Takeaways from Tallahassee — The ‘diversity’ of John Stemberger

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran defended his appointment of conservative activist John Stemberger to the Constitution Revision Commission, the panel that reviews and suggests changes to the state’s governing document.

Stemberger, the Speaker explained, was a “diversity” pick.

Corcoran took questions from reporters Friday after the House floor session.

Stemberger, who leads the conservative Florida Family Policy Council, has opposed same-sex marriage, adoptions by gays and letting gay youth in the Boy Scouts.

Critics have questioned the pick, suggesting it was a sop to the Republican Party’s hard right-wing in case Corcoran decides to run for governor in 2018.

“Listen, I’ve said to you guys all along I was going to appoint people I believed were true conservatives, that recognize the role of the constitution, and how important it is,” he said. “… I had the luxury of seeing who the Governor appointed, who (Senate President Joe Negron) appointed, and I tried to fill in some of the gaps.”

Corcoran noted Stemberger also “is a practicing attorney.”

“Yes, he’s taken stances on different issues, but I’ve said it a thousand times, diversity of thought is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said.

When asked the question about playing to the party’s religious right in advance of running for governor, Corcoran said he’s “known John a long time, he is a friend.”

Darryl Rouson is a friend, Chris Nocco is a friend, Rich Newsome is a friend,” he added, referring to some of his other appointees; in order, a former Democratic House member and now state senator from St. Petersburg, the Pasco County sheriff, and an Orlando-based personal injury lawyer.

“And I don’t agree with all my friends on all issues,” Corcoran added.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Michael Moline, Jim Rosica, and Peter Schorsch.

Now, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

In session — The 2017 Legislative Session kicked off this week with Gov. Rick Scott’s annual State of the State address. The Naples Republican used his speech to defend his push for money for economic incentives, calling out opponents. “I am fighting for our state’s job programs because I am fighting for the families just like mine growing up,” the governor said in his remarks. He also used his remarks to reflect back on the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, calling it a terrorist attack and using it as a flash point to request more money for counterterrorism. But his comments about the Pulse shooting upset LGBTQ advocates, who blasted Scott for not mentioning the LGBTQ community, which was largely impacted by the shooting.

Florida Governor Rick Scott gets a round of applause during his remarks on the first day of session.

Scratched — Hours after House Speaker Corcoran used his opening remarks of the 2017 Session to encourage members to “proudly and joyfully go crashing against the special interests and special interests and the status quo,” a Tallahassee judge invalidated the Florida Lotter’s $700 million contract for new equipment. Circuit Judge Karen Gievers issued her 15-page order just one day after presiding over a non-jury trial. In her ruling, Gievers faulted the agency for, among other things, not seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding. In a statement, Gov. Scott said he disagreed with the ruling and would appeal.

Bad week for EFI — This was not Enterprise Florida’s best week ever. It started Monday, when Chris Hart, the agency’s president and CEO of just two months, abruptly resigned. In a letter to Gov. Scott, Hart said he realized he and the governor did not share a “common vision or understanding of how Enterprise Florida … can best provide value within your administration.” His resignation came hours before the House Appropriations Committee was set to hear a bill to kill the state agency, and sent shockwaves through the capital city. On Wednesday, Corcoran appealed to House Democrats to back the bill, telling them he needed their support for a veto proof majority. Whatever he said must have worked: On Friday, the House voted 87-29 to approve the bill, with more than half of the chamber’s 39 Democrats voting for it. In the middle of all that drama, the board announced Mike Grissom will serve as the interim CEO.

Opposed — A host of gun bills could be stalled in the Senate, after Sen. Anitere Flores announced this week that it is unlikely she will be supporting 10 of Sen. Greg Steube’s gun bills this session. Flores said she and Steube don’t see eye to eye, and she doesn’t support having guns on campus, at airports, or in school zones. The Senate Judiciary Committee did OK legislation this week dealing with carrying concealed weapons at courthouses, a proposal Flores supported.

