves to fund healthcare programs in the 2015-16 fiscal year budget.
In a statement, Gardiner said the $600 million could be used to draw down federal matching Medicaid dollars and used to offset a projected $1.5 billion in hospital losses if no Low Income Pool program was available. The money also could be used to help offset $200 million in losses of the Medicaid managed-care plans that participate in the mandatory statewide Medicaid managed-care program.
“I hope Governor Scott and the Florida House will adopt our comprehensive solution, including FHIX and LIP, as Florida’s plan to address the health care challenges facing our state. If we can present a united approach, I am hopeful we can receive LIP funding this year and dedicate the $600 million we may need to backfill LIP to other priorities,” Gardiner said.
REALITY CHECK #3 — HOUSE BUDGET ELIMINATES LIP BUT ASSUMES LOCAL DOLLARS WILL BE SENT UP TO FUND HEALTH CARE via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
When the Florida House unveiled its budget, leaders said it contained no supplemental Medicaid dollars that are used to help finance Florida hospitals called the Low Income Pool.
But the budget contains about $800 million in “hospital rate enhancements.” Although the enhancements are not technically part of the LIP program they are funded with local tax dollars that are sent to the state for the program.
The assumption is local intergovernmental transfers will continue to be sent to the state even though the hospitals that contribute the dollars won’t see an 8.5 percent return on their investment.
The Senate budget also includes the $800 million in rate enhancements for hospital inpatient and outpatient care because the figures were agreed to by the Social Services Estimating Conference. Both chambers are required to use the agreed-to figures as they begin to build their budgets.
But the Senate budget includes a reformed Low Income Pool program as well as a plan to expand Medicaid.
The House budget does not include a Medicaid expansion and, additionally, the chamber passed a conforming bill that actually eliminates from statutes the Low Income Pool program.
The assumption that the locals will continue to send the money up may not be a good one.
HOW FLORIDA’S ED BOARDS ARE WEIGHING IN ON THE HEALTHCARE BUDGET STANDOFF
Orlando Sentinel, Listen to Reason on Health Care – “House leaders are dead set against a bipartisan Senate plan … so dead set against it that they’ve thrown this year’s legislative session into chaos.” Pensacola News Journal, Gov. Scott wrong on Medicaid – “Welcome to Florida: the mentally unstable state.” Bradenton Herald, Florida House reckless, Senate sensible on Medicaid expansion funding – “This is also a disservice to the business and health care communities, especially Florida’s safety-net hospitals — which all stand to suffer the financial consequences.” Florida Today,Stop gouging us, House; cover the poor – “It’s bad enough that you pay for your own health insurance while also covering the unpaid hospital bills for the poor. In Florida, the pain is worse than that. Orlando Sentinel, Rick Scott should mark his words on health – “Rick Scott of 2015, meet Rick Scott of 2013.” Miami Herald, Litigation isn’t leadership – “The Supreme Court said that states don’t have to accept Medicaid expansion … but it never said rejection was a good idea.” Sun Sentinel, Stark choices ahead if no one caves – “… rather than work overtime this weekend … members are back home, taking time off, barely able to talk to one another … no budget discussions … no negotiations, nothing.” Palm Beach Post, Will health care fight drive Florida’s budget off a cliff? – “… the chicken run race from … “Rebel Without a Cause.” … Florida’s Medicaid/budget debacle looked a lot like that scene.” Florida Times Union, Scott, speaker must focus on people – not politics – “… playing politics with the state’s economy.” Daytona Beach News-Journal, House must abandon its brinkmanship – “… they haven’t even budgeted a contingency to assist hospitals losing LIP money.” Tallahassee Democrat, Florida needs Medicaid expansion – “It’s the right thing to do financially … And it’s the right thing to do ethically …” Fort Myers News-Press, We deserve Medicaid expansion funds – “Steve Crisafulli: ‘I would prefer it would be the Senate giving up their position because we’re not moving on our position.’ As if there were a position to move on.” St. Augustine Record, Tallahassee lawmakers divided on LIP service – “The issue is not as unexpected as Tallahassee might like constituents to believe … Florida was awarded the LIP dollars last year, only as a temporary extension to give it time to comply. When it did not, the money was pulled.”
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry-leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services today’s large organizations demand, while our Business Solutions team works with small- to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at brighthouse.com/business.***
HAPPY EARTH DAY — PRESIDENT OBAMA IN FLORIDA TODAY TO HIGHLIGHT TREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Obama plans to celebrate Earth Day by visiting the Florida Everglades.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says “there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change.”
He says he’ll visit the Everglades today to talk about how global warming threatens the U.S. economy. He says rising sea levels are putting the “economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry” at risk.
Polls consistently show the public is skeptical that the steps Obama has taken to curb pollution are worth the cost to the economy. So Obama is aiming to put a spotlight on the costs of climate change.
