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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – July 28

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

By Peter Schorsch (Peter@FloridaPolitics.com; @SaintPetersBlog) with Phil Ammann(Phil@FloridaPolitics.com; @PhilAmmann) and Ryan Ray (Ryan@FloridaPolitics.com @RyanRay_Fla)

WHAT DAVID JOHNSON IS READING — EXODUS FROM PUERTO RICO COULD UPEND FLORIDA VOTE IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL RACE via Mary Jordan of the Washington Post

Puerto Rican voters tend to lean Democratic, but a great number of the newcomers do not identify with any party, making them appealing targets for politicians and recruiters on both sides. Like those living in other U.S. territories, people in Puerto Rico cannot vote for president in the U.S. general election.

Jeb Bush  recently made a high-profile visit to Puerto Rico … he will address three separate gatherings in Orlando, and among those with whom he is meeting are many Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, has visited the island in the past and polled very well with Puerto Ricans when she ran for president in 2008 … Republicans are building community relationships, opening offices in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods, going door to door and showing up at Latino events of every size, “from 30 to 30,000 people” and setting up GOP booths

Florida — particularly the area around Orlando in central Florida — has become the hottest destination for Puerto Ricans … Puerto Rican professionals and entrepreneurs also are relocating to Florida, which they see as a welcoming place where it is ever easier to find a shop with a Puerto Rican flag, food and music.

In addition, a growing number of Puerto Ricans from New York, Chicago and elsewhere on the mainland are moving to central Florida, or, as many call it, “Little Puerto Rico.” Some Puerto Ricans blame politicians for wrecking the island’s economy and say they are in no hurry to have anything to do with politics. But big efforts are underway to engage the newcomers.

JEB BUSH DENOUNCES “CRAZY MESSAGE OF HATE” IN CAMPAIGN via Sergio Bustos of the Associated Press

Bush implored his Republican presidential rivals Monday to reject the “crazy message of hate” that he sees at play in the campaign and cast himself as a “committed conservative,” but not an “angry” one, in remarks rooted in Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and the backlash that followed.

As conservatives, he said in a speech to pastors, “if we act with our heart, people will rise.” Afterward, Bush gave his call for political civility a harder edge in a raucous rally where he urged other GOP contenders to quit scolding each other.

“We have to campaign with joy in our hearts – not anger,” Bush said. “We shouldn’t say outrageous things that turn people off to the conservative message. Our message is the one of hope and opportunity for everyone.”

“We must reject this crazy message of hate.”

… SCOLDS MIKE HUCKABEE FOR HOLOCAUST COMMENT via Jonathan Martin of the New York Times

Bush rebuked Mike Huckabee … for invoking the Holocaust in criticizing President Obama over the nuclear agreement with Iran, arguing that Republicans needed “to tone down the rhetoric” if they hoped to recapture the White House next year.

“The use of that kind of language is just wrong,” Bush told reporters … “This is not the way we’re going to win elections and that’s not how we’re going to solve problems. So, unfortunate remark — not quite sure why he felt compelled to say it.”

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, said over the weekend that Obama’s Iran policy would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

… SAYS HE’S GOING TO SEE THE POPE WHEN COME TO THE U.S. via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Although he expressed some criticism about Pope Frances earlier this summer, Bush said  he’s a “huge fan” of the current Pontiff, and says he hopes to be “part of the flock” when His Holiness comes to the U.S. in September.

“He’s impressive beyond belief,” Bush said. “And I think he makes a great contribution to the world, and he has every right to have his views on climate change and economics and all the rest.”

… SAYS PUERTO RICO’S DEBT MUST BE RESTRUCTURED, EVEN WITH BANKRUPTCY via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Bush called for debt restructuring relief for Puerto Rico … including the possibility of bankruptcy for the struggling commonwealth government if needed … the island’s financial crisis must be addressed.

“I think we ought to have structured recasting of their debt and structured recasting of their social obligations,” Bush said.

And asked if that would include the prospect of bankruptcy, a legal option Puerto Rico does not currently have, Bush replied, “If it is a way to get out of the spiral they have, yeah, yeah, would support that.”