Priority passage — Senate President Joe Negron saw a priority bill move through his chamber, when the Excellence in Higher Education Act passed the Senate 35-1this week. The legislation, among other things, increases certain scholarship benefits, overhauls how colleges and universities measure progress and attract top professors, and mandates block tuition—a flat rate per semester—rather than by credit hour. But Negron’s name isn’t among the 35 senators who voted in the affirmative during the roll call vote. A miscommunication between Negron and the Senate secretary meant the board locked before he could record his vote. Senate records show Negron voted in the affirmative after the vote. House Speaker Corcoran also saw key priority clear the House this week, when members passed a 6-year lobbying ban on former lawmakers. And a bill to require unanimous jury recommendations before the death penalty can be imposed is now heading to Gov. Scott, marking one of the first bills sent to the governor this session.

Meet the people behind the speech.

Gov. Scott peppered his State of the State speech this week with stories of everyday Floridians, many of whom were sitting in the House gallery as the governor spoke to lawmakers. Guests included an Orlando police officer, a small business owner, an Army veteran, and an entrepreneur.

Scott honored Orlando police Officer Michael Napolitano, who was one of the responding officers to the Pulse shooting in June. During the shootout, he was injured when his Kevlar helmet blocked a bullet, saving his life.

He also gave David Alfandar, the owner of Hot Pandeyuca a shout-out. The Miami factory started with three employees, and has now grown to 30 employees and serves more than 300 clients in the Sunshine State. Sage Offutt, the owner and founder of Sage Paddle Company, also got a hat tip from the governor for starting a paddle boarding rental company in Navarre. This wasn’t her first encounter with the governor, Offutt was presented with the Young Entrepreneur Award back in December.

Scott also recognized Master Sgt. George Vera of Tampa; Nick Cid, a senior business analyst at Hertz, and Linda Cooke, the director of manufacturing operations at HABCO Manufacturing.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill marked the start of the 2017 session from home this week.

The chairwoman of the Education Committee, Senate President Negron told members she is recovering from surgery for cervical cancer, and her doctors wouldn’t let her travel to the state capital. But she’s hardly on the sidelines, staying “completely active during the entire time of her recovery on behalf of her constituents.”

Negron said Hukill is in charge of deciding what bills get heard in her committee and developing policy, and has been in regular contact with Negron and staff.

“In all the conversations I’ve had with her, she talks about us, what’s happening here. And she feels badly about the effects on her constituents and and on the process rather than on herself,” he said “She doesn’t talk about her medical condition, or the challenges or the incredible progress she’s made in overcoming this. That says a lot about her. I know she’s watching this morning, and we look forward to having her back.”

The youngest people on the Senate floor opening day were Kennedy Grace and Hudson Lee Byrnes, twins born to Sen. Lauren Book on Feb. 16.

Book, the Senate’s minority leader pro tempore, presented her bundles of joy to her colleagues, then dashed them away back stage.

“She’s having to do double duty, and do both legislating and parenting at the same time,” said Senate President Negron. “Congratulations on your twins and thank you so much for being here today.”

It so happens that Book is carrying legislation this session to exempt diapers from the sales tax.

Speaking of babies: Gov. Scott had some breaking news during his State of the State address this week, telling Floridians his daughter and son-in-law were expecting twins.

The governor slipped the announcement into his speech during a section about his request to spend $6 million for counter-terrorism efforts in Florida, saying he’s fighting every day because he wants “to make Florida a better place for my grandchildren.”

“In fact, Ann and I just found out that our daughter Allison and her husband Pierre will be welcoming twins later this year,” said Scott in prepared remarks. “This will make Ann and me proud grandparents to six wonderful grandchildren.”

Scott’s daughter Allison lives in Naples, and has three sons. His second daughter lives in Texas and has one child.

And like any father, the governor used the opportunity to make a cringe-worthy dad joke at his daughter’s expense.

“When I started this job, Ann and I didn’t have any grandkids. Now, we will have six,” he said. “Certainly, my daughters were listening when I said ‘Let’s get to work!’”

Recalling his impoverished childhood, Gov. Scott tried to used his State of the State Speech to highlight the importance of jobs to lift Floridians out of economic despair.

But Karen Woodall wasn’t persuaded. Now at the Florida Center for Economic and Fiscal Policy, she’s spent 37 years lobbying in Tallahassee on behalf of the poor.

“Unfortunately, particularly this year, it seems that the conversations about poverty have to do with attacking poor people,” Woodall said.

She pointed to legislation to snatch food stamps away from children, and the cut cash assistance if the recipient misses a single meeting or fails to fill out the right form.

