Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — June 8

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

DAYS UNTIL… Sine Die: Before Father’s Day, right? 12 days at the max; MLB All-Star Game: 35; Jeb Bush’s presidential announcement: 6; The first GOP presidential debate: 58; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 219; Iowa Caucus 236; Super Bowl 50: 242; New Hampshire Primary: 244; Super Tuesday: 265; Florida’s presidential primary: 279; Florida’s primary elections: 447; 2016 Election Day: 517.

FIRST IN SUBURN – PART 1 – “CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN” ADAM BARRINGER LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR CD 6 via A.G. Gancarski of FloridaPolitics.comFormer two-term New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer is announcing on Monday his candidacy for the Republican nomination in Florida’s Sixth Congressional District, which encompasses Putnam, Flagler, St. Johns, and Volusia Counties.

What sets this self-styled “conservative Republican” apart from some of his competition is his deep-seated ties to the district: especially to New Smyrna Beach itself, which he moved to in 1979, finished middle and high school there before coming back after college to build a life, with a  successful career in the hospitality industry and a thriving family.

It’s that combination of locality and family values that lays the cornerstone for the narrative he hopes to share with District 6 voters.

“I grew up in New Smyrna Beach within the Sixth Congressional District of Florida, this is where I went to middle and high school, where I’ve built my successful small businesses and where the people here have twice elected me their hometown mayor. I know and love this part of our great state, and believe I am the best candidate to represent this area and our shared Republican values,” Barringer said in a written statement.

The candidate hopes to parlay his experience “as a successful small business owner” and his “knowledge of our district” to advance a free-market reform agenda focusing on “healthcare, tax reform, education, national defense, and our natural resources.


Attorney and Republican activist Rick Kozell is launching a bid for South Florida’s 18th Congressional District based in Palm Beach County.

Kozell is running as an outsider, who like most Americans, is fed up with dysfunction and gridlock in Congress.

“Today, Congress seems more focused on growing the bureaucracy than on solving problems. It’s time we fix Washington and restore America’s reputation abroad,” Kozell said in a statement.

“Throughout our community, working people are struggling while big government in Washington is thriving,” Kozell continued. “We need a Congressman who will fight to promote greater opportunities for hard-working Floridians and to create a healthy economy for everyone. As a former small business owner, I have seen first-hand that a rising tide of prosperity can lift all ships. I have been blessed to be the beneficiary of the American Dream and it is time we restore that Dream for everyone.”

The Jupiter native and Georgetown University Law Center graduate pointed to his experience as Counsel for a Republican member of a federal administrative court.

“For the past year, I have fought the Obama Administration’s attempts to increase the reach of government into our local communities and small businesses. Now it’s time to take the fight to Congress,” Kozell declared.


One week before he’s expected to launch his presidential campaign, Jeb Bush paid an impromptu visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state Sunday.

The former Florida governor (spent) the weekend in nearby Kennebunkport, Maine, as the Bush family gathers for former first lady Barbara Bush‘s 90th birthday.

Bush’s … first stop after launching (will be) New Hampshire.

“I’ll make my announcement, and in all likelihood I’ll be in New Hampshire that night, late, and then we’ll start the day, the first day of a possible campaign,” Bush said.

“This is the first in the nation primary. It has a disproportionate say in weeding out the field for sure. So it’s really important. And it a great place to campaign for someone like me,” he said. “I get to tell my story. People can challenge it. This is the way to campaign. Get outside your comfort zone. I don’t think we should be campaigning in little protective bubbles, and in New Hampshire you can’t do that. You have to be out amongst people.”

Asked if the “protective bubbles” comment was directed at Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, Bush said it wasn’t. “I just think there’s a lot of caution in politics. There’s a lot of carping on the sidelines and any mistake that you make, everybody goes nuts about it. And I think the way to campaign, to learn, to show your mettle and to tell your story is New Hampshire-style.”

BUSH GOES FROM FRAGILE FRONTRUNNER TO UNDERDOG via Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report

With each passing day, Bush looks weaker and weaker. While he has a top-notch political team and (reportedly) tons of cash, he is dropping, not, rising in the polls. For a party desperate to win back the White House, Bush is looking more and more like a risky bet.

The latest Washington Post/ABC and CNN/ORC polls paint a grim picture of Bush’s general election hopes. In the CNN poll, Bush is the only candidate tested — besides Ted Cruz — that Hillary beats handily. She leads Bush 51 percent to 43 percent. Meanwhile, Clinton is under 50 percent when tested against Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. In the Washington Post/ABC poll, 55 percent said they expected that Clinton would win a match-up against Bush.

