Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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IN GESTURE TO CUBAN AMERICANS, PRESIDENT OBAMA VISITS OUR LADY OF CHARITY SHRINE IN MIAMI via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
President Barack Obama extended a symbolic olive branch … to Miami’s Cuban Americans by paying his respects to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Coconut Grove.
Earlier in the day, Obama visited the National Hurricane Center and met privately with the Pinecrest family of Steven Sotloff, the journalist slain last year by the Islamic State, to offer condolences.
The surprise afternoon stop … comes at a time when many Cuban exiles remain miffed by the president’s decision last December to restore diplomatic relations with the communist island, especially since Obama made no effort to reach out to Miami leaders prior to his announcement.
Obama is the first president to pay his respects to the shrine, according to the Archdiocese of Miami. It’s named after the patroness saint of Cuba.
“Hola,” he told 13 worshipers seated in the church pews when he walked in. The Rev. Juan Rumin Dominguez guided the president, along with Cristina Brito, who served as interpreter.
THE HOPE POSTER GUY IS DONE WITH OBAMA. AND REPUBLICANS NOW HAVE THEIR METAPHOR. via Hunter Schwartz of the Washington Post
He’s gone from hope to nope … Shepard Fairey, the artist who made the iconic Obama “Hope” poster, was asked if he thought Obama “has lived up to” the poster. His answer: “Not even close.”
It’s the perfect metaphor for the Obama administration for Republicans. That widespread enthusiasm for Obama in 2008 has eroded, and with less than two years left in office, one of his most visible supporters, the guy who made* the most iconic image of the Obama years has even turned on him.
(* based it on an AP photo which led to a legal dispute they settled in 2011)
But Fairey’s explanation for not being pleased with the job Obama has done is far different than most Republicans … because he mentioned drones and NSA surveillance.
“Obama has had a really tough time, but there have been a lot of things that he’s compromised on that I never would have expected … I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he’d support].”
Fairey said Obama hasn’t been “courageous” enough, but also said many of Obama’s actions have been taken because of things out of his control. “The entire system needs an overhaul,” he said, including taking money out of politics.
BEST IDEA OF THE DAY — “Replace GOP presidential debates with a playoff system” via Rick Outzen
NEW NATIONAL POLL SHOWS ONLY MARCO RUBIO & RAND PAUL COMPETITIVE AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
A new Quinnipiac poll released on Thursday shows no front-runner in the Republican Party race for president, with five candidates tied in the lead with 10 percent support – Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee.
The second five candidates who would qualify for the first presidential debate to be broadcast by Fox News in August are: Rand Paul at 7 percent, Ted Cruz at 6 percent, Donald Trump at 5 percent, Chris Christie at 4 percent, and Carly Florina and John Kasich tied for 10th place with 2 percent support.
But in direct one-on-one matches with Hillary Clinton, only Rubio and Paul come close to the former secretary of state. In a general election matchup, Clinton gets 46 percent of American voters to 42 percent for Paul and 45 percent of voters to 41 percent for Rubio. Here are the other direct matchups with GOP candidates: 46–37 percent over Christie; 47–40 percent over Huckabee; 47– 37 percent over Bush; 46–38 percent over Walker; 48–37 percent over Cruz; 50–32 percent over Trump.
One very negative statistic for Clinton in the poll shows that by a 53-39 percent margin, American voters say she is not honest and trustworthy. However, they also say by a 60-37 percent margin that she has leadership qualities.
WITH GOP FIELD GROWING, JEB BUSH SHARPENS CRITIQUE OF WOULD-BE OPPONENTS via Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post
With the field of Republican presidential contenders expanding quickly … Bush sought to cast himself as a seasoned leader while faulting other candidates for shifting course to fit public opinion.
Bush is not yet an official presidential candidate, but he suggested that others already in the race are being needlessly combative and that the eventual GOP presidential nominee should be “hopeful and optimistic instead of grumpy and kind of reactionary.”
“I think a lot of leaders in public life or aspiring leaders get overwhelmed by the here and now; they change their views because they’re trying to mirror the sentiments of the time. And they get lost,” he said at one point.