— “Sorry, Jeb, Puerto Rican statehood is an awful idea” via the National Journal

TWEET, TWEET: @AdamSmithTimes: Sen. Andy Gardiner fires up Jeb crowd by declaring jeb UNDERSTANDS THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.” Crowd goes, well, not so wild

TWEET, TWEET: @EversTre: Most popular Repub in Central Fla @teresajacobs endorses @JebBush – Mayor Jacobs’ endorsement

TWEET, TWEET: @GBennettPost: .@JebBush: “I’m the tortoise in the race. But I’m a joyful tortoise” #JoyfulTortoise

MORE JEB — TELLS TELEMUNDO HE FELT ‘HURT’ BY DONALD TRUMP’S COMMENTS ABOUT MEXICANS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Bush spoke … in more personal terms than he has in the past about Trump’s claim that many Mexicans who cross the border into the U.S. are criminals and rapists.

How did Trump’s comments make him feel, considering that his wife was born in Mexico, Telemundo news anchor José Díaz-Balart asked Bush in a Spanish-language interview taped in Orlando.

“Hurt,” Bush said. “To hear a person speak in such vulgar fashion. This makes solving this problem more difficult … when politicians speak that way, offend millions of people who are here illegally” and get in the way of fixing the problem. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“Columba is very Mexican — proud of her citizenship in this country, of course, but we eat Mexican food at home,” Bush said, referring to his wife. “Our children are Hispanic, in many ways.”

BUSH SNARES A DEMOCRATIC MONEYMAN ON HAMPTONS TOUR via Zachary Mider of Bloomberg Politics

Bush addressed a lawn-full of chief executives and hedge-fund managers at an East Hampton, New York, estate … While the candidate is no stranger to courting wealthy donors, this time was different: about half the attendees were Democrats.

“This guy sells well,” said Kenneth Lipper, the money manager and registered Democrat who hosted the event, after Bush left. Virtually the only one who left without writing a check … Bush’s schedule took him to the six-bedroom beachside mansion of Clifford Sobel, a former ambassador and entrepreneur … cocktails at the home of Emil Henry, a former Treasury official and now the CEO of an infrastructure fund … Lipper said his event alone raised about $230,000.

KOCH BROTHERS SUMMON BUSH, MARCO RUBIO TO SOCAL CONFAB via Kenneth Vogel of POLITICO

Four leading GOP presidential candidates – BushTed CruzMarco Rubio and Scott Walker – are traveling to a Southern California luxury hotel in coming days to make their cases directly to the Koch brothers and hundreds of other wealthy conservatives planning to spend close to $1 billion in the run-up to the 2016 election.

The gathering – which also will include former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but notably not Sen. Rand Paul — is hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella group in the Kochs’ increasingly influential network of political and public policy outfits. It represents a major opportunity for the candidates at a pivotal moment in the presidential primary.

Freedom Partners’ annual summer conference is set for August 1 through August 3, and is expected to draw 450 of the biggest financiers of the right for sessions about the fiscally conservative policies and politics that animate the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch and many of the donors in their network … as well as Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer, both of whom will be represented at the conference by advisers, and a number of other attendees of past conferences whose 2016 leanings are being closely watched.

MARCO RUBIO, ABSENTEE SENATOR via Manu Raju of POLITICO

At last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Rubio attacked the Obama administration for failing to secure the release of American hostages in Iran. But in May, when he had a chance to vote for a symbolic resolution calling for the hostages’ release, Rubio was 1,000 miles away from the Capitol — in Coral Gables, Florida, raising money for his presidential campaign.

Rubio has been absent more often than other senators seeking the White House … missed 42 votes, more than a third of roll calls on the Senate floor … Rubio has skipped votes during high-profile fights over national security, trade, energy and education policy. He has missed private hearings during a critical stage in the Iran talks, a public forum on China and a private briefing on the U.S. strategy on the Islamic State. Last month, a California congressional candidate tweeted a picture with Rubio in Los Angeles on the same day the Florida senator missed a closed-door Foreign Relations Committee session on Iran and a procedural vote on the Export-Import Bank’s future, a flash point in the presidential campaign.

