Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – April 9

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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: With packed agendas facing the Legislature today, it’s easy to figure where most lobbyists will be hanging out: the fourth floor rotunda, where big-screen TVs will be displaying the opening round of The Masters. Golf is a favorite spring diversion among Tallahassee’s lobbying corps, and it pains them to miss a moment of the most major of the Majors. Not to worry – the folks who run the Capitol TVs traditionally change the channel on at least one to catch The Masters broadcast. Like The Masters itself, that is “a tradition unlike any other.”

A TOP OF SUNBURN HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the best people in Tallahassee Alli Liby-Schoonover.

DAYS UNTIL Sine Die – 23; Special Election in  HD 64 – 12: Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election – 40; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 340; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 509; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 579.

JEB BUSH’S ROLE WITH BLOOMBERG CHARITY DRAWS ATTENTION via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush’s role with corporate boards has raised a number of issues and seeming political contradictions, including Tenet Healthcare’s support for Obamacare. Now Bush’s position with Michael Bloomberg’s charity is under scrutiny from opposition researchers.

While Jeb Bush was on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity funded some decidedly left-leaning initiatives, including partnering with Planned Parenthood and helping the Sierra Club with global warming projects, records show.

But as with Tenet, Bush says he didn’t agree with everything.

Still, several initiatives seem out of step with a likely GOP presidential contender: In 2011, the charity awarded $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which aimed to close “dirty” coal plants and reduce carbon emissions. (On Wednesday, another $30 million in funding was awarded.)

In March 2014, the charity launched a $50 million reproductive health program aimed at some of the world’s poorest countries.

Together, the initiatives may not add up to much. But they do join a larger group of questions provoked by Bush’s involvement on the boards he joined after leaving the governor’s office.

“What did Jeb Bush do to fight Obamacare?” reads the headline on a March 23 column from Byron York of the Washington Examiner. The piece noted Bush’s role on Tenet Healthcare’s board, in which he was paid more than $2 million from 2007 and 2014, when he stepped down. “Tenet strongly supported the passage of Obamacare and has profited enormously from it,” York wrote. Bush spokesman Tim Miller responded that Bush, “forcefully advocated against it in board meetings, to the point that it bubbled up in public. When asked about it, he was very clear that he was in opposition to it.”

BUSH CAMP HIRES FORMER ROMNEY STAFFER TO RUN HISPANIC MEDIA OPERATION via Adrian Carrasquillo of BuzzFeed News

Bush has hired Emily Benavides, an experienced Hispanic media operative, as he gears up for an expected presidential campaign.

Benavides is joining Bush’s Right to Rise PAC as a communications adviser and spokesperson leading Hispanic media. She would be in line for a similar senior position if Bush moved forward with a potential campaign.

Bush is fluent in Spanish and his wife is Mexican-American, and his campaign hopes he can cut into Democrats’ recent overwhelming support from Latino voters. Benavides’ job will be to ensure that his message resonates culturally and linguistically, and that the candidate is focused from the start on earning the community’s respect.

The news comes a day after an early stumble: The New York Times reported Jeb Bush registered himself as Hispanic in a 2009 voter form.

Benavides who is from Ohio, joins Bush after serving as communication director for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s re-election campaign. Previously, she served as national Hispanic press secretary and Florida press secretary for the Romney campaign in 2012. She also spent time working on the Republican National Convention and for the Hispanic Leadership Network.

“It shows the Bush camp is bringing on serious talent, seasoned folks who can work both English and Spanish,” said Izzy Santa, former RNC Hispanic media director, who left for the private sector in 2014. “Her role for Snyder was just communications director. It’s important to know both worlds because being Hispanic doesn’t mean you speak Spanish only. It means you can resonate with both markets in the community.”

MARCO RUBIO WOOED PRO-ISRAEL CROWD AT PAUL SINGER’S HOUSE via Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed News

Rubio was the featured guest at an event at Republican donor Paul Singer’s place in New York attended by influential Republican foreign policy hawks.

According to sources who attended the dinner, Rubio was well-received among attendees— one said that “people who walked out of the room were totally in love” — a sign that he could be coming into favor among people influential with the New York Jewish Republican donor class, among whom Singer is the most sought-after. Singer is holding a series of dinners with potential candidates such as the one that featured Rubio, the New York Times reported over the weekend. Singer has not committed to a candidate.