“The president is more than just a head of parliament; he’s also the symbol of our country in many ways,” he added later. “So honoring our country by serving in a way that becomes a model for others is another element of this that I think people that aspire to the presidency really need to take seriously.”
Bush made his comments as the featured guest on “Calling Alabama,” a conference call series hosted by the Alabama Republican Party. …
“I want to win. I want our party to win. I want the next president to be a Republican, to be a conservative,” he said. “We can talk about things until the sun goes down, we can yap about things all the time, we can say how bad things are, but we need to win. And that means winning in places where Republicans haven’t won recently.”
BUSH’S BUSY ROLE ON CORPORATE BOARDS COULD BECOME 2016 ISSUE via The Associated Press
During his transition from Florida governor to likely presidential candidate, Bush served on the boards or as an adviser to at least 15 companies and nonprofits, a dizzying array of corporate connections that earned him millions of dollars and occasional headaches.
Bush returned to corporate America after leaving the governor’s mansion in early 2007, and his industry portfolio expanded steadily until he began shedding ties late last year to prepare a run for president.
Executives who worked alongside Bush describe him as an engaged adviser with an eye on detail. … Yet experts question how anyone could serve so many boards at once effectively.
There is no formal rule limiting the number of boards one person can serve. But in the wake of the Enron scandal, where flimsy board oversight contributed to the company’s infamous meltdown, and a federal law that increased liability for a public company’s director, common sense dictates a small number …
Bush served on the boards or as an adviser to 11 companies or nonprofits at a time each year from 2010 to 2013 … in addition to his own businesses, such as Jeb Bush & Associates, and the educational foundations he created.
In 2010 Bush served on the board of directors of eight different entities, as adviser to a ninth company and advisory board member for two others. In 2013, he served on six boards, as an adviser to another company and on the advisory board of four more entities.
Once Bush officially declares for president, he will have 45 days to file a public disclosure form listing his sources of income for the prior year. Those forms include broad ranges for the values of assets or salaries that can be used to estimate a politician’s net worth, but they will not be precise totals and will capture just the prior year.
BUSH EMAILED WITH EDUCATION SECRETARY ABOUT SCOTT’S COMMON CORE CONCERNS via Ilan Ben-Meir of BuzzFeed News
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sought — and received — advice from Bush about how to deal with … Scott’s concerns about Common Core … Bush advised Duncan that Scott, “fearful of the rebellion” brewing around the program, “[w]ants to stop using the term common core but keep the standards,” but couldn’t name “specifics [sic] things that the federal government is doing or perceived to be doing” that he found objectionable.
The exchange, which took place in the morning of Sept. 23, 2013, begins with an email (“Subject: Gov Scott”) to Bush from Duncan’s private account. It reads simply: “Is calling me. Any advice?”
Just over an hour later, Bush replies from the air: I am on a plane … He is fearful of the rebellion. Wants to stop using the term common core but keep the standards. Wants to get out of PARCC. I asked him if he had specifics things that the federal government is doing or perceived to be doing. He didn’t have them when I spoke to him last thursday evening.
Duncan replies: “Thanks.”
The very same day, Scott issued a press release detailing his plan “[t]o protect Florida from the federal government’s overreach in education policy.”
BUSH ON BOOKS: FROM BIBLE TO HISTORICAL THRILLER via Thomas Beaumont of The Associated Press
Looking for a summer book list? Bush has some to recommend … the likely Republican presidential candidate was asked by an employee of a biomedical company what he ought to be reading.
“Wow,” Bush said, before quickly compiling a list that began with what he’s reading now: St. Paul’s letters in the New Testament. “I would recommend that,” he said, “particularly if you want to get your life centered.” Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” and Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” are works on the lack of social mobility in the United States, sobering and “pretty nerdy,” he said.
Bush capped the list with a wildcard: Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City” … The nonfiction best-seller is about the conception and construction of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, which coincided with a series of murders in the city.
“They built this extraordinary World’s Fair in a year and a half,” Bush explained. “And at the same time there was this guy who built an incinerator in his apartment complex and was killing women.”