And if politicians in D.C. and Tallahassee block grant Medicaid, it’s going to “severely impact not only very, very low income and vulnerable people in this state, but it’s going to cripple the health care industry,” she said.

“Rather than talking about having been poor at a time when most people were poor, it would be better to take action.”

After the speech, it’s the after party.

Gov. Scott held a reception at the Governor’s Mansion after his big speech this week, inviting the well-to-do in Tallahassee to celebrate the start of the annual session.

Chris Carmody and Robert Stuart at the State of the State reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

The annual event brought out some of the state’s finest, including Chris Carmody and Robert Stuart with GrayRobinson.

“We have great leaders in our state,” Carmody wrote on Facebook. “Thank you Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott for inviting us to the State of State Reception. Keep up the great work.”

Senate Democrats are gearing up to resist leadership plans to cut spending on environmental, education, mental health, and other programs.

For example, the leadership is considering nearly $352 million in cuts to health and human services spending, including hospitals and programs for people with disabilities, the elderly, and Alzheimer’s care.

Children’s action teams — which provide mental health services to kids in foster care or the juvenile system — would be eliminated in eight counties.

“We have to be very vigilant on these cuts right here,” Democratic leader Oscar Braynon II said. “These are the ones that hit the hardest, I think, and that speak really to what we’ve been talking about we stand for. They’re hurting the least of us with these cuts right here.”

When Richard and Kathleen Marquis needed help with their son — a 300-pound man with schizophrenia, given to violent outbursts — one hospital after another turned them away.

“Nothing available, with one major hospital telling me they had two patients camped out in the waiting room waiting for beds,” Richard said during a news conference in Tallahassee.

Many specialists suggested the family move to a state that provides more support for these treatments.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers appeared at the same news conference to urge that the state do better.

“At the end of the day, we’re 49th (in funding among the states), which means we’ve neglected this for far too long,” said Sen. Rene Garcia.

File early (but not often).

Secretary of State Ken Detzner encouraged Florida businesses to “beat the rush and file their annual reports early before the May 1 deadline.” The reminder comes as Detzner unveiled the state updated its filing website, Sunbiz.org.


“The updated website offers an enhanced user experience with updated features, including a new countdown clock to help business owners remember the upcoming deadline,” he said in a statement. “File Early Florida!”

Annual reports must be filed each year between Jan. 1 and May 1 to maintain an active status with the Department of State’s Division of Corporations.

Be one the lookout for scams.

That’s the message Attorney General Pam Bondi sent to Floridians as part of Consumer Protection Week.

“Whether it’s homeowners victimized by unfair mortgage servicing practices or people being exploited by price gougers during a state of emergency, we work tirelessly to protect all consumers,” said Bondi. “This Consumer Protection Week, I want to thank the hard-working people in my Consumer Protection Division for their unwavering dedication to stopping deceptive and unfair business practices.”

The Consumer Protection Division enforces the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and aggressive pursues consumer frauds. Recently the division has focused on tech support scams, debt relief schemes, robo-calling, travel scams and, during recent storms, price gouging.

Give these volunteers a round of applause.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart honored school volunteers at youth, adult and senior levels from across the state with the Outstanding School Volunteer award. The award is presented each year to volunteers who have exhibited exceptional commitment to quality education in Florida.

“School volunteers supplement the hard work Florida’s educators and school personnel do every day and help to fill the gaps when parents and guardians are not available,” said Stewart. “I hope that the outstanding volunteers we are recognizing today will serve as an inspiration for all Floridians to get more involved in their communities.”

Awardees received a congratulatory letter from Stewart and a mounted certificate. They’re also generally recognized by the school districts where they volunteer.

More jobs are coming to Lee County.

Gov. Scott announced this week Gartner, Inc. is expanding its operations in Lee County and will create 600 new jobs. The information technology research and advisory company is expected to invest more than $21 million in the local community, according to the Governor’s Office.

“This incredible news shows how important it is to continue to make Florida more competitive for job creation wins, and we will continue to fight to make sure our state has all the resources we need to become the job creation capital of the world,” said Scott in a statement.

Started in Fort Myers nearly two decades ago, the company employs more than 1,100 Floridians in Fort Myers. The firm has almost 9,000 associates worldwide, including 1,900 research analysts and consultants, serving clients in more than 10,000 enterprises.

