Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – May 15

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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: On this day in 1947, the 90-year-old Florida State College for Women disappeared and Florida State University was born. To meet the demand of soldiers returning after World War II, the Legislature gave the school its familiar, now-68-year-old identity. That first year saw the acquisition of a permanent president’s residence, selection of the Seminole mascot, creation of the Flying High Circus and the return of football. National championships were still some decades away.

DAYS UNTIL Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election: 4; Special Session 16; Gov. Scott’s Economic Growth Summit: 17; Sine Die: 36; Major League Baseball All-Star game: 59; First GOP presidential debate: 82; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 217; First Day of 2016 Legislative Session: 242; Iowa Caucuses: 262: Florida’s Presidential Primary: 304; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 473; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 543.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Chris Latvala: “Last night I gained another nephew. My buddy Chris Sprowls and his wife, Shannon welcomed Prescott Sprowls to the world. Mom and baby are well. Congrats to the Sprowls clan!”

TWEET OF THE DAY: @SFWMD: The Board has voted to send a letter to U.S. Sugar Corp. declining an option to purchase 46,800 acres of land. #SFWMDmtg


Scott directed all state agencies … to draw up lists of “critical service needs … in the event Florida is forced into a government shutdown on July 1.”

Scott’s memos to agencies carry an alarming tone and were released the day after the Legislature’s chief budget-writers, Sen. Tom Lee and Rep. Richard Corcoran, struck a hopeful tone and said they had made progress toward a compromise after an all-day negotiating session in the Capitol.

Scott continues to use the term “continuation budget” … a common practice in Louisiana, where Scott’s chief of staff, Melissa Sellers, worked before coming to Florida.

Here is the full list of critical service needs identified by Scott’s office: Fiscal year 2014-2015 operating deficits in the Departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, Health, and Children and Families, and other funding shortfalls adopted by the most recent consensus estimating conferences; Additional kindergarten through 12th grade students as determined by the April 13, 2015, enrollment conference with state funds maintained at the fiscal year 2014-15 level through the Florida Education Finance Program.

Also on the list: Medicaid expenditures based on the March 4, 2015, Social Services Estimating Conference; Department of Transportation Work Program; Economic development and housing programs at the fiscal year 2014-2015 funding level; Minimum operating requirements necessary to continue emergency management and other current state services; Fixed Capital Outlay for critical maintenance and repairs of state-owned and public school facilities; Fixed Capital Outlay necessary to continue ongoing construction projects for special facilities; Matching funds necessary for federally declared disasters and National Guard facilities; Environmental initiatives consistent with Amendment One; Actuarially-recommended rates for the Florida Retirement System; Repayment of the final transfer to the Budget Stabilization Fund; and other necessary technical adjustments that have no resulting policy implications.

TWEET, TWEET: @CrowleyReport: Is @FLGovScott yelling fire in a crowded legislature with his “ohmygodwhatifwedon’thaveabudgetbyJuly1”


A key Republican senator from Tampa Bay who supports Gov. Scott is criticizing Scott’s strategy of sounding the alarm of a “government shutdown.” …

Sen. Jack Latvala … “I have great respect and admiration for the governor, but I think it’s unfortunate that they’re taking this approach in trying to solve the situation between the House and the Senate. Raising the specter of a government shutdown is not necessary at this point, and it’s meant to put political pressure on the Senate … It’s hard for the governor to be a broker for a solution when he takes one side like this.”

SCOTT STEPS UP PRESSURE ON FLORIDA HOSPITALS via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Scott has stepped up his pressure on Florida’s hospitals by directing them to provide detailed spreadsheets on their finances and activities over the last eight years … amounts to more than 120 individual data requests for each year from 2006 to 2013 … sent to Scott’s newly formed Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, which meets for the first time next week.

The requests … include everything from profit margins to the daily cost for patients to executive salaries to lobbying fees to the most common ailments and their cost for treatment at the facilities. Scott also wants data on Medicaid patients as well as how much the hospitals receive from the federal hospital funding program known as the low-income pool (LIP).

Once received, the data will be posted for the public on the new commission’s website.

Following up on a letter last week, where he suggested hospitals consider a “profit-sharing” plan because of a record $3.7 billion in profits, Scott said the information is needed because he anticipates the federal government will be ending the LIP program.

In his letter to hospital executives, Scott said the data request is part of an effort “to gather information on taxpayer funded healthcare entities in Florida and their return on investment.”