“It’s a spectacular book,” he finished before adding, “Don’t ask me what movies I’ve seen, because I haven’t.”
MARCO RUBIO DROPS IN ON ‘PAWN STARS’ DURING NEVADA CAMPAIGN STOP via the Washington Post
Rubio kicked off his first presidential campaign visit to the key early nominating state of Nevada on Thursday with a promise: You’re going to be seeing a lot of me.
After touring the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop with Rick Harrison, star of the TV show Pawn Stars, Rubio told reporters he plans to be back “quite often” as he sought to localize his “New American Century” campaign theme.
“Nevada is a state that in many ways embodies some of the challenges we have in the 21st century,” said Rubio … in the midst of a two-day swing through a battleground he once called home. Among the four early states, Nevada is perhaps the best test case for Rubio’s emerging strategy to present himself as a new kind of Republican.
… Rubio’s youth — he turned 44 — and his Cuban-American heritage, plus his talent for public speaking, stand out in a mostly older, white Republican Party that has been accused of being tone deaf to centrist and left-leaning voters, of which there are many in the Las Vegas area.
ROMANO COLUMN RUBIO PANDERS IN SAYING CHRISTIANITY ‘IN DANGER’ FOR GAY MARRIAGE STANCE via the Tampa Bay Times
Let’s make this point clear from the beginning: Marco Rubio was pandering.
When he talked earlier this week about Christianity being under attack, he was using shameless, over-the-top rhetoric in a not-too-subtle appeal to evangelical voters.
So let’s put aside the motivation of the senator’s words and focus on something far more interesting: Their veracity.
In the name of tolerance, have supporters of same-sex marriages become intolerant of Christian beliefs? And do Christians have a right to feel as if they are under siege?
Here’s what I would say: Individually yes, but collectively no.
In other words, I am sure there are people who harbor no ill will in their hearts, and do not campaign against gay rights, but disapprove of homosexuality based on their religious convictions. So, yes, it’s probably harsh to call them bigots for that reason … they must also understand that too many others are devoting time and money to deny gay people basic rights under the guise of Christian principles. And if Christianity is being used as a weapon, then verbal retaliation should come as no surprise.
WANT TO CHANGE EVERY REFERENCE OF BUSH AND RUBIO TO ‘FLORIDA MAN’? via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
The folks over at IJReview have drafted computer code that will turn every reference of Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio into that beloved Sunshine State figure, Florida Man.
They’ve created a Google Chrome extension that, if installed, will swap the names of the candidates with the generic Florida Man. Laughs may ensue. (“Florida Man” references will also change, randomly, to Rubio and Bush, the developers say.)
MORE 2016 READS
– “Christie backs off Common Core, leaving Jeb Bush more exposed via Alex Leary” of the Tampa Bay Times
— “Rubio’s slippery slope to incoherence” via Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly
— “Think tank’s loss is gain for Jeb Bush team” via Beth Reinhard of The Wall Street Journal
RON DESANTIS, PATRICK MURPHY TROT OUT MORE SUPPORTERS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News
Two congressmen from Florida running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 claimed momentum … as they added to their lists of endorsements. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio … is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination and has said he will not seek a second term.
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis … announced … his U.S. Senate campaign had around $1.1 million cash on hand and major Republican donors were supporting his efforts.
DeSantis announced he had gotten the financial support of some of the leading Republicans in Florida, including former Gov. Bob Martinez, former Ambassador John Rood and former Ambassador Francis Rooney. The two former ambassadors have been major donors for Republican candidates at the state and national levels. DeSanits has won the support of several national conservative groups including FreedomWorks and Club for Growth.
Over on the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy … added to his team in Broward County … Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish and four county commissioners, including former state Rep. Martin Kiar, fell in line behind Murphy.
Democratic politicians, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, four members of Congress and mayors across the state have endorsed Murphy even as U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson … continues to leave the door open to entering the Senate race. Despite endorsing DeSantis, the Club for Growth launched a new TV ad this week praising Grayson for standing against the Export-Import Bank and assailing Murphy for supporting it.