The missed votes underscore the challenges senators face when running for president. They must project leadership and show that they take their jobs seriously. Yet, the task of campaigning across the country and raising tens of millions of dollars often means they skip out on their day job, even when Congress is debating weighty global and domestic issues.

MY TAKE: RUBIO IS IN BUSH’S WAY Full blog post here

Rubio has already raised more than $12 million for his White House bid.

Outside groups aligned with Rubio have raised twice that.

In other words, there is little doubt that Rubio’s White House bid has the financial resources to last (at least) until Florida’s March 15 presidential primary.

And yet …

How soon until someone important suggests Rubio drop out and give Bush a clear shot at holding off Trump?

It was one thing for Bush and Rubio to both be running for president at the same time and it appeared as if they’d just flip a coin to decide who gets the GOP nomination. It’s another thing entirely when Bush is a decided underdog to Trump on a national level and to Walker in Iowa.

To beat Trump and Walker, Bush needs every asset at his disposal. He needs every top Florida activist and donor. He needs a clear path to victory in South Carolina. He needs the Sunshine State to be his firewall.

And if Rubio’s not in D.C., shouldn’t he be omnipresent in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early-voting states?

If Rubio is, the latest polls do not reflect it. Currently:

•Rubio’s tied for seventh in an Economist/YouGov poll of the GOP presidential field;

•Rubio’s tied for seventh in a NBC News poll of Iowa Republicans; and

•Rubio’s tied for seventh in a NBC News-Marist poll of New Hampshire Republicans.

7-7-7. The only time three sevens in a row is a good things is at the slots.

RUBIO FIRST TO FILE FOR SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PRIMARY BALLOT via Cynthia Roldan of The Post and Courier

Rubio … became the first Republican candidate to file to appear on the party’s South Carolina primary ballot early next year … filed the paperwork … at the state Republican Party’s headquarters in Columbia for the primary, which hasn’t been scheduled but likely will be Feb. 20. He then vowed to protect the environment while also tapping energy resources to help the United States compete and beat other countries in manufacturing.

Rubio declined to get involved in criticizing other candidates vying for the Republican nomination, redirecting the conversation to his view on the Iran nuclear deal when asked about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee comparing it to the Holocaust … also declined to talk about Trump and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s spat last week …

THE TELEVISION ELECTION via Steven Shepard of POLITICO

It’s increasingly clear, as two dozen campaigns and their super PACs plot their strategies, that 2016, will be, once again, about television.

Between campaigns and independent groups, television ad spending during the 2016 elections is projected to top $4.4 billion. That’s over a half-billion more than in 2012. And it’s at least four times what campaigns and groups are preparing to spend on their online strategies.

The extinction of the 30-second political television ad has been predicted as long as that of the bald eagle … But that’s not what the roughly two dozen presidential campaigns are thinking …

“The bulk of advertising is still going to be on TV,” said Brent McGoldrick, who served as the director of advertising and analytics on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign … “It is a proven medium. It is a medium that most campaigns and most consultants are used to.”

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POLL: NO FRONT-RUNNER IN FLORIDA SENATE RACE via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

Loaded with candidates but lacking a front-runner, the contest to replace Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a neck-and-neck race for both Democrats and Republicans … Democratic primary is essentially a tie, with Rep. Alan Grayson pulling 33 percent support to Rep. Patrick Murphy’s 32 percent … better news for Grayson because, compared to an April Mason-Dixon survey, Grayson’s numbers have improved by 19 percentage points, while Murphy has lost his front-runner status and has seen only a 9-point improvement.

The Republican race has more candidates and a far more-undecided electorate … Rep. David Jolly pulls 16 percent support, followed by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, with 10 percent; Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Miller, with 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively; and Todd Wilcox, with 2 percent.

“There has been some speculation about two potential candidates with assumed statewide name recognition — Democrat Gwen Graham and Republican Bill McCollum — who could enter the fray and significantly change the race overnight … However, at the present time, nothing indicates that would be the case.”

Of all the announced candidate, only Lopez-Cantera has appeared on a statewide ballot. But there’s a catch … “… nobody knows who the lieutenant governor is … Scott hasn’t given him anything to do.”