Obama held an event in Washington earlier this month linking climate change to health problems like allergies and asthma.
OBAMA TAKES ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ FIGHT TO MARCO RUBIO’S, JEB BUSH’S BACKYARD via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
The president’s trip to Everglades National Park is an official one, but politics are inescapable as he visits the backyard of … Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush — who have expressed skepticism about the role human activity plays in climate change. … Gov. Scott has also come under fire for reports, which he adamantly denies, that he ordered staffers not to use the phrases “climate change” and “global warming.”
Obama’s visit to the fabled River of Grass comes as his administration rolls out a social media campaign called #ActOnClimate “to change the way people think about climate change by connecting it to the spaces we love and our local communities.”
The White House has set up a web page encouraging people to submit photos of favorite national parks or natural spaces that they would “fight to protect.” The Obama administration wants people to share the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #ActOnClimate hashtag.
WHAT OBAMA’S EARTH DAY VISIT MEANS FOR THE EVERGLADES via Chad Gillis of News-Press.com
The Earth Day presentation is expected to begin just before 4 p.m. at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center in Homestead, a town that could be consumed by sea level rise over the next 35 to 50 years, a report from Obama’s administration says.
All low-lying areas are at threat from sea level rise, and most of the historic Everglades system is only a few feet above current sea levels, according to The Third National Climate Assessment — released in May 2014. The climate assessment says sea level rise will cause economic losses across South Florida, with an expected $9 billion a year in tourism losses by 2025 and $40 billion losses a year by 2050.
Aside from economic atrocities, sea level rise is expected to cause a myriad of problems here: increased tropical storm strength and frequency, infrastructure failures and shifts in rainfall patterns and growing seasons, according to the federal report.
Environmental groups are lauding the visit as proof of Obama’s commitment to restoring the Everglades. Others say his trip is typical business, politics, nothing more.
Rep. Matt Caldwell said the federal government is lagging behind in the 50-50 partnership, in which the state designs, funds and builds projects and then asks lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to pay their half.
The most significant Everglades restoration project in the Fort Myers area is the Caloosahatchee Reservoir, called C-43 by engineers with the South Florida Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers.
POLITICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDAS ON DISPLAY FOR OBAMA’S EVERGLADES VISIT via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post
Gov. Scott and the Everglades activists are using Obama’s Earth Day visit to the River of Grass as an opportunity to push their own Everglades agendas.
In widely circulated statements emailed to the media on Tuesday, Scott said Obama “needs to live up to his commitment on the Everglades and find a way to fund the $58 million in backlog funding Everglades National Park has not received from the federal government.”
The state is splitting the cost of restoring the Everglades with the federal government. As part of that agreement, the state, through the South Florida Water Management District, is responsible for many of the up-front costs, including buying land needed for the projects the Army Corps of Engineers will build. The Corps’ expenses are expected to ratchet up as their projects get underway.
“To date, we have invested $1.9 billion in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program, almost a billion more than the federal government,” Scott is quoted in the statement. “And this year we are proposing a dedicated source of revenue that will provide more than $5 billion for Everglades restoration over the next 20 years.”
Scott said the lack of federal financial commitment has caused “critical maintenance delays.” He also called for the federal government to “immediately” require the Corps to repair the decrepit earthen dike around Lake Okeechobee.
TWEET, TWEET: @PatriciaMazzei: White House, per protocol, invited @FLGovScott to greet Obama at MIA tmrw but he’s not going, per gov’s office. He did greet him in Feb.
MEANWHILE … BACK AT THE STATE CAPITOL, IT’S KEEP FLORIDA BEAUTIFUL AWARENESS DAY
Keep Florida Beautiful will set up a series of displays at the State Capitol. “Keep Florida Beautiful Day” will help raise awareness of litter prevention programs, recycling and beautification activities for Florida’s highways and beaches.
With 40 affiliates from the Panhandle to the Keys, Keep Florida Beautiful boasts over 300,000 volunteers working to remove litter from roads and waterways, as well as on recycling and beautification programs.
“We hope that the public and legislature will learn more about Keep Florida Beautiful during our day at the Capitol,” said Chuck Dees, Waste Management and Board Chair of the Keep Florida Beautiful.
Displays will appear on the Capitol Plaza Level Rotunda – first floor – from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
***Conversa is a women- and minority-owned, full-service public affairs, public relations, design and research firm, specializing in the development of campaigns that help you listen, understand, engage, and interact with local and global audiences. We’ve helped organizations ranging from Fortune 500 clients and national nonprofits to small businesses and international associations define messages, protect interests, influence opinion leaders, and create the conditions necessary for social change. To learn more about how we get people talking, visit www.Conversaco.com.***
HOUSE COMMITTEE NARROWLY PASSES GAMING BILL AS PRESSURE MOUNTS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
The calm in the lobbyist-packed room belied the intensity of the behind-the-scenes battle underway to end the House’s resistance to gambling expansion.