While both Hillary and Jeb suffer with the “dynasty” label, the Bush name is more toxic. In the CNN poll, 62 percent of voters said that Jeb Bush represents the past, while just 34 percent thought he represented the future. Meanwhile, 45 percent of respondents thought Hillary Clinton represents the past while a slight majority (51 percent) think she represents the future. A whopping 56 percent of voters said the fact that Jeb Bush is “the son and brother of former presidents” makes them less likely to vote for him. The Washington Post/ABC poll found similar results, with 40 percent saying they thought Jeb would “mainly follow the same policies” as his brother, and just 51 percent saying he’d come up with new policies.

Meanwhile, just 24 percent thought Hillary Clinton would follow the same policies as her husband, and 66 percent thought she’d “come up with new policies.”

Bush’s numbers among the GOP electorate aren’t much better. In December of 2014, Bush was at 23 percent. Today, he’s dropped to 13 percent. The Washington Post/ABC poll finds that he’s dropped seven points since March — from 20 percent to 13 percent. In the CNN poll, more than one-third of GOPers — and 62 percent of those who identify as Tea Party — say that they are “less likely” to vote for him because he’s the brother/son of former presidents. Just 18 percent of Democrats say that they are inclined to vote against Hillary Clinton because she’s the wife of the former president.

Bush’s biggest problem is that voters aren’t giving him any benefit of the doubt. And, while he talks often about the fact that he’s “his own man,” he has yet to articulate any differences between himself and his not-very-popular brother. He has also failed to provide a rationale for his candidacy or a message that’s particularly compelling to GOP voters. “What’s ‘Right to Rise’?,” quipped Gov. John Kasich in reference to Bush’s SuperPAC. “Getting up in the morning?” The CNN poll found that Republicans are evenly divided on the question of whether he represents the past or the future.

The fact is, Bush does have a record as governor that can be used to both distinguish himself as his “own man” and to prove his conservative bonafides. I expect that “Right to Rise” will be spending a lot of its money telling that story. However, the longer he’s defined by his last name, the harder it will be to get voters to see him as anything else.

A FOREIGN POLICY CHECKMARK FOR BUSH via Thomas Beaumont of The Associated Press

Bush heads to Europe this week to put a checkmark in a final box before making his campaign for president official: an overseas visit to catch up with a few of America’s friends. All of his hosts, Germany, Poland and Estonia. are stalwart U.S. allies, and they’re calmer destinations than the cauldron of the Middle East.

But the last name Bush still stirs anger in parts of Europe — a legacy of former President George W. Bush‘s invasion of Iraq. For this Bush, the trick with his first trip overseas as a White House hopeful is to avoid spending too much time making the same case to European leaders he’s had to make at home to American voters — that he’s not his brother. “If he tries to make this trip about see-how-I’m-not-like-George W. Bush, if that’s the story line of the trip, it will not have been a success,” said Peter Feaver, former head of strategic operations at the National Security Agency and now a professor at Duke University.


Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard was the final speaker at the IIF meeting in Manhattan on Thursday and offered a few glimpses for what a JBush economic plan might look like. Hubbard, who served under both presidents Bush and advised 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, never mentioned the former Florida governor by name. But Hubbard is likely to play a significant advisory role for the former Florida governor along with former Fed governor Kevin Warsh and others.

Hubbard suggested some obvious ideas for Bush to boost slow economic growth including a broad corporate tax reform plan but he also hinted at a potentially interesting approach to infrastructure spending, something almost everyone agrees is needed but is politically toxic in the GOP for its association with President Obama’s stimulus plan. “To make it work you would need something that had states and maybe even the private sector with skin in the game, with partnerships,” Hubbard said. “I think an infrastructure strategy makes sense. I don’t think it’s stimulus. I think it’s just getting the nation’s capital stock to be more productive.”


According to a “Volunteer Fundraising Information Packet” obtained by, Bush will raise money at receptions in Washington, D.C., several cities in Florida, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York City, Connecticut and Maine.