MY KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE M-D POLL

First of all, take this Mason-Dixon poll with a few grains of salt. As Steve Vancore notes in the latest post for our Salt Shaker series, there is a “real issue with the fact that this poll interviewed ‘500 registered Republican voters and 500 registered Democratic voters.’ … We don’t know exactly what turnout WILL be; we are certain that the electorate will not be comprised of “registered” voters. It will be a much smaller subset of those voters.”

Despite the issues with the methodology, the M-D poll arrived at essentially the same conclusion as the recent survey from St. Pete Polls.

SPP has it Grayson 30 percent, Murphy 23 percent.

SPP also has it Jolly 22 percent, Miller 12 percent, CLC 11 percent, and DeSantis at 9%. Jolly’s leads are narrow, but its outside the margin of error in both cases. While some, like the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith, dismiss such early polling, Jolly’s camp has to be excited by its showing in these two polls. This is still invisible primary season and Jolly can take these numbers to potential donors and volunteers to make the case that he’s the best candidate.

A couple of other thoughts:

— Isn’t it interesting that with Gwen Graham in the race, Murphy pulls ahead of her and Grayson. Conventional wisdom held that the moderate Graham would ruin the moderate Murphy’s chances of winning. Instead, it appears Graham cuts into Grayson’s liberal base.

— BTW, this poll is a disaster for Graham. She’s polling at only 11 percent in the three-way vs. Murphy and Grayson. Not that she isn’t absolutely capable of catching fire, but with her struggling to get out of single-digits, there may be less enthusiasm for her to jump into the Senate race than previously thought.

— I don’t understand why M-D polled Todd Wilcox on the Republican side, but not Pam Keith on the Democratic side.

— Don’t do it, Bill McCollum. You’ve been on three statewide ballots and you’re only at 22 percent against a set of candidates who have never run statewide. You’re all ceiling, while they are all upside.

DAVID JOLLY REFUSED TO CUT FUNDING FOR D.C. ‘GREENHOUSE,’ ANTI-TAX GROUP SAYS via Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact

Jolly’s Senate campaign was only hours old when he began taking fire from his fellow conservatives …  Club for Growth, a political action committee backing Jolly’s GOP primary opponent … DeSantis, said … “Jolly is so addicted to big government, he couldn’t even muster up the courage to cut spending for a national greenhouse in D.C. …”

It turns out that “national greenhouse” is actually the conservatory at the U.S. Botanic Garden, a Washington museum first envisioned by George Washington more than two centuries ago with the mission of demonstrating and promoting “the importance of plants to the young nation,” according to the garden.

Because of the quirk that it was established by the federal government and has long been run by the Office of Architect of the Capitol, the garden is funded through the appropriations process for the legislative branch … after the amendment to cut the roof spending passed the House despite Jolly’s opposition, lawmakers found ways to cut other spending and were able to put the roof expenditure back in the final version of the bill. The Club for Growth didn’t mention this.

While “greenhouse” trivializes the U.S. Botanic Garden, the group is right that Jolly broke with most Republicans in voting against a 2014 amendment to cut funding for repairs to the complex’s roof and facade. We rate the claim True.

TODD WILCOX: GOP VOTERS ‘FED UP WITH CAREER POLITICIANS’ via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Businessman and Army veteran Todd Wilcox  finished up a tour of the Sunshine State at the end of last week and said his bid was picking up steam.  “I am encouraged by the feedback I received while touring the state of Florida,” Wilcox said …

Wilcox said, unlike his primary foes, he had the advantage of being out of politics.

“It is clear from the fellow Republicans I spoke with that there is a consistent theme; they are fed up with career politicians … I look forward to meeting more of the voters and Republican Party leaders of the great state of Florida to hear from them as I continue to share my message of restoring America’s prominence.”

REWRITE OF CONGRESSIONAL BOUNDARIES TO GO BEFORE JUDGE IN SEPTEMBER via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis set Sept. 24-25 for a hearing on a map lawmakers are expected to approve during a 12-day special session, set to begin Aug. 10.