A similar request is being made of insurance companies and HMO’s that also receive taxpayer funding for health care services.

SCOTT SIGNS REVENGE PORN, GROWLERS, AND 25 OTHER BILLS via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

Revenge porn will be illegal, half-gallon beer growlers will be legal and cities like Waldo won’t be able to set ticket quotas for police officers under three of the 27 bills Gov. Scott signed on Thursday.

Among other new laws: it will be illegal to use drones to take photo or video of private property without consent of the owner and to impersonate a firefighter. Also, five new synthetic drugs were made illegal.

The city of Waldo was an infamous speed trap and eventually had its police department disbanded during an investigation over ticket quotas that showed nearly half the city’s $1 million annual budget came from traffic ticket revenue.

One of the bills Scott signed addresses that problem by banning departments from setting quotes. The law takes effect July 1.

Florida was also the only state in the country to outlaw half-gallon refillable beer containers, known as growlers. A law that takes effect July 1 legalizes them as part of a measure that regulates craft breweries.

On Oct. 1 it will become illegal to post sexually explicit photos and videos of exes on websites without their consent. The practice is known as revenge porn and involves photos and videos couples took in better days that were meant to remain private, but are later posted when the relationship goes bad.

A first offense would be a first-degree misdemeanor. A second violation would be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

It will also be illegal to use drones to take photographs or record images of people on their property or their property from the air. The restrictions would also apply to state and local governments. The law, which takes effect July 1, does not call for any criminal penalties. Instead it allows people to sue someone who photographs them with a drone. It includes several exceptions, including drone use by utility companies and property appraisers.

The Legislature passed 227 bills during the session that ended two weeks ago.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce Florida tourism numbers for the first quarter of 2015 at a 9:30 a.m. press conference in the Naples Zoo, 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road.


Hernando County has a legislative powerhouse on its side … state Sen. Wilton Simpson.

Simpson, a Republican whose district includes all of Hernando County and parts of Sumter and Pasco, apparently was one of the few people in Florida to get something good out of this year’s disastrous, aborted legislative session.

The mild-mannered egg farmer from Trilby, according to Politico’s Marc Caputo, has lined up enough votes to become Senate president for the 2021 and 2022 sessions … coincide with redistricting makes this an even bigger deal. Lawmakers don’t generally cross people who can suddenly make safe districts unsafe.

Not that Simpson would use his power to make direct threats — not, at least, as far as I know. It doesn’t seem to be his style … built support in and out of the Senate by keeping his word, working with colleagues and learning about policy … Take, for example, the growth management proposals Simpson introduced this session.

Not surprisingly, they reflected Simpson’s loyalties to the development industry and farmers with large land holdings. In fact, he seemed intent on wiping out what little is left of the state’s growth regulations.

But Charles Lee of Florida Audubon and Charles Pattison of 1000 Friends of Florida both said Simpson considered their concerns. And the resulting bill — one of the relatively few to pass both chambers this year — ended up being not too bad at all.

The lesson here is that you don’t have to bully people to rise to the top in Tallahassee. You don’t have to intimidate. It doesn’t kill you to pay attention to a broad range of constituents. It might even get you support from unexpected sources.

SFWMD BOARD REJECTS U.S. SUGAR LAND BUY via Tyler Treadway of Political Fix Florida

As expected, the South Florida Water Management District board … rejected the proposal to buy U.S. Sugar Corp. land south of Lake Okeechobee.

Board member Kevin Powers of Stuart made the motion to “irrevocably” terminate the option to buy 46,800 acres of U.S. Sugar land by Oct. 12. The motion was approved unanimously.

At their April meeting, board members approved Scott’s proposal for Everglades restoration that doesn’t include the U.S. Sugar land purchase. The board’s action puts the final nail in the coffin.

The proposed purchase includes a 26,100-acre parcel on the Hendry-Palm Beach County line that environmentalists say would be the perfect spot to build a reservoir to hold excess lake water.


— U.S. Sugar: “It is not surprising that the Governing Board’s legal action today formalized what the District, the Governor and the Legislature have been saying for several years—that their priority for Everglades and estuary ecosystem restoration is completing a $5 billion slate of projects that are already planned and approved and will provide real benefits for the environment throughout the 16-county region. U.S. Sugar intends to continue to partner in Everglades restoration efforts. In fact, we commit to working with state and federal parties as well as willing environmental organizations in advancing the restoration projects outlined in the Governor’s 20-year plan.”

— Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation: “Today’s action taken by SFWMD is certainly disappointing to those who have supported executing the U.S. Sugar land buy to build a badly-needed reservoir and send the water south.”

AS ONE VETERAN CAPITOL OBSERVER NOTED … “Sugar beat the Everglades folks like a clubbed seal.” Ouch!

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry-leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small- to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at***


The first Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting with Blaise Ingoglia in charge kicks off Friday night in Orlando.

The two-day event includes a number of seminars for party members on items such as dealing with campaign finance issues and how to deal with the media.

We are hearing a lot of buzz and excitement from those attending the RPOF quarterly meeting about that media and messaging tutorial because it will be led by GOP-fabulous Sarah Bascom.

Anyone who knows Bascom knows she is an entertaining speaker and can engage an audience, but what we like most about her speaking engagements like this is she does not give the stock “how to speak to the media and get your message across” talk. She keeps it real and gives the audience the good, the bad and the reality of these types of engagements and usually gives some case studies involving the late Senate President Jim King and other humorous real stories, and even some of her honest interactions with media that didn’t always go as planned, which beckons us all back to laughter, good times and an honest sigh of relief of a time when no social media, blogs and camera phones exist. But, alas they do, so those attending should pay attention and take notes!

The meeting comes just after the RPOF has announced a number of moves within the past couple of weeks, including the unveiling of a new website design and new logo.

There’s been an introduction new members of the finance team, as well as the hiring of Brad Herold as executive director, Wadi Gaitan as communications director and Mallory Deason as press secretary.

Gaitan is bilingual, fulfilling a goal by request by Fort Lauderdale Latina activist Evelyn  Perez-Verdia that with a growing Latino community that thirsts for information about the political climate, both state parties should hire bilingual communication directors (The Florida Democratic Party will not follow suit; Perez-Verdia says that party chair Allison Tant says there’s no money in the party’s budget to do so).

The meeting is the first that Ingoglia, who in his day job serves as a member of the state House, has presided over since he stunned the Florida GOP establishment by upsetting Governor Rick Scott’s hand pick choice for party chair, Leslie Dougher, back in January.


David Jolly says he’s excited to serve in the House of Representatives, but confesses he’s still considering entering the race for the Republican nomination for Senate in Florida in 2016.

“I would be happy to see the field develop in a way that there was a candidate that I knew I could fully support … Where the field is today, I don’t see that, and so I’m just being patient, waiting to see who else considers getting in.”

That’s an obvious statement that Jolly isn’t enamored with the only Republican to enter the race so far, Jacksonville area U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who scored a perfect 100 score from the American Conservative Union earlier this week. Or with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who appears to be gearing up for a run as well for the Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio.

Jolly says that Jeff Atwater was a candidate he could easily get behind supporting, but the state’s chief financial officer ripped up the GOP’s script on succession when he stunningly announced last month he would not be running for the seat. Several other name Republicans followed in announcing that they, too, would not enter the contest.

And that’s why Jolly remains a viable candidate, though he’s only been serving in the House for a little over a year after one of the most intense, hard-fought congressional special elections ever — with more than $12 million spent all told between the candidates, the political parties, and interested third-party groups based in Washington.

Sounding honestly conflicted, Jolly says he’s turned off by politicians who campaign for one job and begin looking at the next office once they win an election. “I never ran for the House to consider what I’d run for next,” he says. “I ran for the House because I love the House.”

ANOTHER NAME TO PUT IN THE HAT FOR U.S. SENATE — RICK BAKER? via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

In the complicated jockeying around the Republican primary for the 2016 U.S. Senate race, there are some who would like to add yet another wrinkle — a Tampa Bay area candidate.

Rep. David Jolly… has already said he’s considering the idea, but if he says no, what about former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker?

Associates say they’ve discussed it with Baker and he isn’t rejecting the idea, but he hasn’t returned calls for comment, so who knows?

Mayor from 2001–09, Baker has done some trial ballooning since. After leaving office, he was speculated on as a state Cabinet candidate. In 2013, he was initially considered potential frontrunner for the GOP nomination for the House District 13 seat won by Jolly.

With the previous best-known potential candidates staying out — Chief Financial Office Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi — thinking among some Tampa Bay area GOP insiders is that a cross-party vote-getter with a base in the state’s largest media market/largest swing area, which produces roughly a third of GOP primary votes statewide, could mount a serious campaign.


U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy announced endorsements today from two Florida mayors in his bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

As already reported in Florida Politics … St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman come out in support of Murphy, a fellow Democrat who represents the Treasure Coast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The other endorsement is from West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.