“There is clearly been at the very least a real surge of interest in Rubio — Who is this guy and can he win and can he be a real player? — in a way that even two or three months ago there wasn’t,” said one Republican operative who attended the dinner.

“What I think is attracting these types of Republicans to Rubio is not simply his policy positions, although there is strong agreement here and a feeling that he is truly one of us,” said another Republican operative who was in attendance. “It’s a judgment that he may be the most naturally gifted politician in the party, a sunny, likable figure with an inspiring personal story and a way of talking about conservative ideas that could attract a great many mainstream voters.”

NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @TonyFabrizioGOP

EPILOGUE — ALEX SINK WANTS TO “PAY IT FORWARD” THROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL WORK via Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune

Alex Sink lost a close race for governor against Rick Scott in 2010. She re-entered the political arena in 2014, running for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in Pinellas County left open when C.W. “Bill” Young died. David Jolly beat her in that race a little more than a year ago.

She has found a fertile place to practice that ideal with the Florida Wildlife Federation, where she has a seat on the board. Our state is rife with environmental issues, from potential fracking in Collier County near Naples to the disingenuous way lawmakers are approaching Amendment 1 — the conservation land acquisition issue overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.

And it will be five years ago on Monday that the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig operated by BP Oil exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, triggering an environmental catastrophe. To call it an oil spill doesn’t come close to capturing the impact of the damage caused by the estimated 134 million gallons that flowed into the Gulf over 87 days.

But tourism has rebounded. Oil isn’t washing up on the beaches.

All is well? Not even close.

Or as Sink put it, “a bunch of bad-looking stuff is still happening out there.”

The National Wildlife Federation has a disturbing message about the long-term impact.

“It may take years or even decades before the full impacts are known, and more research is clearly needed. In the meantime, restoration of the gulf ecosystem must become a high priority for the nation,” the organization said in a report available online at nwf.org.

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WHY FLORIDA BECAME THE CAPITAL OF OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami Herald

When Florida racked up impressive enrollment numbers in 2014 for insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, some healthcare analysts were surprised.

In 2015, the Sunshine State did it again, surpassing enrollment projections and beating out much-larger California and even Texas, a state more populous, more uninsured and with similar Republican opposition to the law.

Despite an uninsured rate among the top five highest in the country, Florida’s Republican-led Legislature harbored an anti-Obamacare sentiment, making it an unlikely candidate to embrace healthcare reform. With the second Obamacare enrollment period all but over, why did Florida take the top spot, with 1.6 million enrollees?

Experts point to a variety of factors that, combined, likely elevated the state’s numbers. Using enrollment specialists that spoke a variety of languages helped bridge cultural and language divides to enroll specific groups such as the large pool of uninsured Hispanics. Small businesses jumped into the Obamacare field by selling policies alongside groceries and bill-paying services. And the Florida economy, based mostly on tourism and small businesses, helped the enrollment process because many mom-and-pop operations don’t offer insurance to employees.

Florida’s demographics also made it ripe for ACA enrollment.

Its high-uninsured population is partly powered by its large Hispanic population. Many Hispanics have historically worked in industries that don’t offer employer coverage, leaving many uninsured. And the economy overall is largely based on the tourism, service industries and small businesses, which are less likely to offer health insurance, said Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida.

Those who did have coverage before the ACA, Snaith said, may have lost it when employers learned about the law’s requirements that insurance offer broader coverage. Florida’s large population of retirees may also play a role in the state’s high participation in Obamacare plans.

LEGISLATURE: OBAMA WRONG TO CHANGE CUBA POLICY via the Associated Press

The Florida Legislature is telling President Barack Obama he’s wrong about Cuba.

The House voted to send Obama a message that it opposes his decision to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba.

The resolution also says the Legislature opposes the opening of any Cuban consulate or diplomatic office in the state.

The three-page message to Obama and Congress expresses “profound disagreement” with the president’s decision last December to restore relations with the communist nation just 90 miles off the Florida coast. It says Fidel and Raul Castro have mistreated Cuban citizens since they took power in 1959.

Rep. Joseph Geller spoke against the resolution. Geller, a Democrat from Aventura, said that “rhetoric” would do nothing to free the people of Cuba.

The Florida Senate approved the resolution last month.