ROGER STONE MIGHT BE RUNNING FOR RUBIO’S SENATE SEAT via Chris Joseph of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times
Political “hit man” Roger Stone — Richard Nixon’s “dirty trickster,” Scott Rothstein’s former political czar, and Tricky Dick face tattoo owner — might be looking to throw his hat in the ring for Marco Rubio’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Stone, a Libertarian, has announced he is forming an exploratory committee to run for Rubio’s seat as the senator makes his own run for the White House in 2016.
Stone had previously made a run at the governor’s mansion, but eventually pulled out of the race, citing that running in an intra-party race would eventually drain resources to the candidate who would eventually win the general election. New Times reported in 2013 that Stone was planning to run for governor of the state on a platform that legalized weed and same-sex marriage.
SHOT: DCCC ATTACKS DAVID JOLLY ON HIGHWAY TRUST FUND SPENDING via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Representing moderate Florida Congressional District 13, David Jolly has to balance a fine line in staying true to his conservative roots as well as satisfying the voters in his moderate, swing district.
Groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and American Bridge 21st Century are monitoring every vote he takes, and taking issue with ones that they think will make him vulnerable in his bid for re-election next year, when he faces Democrat Eric Lynn.
The DCCC is airing a radio ad attacking Jolly for voting for a short-term highway transportation bill this month, instead of a longer-term solution.
“With Congressman Jolly’s party in complete control of Congress, it is his responsibility to enact a transportation bill that ensures critical long-term funding for sorely needed highway construction projects in his district,” said Matt Thornton of the DCCC. “Instead of offering a solution that creates jobs and improves our bridges and roads, House Republicans and Congressman Jolly just kicked the can further down the road, a fact we will be reminding Florida voters of this week.”
CHASER: … WHILE OTHER FLORIDA DEMOCRATS DID SAME Full story here
What the DCCC spot failed to mention is that the group’s own chair, Ben Ray Luján, also supported the bill, as did Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz as well as every other Florida Democratic member of Congress.
The list of Democratic “yes” votes from Florida – from nearly anyone’s perspective — is complete: state Reps. Gwen Graham, Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson, Kathy Castor, Patrick Murphy, Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Schultz and Frederica Wilson.
“If the DCCC would have taken the time to quickly consult one of the many maps readily available on the Internet, perhaps they would have realized their very own Kathy Castor represents not only St. Pete but also the three bridges in Hillsborough,” said NRCC regional press secretary Chris Pack. “Maybe that is why Castor joined David Jolly, all of the House Democrats from Florida, the chairman of the DCCC, and Nancy Pelosi in supporting this commonsense bipartisan bill that ensures the highway trust fund continues to be fully funded.”
In the spirit of fairness, the Florida Republicans who also voted for the short-term measure is just as comprehensive. … However, if the vote on HR 2353 is a litmus test for DCCC approval, then perhaps the next radio ad should applaud state Rep. Curt Clawson, the Tea Party Republican from Bonita Springs. He was Florida’s only “no” vote on the measure, one of only 35 votes against it.
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HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND — STATEWIDE RALLIES TO PUSH FOR SPECIAL SESSION ACTION ON AMENDMENT 1 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Among those heavily disappointed by the recently aborted legislative session are environmental advocates, frustrated by lawmakers who failed to allocate enough money for Florida Forever, the state’s land acquisition program.
With the Legislature returning next week for a three-week Special Session, environmental advocates say there’s still time to make things right. The authors of Amendment 1 are holding rallies in nine cities across the state Saturday with the message to the House and Senate to “Finish the Job.”
Critics say the Legislature floundered during the first month of the session, allocating more than $200 million to cover existing agency operating expenses and other spending that didn’t meet the intent of Amendment 1, while largely ignoring Florida Forever. The Senate later approved $17 million for the program after its $2 million initial proposal drew sharp statewide criticism. It then budgeted another $20 million for springs, but never came to an agreement before the session ended early.
Everglades restoration is among the top items environmentalists want to fund via Amendment 1. However, the plan to purchase more than 46,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee from U.S. Sugar Corp. went awry last month when the Florida Southwest Management Water District pulled back from the deal, saying it could have cost as much as $700 million. The district said building a reservoir on the land could cost an additional $2.5 billion, sidetracking other overdue Everglades restoration projects.