Before the Finance and Tax Committee met, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli added Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton to the committee — an extra vote of assurance to help the bill make it through the tough committee.
As the vote looked close, lobbyists Ron Book, Brian Ballard and Sean Pittman quietly met in the corner of the meeting room with Rep. Hazelle Rogers, attempting to get the Lauderhill Democrat to end her opposition to the bill. The lobbyists represent Palm Beach and Naples tracks who have been trying for year to get slots at their tracks.
In the end, a last-minute switch by Republican Rep. John Tobia of Melbourne Beach to support the bill, and a decision by Rep. Frank Artiles to miss the vote, brought the HB 1233 to victory.
The vote was 10-8 for what could be the most expansive rewrite of Florida’s gaming laws in a decade. It opens the door to slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and the Flagler Race Track in Naples if agreed to by the Seminole Tribe in a legislatively approved compact.
Most important for its author, Rep. Dana Young it “decouples” the requirement that greyhound tracks continue to race a minimum number of races in order to operate the more lucrative poker rooms or slots casinos and requires tracks that continue to race to report all dog injuries.
ABORTION WAITING PERIOD BILL HEADS TO FLOOR via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post
An amended House bill that underwent more than two hours of debate this morning is now headed to the House floor for a final vote.
An amendment added to the bill today mirrors one approved by the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on Monday, which exempts women who become pregnant by rape, incest, human trafficking or domestic violence from a 24-hour waiting period if they can prove they were the victim of a crime.
Both bills require pregnant women who want an abortion to wait 24-hours after meeting with their doctor before the procedure. The bills forces women to make two trips to a clinic, which critics say is a hardship for women who work, live far from a clinic, where anti-abortion protestors often gather.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jennifer Sullivan, said the bill empowers women by “giving women a 24-hour period of reflection” before an abortion.
ADAM PUTNAM SAYS DESPITE CRITICISM, WATER BILL MAKES ‘TREMENDOUS PROGRESS’ FOR SPRINGS via Bruce Ritchie of Florida Politics
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the 2015 legislative session is going well from a policy standpoint including a water bill his department is supporting.
SB 918/HB 7003 eliminate a Lake Okeechobee pollution permitting program, set deadlines for establishing minimum flow levels for springs, requires review of springs cleanup plans and places a Central Florida water supply planning initiative in state law.
Environmentalists and newspaper editorial writers have criticized the bill as being business- and agriculture-friendly without providing an enforceable plan for cleaning up springs.
After reading to schoolchildren at the historic Capitol on Ag Literacy Day, Putnam said the water bill makes “tremendous progress” in protecting springs.
“It certainly meets the test of being a statewide approach — it’s springs and Everglades and surface- and groundwater,” he said.
“It’s certainly an evolving process,” Putnam said of state water policy. “But this is a major step forward for dealing with Florida’s future water supply and water quality needs.”
AMENDED HOUSE BILL MAY SAVE LAKELAND HOSPICE via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics
A bill making its way through the Legislature could save a Lakeland hospice threatened with closing by the state.
Estero Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues will introduce an amendment to HB 441, with legislative language to help Compassionate Care Hospice on Drane Field Road to continue serving terminally ill patients.
This year, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration accused CCH of not submitting required license renewal paperwork by a February deadline. With that, the company’s license technically had expired, according to the state, prompting a letter March 9 ordering the facility to cease operations immediately. CCH officials said they sent the proper paperwork in a timely manner to the state, with the AHCA countering that they never received it.
Set for a House floor hearing, the bill is one day earlier than a similar Senate version filed by Sebring Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley. Both bills seek to revise information a home health agency is required to submit to the AHCA for license renewal.
According to bill, “an applicant whose license expired between January 1, 2015 and the effective date of this act may apply for an exemption within 30 days of this act becoming law.”
A critical difference in HB 441 is in the effective date, a change allowing CCH to get back to work as soon as Gov. Scott signs the bill. Language of the Senate bill says the law could not take effect until July 1, too late for CCH to recover.
INTERNET COMPANIES OPPOSE FLORIDA PROPOSALS TO REGULATE WEB via William March of the Associated Press
Some Florida lawmakers want to impose state-level regulations on the free-wheeling online world, and are drawing opposition from some of the nation’s biggest Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Ebay.
The conflict is over two proposed laws. One would affect who controls a person’s email and social media accounts and the secrets they may contain when the owner dies or becomes incapacitated. The other would make the state a combatant against Internet piracy of music and movies.
The bills’ proponents say they simply extend current laws to cover new kinds of information and assets that didn’t exist when those laws were written.
The “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,” SB 604, would require operators of websites that distribute commercial recordings or videos to include their names, addresses and contact information.