A trial on whether the state’s Senate boundaries also are unconstitutional is set to begin in Leon County on Sept. 25.

David King, attorney for the Florida League of Women Voters and a coalition of voters’ groups which have challenged the map, said he was optimistic that any problems with the latest rewrite could be settled quickly.

“We won’t need a long remedial hearing,” King told Lewis during a … scheduling conference.

DICK GRECO FOR CONGRESS?

… That’s what La Gaceta’s Patrick Manteiga half-jokingly suggests in his weekly “As We Heard It” column:

“Greco just moved to St. Petersburg and is still unpacking boxes. Is it just a coincidence that he happens to arrive in town just when the congressional seat favors Democrats or is Greco just sly? If Charlie’s political career can be resurrected, why not Dick Greco’s?”

Greco is probably the only politician we know who is even more likable than Crist.

ANNETTE TADDEO REFUSES TO TALK MANSION SALE, “MIDDLE-CLASS” LIFESTYLE Full story here

Annette Taddeo … a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 26th Congressional District, again refused to answer questions about her self-proclaimed middle-class lifestyle, one that includes a decidedly not middle class 6,500-square-foot Miami home assessed at $1.25 million.

In a video clip obtained by Florida PoliticsCharlie Crist’s former running mate entered a Key Biscayne event … having nothing to say on the issue. Taddeo is shown briskly walking away after she was asked about plans to sell her mansion.

Taddeo did eventually tell reporters is that she intends to move out of her 6-bedroom, 5-bath home (complete with in-ground swimming pool) and into the actual district she seeks to represent.

As of Monday, the home at 6460 SW 133 Drive in Miami is listed as off market …

MEANWHILE … BREAKDOWNS, LAX SECURITY CITED IN AUDIT OF STATE VOTER DATABASE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

(A) new auditor general’s report sharply criticizes …Scott’s administration for its handling of the backbone of democracy in Florida: the electronic system that holds vital data on 12 million voters in the nation’s biggest battleground state.

The audit found that internal security controls need improvement; a disaster recovery plan has not been tested since 2011; 14 state employees had “inappropriate and unnecessary access privileges” to the database; no mechanism exists to ensure that production changes are “properly authorized, tested and approved’; security training for employees hired during the past year were not done on a timely basis; and measures to protect confidential and exempt voter information need improvement.

The audit has heightened tensions between Secretary of State Ken Detzner and county election supervisors, who call the report “troubling.” A group of four supervisors … met with Detzner two weeks ago to complain about poor communication from the agency. They later realized that Detzner had responded to the critical audit but didn’t inform supervisors.

Auditors found that the system broke down eight times between December 2014 and February of this year, and was offline for a three-day period between Feb. 24 and 26. Auditors clearly were concerned about the state’s maintenance and level of security on the system, known as FVRS for Florida Voter Registration System.

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RICK SCOTT AS ENVIRONMENTAL CHAMPION? YES, SAYS FOUNDATION HEADED BY DEVELOPER via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott, whose administration has pushed to open the parks to cattle grazing and timber harvesting, offered polluters ways to get out of fines and sharply cut back staffing and regulations designed to protect Florida’s natural resources, is getting an award for being a friend to the environment.

The award, announced via e-mail last week, is being given to Scott later this year by the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida … a support group for the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission … run by gubernatorial appointees.

(T)he foundation’s chairman, Miami real estate developer and lobbyist Rodney Barreto, hailed Scott for being “instrumental in helping develop a strong connection between fish and wildlife conservation and traditional outdoor activities like hunting and especially fishing.”

The governor will share the award with First Lady Ann Scott … The Sierra Club’s Frank Jackalone reacted to the news of Scott’s award with laughter.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will host a lobster mini- season kick-off reception beginning 4:00 p.m. at the Sundowners Restaurant, 103900 Overseas Highway in Key Largo.

AG COMMISH: CONCEALED WEAPON LICENSE APPLICATIONS EXPEDITED FOR MILITARY MEMBERS, VETERANS via WCTV-TV

Commissioner Adam Putnam says the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is now expediting concealed weapon or firearm license applications for active duty military members and veterans. Active military personnel who are interested in applying should include a copy of their Common Access Card or other form of official military ID with their application.

