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:
Florida was the center of world politics on this date 54 years ago, as President John F. Kennedy met for the first time with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in Key West. Kennedy hoped to use the March 26, 1961, meeting to resolve a serious disagreement over an ongoing civil war in Laos. The two leaders hit it off remarkably well, developing a “special relationship” that eased the tension. Little could Harry Truman have figured that almost a decade after he left office, his “Little White House” would play a role in smoothing relations between allies.
Now, on to the ‘burn…
DAYS UNTIL Sine Die – 37; Special Election in SD 6, HD 17 & 24 – 11; Special Election in HD 64 – 26: Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election – 54; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 355; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election 523; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 593.
SPRING BREAK FOR THE PREZ via Matt Dixon of Political Fix Florida
President Barack Obama is planning a visit to the Treasure Coast this weekend to play golf at the Floridian in Palm City.
Three independent sources confirmed details to TCPalm.com about Obama’s visit, following the Federal Aviation Administration setting up temporary flight restrictions Saturday and Sunday in Martin County.
The FAA flight advisory is issued for a VIP temporary flight restriction, which is the terminology used to restrict airspace for presidential and vice presidential visits, according to the FAA website.
FAA officials plan to establish flight restrictions in the area Saturday and Sunday to provide a safe and secure environment for the VIP’s visit, according to the advisory. Anyone who doesn’t comply with airspace restrictions during this time could face fines, arrest or a variety of other federal sanctions.
The exact location and times for the restriction haven’t been determined, according to the advisory. Gateway procedures have been established for the landing and departure of an aircraft to and from Witham Field in Stuart.
BOB BUCKHORN’S SPRING BREAK AT THE WHITE HOUSE; HIZZONER VISITS WHITE HOUSE FOR SMALL BUSINESS TRADE MEETING WITH PRESIDENT via Amy Hollyfield of the Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was at the White House … for a small business roundtable meeting with President Barack Obama and other local elected officials and small businesses from across the country.
They met in the Roosevelt Room to discuss the opportunities and benefits of trade as well as the challenges that small business exporters face.
BACK TO THE TRAIL…
NEW POLL SAYS FLORIDIANS DO WANT JEB BUSH, MARCO RUBIO TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
(A) Public Policy Polling survey showed that a majority of Floridians wanted neither Jeb Bush nor Marco Rubio to run for president in 2016. … That was so yesterday. Literally.
A new poll released … from St. Leo University shows quite the opposite: Sixty-three percent of Floridians want Bush to run for president, and 58 percent say they want Rubio to do so as well.
A Bush/Rubio matchup shows the former governor besting the current U.S. senator, 39-30 percent.
The poll contains plenty of information about possible Senate candidates. It shows that if Rubio opts to run for re-election next year, 52 percent of all Floridians — Republicans, Democrats and independents — would vote for him again.
The two top-ranking Democrats in the survey — Charlie Crist at 33 percent, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz at 14 percent — have already announced that they won’t pursue dreams of being part of the Gang of 100. (Crist endorsed Murphy earlier Wednesday). Tampa area U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is at 8 percent, South Florida U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is at 4 percent, and former state legislator Dan Gelber is at 1 percent.
Deutch endorsed Murphy this week. Castor had no comment when Florida Politics asked her thoughts about Murphy’s entry into the race.
On the Republican side, Pam Bondi is the favorite, with 26 percent showing support for a run for the Senate (that’s in contrast to the PPP survey showing Allen West with the most support). Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is next at 14 percent. CFO Jeff Atwater is at 13 percent. Former House Speaker Will Weatherford gets 6 percent support. Eight percent prefer another candidate (the West vote?) and a whopping 33 percent say they don’t know or aren’t sure.
JEB BUSH’S NIGHTMARE SCENARIO via Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal
Talk to enough Republican insiders about the presidential primary field, and you’ll get a common sentiment when it comes to Jeb Bush … Bush has to overcome serious hurdles to win the nomination, but they say he’s a formidable candidate thanks to his deep political network and ability to dominate the competition in fundraising.
“I can’t see him dropping out before Florida,” said one former GOP congressman well-connected to the field.
But there are signs that a worst-case, crash-and-burn scenario for Bush is more realistic than even his skeptics recognize … underperforming in early public polls … receiving a frosty reception from Republican focus groups. His entitled biography is at odds with the Republican Party’s increasing energy from working-class voters, who relate best with candidates who have struggled to make ends meet. The Bush name is a reminder of the past at a time when GOP voters are desperate for new faces. And after losing two straight presidential elections, Republican voters are thinking much more strategically—and aren’t nearly as convinced as the political press that Bush is the strongest contender against Hillary Clinton.