Here is the rundown: June 19 — Luncheon Reception — Washington, D.C. June 20 — Luncheon Reception — Coral Gables, Fla.; June 22 — Luncheon Reception — Tampa, Fla.; Evening Reception — Jacksonville, Fla. June 23 — Breakfast Reception — Orlando, Fla.; Evening Reception — Greenwich, Conn. June 24 — Breakfast Reception — New York City; Evening Reception — Chicago; June 25 — Luncheon Reception — Houston, Texas; Evening Reception — Dallas; June 29 — Evening Reception — Atlanta July 2 — Afternoon Reception — Falmouth, Maine

The Volunteer Fundraising Information Packet also reveals that prospective members of the “27 in FIFTEEN team” are being asked to raise $27,000 by Tuesday, June 30. “Contributions can be accepted immediately,” writes National Finance Director Heather Larrison, “and will be accepting online donations beginning on June 15.

Those donors who help raise $27,000 or more by the end of June are invited to two events at the Bush Family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine: An “Evening Picnic with Governor Jeb Bush and special guests” and a “Morning Political and Campaign Briefing with Jeb 2016 Senior Staff.”


SHOT via The New York Times: According to a search of the Miami-Dade and Duval County court dockets, the Rubios have been cited for numerous infractions over the years for incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights and careless driving. A review of records dating back to 1997 shows that the couple had a combined 17 citations: Rubio with four and his wife with 13.

CHASER via Washington Free Beacon: The New York Times Friday report that Rubio and his wife Jeanette have been cited 17 times for traffic violations was written after the citations were pulled by liberal opposition research firm American Bridge, according to Miami-Dade County court records.

HEAVE via Dylan Byers of POLITICO: The New York Times says its report about  Rubio and his wife’s traffic violations did not came from an outside source, denying a Free Beacon allegation that the information was provided by American Bridge, a left-wing super PAC founded by Hillary Clinton loyalist David Brock.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE WEEKEND via Lucy Morgan: “Kind of hard to believe the NYT had TWO reporters doing a story on the traffic tickets Rubio and his wife got over the past 18 years — surely there is something really important they could be looking at = I’d call this “shooting rubber bands,” the kind of story that just makes readers wonder if journalists have a clue….It’s probably relevant to know that Rubio got a few tickets, but why pick on his wife?????”

MARCO RUBIO’S REAL ESTATE DEALING OFTEN A DRAG ON HIS FINANCES via Nichola Riccardi of The Associated Press During … Rubio’s first year in the Florida Legislature in 2000, the 29-year-old lawmaker [wrote o]n the line listing his net worth … ‘0.’ … [H]e has risen to lead the state House as speaker, won election to the U.S. Senate and earned at least $4.5 million at a series of six-figure jobs and by writing a best-selling memoir. Yet his net worth has improved only modestly.


As Republican donors sipped their wine and munched their salads in a hotel ballroom here Thursday evening, a clip of Rubio launching his campaign on the promise that “yesterday is over” played on the television screens around the room. Then the screens quickly cut to a message welcoming everyone to the Prescott Bush Awards Dinner, named for the late grandfather of Jeb Bush, Rubio’s likely presidential rival and a man seen by many as an implicit target of Rubio’s generation-centric rhetoric on the campaign trail.

In his 25-minute speech at the fundraising dinner for the state GOP named after the former Connecticut senator and Bush family icon, Rubio never once mentioned the Bush name. But the elephant in the room was not lost on the crowd. “It is interesting because it’s Jeb Bush’s grandfather, and now it’s a guy running against him who also happens to be from Florida,” said Jay Sheehy of Stratford. Rubio had ventured into the heart of a state where the Bush family has deep roots.

Still, the crowd was mostly welcoming, applauding at several points in his speech.

2016 READS

— “Attention local TV: Facebook is coming for your political ads,by Andrew Beajoun of the The Washingtonian: Digital advertising accounted for 0.2 percent of all political-ad spending in 2010 … [and] its share of advertising has grown by 1,825 percent [since then]. … TV’s hunk … will [likely] fall by 5.3 percent between 2012 and 2016.

— “For Jeb Bush, the challenge remains making it about Jeb, not Bush” via Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post

— “Marco Rubio’s moment” via Brent Budowsky of The Hill

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Lawmakers kicked off final budget talks Saturday afternoon, making quick progress on the biggest issue that forced a special legislative session and promising to have a spending plan hammered out by early next week.

The state’s regular legislative session was hijacked by a fight over supplemental hospital funding that was cut by roughly $1 billion as the feds followed through on a promised phase-out of the program.

To offset some of those cuts to the so-called Low Income Pool (LIP) — a pot of money hospitals use to provide care for patients who can’t pay — House and Senate budget-writers have agreed to spend $400 million, a move that will draw down $610 million in federal funds.