The project, according to the Governor’s Office, was made possible through partnerships with Enterprise Florida, the Lee County Economic Development Office, CareerSource Florida, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“I’m proud that Gartner, one of Southwest Florida’s top employers, has chosen to expand its operations in Fort Myers,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Florida DEO. “While Gartner has offices all across the globe, Florida’s skilled workforce has the talent the company needs to succeed.”

It’s time to celebrate the most important meal of the day.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam celebrated National School Breakfast Week, encouraging schools to “Take the School Breakfast Challenge.”

“Academic success begins at breakfast, and we have worked hard to make sure students start their day with nutritious options,” said Putnam.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services administers the school breakfast program at the state level to ensure schools have the ability to provide healthy, wholesome breakfasts to students each day. Last year, more than 140 million breakfasts were served to Florida’s K-12 students.

A widow got a special delivery from one Florida representative recently.

Rep. Bill Hager presented a Delray Beach widow with a check from the Bureau of Unclaimed Property for a life insurance policy held by her late husband, who died in 2010.

Rep. Bill Hager presents a widow with a check for unclaimed life insurance.

The woman, according to Hager’s office, did not know the policy had been taken out, and because of that she couldn’t request a payment after her husband died. But thanks to a bill passed in 2016, insurers are required to check the Social Security Death Master file to determine if any insured died while the coverage was in-force. If so, insurance companies need to take steps to find the beneficiary to pay.

The Department of Financial Services received the funds on Nov. 4, and notified the widow by mail the following day how to claim her property.

Save Florida call centers, save a job.

Sen. Victor Torres filed a bill this week to reduce outsourcing of call center jobs and protect employees working in Florida.

The bill requires existing call centers planning to relocate outside of Florida, or reducing their staff by more than 30 percent, to notify the Department of Business & Professional Regulation 120 days in advance of any relocation or downsizing. It also authorizes DBPR to establish an inventory list of call centers and number of employees and create a financial penalty for companies not in compliance with the notification requirements.

Rep. Robert Asencio has filed the companion bill in the Florida House.

“Call center workers often handle sensitive financial, health care and personal information that Floridians have a right to know is secure and protected,” he said. “When that interaction involves state business, it is only proper that their tax dollars are being used to support a secure and professional call center here in Florida. Not only is this about the good jobs that call centers support in communities across the state, it is about ensuring that we are at the forefront of data security.”

Welcome to the task force, Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun.

Gov. Scott announced Calhoun will serve as his designee on the Florida Defense Support Task Force. Calhoun current serves as the Adjutant General of Florida.

“I want to thank Senator Young for her service on the Defense Support Task Force,” said Scott. “She has done a great job serving the people of Florida, and I am confident Major General Calhoun will continue to do all he can to ensure Florida remains the most military friendly state in the nation.”

The Wekiva River Basin Commission has a new member. Scott appointed Charles Henry, a 57-year-old Bradenton resident, to the commission. Henry is a health officer for the Department of Health in Sarasota, and succeeds Gerald Briggs.

Scott also appointed Pamela Kiser-Burch, a 44-year-old Tallahassee resident, and reappointed Hugh Fred Dietrich, a 72-year-old Orlando Resident, and Ransom Hartman, a 37-year-old from Jensen Beach, to the Board of Auctioneers.

The Governor’s Office also announced this week that Scott appointed Latanya Peterson and Diane Goldenberg to the Florida Commission on Human Relations. He also reappointed Gilbert Singer, Rebecca Steele, and Tony Jenkins to the board.

The governor also announced Robert Bramlett and Kathleen Krak have been reappointed to another term on the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board, and Eric Vilkoski has been appointed to the board.

Scott appointed Citrus County Superintendent Sandra Himmel, 62, will serve on the Children and Youth Cabinet to a term ending March 9, 2021.

Hernando County has a new commissioner, at least temporarily.

Gov. Scott appointed John Mitten to the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners this week. He’ll serve during the military leave of absence of Commissioner Jeff Holcomb, according to the Governor’s Office.

“Florida is proud to be the home of so many brave military members, and I am grateful to Commissioner Jeff Holcomb for serving our country overseas,” said Scott in a statement. “We will keep Jeff and his family in our prayers throughout this deployment and I am confident John Mitten will serve Hernando families well until his safe return.”