It would be foolish to over-read the results of focus groups, but it’s equally egregious to ignore their findings—especially given that they’re paired with polls that show Bush’s candidacy a tough sell among voters. Last week, Bloomberg and Purple Strategies cosponsored a New Hampshire panel of 10 Republicans, most of whom were hostile to a Bush presidential bid. “I know enough to know I don’t need to keep voting for a Bush over and over again,” one participant said. Several laughed at the notion that he’s the front-runner. Not a single one said they’d support him for president.
In January, a focus group in Colorado conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart for the Annenberg Public Policy Center found similar findings of an electorate looking for a new generation of leadership. “I wouldn’t be opposed to Congress saying, ‘If your last name is Clinton or Bush, you don’t even get to run,'” one GOP-leaning independent said. Most of the words tied to Bush in a free-association exercise were negative. Among them: “Joke,” “No thank you,” and “Don’t need him.” The Washington Post’s Dan Balz wrote that the participants were “dismissive, sometimes harshly” in their assessment of Bush.
LEAST IMPORTANT JEB-RELATED NEWS OF THE DAY via MSNBC: “Former GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson says she will back Jeb Bush in 2016”
MORE JEB READS
“When Jeb Bush helped launch a covert mission to rescue Ethiopian Jews from starvation” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
FLORIDA DEMS ATTACK MARCO RUBIO WHILE HE CONTINUES TO BLAST PRESIDENT OBAMA ON ISRAEL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
According to Marco Rubio, some of President Obama’s top political operatives were sent to Israel leading up to last week’s elections in an attempt to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“You know, he didn’t send anyone in any other country to try to influence the outcome of those elections,” the Florida Senator told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. … “And from Jeremy Bird down to others that were deeply and intricately involved in his campaigns in the past, he sent them down there to start the equivalent of a superPAC to try to oust Netanyahu.
“So I mean, what he’s saying is absurd in terms of it not being personal. That sounds pretty personal to me.”
Rubio gave his latest denunciation of Obama’s foreign policies in relations to Israel and Iran last week on the Senate floor, and he continues to be among the most forceful of potential GOP presidential candidates in going after the president in that fashion.
Meanwhile, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz spent a few minutes … bashing Rubio for his domestic positions.
“At every turn, Marco has pandered to the Republican base, instead of doing what’s best for Floridians and folks across the country,” Wasserman said on a conference call with reporters. ”His record makes clear he has no new ideas, and is simply a self-interested and opportunistic politician.”
WHY YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD IF YOU CAN ONLY RAISE $1 MILLION FOR A CANDIDATE — IN 2016 CAMPAIGN, THE LAMENT OF THE NOT QUITE RICH ENOUGH via Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post
Bundlers who used to carry platinum status have been downgraded, forced to temporarily watch the money race from the sidelines. They’ve been eclipsed by the uber-wealthy, who can dash off a seven-figure check to a super PAC without blinking. Who needs a bundler when you have a billionaire?
Many fundraisers, once treated like royalty because of their extensive donor networks, are left pining for their lost prestige. Can they still have impact in a world where Jeb Bush asks big donors to please not give more than $1 million to his super PAC right now? Will they ever be in the inner circle again?
Consider the scene last weekend in South Florida, where top supporters of the Republican National Committee gathered for their spring retreat at a luxury resort in Boca Raton. In the past, members of the RNC’s Regent and Team 100 donor programs attracted the focused attention of presidential aspirants. But this time, there were distractions.
A number of White House contenders in attendance — including former Texas governor Rick Perry and Govs. Scott Walker … Chris Christie … and Bobby Jindal … devoted much of their time to private meetings with high rollers, according to people familiar with their schedules. Bush came to Boca Raton after an afternoon super PAC fundraiser in Miami.
Then … governors made a pilgrimage to Palm Beach for a private Republican Governors Association fundraiser hosted by billionaire industrialist David Koch at his 30,000-square-foot beachfront mansion.
In the words of one veteran GOP fundraiser, traditional bundlers have been sent down to the “minor leagues,” while mega-donors are “the major league players.”
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TWEET OF THE DAY: @RogerJStoneJr: With Marco Rubio not running I may seek the Libertarian nomination for the US Senate from Florida
PPP POLL: MURPHY, GRAYSON CLOSE, AS IS ANY NON-RUBIO SENATE RACE via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio decides to run for president and not for re-election, then Florida’s Senate seat is up for grabs with no clear front-runners, a new poll from Public Policy Polling concludes.