SCOTT HEALTHCARE COMMISSION LAUNCHES A ‘TRANSPARENCY’ TOUR AIMED AT HOSPITALS THAT WON’T FORK OVER FINANCIAL DATA via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
A blue-ribbon panel created to examine taxpayer funded healthcare costs will hit the road meeting in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami in the next two months, inviting the lowest and highest performing facilities in the region to address the panel.
The Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding meets in Tallahassee on June 4 but will kick off its “Spotlight Transparency Tour” in Tampa on June 17. It will meet in Jacksonville sometime the week of June 29 and will meet in Miami sometime the week of July 13. The press release does not include the criteria hospitals will be judged on to rank their performance.
Naming the commission’s visits the “Transparency Tour” could be a dig at the hospitals that have not taken the time to provide the commission detailed information requested by the governor who sent the hospitals a universal form to fill out.
While some of the facilities responded with detailed information other hospitals advised the agency where they could find the information. The agency requested again on May 23 that the hospitals provide the information on the form again. And on May 26, the agency issued a press release identifying the names of the facilities who responded in full to the data call and the names of the facilities who did not respond at all or partially complied by providing incomplete information.
The press release does not separate the list of facilities that partially complied versus those that didn’t respond at all.
Florida Hospital Association: “Florida hospitals are focused on meeting the needs of our patients and communities. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, thousands of caregivers provide quality care to patients in hospitals. We have a long-established partnership with the State of Florida to routinely report patient, quality and financial data. We believe in, and fully support, transparency to ensure our patients are able to make informed healthcare decisions. … Florida hospitals welcome discussions that lead to long-term solutions: increasing access to coverage for low-income, working Floridians and a future for the Low Income Pool. We stand ready to work with the Legislature and Governor Scott’s administration on policies that are in the best interest of the patients and communities we serve.”
SCOTT’S LIP PLAN WOULD CUT $214 MILLION FROM HOSPITALS, MOST IN SOUTH FLORIDA via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
Scott released details of his latest proposal to draw down $2.3 billion in federal Low Income Pool funds … While the formula is higher than previously announced, it does not use any state dollars to backfill the loss but it cuts reimbursements to hospitals by $214 million.
Hardest hit are hospitals that do the bulk of the state’s charity care. Among those facing the deepest cuts are: Jackson Memorial (-$34.5 million), Broward General (-$22.3 million), Shands in Gainesville (-$34.5 million), Shands in Jacksonville (-$36.5 million) and All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg (-$12.9 million.)
Under the plan … the state would not lose $1 billion in federal health care money as previously suggested but the money would be offset by local hospitals and local governments, which would raise $900 million in financing to draw down $1.2 billion in federal Low Income Pool funds. The financing arrangements are known as intergovernmental transfers.
As a return on their investment, hospitals would be rewarded a 10 percent profit — a cost to the program of about $100 million. The state would then use the $1 billion promised by the federal government in Low Income Pool funding to reimburse teaching hospitals and increase patient reimbursement rates.
But instead of sending the money to the hospitals, the funds would follow the patient under the state’s Medicaid managed care program. It’s not exactly Medicaid expansion, but it’s not Medicaid dismantlement either. It also doesn’t keep hospitals whole.
The result: some hospitals would see a net increase in revenues while others — like those that do the bulk of the charity care — will take big hits.
RICK SCOTT ON SENATE’S LATEST HEALTH CARE PLAN, FHIX 2.0: ‘I’M NOT DOING IT’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
Scott all but threatened a veto … of a Senate plan aimed at expanding health insurance coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians by drawing down federal money into a privately run insurance exchange.
“I’m not doing it,” Scott told the Herald/Times after a meeting of the Enterprise Florida board of directors in Tampa. He repeated his claim at the Senate’s Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) program is a tax increase but, when asked, he refused to explain how he reaches that conclusion.
“I can’t think of many health care programs that have no cost,” Scott said. “I mean there’s nothing free out there, right? The study out there says it’s going to cost $5 billion over the first 10 years and look at history, if you look at Medicare, how much more Medicare costs today than what they anticipated — Medicaid.”
AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY GOES IN ON SENATE FHIX PLAN IN NEW MAILERS via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics
Conservative political group Americans for Prosperity-Florida has told FloridaPolitics.com that it will target legislators supportive of a FHIX-style healthcare expansion plan with a new mail piece portraying the ongoing Senate-driven negotiations as a “game.”
The mailers feature the number to Senate President Andy Gardiner’s district office in Orlando and exhorts recipients to “Tell Andy Gardiner we’re done playing the Health Care game.”
“We want real reforms, not more ObamaCare Medicaid expansion,” the piece proclaims.
“While the Senate continues to negotiate with itself as the so-called ‘FHIX’ plan continues to evolve, ordinary Floridians are growing tired of more outdated federal non-answers to Florida’s real healthcare problems,” AFP-FL communications director Andres Malave said on Thursday.
The move comes as the Senate released a new, revised version of its plan to push a privatized version of Medicaid expansion.
“How many versions of the plan–which keep being altered because they’re running into opposition among Gardiner’s own chamber–are we going to see before the Senate realizes more Medicaid expansion is not a sound idea?”
BILL GALVANO: ‘OPTIMISTIC’ ABOUT COMPROMISE ON HEALTHCARE SPENDING via Kate Irby of the Bradenton Herald
After taking time to cool off after failed budget negotiations in the regular session, the Florida Senate floated the first potential healthcare compromise this week. Like most compromises, it didn’t make anyone happy.
Despite the opposition, Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano … is optimistic about the plan though it’s hard to predict how the federal government will react.
“We’re being the more adult side of the Legislature,” Galvano said. “We won’t know about a compromise until we try.”
UPCOMING SPECIAL SESSION ALMOST AS MUCH ABOUT HEALTH CARE AS BUDGET via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
The 2015 Special Session is being referred to as a budget session but it could just as easily be described as the special session on health care. Thirty-two bills have been filed for consideration in the 2015A session and 40 percent of them impact health care, either through substantive policy changes, financing, or both, including a bill that would eliminate CON for general hospitals, long-term-care hospitals and “tertiary services” such as pediatric open heart surgery, organ transplantation and neonatal intensive care units, among other things.
In addition to being listed in “the call” or the list of issues the Legislature will address, the regulatory program was included in the list of issues Gov. Scott asked the freshly created Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding.
The executive order noted that “restricting competition and limiting the marketplace for healthcare services while increasing the demand for healthcare services harms the affordability, access and quality of services for Florida families.”
While Scott and House Republican leaders have advocated for a free-market approach HB 31 A eliminates CON for hospitals, long- term-care hospitals and tertiary services, it keeps the requirements intact in the high-growth areas of nursing homes and hospice. The agency received 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.
HOUSE MEMBERS TRICKLE BACK INTO TALLAHASSEE FOR HEALTHCARE BRIEFINGS via Matt Dixon of Political Fix Florida
Chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee Jason Brodeur … is meeting with healthcare staff this weekend to get briefed ahead of a Monday workshop to consider the Senate’s healthcare expansion plan.
Michael Williams, a spokesman for Speaker Crisafulli … said his office has also “heard” that healthcare committee members Travis Cummings of Clay County and Chris Sprowls of Pinellas County will also be back in Tallahassee this weekend.
We “have made them aware that staff can provide them with a briefing in preparation for the workshop Monday,” Williams said.
He said the speaker’s office has offered staff time with House Democrats, but no meetings have been scheduled.
SENATE PRESIDENT CANDIDATES SEIZE CHANCE TO RAISE CASH via Matt Dixon of the Naples Daily News
To avoid the appearance of conflicts, many lawmakers said they would not raise campaign cash leading into a June special session where they will write the state’s $80 billion budget.
Taking four- or five-figure checks from donors with items in the state budget spending plan just days before finalizing the state spending plan, they said, was something they wanted to avoid.
“My suggestion would be that fundraising be suspended until which time we get a budget,” Senate Budget Chief Tom Lee … told reporters in the waning days of the regular session.