The department can also accept a copy of service members’ current orders as proof of active duty status. Honorably discharged veterans should submit a copy of their DD 214 long form with their applications. Individuals may apply for a Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License by mail or in person.

FLORIDA TO TRIBE: PREPARE TO END BLACKJACK GAMES AT CASINOS via the Associated Press

Florida officials are asking the Seminole Tribe of Florida to tell them when they plan to end blackjack and other card games at their casinos.

Florida’s top gambling regulator wrote a letter Monday to the tribe chairman. It comes days before a five-year deal that allows backjack at Seminole casinos expires.

Ken Lawson asked tribe Chairman James Billie to discuss the tribe’s plans at a meeting with state officials. Lawson noted the existing compact requires the tribe to close its blackjack tables within 90 days.

The move is probably a prelude to a court battle. The Seminoles have said they can keep the card games because Florida regulators violated the gambling agreement.

A tribe spokesman said the Seminoles plan to keep the card games while following a dispute resolution process outlined in federal law.

Sen. Bill Galvano, who was one of the lead negotiators with the Tribe on the original gaming compact, told reporters Monday afternoon that he believes negotiations will resume with the Tribe and they were in the same situation in 2010, when the first compact was invalidated by the Florida Supreme Court. The court ruled their table games in violation of state law and the Tribe sat down and negotiated a deal with the Legislature.

“I don’t necessarily means we are headed for litigation,” said Galvano, R-Sarasota. “This is similar to the position we were in last time before we were able to enter into a deal. I think the state has significant leverage at this point and there’s nothing to preclude us from having those negotiations.”

LAWYERS HINT AT SENATE REDISTRICTING SETTLEMENT via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

(T)he ruling that invalidated the congressional map is also provoking discussions over a possible settlement in the Senate map, as the Herald/Times reported first last week.

After the brief hearing on the congressional map, the lawyers for the House, Senate and the plaintiffs – along with a private court reporter – congregated in a conference room in the LeonCounty courthouse.

Senate spokewoman Katie Betta said the meeting related to “attorney client” privilege and was not open to reporters.

They lawyers met for 10 minutes and emerged without comment.

“They’re talking about pending litigation with regard to the Senate maps,’’ said Sen. Galvano, chairman of the Senate redistricting committee. “I’m not going to comment on that because it’s pending litigation.”

When asked if discussions are underway for a settlement, he said: “I’m not going to comment on that.”

WHAT STEVE CRISAFULLI IS READING — FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS SEEM UNLIKELY TO TAKE THE BAIT AS HOUSE PROMOTES UNIFORMS via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

If there was a hot education topic in Florida this spring, it was student testing. But not in the state House of Representatives … under the guidance of K-12 Committee Chairwoman Janet Adkins, the talk focused on collared shirts and khaki shorts.

Citing the need to improve school security, Adkins sought to persuade districts to adopt mandatory uniforms for elementary and middle schools. As an incentive, she wanted to offer districts $10 per student, with a cap of $10 million statewide, first come, first served.

House members loved the idea, with just eight opposing the bill. It failed in the Senate, though, with senators saying the money could be better spent … are school districts in a position to take advantage of the cash? Given the tight deadlines, the answer appears to be “no,” unless they already have a policy regarding uniforms in place … District leaders in the Tampa Bay area indicated they would keep things that way, too, regardless of the incentive.

With the first day of school fast approaching, changing the dress code could prove a large imposition on families, Pinellas School Board vice chairwoman Peggy O’Shea observed.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: Guess who could return to public life? @StevePrecourt has applied for exec dir of the Florida Transportation Commission. $110k-$120k a yr

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND

Katie Cunningham is no longer policy chief for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Tiffany Harrington is leaving her position as senior attorney for the Government Operations Subcommittee.

Carolyn Tucker is no longer a legislative assistant for state Rep. Jay Fant.

Cori Varsallone is leaving her post as district secretary for state Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

Sajan Kurian is stepping down from his post as district secretary for state Rep. Shev Jones.