FRESHMEN HOUSE MEMBERS PUSH BACK AGAINST EISNAUGLE ‘COUP’ REPORTS via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

Republican members of the most recent class of lawmakers elected to the House are pushing back hard on reports in blogs that members are attempting to overthrow Rep. Eric Eisnaugle as House Speaker for 2020-2022.

“I would say that we have reconfirmed a majority of our class and they have emphatically said that they’re in full support of Eric as our leader,” said Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, a top Eisnaugle supporter.

The East Orlando Post blog first reported the “coup” against Eisnaugle, quoting an anonymous member of the freshman crop of House Republicans saying that members of the group were frustrated with his leadership, especially over his inability to deliver votes on a bill to strike the state’s ban on gay adoption.

… But Eisnaugle supporters are denying members pledge cards are moving. Plakon specifically denied the gay adoption story.

“The first time I read about that thing was I read it on a blog. That vote is, if anything else – on whether or not homosexuals should adopt – is a vote of conscience. Rep. Eisnaugle would never whip a vote like that or deliver a bloc of votes on something like that. So that story is patently false and ridiculous,” Plakon said.

… Plakon said Eisnaugle has more than 30 out of the 40 voting members for that class’ Speaker race.

When asked where the rumours of a coup came from, (Jay) Fant suggested it was a “misunderstanding” stemming from members unaware of the process to elect a Speaker.

“I can only surmise that it could be a misunderstanding based on the fact that we’re all new and we ask about the process. I’m not completely sure about how the process works myself. If there is this intermediation about Eric being the leader it’s not reflected in the bonds that have been established with pledge cards and pledges to him in person. I haven’t seen that be at risk at this point,” Fant said.

WHAT EISNAUGLE’S CAMP IS THINKING: “Caucus rules state that 40 people can currently vote. 19 in the class above Eric 19 in Eric’s class and two new “red shirt freshman”. 40 votes total. We have 30. A majority of all three classes…Both red shirts are with Eric. They wanna call a vote…WE WANNA CALL A VOTE!!!  We win.”

TALK TOUGHENS ON HEALTH CARE, TROUBLING TAX CUTS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

The Florida House is poised today to approve a $690 million package of tax breaks now troubled by a deadlock hardening between the state’s Republican leaders over expanding health insurance for the poor.

Andy Gardiner said Wednesday that his side won’t move forward on finalizing either a state budget or tax reductions sought by the House and Gov. Rick Scott until the health fight is settled.

The clash is threatening prospects of ending the two-month legislative session by its scheduled May 1 finish.

“If we’re going to be asked to pass a budget, whether it includes extra funding for member projects, education, tax breaks, all of that, there needs to be some clarity,” Gardiner said. “The sooner we know, the better.”

JACK LATVALA LITERALLY CALLS BULLS— ON TESTIMONY BY SCOTT’S AIDE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

It was a rough day for Gov. Scott’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who for the first time publicly warned the Legislature not to create an online voter registration form by October 2017.

Detzner reluctantly testified before a Senate appropriations subcommittee about his opposition to an idea that enjoys broad bipartisan support and the backing of all 67 Florida election supervisors. House and Senate bills are moving forward in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

In a Senate subcommittee chaired by Sen. Jack Latvala … Detzner registered his opposition to the Senate bill and remained seated, but a senator demanded he come to the microphone and explain the reasons for his resistance.

“Behind this vote and behind what we have to do is a lot of technical work dealing with highly sophisticated databases,” Detzner testified.

At that moment, Latvala could be heard whispering, “This is so much bulls—” into an open mike, according to the committee videotape, which is on The Florida Channel’s web site.

SEMINOLE GAMING BILL EXPANDS, NARROWLY PASSES via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

BILL AIMED TO MAKE HIV TESTING EASIER PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

A bill that would make it much easier for doctors to test patients for the HIV virus made its way through a Florida Senate committee on Wednesday.

Orlando Democrat Geraldine Thompson sponsors the measure (SB 512). She said it would eliminate paperwork that “burdens doctors” when they test in a health screening, such as for glucose or diabetes. The patient would have the prerogative to opt out if they did not want to be tested.

The Florida Hospital Association and representatives from other health organizations announced their support of the bill, but not everybody was down with it.

South Florida AIDS activist Michael Rajner said he hoped that there could be amendments added to the relatively straightforward bill, mentioning a number of negative scenarios that he said could result from its passage.