The poll tested two potential Democrats: U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who has formally entered the race, and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, who is thinking about it. If a primary were held now, PPP found Grayson pulling 22 percent of Democrats’ votes and Murphy 21 percent. The more-liberal and more outspoken Grayson, however, has higher negative-image ratings than Murphy.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West — whom Murphy knocked out of Congress in the 2012 election — leads a field of four Republicans, other than Rubio, whom PPP asked about. If a primary were held now, West draws 36 percent of Republican votes, while Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi receives 25 percent, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater receives 12 percent and Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera receives just 8 percent.
Almost everything PPP tested was close: Bondi leads Grayson 45 percent to 42 percent. Bondi leads Murphy 45 percent to 41 percent. Atwater leads Grayson 41 percent to 40 percent. Atwater leads Murphy 41 percent to 39 percent. Murphy leads West 41 percent to 39 percent. Grayson leads West 42 percent to 39 percent. Murphy leads Lopez-Cantera 41 percent to 34 percent. Grayson leads Lopez-Cantera 40 percent to 36 percent.
On the other hand, if Rubio decides to run for re-election he would be the clear front-runner against either Murphy or Grayson, but not by landslide numbers. Rubio would lead Grayson 49 percent to 40 percent, and would lead Murphy by 48 percent to 41 percent, PPP found.
ALAN GRAYSON TELLS NATIONAL DEMS HE’D RUN A ‘BARACK OBAMA TYPE CAMPAIGN’ FOR SENATE via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
Rep. Alan Grayson met with Sen. Jon Tester, head of the DSCC, this afternoon and said there was no attempt to dissuade him from running for Senate in 2016.
“Absolutely not,” the Orlando Democrat told the Buzz. … “I’m pleased to know that if I run the DSCC understands I will be a strong candidate.”
Grayson said he’s in no rush to decide. “Elizabeth Warren didn’t announce her race until mid-September the year before the election. We’re still in March. What’s the rush? I think most voters would appreciate the respite from politics.
“And I’m not in a position where I have to beg millionaires and billionaires to finance my campaign. We have the largest Democratic donor base in the House, 116,000 individual contributors. That will be will be my strength whenever I may announce – or if I announce.”
Grayson said Murphy did not come up in the discussion with Tester, and Grayson declined to comment on Murphy.
“They wanted a sense of how the Florida race looks. They wanted a sense of what I bring to the table, if I decide to run. I explained to them that the crucial element for a Democratic statewide candidate is getting out the Democratic vote. The only Democratic candidate who has been able to do that in the past six years is Barack Obama, who won twice statewide because he ran a populist, exciting campaign that motivated our voters to vote. I told them I’m going to run a Barack Obama type campaign if I run for the Senate.”
CHARLIE CRIST ENDORSES PATRICK MURPHY FOR SENATE via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post
Charlie Crist, himself a former U.S. Senate candidate, has endorsed Murphy’s 2016 bid…
“As everyone knows, I have always made my priority putting the people of Florida first,” Crist said in an email. “Next November I think it is essential that we elect a leader to the United States Senate who will do the same.”
Crist is a friend of the Murphy family who was an early supporter of Murphy’s 2012 congressional campaign.
Murphy’s father and mother contributed $3,000 apiece to Crist’s gubernatorial campaign last year and six businesses associated with the Murphy family’s Coastal Construction also chipped in $3,000 each. Murphy himself gave $1,000 to Crist’s gubernatorial campaign.
On top of that, Thomas P. Murphy Jr., the congressman’s father, gave $50,000 and Coastal Construction gave $25,000 to a pro-Crist PAC last year.
REBECCA NEGRON ‘SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING’ RUN FOR PATRICK MURPHY’S HOUSE SEAT via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron — wife of state Sen. Joe Negron — says she is “seriously considering” a run for the open House seat of … Murphy.
… Many Republicans wanted Joe Negron to challenge Murphy in 2014, but he has made it clear he’s staying in the Florida Legislature to pursue the 2016-18 Senate presidency.
… Republicans have a slight registration edge in District 18 and the district was carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 and by Republican Gov. Rick Scott by less than 1 percent last year.
“I am seriously considering running for the open CD 18 seat in the United States Congress,” Negron said “… I am very concerned about the direction our country is headed. I have been encouraged by friends and supporters in our community to consider undertaking this challenge. I am committed to safeguarding our constitutional freedoms, ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to have a great education and protecting our country in an increasingly dangerous world. I support a limited federal government and believe Congress should live within its means.”
