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Takeaways from Tallahassee — That time Aaron Bean ‘chickened out’

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State Sen. Aaron Bean was at his carnival-barker best this week—including some surprises—when he spoke to teens attending this year’s American Legion Boys State at Tallahassee’s Civic Center.

The idea of the non-partisan event is to “gain hands-on experience to leadership by taking part in the political process through role-play civic exercises,” its website explains. VISIT FLORIDA CEO Ken Lawson also was there just before Bean spoke.

Bean, a licensed auctioneer, is a Boys State alum, as are all three of his sons, including Walker, who attended this year.

After some thunderous applause, the Republican state Senator from Fernandina Beach told the teens about his experience in running for office—with a couple of revelations. He previously was a state Representative, city commissioner and mayor.

While knocking on some “45,000 doors” running for office, he mentioned that some homes had ‘no soliciting’ signs.

“I knocked,” he admitted. “Of course, I’m all in! I’m knocking.”

It “worked out well,” he added, saying of one man who had a sign, “We got him as a voter. He was cranky, sure, but we got him.”

Bean later mentioned a time he got cold feet during a candidates’ forum.

Sen. Aaron Bean told Boys State attendees he once “chickened out” of a candidates’ forum. “There’s hope for everybody,” the usually enthusiastic state senator told the boys, ‘so if you’re not comfortable speaking (in public), I was right there with you.” (Photo by Phil Sears)

“I started getting very nervous about speaking,” he said. “So much so I got physically nauseated while waiting … What do you do? Fake an illness. That’s exactly what I did … I chickened out. And I have to live with that forever.”

“I use that regret, that sorrow now, so that whenever there’s an opportunity to speak, I’m going to do it and I get stronger every day,” he added. “There’s hope for everybody, so if you’re not comfortable speaking (in public), I was right there with you.”

He also addressed those who might not have the political “bug” to serve in the Legislature.

“You might not be into the Legislature, but the Legislature is really into you,” he said. “(It) controls virtually everything in the state of Florida, from the speed limits to the schools, the fertilizer that you put on your grass, to how we take water from aquifers … There’s something for everybody.”

Girls State was held earlier this month, also in Tallahassee.

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

But first the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Subpoena me this… — The feds are looking into … well, we’re not clear exactly what they’re looking into, but they have subpoenaed the City of Tallahassee over a series of development deals involving some of the city’s biggest business names. Caught up in the investigation are political allies of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat now running for governor, and former mayor and current City Commissioner Scott Maddox. He’s also the former chair of the Florida Democratic Party. As one person involved with the investigation told Florida Politics’ Jim Rosica, “This is serious. Very serious. I’m sure that everyone named in those subpoenas has lawyered up. I won’t be surprised if charges are filed in the next few months.”

Pack your bags — Gov. Rick Scott had a message for the people of Connecticut: give up and just move to Florida already. The Naples Republican traveled to Connecticut this week to try and convince businesses to move to Florida, pitching businesses on a state with “lower regulations, less regulations … good universities, (and) is less expensive.” The visit came after Aetna announced it was searching for a new headquarters. But Connecticut wasn’t crazy about Scott’s visit. The Hartford Courant wrote a scathing editorial this week, telling Scott to go back to Florida for good. “What, exactly, makes Florida a better place to live? Is it the alligators? The suffocating humidity” the editorial read. The higher rates of poverty and violent crimes? The traffic? Is it Mickey Mouse?”

Broken promises — LGBTQ advocates criticized Gov. Scott this week, saying the governor promised to sign an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in state hiring and contracting but didn’t follow through. Leaders of Equality Florida said they met with the governor’s staff days after last year’s Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, and were told staff “needed a few weeks” to draft the language. Nothing happened. “It seems if there was ever a moment for him to issue an executive order, it was then, and by failing to do so, we now want to publicly hold him accountable for not taking meaningful action to protect LGBTQ people in Florida,” said Hannah Willard, a public policy director for Equality Florida. A spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office said the state “does not tolerate discrimination of any form,” and that the office will continue to review ways it “can work to eliminate discrimination of any kind.”

LGBTQ activists criticized Gov. Rick Scott this week, saying the governor failed to deliver on a promise in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting to sign an executive order to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in state hiring. Forty-nine people, most of whom were LGBTQ and Latino, died in the shooting and dozens other were injured. (Photo via the Associated Press)

Them’s the rules — The Department of Health is moving forward with rule-making to govern the use of medical marijuana. The department recently published a notice of proposed regulation, the next step in the rule-making process. Under the amendment passed by voters last year, the Department of Health has until July 3 to pass rules to implement the medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Meanwhile, state lawmakers sent the recently approved implementing bill (SB 8A) to Gov. Scott for his consideration on Monday. Scott signed the bill Friday. That likely won’t be the end of the road, though. John Morgan, the Orlando attorney who helped write the amendment, has said he plans to sue over the smoking ban, and tweeted this week he will be filing his “lawsuit for smoke as soon as it goes into law.”