Those concerns included further criminalizing the spread of HIV, and the fact that homophobia exists in the medical world.

He said he was worried that some doctors aren’t properly trained and said that could result in worsening somebody who has the virus.

But Democratic state Sen. Chris Smith said that, while he appreciated Rajner’s concerns, he said the bill had nothing to do with the criminalization of HIV transmission.

NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAM FOR MIAMI-DADE COUNTY ADVANCES IN FLORIDA SENATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Legislation that would authorize the University of Miami and its affiliates to establish a single sterile needle and syringe exchange pilot program in Miami-Dade County as a means to prevent the transmission of blood-borne diseases passed unanimously in a Senate committee this morning.

Palm Gardens Democrat Oscar Braynon is advancing the bill (SB 1040). It’s been a goal for legislators and medical professionals in Miami for several years now.

“The evidence that needle exchanges prevents HIV and hepatitis is as strong as evidence that smoking cessation prevents cancer,” said Hansel Tookes, a resident physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital, who testified in support of the bill.

He then proceeded to explain how much the state would save by implementing such a program. Citing a House analysis, he said that if just 10 percent of the people who inject drugs into their body living in Miami with HIV had had their infections prevented, the state would have saved $124 million in treatment costs.

Tookes added that he and some of his colleagues are about to publish a paper that reports that $11.4 million in costs to Jackson Memorial over the past year for infections related to injection drug use.

And he said that over 40 percent of those infected and treated at Jackson were on Medicaid, meaning that “everyone in this room was footing the bill for these preventable infections.”

Activist Michael Rajner praised the legislation as well, but said needle exchange programs are needed beyond Miami-Dade, specifically mentioning Broward County. “But we understand that for the Legislature to study something, this is a great step forward.”

NEW FILM PRODUCTION CREDIT PROGRAM MAKES IT TO HOUSE FLOOR

A measure to attract more film and television production to Florida is headed to the House floor.

With a 12-5 vote, the House Economic Affairs Committee supported HB 451, which would set up a framework for making tax credits available for film and TV production in the state.

Tallahassee Democrat Alan Williams said the new bill is not a “sequel” to past measures, calling it more of a “rewrite.”  Next, House and Senate budget negotiators will decide to set aside money for the proposal this year.

Winter Park Republican Mike Miller, who filed the House version, insists the proposal is a “jobs bill.” Conservative group Americans for Prosperity-Florida opposes the bill, calling Florida’s film and TV program is a “taxpayer giveaway” of “hard-earned money to Hollywood executives.” HB 451 would replace a 2010 program using $296 million to entice film production to the Sunshine State. Lawmakers called the program flawed since money came on a first-come, first-served basis, a process that emptied the fund quickly. Since then, lawmakers have not refunded the program.

In the meantime, proponents say Florida is losing to states like Georgia and Louisiana, which have lavished cash on the industry. The new structure would use two pots, where applicants apply for credits and a cap of 30 percent of production costs. In addition, the state would encourage filming in historically under-served counties and move the film and entertainment commissioner – a governor-appointed post — from the Department of Economic Opportunity to Enterprise Florida. A Senate version of the bill (SB 1046) will next appear before the Appropriations Committee.

PROPERTY RIGHTS BILL CLEARS FINAL HOUSE STOP WITH FEWER LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONCERNS via Bruce Ritchie of Florida Politics

A House property rights bill prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Florida landowner was amended to resolve many concerns raised by local governments.

The Supreme Court in 2013 overturned a Florida Supreme Court ruling against the late Coy A. Koontz Sr., who sought to build on 3.7 of his 15 acres in Orange County. He refused when told by the St. Johns River Water Management District to reduce the development size or pay to restore wetlands elsewhere.

Property rights supporters hailed the U.S. Supreme Court decision. And in January, Rep. Katie Edwards, a Democrat from Plantation, filed HB 383, which creates a cause of action to recover monetary damages for landowners where state and local governments impose conditions that rise to the level of “unconstitutional exactions.”

The House Judiciary Committee adopted a bill amendment by Rep. John Wood that he said narrows the definition of damages that can be claimed and clarifies the actions of government that can be challenged.

Representatives of the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities who previously opposed the bill said many of their concerns were addressed.

“We are in full support of this amendment,” said Stephen James, representing the Florida Association of Counties. “We continue to work on this bill — if so in the Senate we will be there every day as well.”

Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist representing the city of Venice, said the city remains concerned that a property owner may agree to conditions but later decide he can’t meet them.

SENATE PASSES ‘WALDO BILL’ BANNING TRAFFIC TICKET QUOTAS via the Associated Press

Traffic ticket quotas for law enforcement agencies would be illegal under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

The so-called “Waldo Bill” (SB 264) passed unanimously with no debate … It must still pass the House and be approved by the governor to become law.

The bill’s nickname comes from the city of Waldo on heavily travelled U.S. 301, once considered one of the nation’s worst speed traps. In 2014, Waldo police officers disclosed a quota system, and the Gainesville Sun reported that traffic tickets accounted for almost half the city’s revenue. The police force has since been disbanded.

The bill also requires a city or county to report to state officials if traffic ticket revenue exceeds a third of the cost of operating its law enforcement agency.

LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS

The House meets in an afternoon floor session at 1 p.m. in the House chamber.

8 a.m.:

>>> House Regulatory Affairs Committee meets in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

9 a.m.:

>>> House Education Committee meets in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.
>>> House Health & Human Services Committee meets in Morris Hall of the House Office Building.
>>> House Local & Federal Affairs Committee meets in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
>>> Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meets in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.
>>> Senate Fiscal Policy Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
>>> Senate Rules Committee meets in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
>>> Senate Transportation Committee meets in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

1 p.m.:

>>> Senate Appropriations Committee meets in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

CONTINUING TODAY — FLORIDA CHAMBER’S INTERNATIONAL DAYS 

Global economic opportunities take center stage as international business leaders continue their focus today on making Florida more competitive during the Florida Chamber’s International Days.

Global trade means high-wage jobs and economic prosperity in Florida. More than one million Florida jobs and 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity are derived from international business and foreign direct investment. With more than 90 percent of consumer markets located outside the U.S., and the market expected to double in size over the next 20 years, it’s clear that international trade opportunities are rich for Florida’s economy.

Yesterday, Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera and Florida Secretary of Commerce Bill Johnson helped kick off the two-day conference, and today, John G. Murphy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Florida Secretary of Transportation Jim Boxold and leaders of Florida’s ports will be among the featured speakers.

***The Fiorentino Group is a full service government relations and business development firm providing a broad range of consulting services to clients looking to influence public policy and create new business opportunities. The Fiorentino Group’s team of advocates is one of the largest in the state and has decades of experience in state, local and federal government relations and new business development.***

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE — “Florida Credit Unions Applaud House Judiciary Committee for Passing Legislation to Prevent Patent Trolling”

TOP 10 REASONS TO REJECT THE AMERICAN DREAM MIAMI MEGA-MALL LAND DEAL Full story here

… it’s hard to come up with any real reasons. The entire process was followed to the letter and in the spirit of the law. But we all know far too well that politics can sometimes obscure little things — little things like the facts. In light of that, here are the Top 10 reasons the Cabinet could use to shut down the development of the largest economic engine Florida has seen in decades.

The mega-mall developer followed every rule of the process to the letter …They must be hiding something. The mega-mall could become one of Florida’s most successful tourist attractions … That seems unfair to some of our less successful tourist attractions. What will happen to Gatorland, after all?

The mega-mall will be in Miami-Dade County … is that even in Florida? The mega-mall is paying fair market value for the land … Fair market value just isn’t fair enough. The mega-mall will only create 25,000 construction jobs … We were expecting at least 25,001. The mega-mall will only create 25,000 permanent new jobs … The mega-mall will generate more than $100 million a year in new local and state tax revenues … The state of Florida really doesn’t need any more money.

The two sister mega-mall projects in West Edmonton, Canada and in Minnesota each attract more than 40 million visitors a year. American Dream Miami will be even larger than those … Building this could hurt our relations with the Minnesota and Canadian governments.

The mega-mall will have a vast number of family entertainment options including a water park, submarine ride, miniature golf, bowling, a giant Ferris wheel, a performing-arts theater, a motion picture sound stage, restaurants, cinemas, and the largest indoor ski slope in the world … Some of us don’t know how to ski.

And the number one reason the Cabinet could use to reject the mega-mall land sale … The mega-mall just isn’t MEGA enough for Florida!