… (Lawmakers) also must divvy up roughly $750 million for the environment created by Amendment 1 …  Little movement was made on completely closing the issue, but the Senate did offer to spend $37 million on land buys through the state’s Florida Forever land purchasing program.

… There is disagreement between the two chambers over whether or not to bond the money for more land buys … The Senate’s plan includes no bonding, which state Sen. Alan Hays, a Umatilla Republican tasked with writing the Senate’s environmental budget, said will not change.


The 3 percent increase for students put in play Saturday by House and Senate conferees would bring average per-pupil spending to $7,097, a $207 increase.

But the level falls short of what Scott earlier demanded. He has pushed since last year’s re-election campaign to draw record spending for each of Florida’s 2.7 million school kids.

In his budget proposal, Scott wanted to top by $50 the $7,126 per-pupil record reached in 2007-08


— “AIF’s H20 Coalition says budget conferees should oppose state land buying efforts” via Ryan Ray of

— “House, Senate budget talks bog down on Sunday session” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Rick Scott’s office on healthcare funding: We are continuing to watch the process” via Christine Sexton of

— “Tampa Theatre primed to snag $1 million in state funds for capital improvements” via Ryan Ray of

HOUSE REJECTS MEDICAID EXPANSION via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

After a seven-hour debate that pitted calls for compassion for struggling Floridians against dire warnings about government programs run amok, the Florida House on Friday voted 72-41 to reject the Senate bid to expand Medicaid and provide healthcare coverage to more than (800,000) low-income residents.

The party-line vote surprised few with the House Republican majority opposing the Senate’s Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) bill. Only four Republican members – including state Rep. Ray Pilon – voted in favor of the measure (SB 2A).

The Republican-led Senate had tried to modify its FHIX plan, contending it was not an expansion of a traditional Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. The program would have required participants to be employed and pay a modest premium up to $25 a month.

But House leaders showed little interest in those modifications, arguing that FHIX remained a Medicaid expansion under “Obamacare” and that many of the provisions, including the work requirement, would never be approved by the federal government. They warned that Medicaid was costly, inefficient program that already consumed more than 30 percent of the annual state budget.

“Make no mistake, this bill is Medicaid expansion,” said state Rep. Matt Hudson, who oversees healthcare spending in the House. “Certainly not traditional Medicaid, but it is Medicaid.

State Rep. Jason Brodeur another House leader on healthcare issues, said the Affordable Care Act “has been a massive failure and doubling down on it is not going to help the citizens of Florida.”

House Democrats said regardless of the number, the attempt to provide healthcare coverage to the “working poor” was a critical issue for the state, particularly given the eventual phase-out of a $2.2 billion federal program, known as the “low-income pool (LIP),” that compensates hospitals for taking care of the uninsured.

“If we can help hundreds of thousands of Floridians with health care, why not do that?” asked state Rep. Reggie Fullwood.

“A vote for FHIX is a vote to say that every single human life has value,” said state Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, who was the lead House advocate for the Senate bill.

State Rep. Cynthia Stafford cited data from state economists that showed passage of the Senate plan could generate more than $500 million in savings over the next decade, while also resulting in more than $16 billion in federal funding coming to the state.

“It’s only fair and right that we have a return on the money we have sent to Washington,” Stafford said.

State  Rep. Alan Williams questioned why Republicans lawmakers were opposed to accepting more federal funding to expand healthcare coverage, when they already approved a state budget plan that relies on some $26 billion in federal funding.

“Federal dollars aren’t bad in that situation. Why are they bad now?” Williams asked.

But state Rep. Matt Gaetz, countering the argument that the House was far from “a virgin” on using federal money, said “every time the federal government waves their credit card because they can borrow more money, don’t expect us to jump into the back seat with them.”

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: Fla House clerk said the nearly 7 hr debate Friday was 1 of longest in modern history. But not as long as debate over @JebBush A+ plan

TWEET, TWEET: @RichardCorcoran: Really proud and honored to serve with such principled leaders. No amount of force can move them.


Senate President Andy Gardiner issued a statement noting that “the critical healthcare challenges facing Florida still remain. This weekend, members of the Legislature will begin a budget conference where we will take hundreds of millions in general revenue that could have been dedicated to schools, roads, our environment or countless other priorities and instead use those limited taxpayer dollars to try to patch together a healthcare budget that we know we cannot make whole. There is a better way, and while we did not get there today, I am proud of the Senate for working together in a bipartisan spirt of compromise to advance a Florida solution.”