A 47-year-old Brooksville resident, Mitten is a small business owner with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University. His term began March 10, and ends at the completion of Holcomb’s military leave.

Next time you’re looking for a bit of history during your golf game, head to the Wedgewood Golf Club.

Secretary of State Detzner announced this week the Lakeland golf club has been selected as the Florida Historic Golf Trail for the month of March.

Wedgewood Golf Club in Lakeland has hosted some of the greats since its opening in 1931.

Located on the former site of the National National Home of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and the course officially opened on Jan. 1, 1931. Today, the 18-hole, par 70 course features three sets of tees playing from 4,800 to 6,400 yards.

“We are excited and honored to be featured this month on the Florida Historic Golf Trail,” said Sun Shin, president of Wedgewood Golf Club, in a statement. “Wedgewood’s history dates back to the 1920s. The course has hosted golf legends like Hogan, Sarazen, Snead and Bobby Jones as well as Arnie Palmer. Redesigned by Florida architect Ron Garl, this course is still challenging to all levels of players.”

Tip your hat to the municipal electric utilities that got the lights back on after this year’s hurricanes.

The Florida Municipal Electric Association announced its Restoring Communities Awards, which are meant to honor the efforts of municipal electric utilities that worked quickly to restore power following Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. Members were selected based on restoration times, customer communication efforts and the level of aid provided.

“While it had been 11 years since our state’s municipal electric utilities had been tested by a hurricane, the response of Florida’s public power community was strong and swift,” said Clay Lindstrom, FMEA President and Fort Pierce Utilities Authority General Manager. “The moment it was safe, municipal electric crews from across the state starting working to restore power for their neighbors or hit the roads to help other communities in need.”

The 2017 recipients are Beaches Energy Services, City of Alachua, City of Bartow, City of Green Cove Springs, City of Lake Worth, City of Leesburg, City of Newberry, City of Starke, City of Tallahassee, City of Quincy, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Gainesville Regional Utilities, JEA, Keys Energy Services, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lakeland Electric, Ocala Electric Utility, Orlando Utilities Commission, Town of Havana, and Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach.

Patients matter, and the Florida Association of Health Plans want legislators to know it.

FAHP launched its “Florida Patients Matter” campaign this week. Throughout session, the group will use videos to highlight how health plans help Floridians and how they collectively provide accessible, affordable and quality health care to patients across the state.

“As the 2017 Legislative Session gets underway and discussion and debate on the health care environment in our state continues, FAHP is launching the ‘Florida Patients Matter’ campaign and video series to showcase how health plans truly have a positive impact on the lives of their patients,” said Audrey Brown, the group’s president and CEO, in a statement. “In the midst of debate, policy questions are often the focal point, but health plans understand that what is really of critical importance is ensuring Florida patients get the best quality health care that is both accessible and affordable.”

Toodles, screwworm.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said this week that no Key deer have died because of screwworm in the last two months. Wildlife officials also said there has been a drop in the number of screwworm infections among the dog-sized deer found in the Florida Keys.

Since the infestation has slowed, officials said they’re planning to remove devices to apply anti-parasite medication to deer stopping at feeding troughs in the National Key Deer Refuge. Individual deer being monitored in the refuge will continue to receive oral medicines.

A new report from The James Madison Institute might appeal to all those fans not-so-patiently waiting the arrival of George RR Martin’s next book.

The report — dubbed “Game of Cronies: Florida’s Taxpayers Lose Out to Crony Capitalism” — looks at Florida’s taxpayer incentive programs, specifically film and stadium incentive programs. The report states four stadium construction projects around the state that have requested public funding, and notes the Daytona Speedway and the Miami Sun Life Stadium have requested a combined $900 million.

The report, according to JMI officials, found what is “sold as a positive return for taxpayers turns out to be the opposite with the only with the only real beneficiary being wealthy sports franchise owners or film production company executives.”

“Sports team owners and film producers do a good job of painting rosy pictures of all the jobs and positive economic impact that will result if they can just get enough taxpayer money to make it work,” said Robert McClure, the group’s president and CEO. “Unfortunately for taxpayers, those schemes rarely, if ever, deliver on their promised benefits.

The Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee unanimously approved the bill (SB 532), which requires companies to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection about the release of any dangerous substance within 24 hours of discovery. The DEP must then publish a public notice within 24 hours of being notified.

“I am grateful that the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee unanimously approved my bill to help ensure that the people of Florida are notified in a timely manner if a spill does occur,” said Sen. Bill Galvano, the bill’s sponsor. “Floridians deserve the peace of mind of knowing they’ll promptly receive information that can help keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

The bill comes in the aftermath of several high-profile incidents over the past year that led to chemical contaminants possibly leaking into local drinking supplies.

Ever wonder how long it takes to explain a one-word amendment?

If you’re Sen. David Simmons, the answer nearly 10 minutes.

Simmons proposed a short amendment — no really, the amendment removed a lined and added the word “immune” — to Sen. Rob Bradley’s bill to shift the burden of proof in “Stand Your Ground” cases. Simmons was a sponsor of the 2005 bill, and used the time given to him to explain his amendment as a chance to give a little history of the bill.

That lengthy explanation led to some gentle ribbing from his colleagues.

“I would ask the secretary to make an official notation in the journal that this is the first time that Sen. Simmons has filed an amendment that is one-word long,” said Senate President Negron, who noted the two men have served together in the Legislature for 14 years. “I do note the brevity of the amendment did not result in a proportionate reduction in the complexity of the explanation.”

Negron then told members to “proceed at their peril” when engaging in questions with Simmons. But the joking didn’t stop with Negron. When he opened the floor to questions, Minority Leader Braynon told Simmons he didn’t get it, and asked him to recap and do it again. Sen. Darryl Rouson then asked how many letters were in his one-word amendment.

“I tell you this, I made …” he started.

“Six,” interjected Negron to a laugh.

The amendment passed.

Gov. Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Putnam visited Collier County this week to tour areas impacted by a 7,500-acre wildfire. The fire, according to the Naples Daily News, started Sunday afternoon and quickly spread through the Picayune Strand State Forest. It threatened hundreds of homes east of Collier Boulevard and south of Interstate 75, and temporarily shut down I-75.

Party on, Florida.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is already gearing up for spring break, inspecting nearly 500 gas stations in popular spring break destinations for skimmers, the devices that steal consumers’ credit and debit card information. The sweep uncovered eight skimmers — four in the Clearwater-St. Pete Beach area, one in the Daytona Beach-Cocoa Beach-Flagler Beach-New Smyrna Beach area, two in West Palm Beach, and one in Fort Lauderdale.

Since 2015, the department has found and removed more than 430 skimmers across the state. If undetected, the department estimates about 100 people are victimized per device, with an average of $1,000 stolen from each victim.

“From Okaloosa County to Miami-Dade County, these skimmers are being placed on gas pumps and stealing from unsuspecting residents and visitors,” said Agriculture Commissioner Putnam. “We will continue to crackdown on these devices – and the criminals responsible for them.”

The doors are finally open.

The Florida Department of State will host a grand opening of The Grove Museum at 10 a.m. Saturday. The event will feature guided tours of the two-story mansion, music, games and food trucks.

 “We look forward to working with our partners in the Tallahassee community to ensure The Grove becomes one of the top heritage tourism destinations in Florida, and in the nation,” Secretary of State Detzner told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Visitors will be able to experience the vision of the governor and Mrs. Collins to make The Grove a place for future generations of Floridians to celebrate our shared heritage, learn about critical moments in history and inspire a passion for public service.”

The event is free and open to the public. The Grove is located north of the Governor’s Mansion on North Adams Street.

Got some spare time this weekend? Consider cleaning out your closet for a good cause.

Volunteer Florida and Uber are once again teaming up for #SuitsForSession, a service project at the Florida Capital on March 15. Members of the Legislature, Cabinet, local nonprofits, private sector and others will collect gently used professional attire for job-seekers in need.

The items will be donated to the Chapman Partnership in Miami, Dress for Success Tampa Bay, ECHO Outreach Ministries in Tallahassee, Bridges of America in Orlando, and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program.

Volunteer Florida and Uber Florida will accept gently worn clothing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 15 at the Capitol. They’ll be accepting blazers and jackets, blouses and shirts, dresses and skirts, pants, and shoes for men and women.

Here’s this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:




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