Its purpose, sponsor Sen. Anitere Flores told the Senate Judiciary Committee, is “to protect consumers against websites engaged in illegal distribution of music and movies,” because illegal downloads often contain viruses.
The Walt Disney Co., a powerful political force in Florida and major video producer, also backs the bill. First Amendment supporters say the bill could infringe on the constitutional right to anonymous free speech, even though it’s aimed at commercial activity.
Senate Bill 102 on digital assets would give a “fiduciary,” such as a guardian or estate executor, the right to control online accounts of someone who has died or become incapacitated. Ranging from bank statements to Facebook accounts, “Some of these have actual monetary value and some have incredible sentimental value,” sponsor Sen. Dorothy Hukill told the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.
TAX CREDIT BILL FOR FLORIDA-MADE MOVIES POSTPONED AGAIN via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
For the second time in two weeks, the House’s film and entertainment tax credits bill has been pulled off of an agenda of bills for consideration. The measure (HB 451) was “temporarily postponed” last week to the floor session, when it was postponed again.
State Rep. Mike Miller, a Winter Park Republican, last week said the bill’s withdrawal “was purely a timing issue … to coincide with what’s happening in the Senate.”
The bill is being closely watched by interests in Tampa Bay; two feature films are lined up to shoot in the area:
“The Infiltrator,” based on the true story of a DEA agent posing as a Tampa businessman to bust a financial institution laundering millions of dollars for Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, and
“Live By Night,” a film by Ben Affleck based on a book by Dennis Lehane about Prohibition-era rum running in Ybor City.
MY TAKE: STATE FILM INCENTIVES JUST COMMON SENSE FOR FLORIDA’S FLEDGLING ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY via Full blog post here
Up until now largely neglected in the corridors of Capitol, Florida’s entertainment industry is exactly the kind of endeavor state lawmakers should be supportive of: an expanding, tourism-promoting sector that creates high-paying jobs and allows Florida to exhibit its natural beauty and diversity before viewers across the world.
It appears state Sen. Nancy Detert’s bill specific to the film industry is unlikely to pass on its own this session, as Senate Appropriations does not list her SB 1046 on the agenda for its final meeting on Tuesday.
Now, is Detert’s bill perfect? No. It doesn’t go far enough in an arena best suited to a comprehensive solution.
As of now, it doesn’t include the essential Qualified Television Revolving Loan Program — or QTV — we wrote about last week, which would provide a much-needed boost to the rich potential of television productions produced in Florida. That would create another, lasting stream of self-sustaining incentives by which Florida could sustain years on end of productive activity as opposed to one-off movies.
But there is a way forward.
As it happens, QTV could still make its way into law by way of an amendatory move. State Rep. Chris Latvala has a bill circulating, HB 237, that makes for a picture-perfect combination to the state Rep. Mike Miller-sponsored companion to Detert’s Senate vehicle.
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS
HOUSE FLOOR SESSION
A House floor session begins 9 a.m. in the House chamber.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING, PENSIONS REFORMS DEBATED
A Senate floor session includes SB 172, a long-discussed proposal, filed by Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley and Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring, to reform local pension plans for police officers and firefighters. Also on the agenda is SB 1106, from Miami Republican Anitere Flores to boost the state’s efforts to reduce human trafficking. In part, the measure increases criminal penalties for individuals who solicit prostitutes. Another proposal is SB 268, filed by Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel, to clarify the rules governing amusement games at family oriented arcades such as Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese. The bill attempts to clear up concerns from a 2013 law shutting down Internet cafes alleged to conduct illegal gambling. Session begins 10 a.m. in the Senate chamber.
TODAY’S GOVS CLUB BUFFET MENU: Tuscan Bean Soup; Antipasti Flatbread Sandwich Board; Salad Bar; Caprese & Italian Salad; Bistro Steaks with Garlic Butter; Roasted Dijon Chicken; Penne Italiano; Fried Calamari & Shrimp; Italian Vegetables; Tri Color Roasted Potatoes; Assorted Mini Desserts
NICE READ — DON GAETZ KEEPS ‘ETHICS CONVERSATION’ GOING IN TALLAHASSEE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
“Ethics in government” might strike some people as an oxymoron. But it’s a serious subject, it’s back before the Legislature, and ethics watchdogs like what they see.
Sen. Don Gaetz is the main sponsor of an ethics bill (SB 1372) that passed the Senate Rules Committee. The bill includes these changes:
Every city and county must require that any lobbyist — someone who’s paid to influence decisions — register as a lobbyist and pay an annual fee of up to $40. The registration requirement, which already applies to the state’s five water management districts, would be extended to similar special districts that oversee hospitals, airports and seaports, expressway authorities and children’s services.