House Minority Leader Mark Pafford told reporters after the vote that, “Until we begin dealing with (healthcare access) we’ll be fighting as hard as we can to expand it.”

The bipartisan organization called A Healthy Florida Works sent a statement to the press saying it was a “disappointing day for all Floridians.”

“The Florida House of Representatives’ decision not to take action to reduce the number of uninsured people in this state and bring businesses relief from the tax burden of uncompensated health care means Florida’s healthcare financing crisis will persist,” read the statement from spokesperson Jennifer Fennell.

“This is not a problem that will go away on its own and it will be waiting for lawmakers when they return to Tallahassee for the 2016 legislative session.”

The organization FloridaStrong weighed in on the healthcare debate during the 2015A special session, sending mailers to voters in eight swing districts and buying an Internet advertisement. FloridaStrong issued a statement saying that the vote against the Senate plan “is yet another example of representatives choosing senseless political games over Florida families. It is incredibly disappointing that, regardless of the solution reached, shameless partisans in the House are seemingly incapable of nothing but excuses.”

The League of Women Voters Florida President Pamela Goodman sent a statement saying, “This is not a loss. The fight goes on and we will not rest until the battle is won. We can only hope that 2016 — an election year — will make opponents find the compassion and the moral strength to take action on behalf of the less fortunate.

TWEET, TWEET: @MDixon55: And the FHIX commercials in Tally just keep on keeping on after bill’s defeat

HEALTHCARE BATTLE WILL CONTINUE NEXT YEAR via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Many Florida businesses will soon be hit with fines for having uninsured employees and the state’s healthcare funding problems will get worse next year, resulting in continued pressure on the Legislature to consider accepting additional federal Medicaid funds to insure an estimated 800,000 low-income Floridians.

Senate leaders who pushed for Florida to adopt a modified version of Medicaid expansion say they expect to revive the issue next year.

“We are committed to it,” said Bradenton Republican state Sen. Bill Galvano, a future Senate president.

Yet while the debate is likely to continue, passage of legislation still seems like a long shot in the near future. The lopsided House vote is sure to throw some cold water on the issue and cause some senators to reevaluate whether it is worth the effort, especially with the political dynamics unlikely to change in the short term.

The Senate will continue to fight an uphill battle as long as House leaders and the governor remain opposed to drawing federal Medicaid dollars.


Obamacare’s unlikely No. 1 city” via Jennifer Haberkorn of POLITICO: The unlikely epicenter of Obamacare lies in a solidly Republican working-class town just 10 miles outside the Miami stomping grounds of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. The city of Hialeah — a Cuban-American neighborhood of Spanish speakers that is blanketed with Obamacare advertisements — enrolled more people under the Affordable Care Act than anywhere else in the country.

South Florida signs up nearly all eligible consumers in Obamacare” via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami HeraldA report released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated each ZIP code’s eligible population of consumers who could sign up for coverage and compared it to those who did enroll for 2015. In the nation’s top 10 ZIP codes — all in South Florida — the report found that nearly the entire eligible pool signed up for health insurance.


For many of the 160 members of the Florida House and Senate, the prospect of having to scramble for cash to pay for medication and doctor visits is not something that keeps them up at night. According to financial disclosure statements, 54 legislators are millionaires and 145 of them are enrolled in the taxpayer-financed State Group Health insurance plan, which includes about 80,000 full-time state workers.

The monthly cost per legislator: $180 a month for a family, or $2,160 a year, and $50 a month, or $600 a year for individuals. That’s only a fraction of the average monthly family premium paid by most Floridians — $1,347 — accsaording to data tabulated by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Until last year, House members were part of a group of state workers who got an even better deal: $30 a month for family health insurance coverage, and $8.34 a month for individuals. That group, along with 800 legislative staff, the governor and his Cabinet are among about 17,500 state workers, known as the Senior Management and Select Exempt Service, who pay the lowest costs in the state.

HOUSE APPROVES $300 MILLION IN TAX CUTS via The Associated Press

Floridians may see a small cut in their cellphone bills under legislation passed by the Florida House.

The House overwhelmingly approved the tax cut package on Friday.

Senate leaders have said they plan to enact tax cuts, but they haven’t committed to an amount yet.