“I know that he will be an outstanding United States senator, Kriseman said, “and serve the people well.”

In a statement, Muoio pointed to Murphy’s values and principles, calling them “the kind of qualities” Florida deserves.

MELISSA MCKINLAY TO RUN FOR MURPHY’S U.S. HOUSE SEAT via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Only six months after taking a seat on the Palm Beach County Commission, Democrat Melissa McKinlay today will launch a 2016 campaign for Congress … she will file candidate papers for the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast District 18 seat of Rep. Patrick Murphy … who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Also running for the District 18 seat are fellow Commissioner Priscilla Taylor and retired engineer John Xuna, who have opened Democratic campaigns, and former state Rep. Carl Domino and Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron, who have opened Republican campaigns.

McKinlay, 44, was an aide in the the county government’s Office of Legislative Affairs who made her first run for office last year. She turned heads by raising $394,938 — the most of any commission candidate — and winning some business and Republican support.

McKinlay’s 2014 success made many Democrats see her as an attractive candidate for District 18, where Republican voters slightly outnumber Democrats and Republican Mitt Romney got 51.5 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.

McKinlay’s announcement statement emphasizes “focusing on solutions to problems, as opposed to partisan bickering” and she said in an interview that District 18 “needs somebody who’s bipartisan and moderate and I’ve proven that.”


Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, now looking at a third run at the U.S. Senate, will be hitting the campaign trail as the special guest at a fundraiser to support his old ally Dennis Baxley, who is running for Senate District 5. The event, with a suggested donation of $250 per couple, will be this Saturday from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Ocala, 6823 SE 12th Circle, Ocala. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served and business attire is required.


Gary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Seaside Community Development Corp

Don Mathis, The Mathis Group: South Florida Regional Transportation Authority

Paul Mitchell, Electra Bustle, Christopher Dudley, Towson Fraser, Stacey Webb, Southern Strategy Group: Savills Studley Occupier Services


Johnson & Blanton Vice President of Government Relations Darrick McGhee served as the keynote speaker for the latest induction ceremony for the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Inductees were Reubin O’Donovan Askew; Edward Daniel Davis, Sr.; and Sallye Brooks Mathis. The Hall of Fame, created by Florida statute, recognizes and honors those persons, living or dead, who have made significant contributions to this state as leaders in the struggle for equality and justice for all persons. Selected members have a designated place in the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame on the Plaza Level of the State Capitol.

You can see McGhee’s address here. Fast-forward to the 8:23 mark.


Trimmel Gomes’ newest episode of The Rotunda zeroes in on former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s attempt at damage control after flubbing his response to questions about Iraq and accidentally announcing he’s an official 2016 presidential candidate.

While Marco Rubio leads in national polls, will the trend continue with Florida’s fastest growing demographic, the Hispanic vote?

Democratic Strategist Steve Schale talks with Gomes about the road to the White House via the Sunshine State and why he’s concerned about Rubio’s influence.

When it comes to Governor Rick Scott’s plan for a “continuation budget,” former Republican Sen. Mike Fasano, whom Scott appointed to be Pasco County’s tax collector, ramps up his criticism by telling Gomes that Scott is out of touch and completely unaware about the basic history of Florida.

POLITICAL FIX PODCAST PREVIEW via Matt Dixon of Political Fix Florida

On this week’s episode we talk a walk down memory lane with Florida political icon T.K. Wetherell, who was speaker of the House in 1992, the last time lawmakers adjourned without passing a budget. We also find a Florida tie to the recently concluded U.K elections, and dive into a stump speech given in Naples by one of the many presidential-but-not-yet-presidential candidates.


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James  on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Dr. Lawrence Miller on engaging with law enforcement amid what he calls an ongoing “erosion of individual rights.”

Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Dr. Peter Vincent Pry on the threat posed by a possible EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on the United States.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: La Gaceta publisher & editor Patrick Manteiga, political consultant Chris Ingram, University of South Florida professor emeritus Dr. Darryl Paulson and Tampa Bay Times Deputy Managing Editor Amy Hollyfield.

On Point with Shannon Ogden, on WFCN in Jacksonville: University of North Florida Professor Matthew Corrigan on the 2015 regular legislative session.

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Pinellas County Commission Chairman John Morroni.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Gary Yordon, Sean Pittman and former House Speaker and Florida State University President T. K. Wetherell.

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.