Teresa Hadjipetrou is no longer serve as district secretary for state Rep. Jared Moskowitz.

Devin Barreto is leaving his post as district secretary for state Rep. Greg Steube’s

Lindsay Jones is the new district secretary for state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

Tresa Woodward is no longer district secretary for state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan.

Samuel Green has left his post as district secretary for state Rep. Charles Van Zant

Joseph Cook is new district secretary for state Rep. Zant.

HAPPENING TODAY — HEARING ON FPL PLAN TO BUY OUT AND SHUT DOWN COAL POWER PLANT

The state Public Service Commission will take up a unique proposal by Florida Power & Light to buy out and shut down a coal-fired power plant in Jacksonville. FPL projects the deal will save its customers $70 million and reduce millions of tons of emissions. FPL signed a long-term contract in 1988 to purchase power from the Cedar Bay plant, but the utility now generates far cleaner electricity at a much lower cost than what the contract requires it to pay. Influential environmental groups including Audubon of Florida, National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy have voiced their support, and FPL recently tweaked its proposal to earn the endorsement of the state’s Public Counsel, who represents ratepayers. However, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, which represents large companies, is attempting to block the plan.

PICK TO LEAD STATE DEP STILL UNCONFIRMED via Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Seven months after … Scott appointed Jon Steverson as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, that appointment remains unconfirmed and mired in controversy.

More than 300 letters have been sent to the Florida Cabinet urging its members not to reappoint Steverson. Most were form letters generated by a new group, Florida Parks in Peril, formed in response to the department looking into the possibility of increasing cattle leasing and timber harvesting in state parks.

Steverson was not confirmed by the Florida Senate, as required, during a legislative session mired in political infighting … Cabinet also declined to confirm the interim secretary, with Attorney General Pam Bondi saying she was considering other candidates … Steverson may have caught a break last week.

Bondi announced she no longer planned to bring forward a candidate and would agree to set a public interview for the interim secretary. She plans to discuss that at the next Cabinet meeting.

Steverson said he respects the Cabinet process.

UBER’S RECRUITING INITIATIVE HEADS TO S. FLORIDA via Lance Dixon of the Miami Herald

Uber is continuing to expand its ride-for-hire service in South Florida — and the latest move is bringing the UberUP initiative to Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties … Uber Urban Partnership focuses on recruiting new drivers by centering on urban and inner-city communities. The company plans to launch the initiative in Miami-Dade …

The company has partnered with local clergy, including Bishop Victor T. Curry of the New Birth Baptist Church, and community organizations to spread word about partnering with Uber … mayors of Miami Gardens and Doral and Miami Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis  another major part of the initiative is reaching out to communities and cities outside the heart of downtown Miami and providing service … the company hopes to add 10,000 drivers to its fleet across Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

UBER RIDES THROUGH BROWARD COUNTY COULD BE ILLEGAL via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post

If an Uber driver picks you up in Palm Beach County and takes you down to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, it’s breaking the law, Broward County’s lawyers argue in a lawsuit they’ve threatened to file.

After Broward commissioners voted in April for tough new regulations for the firms, in which freelance drivers pick up fares using a smartphone app, Uber and Lyft stopped serving Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the Port Everglades cruise ship terminal, and the two firms have since told Broward County they intend to stop pickups in that county by the end of this week.

On Friday, Broward decided to play hardball. Forget pickups; they don’t want the firms in the county at all.

In letters obtained late Monday afternoon by the Palm Beach Post, Broward County’s legal office wrote the two firms, enclosing drafts of lawsuits it said it was “prepared to file” because of the firms’ “unlawful operation in Broward County.”

Palm Beach County is closely watching how other counties deal with Uber and similar firms, and many places are waiting to see what Palm Beach County does.

The rules Broward had approved that led to its impasse are similar to those Palm Beach County has proposed, and will consider Aug. 18; Uber has said that if they pass, it will bolt Palm Beach County.

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AIF LAUNCHES FOCUS GROUPS TO IMPROVE FLORIDA GOV’T INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Associated Industries of Florida is taking a closer look at information technology used in state government, to offer recommendations for ways to provide better service to all Floridians.