If passed, the tax cuts would save Floridians about $10 a year in cellphone taxes as opposed to the $43 a year break that Gov. Scott wanted lawmakers to pass. The cut to the cellphone tax, however, would be staggered over a two-year period.

The House scaled back its tax-cut package so it would cost under $300 million in the first year, although it would grow to more than $400 million when all the tax breaks are fully in place. The package also includes a small reduction in the tax charged on commercial rent.


The House Innovation Subcommittee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday between 12 and 2 p.m. and the House Health & Human Services Committee will hold a three-hour meeting the following day.

Healthcare bills that were not heard by the House during the 2015 Regular Session will be heard in the subcommittee. Bills that were heard during the 2015 session but did not pass will be heard in the full committee.

Though it’s been getting a lot of attention lately, the House did not hear a certificate of need repeal during the regular session. HB 31 A eliminates CON for hospitals, long-term-care hospitals and tertiary services; it keeps the requirements intact for nursing homes and hospice.

That means CON will be kept intact for healthcare services that are in high demand and will be eliminated in areas with less demand. According to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, there were 106 applications for new nursing homes and hospices in 2014. Of those, three were withdrawn, 67 were initially denied and 33 initially approved. There was a keen interest from developers and investors because it was the first time the state allowed new nursing home facilities to be built and beds offered in more than a decade.

In contrast, the agency received 13 applications in 2014 for new hospital facilities. Of those, one was withdrawn, four were denied and eight were initially approved.

Fourteen states have no CON regulation at all, including Texas and California.

HB 31A is filed by House Health & Human Services Committee Chairman Rep. Brodeur.

The recovery care center bill, HB 23 A, will be taken up by the full committee. The bill allows physicians to discharge medically stable patients to recovery care centers. The centers are required to have a dietetic department at the building or under contract as well as pharmaceutical services on campus or under contract. The bill exempts recovery care centers from licensure requirements including proof of insurance; proof of financial ability to operate and certificate of need requirements.

Other bills including a scope of practice expansion that would allow advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medications, HB 27A, and a rewrite of the state group health insurance program, HB 21A, also have been referred to the full committee.


A federal court in Pensacola has scheduled a hearing on Gov. Scott’s lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services and preliminary injunction to require the federal government to keep Low Income Pool funding at more than $2 billion.

The hearing in Scott v. Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled for June 19, one day before the scheduled end ot the 2015A special session on health care and the budget.

Chief Judge Casey M. Rodgers issued an order on Friday noting that “upon review of the motion and response, the Court finds that oral argument would be beneficial in the consideration of the issues presented.” Rodgers was appointed to the court by George W. Bush in 2003.

The federal government unsuccessfully argued in a 35-page motion filed June 1 that “judicial involvement in the administrative review process and ongoing discussions between the Secretary and Florida would be both inappropriate and unnecessary.”

The government also argued that the state did not show a likelihood of success on the merits or to satisfy any of the prerequisites for emergency relief.

Scott filed a lawsuit shortly after the House of Representatives adjourned for the regular legislative session due to an impasse on Medicaid expansion and the Low Income Pool program. The governor argued that the federal government suddenly ended the supplemental Medicaid program as a way to force the state into a Medicaid expansion under the federal healthcare law, often called Obamacare.

“This administration is effectively attempting to coerce Florida into Obamacare by ending an existing federal healthcare program and telling us to expand Medicaid instead. This sort of coercion tactic has already been called illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court,” the suit notes.

BIG MONEY, BIG CONTRACTS ALSO AT STAKE via Gary Fineout for his blog, The Fine Print

Another long-running battle at stake in this year’s special session?

Florida’s law-enforcement radio contract.

The ongoing tug of war over the contract, which now belongs to Florida-based Harris Corp., has been documented over the last couple of years. Part of the debate has been whether to move ahead and begin procurement now for a new contract in advance of the 2021 expiration of the existing one.

But state Rep. Ritch Workman, the powerful Rules Committee chairman (and who is missing the first part of the session because he’s out of the country), wrote to the Department of Management Services late last month to make the case for his hometown company.

Workman told DMS that Harris would upgrade the existing network to a new type of technology for the radios under its existing contract “at no additional cost.” This would obviate the need to award a 19-year contract that could cost nearly $1 billion to fully implement.

The catch is that the state would have to buy the additional radios needed to run on this system. That would be a $84 million cost according to estimates that Harris provided to DMS.