People who work for the state’s public-private job creation arm, Enterprise Florida, including its board members, would be subject to the two-year post-employment “revolving door” restriction that applies to legislators, agency heads and high-level state employees. They could not quit the agency on Friday and show up the following Monday to lobby their former employer.
School districts could legally garnish the wages of an employee who has an unpaid fine as the result of an ethics violation.
A local government’s final budget must remain online for two years after it’s adopted. The idea is to minimize self-dealing and conflicts of interest, but it can be a problem in small-town Florida where lawmakers say it discourages qualified people from running for office.
LAUREN BOOK ‘WALK IN MY SHOES’ TALLY RALLY
Gov. Rick Scott is one of several state leaders scheduled to participate in the “Rally in Tally,” the conclusion of child advocate Lauren Book’s sixth annual 1,500-mile “Walk in My Shoes” journey across Florida, which will occur at the steps of the Historic Florida Capitol tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.
Survivors of sexual assault and advocates from across the state will also join Book for the Final Mile of her 42-day journey from Key West to Tallahassee, representing the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S. The Final Mile begins at the Governor’s Square Mall at 3:30 pm.
For the first time, the foundation will host a Safer, Smarter Kids-themed “Buddy Bash Finale Block Party” following the rally on South Adams Street downtown from 5 p.m. -7 p.m. The block party will be a family-friendly event offering free food, live music, interactive art and live animals with an emphasis on community and personal safety, with education stations to share safety tips and tools with parents and children alike.
MY TAKE: CRITICS OF LAUREN BOOK, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT Full story here
This weekend, I woke to the following headline in my hometown paper: “Sexual predator gets second chance, now faces 14 new charges” … You don’t even need to read the story to know how this ends – how very badly and sadly it ends.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHY LAUREN BOOK IS WALKING!
Anyone reading this column knows Book’s story and knows that she is focused – intensely focused – on trying to make sure that these kinds of stories happen less and less often. … Book wants people to know that when a convicted predator is taking girls around on a scooter, buying them ice cream or taking them for a Happy Meal – IT’S OKAY TO TELL. Adults: It’s not just okay to tell, it is our obligation to tell.
As Lauren Book ends her incredible journey – for the sixth time – in Tallahassee this week, I was astonished to learn that a group of protesters is organizing a counter-rally. They think Lauren has gone too far … that registering violent sexual predators like Michael Shepard is not fair … that a chronic child sexual predator like him has rights and by golly, they want to fight for his rights.
I guess they are forgetting that those seven little girls had rights, too.
Bully for them. But they also have the right to remain silent.
FDOT PROCUREMENT MEETING CANCELLED AFTER FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM REPORT Full story here
I guess we can count the Florida Department of Transportation among our beloved readership – along with the many pols, staffers, voters and taxpayers who check in with Florida Politics every day.
Following our reportage earlier this week on a transportation contract procurement process that seems have gone a little squirrelly, FDOT announced today that it has cancelled a public meeting previously set for precisely that issue.
We wrote about an ITN process – “Invitation to Negotiate,” in the parlance of procurement – that left a lot to be desired in terms of transparency.
Check out the story for a refresher, but to recap: the FDOT convened a committee to rank proposals from a handful of companies looking to take on a massive project, namely, the administration of a huge swath of Florida’s highway tolls. That committee, made up of eight representatives – two from each of the four expressway authorities that oversee the toll roads in question – decisively recommended the technology company Accenture as the firm for the job.
Later on, however, a smaller and less representative FDOT panel reversed that recommendation and instead selected document management firm Xerox, for reasons unclear to us or most observers of the process.
They cited as a factor that their pick carried a supposed lower level of risk, but that didn’t quite jive with a number of recent news reports about problems with similar Xerox-helmed projects in California and Texas – plus a few others we didn’t enumerate because hey, no company is perfect and accidents do happen. (Although the phantom tickets being issued to drivers around San Francisco did seem a bridge too far, pardon the pun.)
Suffice it to say that the procurement vetting process left some key questions unanswered. That’s why, when we heard rumors the department was about to award the contract to Xerox tomorrow, we recommended that FDOT take a step back and re-examine the outstanding issues in this case.
***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***
BACK TO THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL…
JEB BUSH PREPARING TO DELEGATE MANY CAMPAIGN TASKS TO SUPER PAC via Thomas Beaumont of the Associated Press
Bush is preparing to embark on an experiment in presidential politics: delegating many of the nuts-and-bolts tasks to his super PAC. The strategy would place … Right to Rise in charge of … television advertising and direct mail. Right to Rise could also break into … data gathering, highly individualized online advertising and running phone banks. Also on the table is tasking the super PAC with … the operation to get out the vote and efforts to maximize absentee and early voting on Bush’s behalf. … [T]he goal is for the campaign to be a streamlined operation that frees Bush to spend less time than in past campaigns raising money, and as much time as possible meeting voters.