MY TAKE >>> Mrs. Negron’s response may be the most robotic, scripted answer given to a question about whether someone plans to run for office. Does any part of the preceding paragraph sound natural?
PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISSIONER PRISCILLA TAYLOR TO RUN FOR PATRICK MURPHY HOUSE SEAT via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor plans to run for the seat Murphy …
“I am running for Congress to continue Patrick Murphy’s record of bipartisan leadership. I will be a champion for middle class jobs, strengthening Social Security and Medicare and protecting our environment and fragile coastline,” Taylor said.
… Taylor, 65, is a former insurance agency owner who was elected to the Port of Palm Beach commission in 1998 and the state House in 2004. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, at the time a Republican, appointed Taylor to the county commission in 2009 after Addie Greene resigned. Taylor was then elected to the seat in 2010 and re-elected in 2012.
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NEW POLL SAYS PLURALITY OF FLORIDIANS THINK SCOTT ACTED POLITICALLY IN “BAILEYGATE” CONTROVERSY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
A new survey from St. Leo University shows that a plurality of Floridians believe Gov. Scott’s controversial sacking of FDLE head Gerald Bailey was political in nature.
Thirty-seven percent of those asked in the poll say that the Governor acted to punish Bailey for Bailey’s reluctance to aid in Scott’s re-election campaign and the change was mainly politically motivated; 47 percent of Democrats felt that way, and 41 percent of independents do as well.
The majority of Republicans – 29 percent – say they’re aware of “Baileygate,” but have no opinion about it. 27 percent of Republicans didn’t know about it at all, and 20 percent said they were fine with how it was handled.
Among those Republicans who said they weren’t okay with how it went down were CFO Jeff Atwater, Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, and to some extent, Attorney General Pam Bondi, the three members of the Cabinet who had to sign off on Bailey’s “resignation.” The FDLE head cannot be hired or fired solely by the governor, but requires the majority of the state Cabinet as well.
Atwater, Putnam and Bondi are all considered to have further ambitions politically in Florida.
WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE WANTS YOU TO READ — SMALL BUSINESS SURVEY SHOWS HIRING, HIGHER PROFITS IN SOUTH FLORIDA via Nancy Dahlberg of the Miami Herald
Nearly 88 percent of Entrepreneurs’ Organization members in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, all small business owners, project higher net profits, and 75 percent plan to increase full-time hiring over the next six months, according to a new study from the worldwide business group.
EO’s Global Entrepreneur Indicator study also showed that South Florida business owners are outpacing and out-projecting their peers around the world in a variety of economic metrics. About 78 percent of global entrepreneurs expect higher net profits and 65 percent plan to hire more employees in the next six months. … Over the previous six months, 70 percent of South Florida entrepreneurs reported higher profits and 60 percent hired more full-time workers.
South Florida has one of the world’s largest EO chapters with about 160 members who run businesses that account for more than 30,000 jobs and $1 billion in annual revenues in the tri-county region. “It’s clear the South Florida economy has hit a great stride, and our members are overwhelmingly confident the business climate will grow even stronger,” said Darren Seys, EO South Florida board member … also CEO of Boca Raton-based Peak Seven advertising agency.
WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ — CALLS TO HOTLINE WARNED NOW-DEAD BOY WAS BEING ABUSED via the Associated Press
Child welfare officials were warned three times about possible abuse or neglect regarding a 3-year-old Hollywood boy whose body was found hidden last week in his father’s home.
The Department of Children and Families released a report Wednesday revealing that someone called the child abuse hotline last year concerned that Ahziya Osceola had bumps and bruises and complained of a sore bottom. He was examined but a doctor couldn’t determine whether his bruised rectum was from constipation or sexual abuse.
The child lived with his father and stepmother after his mother was arrested for child neglect. A DCF report says the child was found wandering a hotel alone while his mother was passed out.
His stepmother checked herself into a psychiatric ward …after Osceola’s siblings were taken from her home. An investigation continues.
IF YOU CAN BEAR TO READ IT here is Carol Marbin Miller’s riveting account of what happened to that poor boy.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will be in St. Petersburg to announce new jobs at GeniusCentral Systems. Press conference begins 2:15 p.m. at GeniusCentral Systems, 2232 5th Avenue South in St. Petersburg.
FLORIDA MAY PROMOTE 3RD GRADERS WHO FAIL STANDARDIZED TESTS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press
Amid continued backlash over Florida’s testing regimen, the state may stop holding back third grade students who fail the state’s standardized tests.