DMS Secretary Chad Poppell in his response to Workman agreed that “savings to the state may exist.” But he added he looked forward to “productive discussions” with the Legislature to fund it. He also said it would require a substantial technical undertaking to fully evaluate the proposal. Poppell also said that DMS would likely have to hire additional employees in order to oversee the project.

One of Harris’s main competitors for the new contract, however, has a slightly different viewpoint on the proposal.

A project manager for Motorola Solutions wrote Poppell and said the proposal “amounts to a tactic to bypass the state’s competitive bidding laws.”

“If the state were to implement this proposal as written, it could become a very costly mistake,” wrote Jay Malpass, strategic project manager for Motorola Solutions.

The letter contends that Harris’ proposal would allow it to get a head start on other vendors in advance of the new contract.

“We want to be clear that it is our opinion that if the state proceeds w accepting the Harris proposal, it will create an anti-competitive environment in which legitimate vendors would not be in a position to offer what will be a better, more comprehensive and cost-effective solution to the state.”

LEGISLATURE’S BIGGEST LOSERS ANNOUNCED via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat

Accolades were not handed out for the least influential politician at the Capitol on Thursday.

And don’t replace loser in the headline with another name you only say at dinner parties or while reading the news. Even if they didn’t vote on a budget during the regular session, some legislators voted in the affirmative for weight loss.

The challenge, hosted by state Sen. Aaron Bean was simple: Legislators and state employees compete to see who could drop the most weight during the 2015 regular session.

Florida Channel employee Daniel Boldman took the crown as men’s weight-loss winner by losing 40.25 pounds. Mary Cowart, aide to state Rep. Cynthia Stafford lost 8.75 pounds and was named the women’s weight loss champion.

But the biggest “loser” among all legislators was state Sen. Thad Altman, who lost 17 pounds.

Overall, 48 participants lost a total of 174 pounds.


With a hat-tip to LobbyTools, here is latest on who is on and who is off the legislative staffing merry-go-round.

Off: Kaley Flynn has left her position as legislative research assistant for the House Education Committee.

On: Lara Medley has accepted a position as state  Rep. Colleen Burton‘s legislative assistant.

On: Janice Browning has accepted a position as state Rep. Mike Hill’s district secretary.

On: Steven Thompson has accepted a position as state Rep. Rene Plasencia’s district secretary.

Off: Saintal Permission is no longer the district secretary for state Rep. Sharon Pritchett.

On: Nicole Pontello has accepted a position as state Rep. Paul Renner’s district secretary.

Off: Krista Ziehler has left her position as a legislative assistant for state Rep. Irv Slosberg.


ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will “highlight job growth at Sunera LLC in Tampa” according to a release. 201 East Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1750, Tampa.


Conservationists are drawing a line in the scrubland, vowing to fight any attempt by the state to expand logging and cattle grazing throughout Florida’s 171 state parks.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson, appointed in December by Gov. Rick Scott, set off a furor last month when he suggested in a series of newspaper guest columns that Florida expand grazing and timber harvesting in its state parks as a way to offset the cost of running them.

In the columns, which ran in newspapers throughout Florida, Steverson said state parks hosted more than 27 million visitors last year and his department is committed to maintaining them as places “where the next generation of Floridians and visitors can continue to enjoy our state’s diverse natural and cultural sites.”

Keeping those parks open and functioning, he said, costs $80 million a year. He said there is some grazing and logging going on already.

“The Florida Park Service has contracted with timber companies many times in the past to harvest trees in Florida’s state parks,” Steverson wrote. “Timbering offers numerous ecosystem and land management benefits, including increasing plant diversity, cultivating wildlife habitat and improving prescribed burning conditions. As an added benefit, the parks generate revenue from timber sales, which returns to the trust fund that pays for park operations and restoration activities.”

Conservationists are skeptical and gearing up for a fight.

“We’re unhappy about the mixed-use, commercial and industrial development of our state parks,” said Frank Jackalone, with the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club.

He said Scott’s administration already has sought to sell off conservation lands as surplus “and now they’re moving to disrupt the state park experience for people.”

“These parks are for recreation and for protecting natural Florida, not to turn them into cow-grazing pastures,” Jackalone said. “We have enough grazing pastures in Florida already.”


The Florida Department of Elder Affairs has been requesting higher than allowed reimbursements from the federal government for nursing home screening work, an overbilling practice that has likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars, according to billing records and an internal report.

Shoddy record keeping and a failure to file a federally required cost plan means there is no record to show how long the department has been overbilling the feds or how much in overpayments it has received over the years.