MIKE MURPHY EXPECTED TO RUN BUSH’S SUPER PAC via Tim Alberta and Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal
GOP operative Mike Murphy “is expected to run” Bush’s super PAC. “That Bush’s team would believe it’s in his best interest to send away a top strategist is an emphatic indication that PAC supremacy has arrived. … The PACs’ newfound prominence, and their accompanying restrictions on communication, makes decisions about whom candidates tap to run his or her super PAC all the more complicated. … Candidates are looking for the political equivalent of a perfect bridge partner, someone with whom they can continually cooperate without ever being able to coordinate — or ever ask for advice.”
5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BUSH’S EXPERIMENT IN CAMPAIGN FINANCE via Thomas Beaumont of the Associated Press
Bush may reshape the traditional presidential campaign with his plan to turn over some functions to a super PAC.
A political experiment: Bush’s team is preparing to give responsibility for much of the nuts-and-bolts work of running a presidential race to his super PAC, Right to Rise. This means, Bush’s team believes, it is possible a super PAC created to support a single candidate will spend, for the first time, more than the candidate’s campaign itself – at least through the primaries.
Is it legal? The strategy stems from a pair of 2010 Supreme Court decisions that created super PACs. Super PACs can legally raise unlimited money, but they are barred from coordinating their actions with a candidate or campaign. Bush’s advisers say they plan to take full advantage of the law, which critics – who want tighter regulation of money and politics – say he’s already breaking.
Getting ready? Bush has spent the past several months raising tens of millions of dollars for Right to Rise, and working closely with top advisers Murphy, Sally Bradshaw and David Kochel. The idea is that once Bush launches his campaign, Murphy, as expected leader of the super PAC, will have spent enough time working with Bradshaw and Kochel so that the campaign and super PAC will move in sync without the need to coordinate.
Just a Super PAC? In addition to Right to Rise super PAC, Bush may be aided by the similarly named policy group Right to Rise Solutions, organized under the tax code as a 501(c)4 group, which allows unlimited contributions from unidentified donors.
Possible backlash: One campaign finance advocate calls Bush’s plans “an epic national scandal.” But former Federal Election Commission member Scott Thomas says it’s not likely the FEC or the Justice Department will challenge Bush’s strategy. “You’d have to show a true smoking gun, showing the candidate controlling the campaign and the super PAC.”
GOOD GET — “Top Chris Christie ally defects to Jeb Bush” via Robert Costa of the Washington Post
RIDICULOUS HEADLINE OF THE DAY — “Daddy’s Cash Continues to Fuel Florida Democrat Patrick Murphy” via Brent Scher of The Washington Free Beacon
RICK SCOTT PRAISES CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA BUT WON’T GET INVOLVED IN A SENATE PRIMARY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Gov. Scott said Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera is doing a “great job” and has a green light to run for U.S. Senate in 2016 if he wants to, but Scott said he doesn’t plan to take sides in a Republican primary.
Lopez-Cantera is frequently mentioned as a potential Senate candidate and has said he’s “keeping options open” for 2016 as Republicans try to hold the seat that Sen. Marco Rubio is leaving to run for president.
During a visit to West Palm Beach, Scott was asked about the possibility of Lopez-Cantera running.
“Carlos has done a great job…He’s doing a great job helping make sure we get our economy going and he was helpful to me this year and last year through the legislative session to get our priorities done,” Scott said.
“So Carlos, whatever he does, he’s going to be very successful. But I’m sure there’s lots of people still looking at that race,” Scott added.
JEFF MILLER SAYS HE’S ‘SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING’ SENATE BID via Ledyard King of USA TODAY
“It’s something that I have been looking at for now over a month,” the Republican congressman said in an interview. “I had several individuals come to me, laying out what they saw was a pathway to victory, and I am looking at the options at this point.”
Miller, re-elected in November to his seventh full term representing Florida’s 1st District, chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The panel has drawn national attention and praise for investigating substandard medical care at VA facilities.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: MIGHT RUBIO WANT TO KEEP HIS SEAT? via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough … wonder(s) if Rubio might still want to keep his seat.
“I’ve got a friend from Northwest Florida named Don Gaetz who’s talking about jumping into it,” Scarborough said of the Senate race. “Don’s got enough money that he can finance a good bit of his campaign, at least to start, but I think it’ll heat up a bit.
“I think — I mean, I still wonder — I hear Marco saying that he’s not going to run, but isn’t qualifying in May ?” he continued. “So if he loses…”
How about that idea that (Scarborough) could run for Senate in Florida in 2018?
“No, absolutely not,” Scarborough said. “I love my job.”