If Florida lawmakers agree to the change, it would mark a major departure from a policy pushed into law by then-Gov. Jeb Bush who decried “social promotion” when he campaigned for governor. Bush vowed to end the practice as part of his A+ education law enacted in 1999. The law tied promotion to the fourth grade to how students did on a standardized reading test.
A Senate panel on Wednesday voted in favor of suspending the policy until the state’s new standardized test is independently validated. The test is based heavily on Common Core standards and a rollout this month of an online version for middle and high school students has been marred by technical glitches.
The vote on Wednesday came after a sharp debate, where both Democratic and some Republican legislators, argued that the state’s heavy reliance on the high-stakes test has gotten out of control. The Florida Legislature is considering bills that would roll back some testing requirements.
“I think if we’re all honest with the people of Florida we would admit right now we have a train wreck on our hands with our educational system,” said Sen. Alan Hays, a Republican from Umatilla.
Hays on Wednesday tried to get the Senate Appropriations Committee to halt school grades as well as all other requirements tied to the tests until an in-depth review was conducted. He also wanted to verify that school districts are capable of giving the tests online.
Bush has been touting his education policies as he prepares for a likely presidential bid that is supported by many of Florida’s top elected Republicans, including the two leaders of the Legislature. Bush did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Florida expanded the use of standardized testing under Bush’s plan to grade schools. The A to F grades were used to offer rewards and impose sanctions. Students who failed the tests could be held back in third grade or not allowed to graduate from high school.
Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a group started by Bush, contended that the policy of holding back third graders has been a success.
UBER JOBS, BIG BUCKS ENRICH FLORIDA via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News
It’s only been a year since the ride-sharing company Uber first began operations in Florida, but in just a short period of time, the taxi cab alternative has made over 5 million trips in the Sunshine State and pumped 18,000 jobs into the state’s economy.
The concept is simple: open up the Uber app, hit a button and request a driver. Costs typically tend to be less expensive than the average taxicab, and most rides are fulfilled within 10 minutes, making the app an easy way to avoid relying on cab companies to get riders where they need to be.
“It’s not just Floridians, but visitors from all over the world who have used Uber here in Florida,” said Matthew Gore, Uber general manager.
Gore told Sunshine State News Uber’s Florida story: The service started out in Jacksonville last year and then expanded throughout the state. In the fall, Uber landed in South Florida, its biggest market in the state, and the company has been growing ever since.
The multibillion-dollar company is projected to steadily increase revenues and anticipates earning a hefty $2 billion in 2020 alone in the Sunshine State. Job numbers are also expected to increase — Uber anticipates employing 130,000 Floridians by 2020.
TWEET, TWEET: @GNewburn: I think Speaker @willweatherford was right to be skeptical of teachers unions, and @mattgaetz is right to be skeptical of taxi lobbyists.
HOUSE, SENATE ADVANCE BUDGETS: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE “CHASM” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
The $4.2 billion difference between Senate and House spending plans came into sharp focus … as state lawmakers approved widely different approaches on health insurance for low-income Floridians.
Senators pleaded with the House to be more receptive to its proposal to draw $2.8 billion in federal aid and cover as many as 800,000 low-income Floridians in the coming year. So far, the House and Gov. Scott show no interest in the Florida Health Insurance Exchange.
“’No’ is not a health care policy. ‘No’ is not a solution,” said Sen. Don Gaetz … urging fellow Republican leaders in the House to be open to FHIX discussions in coming weeks.
“I don’t believe there is a chasm that can’t be crossed,” he added.
The Senate’s Appropriations Committee approved unanimously an $80.4 billion budget proposal for the 2015-16 year. The House’s approach, OK’d hours later on a 24-4 vote, is $76.2 billion – slightly less than the state’s current budget.
Both sides increase public school spending – although not quite to the level sought by Gov. Scott.
The House, though, slightly tops Scott’s tax-break package, making room for $690 million in tax breaks, including cuts to cell phone and television taxes, college textbooks and allows for back-to-school tax-free shopping and a host of business tax reductions.
SENATE’S ALTERNATIVE TO MEDICAID EXPANSION HEADS FOR A FLOOR VOTE via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times
A third panel approved the Senate’s proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion … but things got dicey … when the Senate Appropriations Committee discussed the bill (SB 7044).
As Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean … walked his colleagues through the proposal, several powerful senators became engaged in intense side conversations. The discussions grew so large that the committee went into an impromptu recess.
Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee … later explained that some members had expressed concerns because the plan would temporarily put some beneficiaries into Medicaid Managed Care plans until the state creates a new private health insurance marketplace.