AIF announced the launch of three focus groups – Cyber Security, Education and Health Care, and an IT Stakeholders panel — each made up of technology and business leaders selected to support the group’s Information Technology Council (ITC).

Created in early 2006, the ITC was designed to get feedback from service and support providers, hardware and software companies, consultants, and resellers representing a range of businesses from Fortune 500 to small, independent firms. Council members will examine the role of IT in Florida’s government, which for many years fell behind in providing essential services to Floridians.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Chris Floyd, Chris L. Floyd & Associates: Insurance Office Of America

Chris Littlejohn, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: Shechem Industries

Ron Pierce, RSA Consulting: Youth and Family Alternatives

Amanda Alders Pike: Florida Art Therapy Association

REST IN PEACE — FORMER FLORIDA AFL/CIO PRESIDENT DAN MILLER, JR. DIES 

Dan Miller, the longtime (1977-1993) President of the Florida AFL/CIO passed away earlier this month. Miller was immensely popular with most everyone in the political process in Florida, including business leaders, the historic enemies of organized labor. A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 1 at Mission-by-the-Sea at 772 Alligator Drive, Alligator Point, Florida.

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BOTTOMS UP! STUDY FINDS FLORIDA BEER INDUSTRY TAPS IN $14 BILLION TO STATE ECONOMY via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Brewers, importers, distributors, suppliers and retailers contribute more than $14 billion annually to Florida’s economy, supporting 125,402 local jobs, according to “Beer Serves America” – an in-depth study of the U.S. beer industry.

The report, jointly compiled by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and The Beer Institute, shows that the industry is responsible for more than $5 billion in wages and benefits, as well as $3 billion in business, personal and consumption taxes in 2014.

“It can be said that beer truly serves America,” said Beer Institute CEO Jim McGreevy. “Beer is more than our nation’s favorite adult drink – it is a powerhouse in job creation, commercial activity, and tax revenue.”

Nationwide, the report found that the beer industry generates nearly $253 billion in overall economic activity, with $48.5 billion in tax revenue and 1.75 million jobs.

FLORIDA MAN WHO WORE “F*CK THE POLICE” SHIRT TO COURT ARRESTED ON TRESPASSING CHARGES THREE MONTHS AFTER UPLOADING VIDEO OF CHAOTIC PARKING LOT SCENE via Carlos Miller of PhotographyIsNotACrime.com

A Florida man was arrested on trespassing charges more than three months after he uploaded a video showing a chaotic scene during the closing of a nightclub in which Lakeland police were ordering everybody to leave.

Michael Burns of Central Florida Cop Block – the man who made national headlines last year for wearing a “Fuck the Police” shirt to court – said Polk County sheriff’s detectives arrested him … after showing up to his mother’s house, telling him he failed to show up to court for a trespassing summons. But Burns said he never received any summons.

LANDSCAPER GETS JAIL TIME FOR KILLING DUCKS WITH LAWNMOWER via the Associated Press

A Florida landscaper who ran over a family of ducks with his riding lawnmower has been sentenced to a year in jail … Palm Beach County judge sentenced 24-year-old Jason Scott Falbo II last week after he pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty charges.

Authorities say Falbo mowed down the ducks May 2 at the home of a family caring for them in Wellington. Police say nine ducklings died, while their mother and two ducklings survived. Boyd Jentzschtold police his family, including his 7-year-old son, watched from inside their home, screaming as the ducks were run over.

NFL’S FALCONS SIGN FORMER FSU BALLBOY FRANKIE GRIZZLE-MALGRAT via Gary Shelton of SaintPetersBlog

The ballboy in charge of Jameis Winston is going pro … And it isn’t with Winston.

Frankie Grizzle-Malgrat, or “Red Lightning,” has left FSU to go to the NFL … to the Atlanta Falcons.

An equipment manager during the week who washes FSU uniforms, Grizzle-Malgrat told CBS Sports that his assignment was Winston.

“I”ve been put in charge of taking care of Jameis …I make sure Jameis has what he needs, nothing to worry about, helmets are OK, shoulder pads. Him especially.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the venerable Bill Cotterell.

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.

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