CARLOS CURBELO SAYS WELL-KNOWN DEMOCRATS BACK HIS RE-ELECTION via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
Before Annette Taddeo gets a chance to woo Democratic elected officials and activists to back her 2016 congressional campaign, incumbent Republican Rep. Curbelo has cobbled together a coalition of Democrats who he says already support him.
The list of 22 Democrats includes the mayors of Homestead and Florida City, which are in Curbelo’s 26th congressional district. Both Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter and Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace backed then-Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat, last year. Also on the list is Democratic consultant Freddy Balsera, a past Garcia supporter.
Curbelo has raised more than any other freshman Republican — $705,000 — for his re-election, which is still 18 months away. But he will likely need the money — and the Democrats — to hold on to his seat. Florida’s southernmost district, which runs from Westchester to Key West, narrowly favors Democrats, and in presidential election years, more liberal-leaning voters tend to go to the polls.
The freshman congressman has co-sponsored legislation with Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and opposed GOP-led effort to de-fund the Department of Homeland Security over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
LETS GET TO WORK RAISES $670K IN FIRST TWO WEEKS OF APRIL
“Let’s Get to Work,” Gov. Scott’s political committee, took in $670,000 during April 1-16, highlighted by a big donation from the Associated Industries of Florida business lobby group, according to the committee website. During that time, AIF and related committees gave $430,000 to “Work.” Those contributions came after the PAC raised $1,032,500 in March. Records show the committee spent nearly $616,000 in the first two weeks of April; nearly $605,000 went to advertising. The committee also spent $1,376,803 in March.
SAVE THE DATE: Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney headlines a Lenny Curry fundraising reception fundraiser Friday in the Seafoam Room at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, 200 Ponte Vedra Boulevard. The event begins 5:00 p.m. Special guests will be Ron and Casey Black DeSantis as well as former Speaker Will Weatherford.
SAVE THE DATE: Doug Holder is holding a fundraising reception Thursday, May 7 for his Senate District 28 campaign. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at The Francis, 1289 North Palm Ave., in Sarasota. RSVP to Meredith O’Rourke at Meredith@TheOrourkeGrp.com and (561) 818-6064.
NORTH MIAMI MAYORAL CANDIDATE DISQUALIFIED FOR WRITING A BAD CHECK via Lance Dixon of the Miami Herald
North Miami Mayor Smith Joseph will face no opposition in his re-election bid after his only opponent, Jean Marcellus, was disqualified for writing a bad check.
Marcellus served as a North Miami councilman from 2009-13 and was taking his third straight shot at the office after he competed in the past two mayoral elections — but finished in fifth and third place respectively.
City Clerk Michael Etienne said he was informed by his deputy clerk, who is serving as supervisor of elections, that the check was returned for insufficient funds. The qualifying fee for the mayoral position is $2,400.
“If their check bounces they have time to try to cure that error, but Florida statute says that can only happen in the qualifying period,” Etienne said. “So at this juncture, Marcellus has failed to qualify.”
Election Day is May 12, with early voting starting April 27 and ending May 10. A runoff for the Seat 4 race will take place June 2, if necessary.
***Metz, Husband & Daughton is a full-service firm dedicated to overcoming clients’ legislative, legal and regulatory challenges. An energetic team of highly-skilled members; MHD has the experience, expertise and reputation necessary to achieve clients’ diverse goals in the policy and political arena. MHD has proven proficient in achieving results through long-standing representation of Fortune 500 companies, major Florida corporations, and state-wide trade and professional associations. www.MetzLaw.com.***
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
George Oscar Anderson, Paul Mitchell, Jonathan Setzer, David Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority; Seminole County Board of County Commissioners; Bolt Solutions; Altria Client Services; Robbins Gioia, Florida Drycleaners Coalition
Chip Case, Jefferson Monroe Consulting: AMR, LLC; BVG Holdings; Darwin Global
Michael Cusick, Michael Cusick and Associates: Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition; Foundation for Governmental Accountability
Jeff Hartley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Government Services Group
Lisa Henning, Timmins Consulting: Tampa Bay Downs
Kendall Moore, Space Coast Strategy: Waterstone Development Company
Sean Pittman, Pittman Law Group: Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
Karen Skyers: Compassionate Care Hospice of Central Florida; Costa Farms; Sunshine Gasoline Distributors; Town of Medley; Town of Miami Lakes; Town of Southwest Ranches; Village of El Portal
Joseph Steele, Smith & Associates: Waterstone Development Company
CORPORATIONS NOW SPEND MORE LOBBYING CONGRESS THAN TAXPAYERS SPEND FUNDING CONGRESS via Ezra Klein of Vox.com
Well, this isn’t good: Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures – more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.16 billion) and Senate ($820 million).
Businesses are spending more money lobbying the House and Senate than taxpayers are spending running the House and Senate and informing its members. And that should scare you, for two reasons.