“The options before us were to temporarily pass the bill while we worked through it and got people involved, or try to draft changes on the fly,” Lee said.
Ultimately, Senate leaders decided to move forward with the plan before them, which would expand access to health care insurance to nearly one million poor Floridians. Beneficiaries would be required to pay small monthly premiums, as well as meet a work requirement.
Rules Chairman David Simmons … called the proposal a “major step forward toward solving a significant problem that is facing the state of the Florida and the nation.”
SENATE BUDGET PANEL SWATS FLORIDA FOREVER AMENDMENTS via Matt Dixon of Political Fix Florida
The Senate’s top budget committee … swatted two amendments that would have boosted funding for Florida Forever, the state’s top conservation land buying program.
The Senate’s proposed $80 billion budget includes $2 million for the program, which many in the chamber say is not enough in the wake of Amendment 1, a conservation amendment approved by 75 percent of voters in November.
The amendment required that 33 percent of real estate taxes – about $750 million – be spent on the environment. There has been some disagreement over how much of that money to use on land buys versus taking care of land the state already owns. Some argue voters wanted the state to buy more conservation land, and that $2 million is not nearly enough.
State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, echoed the sentiment of those who says the state owns enough land, and that the money should be used to take care of current state lands.
“We don’t want to be known as the land hoarding state,” he said.
The comments came as the Senate Appropriations Committee considered the chamber’s full budget. State Sen. Thad Altman … filed an amendment that would have boosted Florida Forever funding to $350 million. He said that funding Florida Forever fulfills “the intent of the constitution, and was the intent of the voters.”
Altman withdrew his amendment when it became clear the proposal would not pass. The committee than considered an amendment from state Sen. Arthenia Joyner … that would have taken $77 million from other programs to fund Florida Forever. After similar debate, Joyner also withdrew her amendment.
VOTERS SUGGEST AMENDMENT 1 FUNDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SPENT ACQUIRING LAND via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times
(W)hen state lawmakers released the Senate and House proposed budgets last week, the intent of Amendment 1 was suddenly as murky as the Everglades after a rainstorm.
Both budgets set aside a mere $2 million for the Florida Forever program, which was created in 1999 to fund public land acquisition and was initially authorized to spend $300 million a year.
The proposed amount, an 84 percent cut from this year’s budget and $118 million less than what Gov. Scott was offering, has exasperated sponsors of Amendment 1 who had hoped to return to pre-recession Florida’s $300 million spending levels for land acquisition.
“The Legislature greatly exceeded my expectations for mischief,” said Clay Henderson, an Orlando attorney and former president of the Florida Audubon Society, who helped write the amendment. “There’s no question about what the emphasis was. It was Florida Forever. We were clear about that.”
But lawmakers insist that they are fulfilling the wishes of voters by expanding the scope of the amendment. Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli … says he reads the intent of the amendment more broadly so that it includes a full range of suitable purposes, such as local government water infrastructure projects and maintenance of existing state lands.
Sen. Alan Hays … who chaired the Senate committee that allocated Amendment 1 money, said his first priority is to follow the intent of voters. But he said the state already has more than enough land, 9.5 million acres, and that it already has trouble maintaining it.
ADD GROWTH MANAGEMENT TO A BUSY LEGISLATIVE SESSION via Bruce Ritchie of Florida Politics
A 2015 Legislative Session that already was busy with water bills and Amendment 1 funding just got a huge growth management bill in the House.
A House subcommittee … passed a sweeping committee substitute for HB 933 despite objections from cities, counties and environmental groups.
“We’ve got a lot to consider,” Rep. Mike La Rosa, a Republican from St. Cloud who is sponsor of the bill, said after public testimony and debate. “I give you my promise we will continue to work on this.”
The committee substitute for HB 933 has backing from groups including Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Florida Community Developers and the Florida Home Builders Association.
HB 933 includes eliminating the “development of regional impact” (DRI) state review program, presuming that “constrained” agricultural lands proposed for development are not prohibited “urban sprawl” and requiring a private property rights section in local comprehensive land use plans.
The committee substitute combines perhaps eight House growth management bills, merging controversial proposals with others for which compromises have been hammered out in the Senate.
HOUSE BILL WOULD GIVE TAX BREAK TO GUN BUYERS, CLUB MEMBERS via the Associated Press
Guns, gun rights and gun owners are getting plenty of attention in the Florida Legislature this year, including what may be some nice tax breaks.