“I don’t have the information you are looking for,” said Ashley Marshall, a department spokeswoman, when asked about a timeline for the overbilling or how much the department estimates has been overbilled. She said the department has had an agreement with the Agency for Health Care Administration to run the federal nursing home screening program for 24 years, but it’s not an indication the enhanced rate that has led to overbilling has covered that time frame. Both departments are part of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.

The program that houses the screening program has been reimbursed by $6.8 million over the past four quarters, a number that includes the overbilling, according to state records. The payments are related to federally required pre-admission screenings into Medicaid-certified nursing homes. The screening process helps identify people with severe mental illness or intellectual disability. Those who meet the criteria are referred to the Department of Children and Families.

— “Workers compensation system eagerly awaits key Supreme Court ruling” via Peter Schorsch of

***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***


On Friday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced the appointment of Lee Sandler, a founding member of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, to a one year term as Miami Dade/Monroe County Regional Board chair.

His role in this position: to connect South Florida business leaders with movers and shakers in the Florida legislature, to drive pro-business policies from Tallahassee.

Sandler described the appointment as a chance “to help unite business leaders so that we can continue to keep Florida moving in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber, said that “in his role as a Florida Chamber Regional chair, Lee will volunteer his time and talent in support of the Florida Chamber’s efforts to advocate for solutions that help make Florida more competitive.”

Sandler has been an integral force in South Florida business, yet he has a global footprint. His law firm and his consulting firm have domestic presences in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Baltimore. Additionally, they have international offices in Ottawa, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Beijing and Hong Kong.

He also has been integral in every international Free Trade agreement negotiated since 1979, and has been appointed by the last five presidential administrations to advise the federal government on international trade negotiations of all types.

SPOTTED at the Lightning Caucus Stanley Cup Finals watch party hosted by RSA Consulting: Reps. Jimmie SmithLarry AhernKristin JacobsJamie GrantAmanda Murphy, Eric EisnaugleDan RaulersonKathleen Peters, and John Wood and Sens. Wilton Simpson and Kelli Stargel.

SPOTTED at Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen and Holly Raschein‘s Belmont Stakes party: Rep. Kathleen Peters, Teye Kutasi Reeves, Brad Burleson, John Holley, Richard Reeves, Alan Suskey, and Greg Turbeville.


Pete Buigas: Independent Living Systems, LLC

Electra Bustle, Southern Strategy Group: Canopy Software

Brian Hudson: The Home Depot

Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: Anchor Property and Casualty Insurance

Jerry Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Royal Palm Marina

Ron Pierce, Ed Briggs, Natalie King, RSA Consulting: Sunshine State Athletic Conference

Alex Setzer, Southern Strategy Group: Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, Inc.

TWEET, TWEET: @MJBeckel: #protip from @EricLiptonNYT at #IRE15: Pay attention to lobbying/advocacy beyond the realm of what registered lobbyists are doing

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s top lobbying firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again. To learn more visit***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to state Rep. Jason Brodeur and Thomas Grigsby. Celebrating today is PSTA’s Brad Miller and Jacksonville’s Chris Hand.


U.S. Rep. David Jolly will wed Laura Donahoe in Indian Rocks, Fla., in his home district, on July 3. Jolly, 42, whose divorce from his wife of 15 years, Carrie Jolly, was finalized last year, first met the much-younger Donahoe, now 29, in 2010, when both worked at lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates; Jolly was Donahoe’s boss. At the time, Donahoe was listed in the coveted No. 2 spot on The Hill’s annual ’50 Most Beautiful People’ list, noting in the accompanying interview that she was a “beach lover” who had a running competition with the then-married Jolly over who could catch the most foul balls at the Washington Nationals games. Jolly had caught 10, she just two.


One of the “pioneers” of the local citrus industry, Josephine Carmela Crisafulli Ramshur, passed away on Sunday, Crisafulli said. She was 98.

“She was just a strong woman up until a month ago when her health just started failing,” said Bud Crisafulli, father of Florida Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli.

According to an obituary posting on the website of Beckman Williamson Funeral Home in Viera, Ramshur was born Sept. 14, 1916, in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Her parents, Carmelo and Domenica Crisafulli, moved the family to Merritt Island in 1920. Ramshur planted citrus and produce alongside her late siblings — brothers Tony and Ben Crisafulli and sister Carolina Policicchio, according to the posting.

“She was the last one to make it,” Bud Crisafulli said.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.