Problem #1: how Congress outsources its thinking to lobbyists. Lobbying, to most people, looks like bribery. And there’s certainly an element of bribery — the lobbyist who refuses to contribute to the reelection campaign isn’t going to get a meeting, much less an ally. But after the bribery comes the lobbyist’s real job: persuasion. That’s what those numbers show: the forces of corporate lobbying have much more money to “inform” Congress than Congress has money to inform itself.
Problem #2: money makes the door revolve. The fact that corporations spend more lobbying Congress than Congress spends on itself is a disaster — it means there’s a massive pay gap between the people serving in Congress and the people lobbying Congress, and everyone working in Congress knows it. What’s worse, they know how to fix it. As one frustrated congressman wrote:
Congress is no longer a destination but a journey. Committee assignments are mainly valuable as part of the interview process for a far more lucrative job as a K Street lobbyist. You are considered naïve if you are not currying favor with wealthy corporations under your jurisdiction. It’s become routine to see members of Congress drop their seat in Congress like a hot rock when a particularly lush vacancy opens up.
I would say a few magic words: “When you are done working for the Congressman, you should come work for me at my firm.”
With that, assuming the staffer had any interest in leaving Capitol Hill for K Street—and almost 90 percent of them do, I would own him and, consequently, that entire office. No rules had been broken, at least not yet. No one even knew what was happening, but suddenly, every move that staffer made, he made with his future at my firm in mind. His paycheck may have been signed by the Congress, but he was already working for me, influencing his office for my clients’ best interests. It was a perfect—and perfectly corrupt—arrangement.
***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***
CONTEXT FLORIDA: FREE SPEECH, DOUG HUGHES, FHIX IS IN AND WALKING HOME ALONE
On Context Florida: Americans cherish their basic rights and fundamental freedoms; with the most cherished right is the freedom to speak their minds openly. In that spirit, John Knight wants to state clearly that he supports the right of those who want to protest the walk in Tallahassee organized by Lauren’s Kids. Doug Hughes is the Ruskin postal carrier who risked his neck to fly through the nation’s most restricted air space to land on the Capitol grounds in order to deliver a message to Congress. Martin Dyckman says that it did not likely make much of an impression at the luxurious Capitol Hill Club, a mere few blocks from Hughes’ landing site, where Republican legislators entertain their benefactors and work the phones for even more money. Bob Sparks says Senate Bill 7044, which creates the Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX), envisions not a Washington-style Medicaid fee-for-service program, but one built on conservative staples of consumer choice, savings accounts, managed care and portability. Catherine Robinson lets her boys walk home alone; go ahead, cuff her. She openly admits to something that the authorities considers evidence of irresponsible parenting.
JON STEWART ANNOUNCES AUGUST DATE FOR FINAL SHOW via Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times
After more than 16 years at the helm of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart said that his final episode as host of the Comedy Central news satire would be on Aug. 6.
Stewart made the announcement at the end of Monday’s broadcast of “The Daily Show.” When the fateful day comes, Stewart said: “I will be wearing a suit. I will more than likely be showered.” Reacting to the disappointment of his studio audience, he added: “I’m sorry, I will be wearing overalls and I won’t shower. So I hope that you will join us for that program.”
Stewart, who has hosted “The Daily Show” since 1999, announced in February that he was stepping down. “This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you,” he said at the time.
In March, Comedy Central said that Stewart would be succeeded by Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old South African comedian who has appeared as a contributor on the show. Comedy Central said that “The Daily Show” would go on hiatus for the rest of summer after Stewart’s departure and relaunch with Noah some time in the fall. A start date for Noah has not been announced.
TWITTER INTRODUCES CONTROVERSIAL MESSAGING FEATURE via Jay McGregor of Forbes
Twitter has added a new privacy setting that allows users to receive direct messages from anyone, regardless of whether they follow each other or not.
Users can now send and receive direct messages to and from anyone, provided they enable the feature in the settings menu. Previously, direct messages could only be sent between two parties (or a group) if they followed each other, that’s no longer the case.
A new direct message icon will appear on profile pages of people who have enabled the setting (if you’re viewing their profile on Android or Apple’s iOS). For those who don’t want to receive unsolicited messages, the setting is automatically turned off.
It appears Twitter is aiming this at businesses and providing them with another way of communicating with consumers. For example, a company might want to send out coupons or promotional material to consumers. Or, perhaps, consumers might be attracted to the idea of complaining about a particular service in confidence.
Although there may be unintended consequences for brands when deciding to enable the setting or not. Speaking to Adweek, Dan Swartz, svp of digital marketing, media and analytics at Upshot Agency explained further: “Brands must expand Twitter private messaging into a continuing infrastructure of social platforms [that] they need to actively manage in order to seamlessly connect with consumers,” Swartz said. “If a brand decides not to activate their private DM functionality, it sends a bad signal to consumers that they are not interested in what they have to say.”