A tax cut package proposed in the state House would exempt gun and skeet shooting club membership fees from sales taxes and provide a tax holiday July 4 for camping gear. The bill says that includes rifles, shotguns and ammunition.
State officials estimate the club membership exemption will cut state and local revenue by $1.2 million. Rep. Matt Gaetz says it’s a good idea because gun clubs promote safety.
So far this year, the Legislature has killed a bill to outlaw backyard shooting ranges and is advancing bills to allow guns to be carried on college campuses and by designated individuals in public schools.
HOUSE OKS BILL TO LET NURSES PRACTICE INDEPENDENT OF MDS via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
Over the strong objections of organized medicine a House health care subcommittee … gave the green light to a bill that would allow advanced registered nurse practitioners to work independently from physicians.
The House Innovation Subcommittee debated the bill for one hour before passing it by a 9-4 vote and heard from a score of proponents and opponents.
At times, the debate teetered on testy.
“Where I grew up the kids played doctor,” said Rep. “Doc” Renuart, who opposed the measure. “And I think where Doctor [Cary] Pigman grew up, they must have played nurse.”
Committee member Rep. Jose Oliva said legislators should not be “alarmed” that the bill would allow advanced registered nurse practitioners have independent practices. He said that if the opposition from organized medicine was accurate — and care would be less than adequate — the supervisory role doctors have over RNs could be maintained.
The bill would allow certain advanced registered nurse practitioners to have independent practices that are registered with the state and not have to practice under the protocol of a physician. The bill lays out what Pigman described as a “pathway to independence.”
Advanced nurse practitioners would be able to practice independently only if they completed a graduate level pharmacology course and had 2,000 clinical nurse practitioner hours within a three-year period immediately preceding the submission of the application.
SPOTTED Sens. Jeff Clemens and Jack Latvala on The Daily Show!!! Best part is when Jon Stewart says of a a laughing Latvala, “Wait that guy needs the Heimlich. Video here.
***Things will be great when you’re downtown at 101 RESTAURANT and MINT Lounge in Tallahassee. 101 Restaurant has been voted the best meal in the Capitol City featuring steaks, seafood, and specialty cocktails. We offer $8.99 lunch specials all week long that include pastas, pizzas, burgers, wraps and salads. Mint Lounge is upscale and classy, and it’s the best place to enjoy live music and a good vibe. — $8.99 lunch specials; If you are not served in 15 minutes or less, your meal is on us! — Double Happy Hour 4:00-7:00 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.- 12:30 a.m.***
TODAY IS GAMBLING DAY IN THE FLORIDA HOUSE via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
The House’s comprehensive gambling bill should get its first hearing (today) and the joke around the Capitol is that it contains something for everyone.
Something for everyone to hate.
Gambling opponents are calling the bill (HB 1233) a “detriment (to) Florida and its citizens” in ads, while the Seminole Tribe of Florida is smarting that it doesn’t play a bigger role in the state’s long-range gambling vision.
Meantime, casino concerns and parimutuels — the dog and horse tracks — are privately grousing about potentially having to compete.
State Rep. Dana Young, the Tampa Republican who introduced the legislation, says her goal was not to please all the interests.
Her measure is set to be discussed in a workshop (today), she said, meaning there will be no amendments and no vote taken.
“The primary purpose is to give members an opportunity to not only discuss and debate the status quo but also alternative visions for gaming in Florida,” said Young, the House Republican leader. “There are so many trade-offs and moving parts in this issue.”
The bill’s highlights include allowing two destination resort casinos in South Florida, letting dog tracks stop live racing but continue to offer slots, and creating a statewide gambling commission.
Another proposal calls for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit new gambling in Florida, including introducing new kinds of games and adding to existing games, unless approved statewide by voters.
APPOINTED: Patricia Strowbridge to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
APPOINTED: Elizabeth J. Starr to the Orange County Court.
APPOINTED: Kevin Brown to the Suwannee River Water Management District.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Paul Bradshaw, Thomas Arnold, Chris Dudley, James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Compassionate Care Hospital of Central Florida
Paul Bradshaw, Brian Bautista, Towson Fraser, Southern Strategy Group: Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, LLC
Cynthia Bioteau: Florida State College at Jacksonville
Barney Bishop: Common Sense Media
Towson Fraser, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Association of Community Transportation Systems
Mike Grissom: Enterprise Florida, Inc.
Eliakim Nortelus, Akerman LLP: HKF Partners
Marlene Quintana, GrayRobinson: Target Corporation
Derek Whitis: Polk State College
GREAT READ — TALLAHASSEE 9-YEAR-OLD LOBBIES FOR BLIND SERVICES via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat
A Tallahassee 9-year-old has taken the lead on helping other children like her get the support they need to live better with their vision impairments.