ARE LOBBYISTS ABOUT TO BE HIT WITH GUCCI-WEARING TAX? via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

Perhaps inspired by Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s rousing speech last week, Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez … filed an amendment that would increase the sales tax on Gucci loafers sold to lobbyists.

“I will proudly declare war on all the special interests … all the Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interests, powers-that-be, who are standing in that hallway (outside),” Corcoran said in his now legendary anti-Medicaid expansion monologue. “Come to war with us. I’ll fight. And if it costs me my political career or yours, so be it.”

Rodriguez’s amendment proposes a levy of 12 percent “on the sale of Gucci loafers to a principal or lobbyist.”

Filed in jest, the amendment does target the special interests that Corcoran blames for the failed health care status quo. But c’mon. It’s a tax increase, and the House is run by Republicans.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

William Barrett, Sewell Point Group: Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission

Mike Corcoran, Matt Blair, Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Pembroke Lakes Mall, LLC

Ron Pierce, Ed Briggs, RSA Consulting: Environmental Professionals of Florida, Inc.

Kim Case, Holland & Knight: Fernbrook Florida, LLLP

Marty Fiorentino, Thomas Griffin, Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Florida State College at Jacksonville Foundation

Nick Iarossi, Jennifer Gaviria, Chris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: The City of Venice

Marnie George, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Neal Communities of Southwest Florida

Natalie Kelly, Acclaim Strategies: Florida Association of Managing Entities

Denise Lasher: Florida Coalition for School Board Members

Doug Manson, MansonBolves PA: Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority

CONTEXT FLORIDA: JOHN MORGAN, OBAMACARE, STUDENT PRIVACY AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

On Context Florida: John Morgan is a serious person, says Peter Schorsch. He certainly spent serious money trying to pass Amendment 2 in 2014. He sounds serious, sometimes even emphatic. And sometimes sounding serious is all one needs to get their friends and enemies to act the way they want them too. At least that is what Morgan hopes. Obamacare covers 16 million but an additional 32 million remain unprotected, writes Marc Yacht. Although it addresses insurer abuses such as cherry picking, pre-existing conditions, denials and rate gouging, what continues is exorbitant administrative costs and high premiums. America’s healthcare problems persist. Student privacy has been in the news lately, says Catherine Martinez, given revelations that Pearson, creator of the new PARCC tests and one-time creator of the FCAT, is monitoring social media to look for breaches of test security. The digital world moves at lightning speed but the legislative world moves at a snail’s pace. Rick Brunson, associate instructor of journalism in UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication, says that it’s the duty of all of us to stop campus sexual assault.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

SPRING TRAINING A HOME RUN FOR FLORIDA IN 2015 via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Spring training was a home run in Florida this year with almost 1.6 million baseball fans taking in games and all 15 teams playing in the Sunshine State seeing attendance higher than it was in 2014. Average attendance for all 15 teams stood at more than 6,900 fans this year.

This marks the 13th time since 2000 that more than 1.5 million fans have attended spring training games in Florida. Since 2000, more than 25 million have attended spring training games in the Sunshine State.

The New York Yankees, based out of Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, led the Grapefruit League with almost 172,000 attendees, averaging more than 10,100 fans per game. The Houston Astros playing in Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee had the lowest attendance with 47,781 attendees with an average of 3,675 fans for each game.

The Yankees hosted the largest attendance this year when they played the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, March 12. A poll taken by Public Policy Polling last month showed the Braves are the most popular baseball team in Florida with the Yankees a close second.

Gov. Scott cheered the spring training numbers:

“Florida’s tourism industry creates jobs and opportunities for millions of Florida families, which is why we worked with the Legislature in 2013 to create a program that provides more than $3 million annually to be used only for spring training facilities,” Scott said. “It’s great news that attendance at spring training games is on the rise in Florida and we will continue to work to make our state No. 1 for jobs and opportunity.”

TODAY’S GOVS CLUB BUFFET: Italian Ribollita Soup, Antipasti Flatbread Sandwich Board, Caprese Salad Ba, Sliced Beef Brisket with Tomato Garlic Demi, Palermo Chicken with Rosemary, Garlic, Artichoke, Tomato and Capers, Tri-Colored Cheese Tortellini with Pomodoro Sauce, Fried Calamari & Shrimp, Italian Vegetables , Italian Herb Roasted Potatoes, Assorted Mini Desserts

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.