But the contentious race to become the next Senate president, featuring state senators Joe Negron of Stuart and Jack Latvala of Clearwater, appears to trump any perception concerns.
“2016 is a very important election cycle for the Florida Senate,” Negron said in a statement. “Our team is committed to raising the necessary resources we need to protect our current senators and win open seats.”
FLORIDA’S HIGHEST COURT RULES UCF HAS IMMUNITY via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press
A private corporation that runs the University of Central Florida’s athletic program won’t have to pay $10 million to the family of a football player who died during practice, the Florida Supreme Court ruled … University of Central Florida Athletic Association is entitled to the same sovereign immunity that protects state agencies from paying more than $200,000 in damages, saying the association doesn’t operate autonomously from the public university.
The decision has big implications for dozens of private corporations in Florida that run many functions of the state’s public universities. The corporations, also known as direct support organizations, oversee everything from athletic programs to dorm construction to salaries. University corporations from across the state supported the University of Central Florida Athletic Association’s position that it was a function of the school.
In their ruling, the justices said the University of Central Florida, a state agency, controlled the association’s board of directors and that the school’s board must approve any changes to the association’s bylaws.
The association is “primarily acting as an instrumentality of the state and is thus entitled to limited sovereign immunity,” the justices said.
Football player Ereck Plancher collapsed and died during a 2008 practice. His family sued the association, claiming negligence. A trial court awarded the family $10 million.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Laura Boehmer, David Sheep, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Association of Wholesale Distributors, Inc.; Lakeside Station, LLC
Ellyn Bogdanoff: Juda Eskew & Associates; The Society for Clinical and Medical Hair Removal
Penny Bos: League of Women Voters of Florida
Chris Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: HMS
Pete Dunbar, Dean Mead: Charlotte County
Terry Lewis, Lewis Longman & Walker: Minto Communities
ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA
Trimmel Gomes’ newest episode of The Rotunda follows the latest in the battle over healthcare coverage featuring Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association.
While health care will be the main focus during the special legislative session, environmental groups make their pitch for a redo of Amendment 1 plans. Gomes hears from Mary Barley, president of the Everglades Trust and Eric Draper with Florida Audubon.
And with a legal delay out of the way, excitement is in the air for supporters of Florida’s medical marijuana law known as “Charlotte’s Web.” Gomes chats with lobbyists Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl, founders of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida about next steps for the industry.
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Newtown Nation’s “Black Lives Matter” group members Valerie Buchand and Lou Murray in conversation.
Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Advocate Will Abberger on how Florida lawmakers are getting Amendment 1 funding wrong, plus Bill Cotterell on the upcoming special session.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Former Tampa Congressman Jim Davis, former state Sen. Paula Dockery, Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times and reporter William March.
On Point with Shannon Ogden on WFCN in Jacksonville: Confirmed guests include newly minted Jacksonville councilors-elect Joyce Newman and Anna Brosche
Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Hosts Al Ruechel and Troy Kinsey present a special session preview.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: state Rep. Rene Plasencia recounts 2015 session and takes a look at the special to come. Plus analysts Dick Batchelor and Lou Frey break down the Tallahassee tri-branch conflict over health care.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Tim Stapleton and Andrew Borom, MD.
DR. BEACH RANKS FOUR FLORIDA BEACHES IN NATION’S TOP 10 Full story here
Four Florida beaches are listed among the best in the nation in the annual Top 10 Beach List for 2015: Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs ranked #2, St. George Island State Park in the Panhandle ranked #3, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne ranked #6 and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples was ranked #9.
“I am excited that four of our beautiful beaches have been named to the Top 10 Beach List for 2015, three of which are located in Florida State Parks,” said Gov. Scott in a statement. “With increasing numbers of visitors to Florida, these beaches help drive the tourism industry by creating economic opportunities and jobs throughout the Sunshine State.”
Last year, Florida boasted 98.9 million visitors and more than 27 million people visited Florida’s state parks and trails from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, generating nearly $2.1 billion in direct economic impact from parks and trails.
The list comes from coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach,” a professor at Florida International University.