Paloma Rambana politely gave her spiel to lawmakers at the Florida Capitol … asking for $3 million for underfunded Florida Division of Blind Services programs that serve children between the ages of 6 and 13 with rehabilitation and education services.
Paloma was born with a rare condition called Peter’s Anomaly, which causes an opacity of the corneas. Her parents, Tallahassee attorneys Neil St. John Rambana and Elizabeth Ricci, opted her out of the risky corneal transplant surgery; instead doctors created new pupils in both Paloma’s eyes in a procedure called an iridectomy. She is still considered legally blind with a 20/200 vision, meaning what people with 20/20 vision can see from 200 feet, she sees from 20 feet.
Paloma met with the chairs of the House and Senate budget committees, Rep. Dennis Baxley … a strong supporter of Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB) — and Rep. Alan Williams.
DBS funds programs for children from infancy to age 5, and from 14 to age 22, but the age group in the middle has missed out on funding for basic needs. Paloma is one of 340 children who fit into the age-6-to-13 gap that doesn’t receive any state funding, forcing local agencies like the nonprofit Lighthouse to use other funding sources to serve them. Like many, Paloma stopped receiving services at age 5. Now her parents pay out of pocket for a private vision teacher, along with magnifiers and her hand-held reader she named Lucille.
Compared to many in the state, Paloma is fortunate to be able to keep receiving some services, even though it’s coming out of her parents’ pockets, said Thomas Griffin, a lobbyist representing FAASB.
***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***
CONTEXT FLORIDA: STANDARDIZED TESTING, WITHAM FIELD, ORLANDO CULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY & EDUCATION
On Context Florida: It is almost time to let the tilt-a-whirl of state standardized testing spin anew, says Shannon Nickinson. When students took the writing test earlier this month, technical problems caused the Escambia School District to suspend testing for three consecutive days. If you think that was bad, just wait, folks. A controversial $1.6 million customs facility business owners wanted Martin County to build and operate at Witham Field is dead, says Sally Swartz. According to Alaina Bernard, assistant director of Landscape & Natural Resources at UCF, Orlando culture is forming stepping-stones for the future. Catherine Martinez notes the problems Florida schools suffered after glitches halted administration of computerized state tests highlighted the intimate relationship between education and technology.
LEDE OF THE WEEK via Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press with a h/t to Tamara Lush — “Two particularly hungry, exotic termite species apparently have found love halfway around the world and, as with so many other Florida hook-ups, the results are disturbing.”
FINALLY, WE KNOW HOW MANY BLOGGERS LIVE IN THEIR PARENTS’ BASEMENT via Philip Bump of the Washington Post
You are probably aware, after a decade-plus of exposure to the idea of blogging, that bloggers live in their parents’ basements. There are rarely exceptions to this in popular culture; unlike hackers, who extort and steal secrets and money from behind screens that project code onto their faces, bloggers are weaselly youngsters in tattered Primus t-shirts who call upstairs for more Doritos and Mountain Dew.
The data, however, refute that stereotype. And who better to present that exculpatory evidence than a blogger, who happens to be writing this from his mother’s house but 1) not from the basement and 2) only because I am here visiting.
There are about 133 million housing units in the United States, not all of them occupied, according to the Census Bureau. About two-thirds of those are 1-unit buildings — standalone houses. About 42 percent of those standalone houses have basements, either full (32 percent of the total) or partial (9.8 percent).
How many bloggers are there? To calculate this, you just need to figure out how many people blog, and then add them up.
If a “blogger” is anyone who blogs, ever, professionally or not, then perhaps we should count the most recent count of monthly average users from Facebook (208 million in the U.S. and Canada) or Twitter (63 million in the U.S.). Or we could count Tumblr (17 million users in 2014, or people on Medium, or people on Snapchat, or people on Ello.)
(A)nother factor that comes in to play. A lot of people in America live in California and Florida, the two most populous states. Most houses in those states, though, don’t have basements. In the north, basements are more common, because the foundation needs to be beneath the frost line during the winter. In a 2010 survey of bloggers, Technorati found that California was the most common home to bloggers, followed by New York (lots of basements), Texas (few basements), and Florida (few basements).
There are, by our calculations, just under 4 million bloggers who possibly live in their parents’ basements, out of 107 million total. Of course, many/most probably live in bedrooms like normal people, but this is the estimated maximum. Under 4 percent of all bloggers. The stereotype is a myth.