Confederate battles — It seemed like the Confederacy, and its roots in Florida, spent a significant amount of time in the headlines this week. Orlando officials agreed to move a Confederate memorial at Lake Eola Park to Greenwood Cemetery. But during the process of preparing to move it, workers discovered a time capsule hidden in the base, weighing about 3 pounds. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, which commissioned the statue in 1911, has asked that the time capsule be returned to the local chapter. A few hours away, Hillsborough County officials voted 4-3 not to remove a Confederate memorial in front of the courthouse. And in South Florida, Rep. Shevrin Jones took to Twitter to tell Floridians about the racial epithets that were hurled at him, after he attended a rally to call on local lawmakers to rename the streets named after Confederate generals, which run through a predominately black neighborhood. “These signs commemorate Confederate generals and serve as a chronic and tormenting reminder of atrocities committed against black communities,” said Jones in a statement earlier this week.

Rep. Shevrin Jones called for Floridians to “stand united, not divided,” after pro-Confederates hurled racial slurs at him after a rally in Hollywood to denounce the city’s Confederate street names, which run through a predominately black neighborhood. (Photo via the Florida House.)

Jobs, jobs, jobs

That was fast — When it comes to job growth, Florida is moving at the speed of lightning.

The Governor’s Office announced this week that Florida added jobs at a faster rate than the 10 largest states in the nation over the past year. The state, according to the Governor’s Office, had the second-fastest annual private-sector job growth rate out of all states, second only to Utah.

“Florida’s astounding job growth across multiple industries proves that our business-friendly focus is working,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “We have fostered an environment that sets hardworking Floridians up for success. Our state continues to beat the nation so that Florida families can flourish.”

The state’s private-sector job growth rate is at 3 percent, outpacing the nation’s rate of 1.8 percent, according to the Governor’s Office.

Post-grad plans — Florida graduates have a good chance of finding a gig after graduation, according to the latest Board of Governors’ annual baccalaureate follow-up study.

The study found 92 percent of students who graduated from the state university system in 2015 were working within one year of graduation. Nearly three-fourths of graduates, according to the report, who worked were working full-time; while one out of every four graduates who were working were also continuing their education at the same time.

“The Board of Governors’ top focus is student outcomes, and this study offers a comprehensive look at what our students’ experiences are one year out,” said Tom Kuntz, the chairman of the Board of Governors, in a statement. “Overall, the takeaway is very positive: Students are employed, furthering their educations, or doing both at the same time.”

The report found the estimated median annual wage for graduates who worked full-time one year after graduation was about $39,100; up from $36,300 from the previous report. When it comes to salaries, engineering graduates fared the best, earning a median of $58,600.

Welcome to Hendry County — ATIO USA is opening up shop in Southwest Florida.

Gov. Scott announced this week the aluminum recycling and manufacturing company will open a new facility in Hendry County. The project, according to the Governor’s Office, will create 39 new jobs at an average of more than $42,000 a year. It is expected to result in a $26 million investment in the local community.

“We are really happy to make Hendry County the Home of ATIO USA, and look forward to actively supporting this community,” said Lucio Medolago, the company’s CEO, in a statement. “This is just the beginning of a successful operation that is the result of an excellent coordination between Enterprise Florida, the Hendry County EDC, county commission and partners in the community.”

The project, according to the Governor’s Office, was a collaborative effort between Enterprise Florida, Hendry County, the Hendry County, the Hendry County Economic Development Council, Clades County and other local partners. The company has committed to hiring local talent, by partnering with the Hendry EDC, local vocational training partners and CareerSource Southwest Florida.

“The commitment to operate in a rural area, provide living wages, and strong emphasis on infusing modern manufacturing technology that is both environmentally friendly and sustainable, in addition to committing to hire local talent, is a project any community would benefit from,” said Brent Kettler, the executive director of the Hendry County EDC.

Bug off

Florida food banks want to make sure residents are protected from Zika.

Feeding Florida announced this week it will distribute 480,000 units of OFF! Mosquito repellent to Florida communities to assist in the reducing the possibility of Zika transmission. The mosquito repellent was donated by SC Johnson and will be distributed at food distribution events throughout south, central and north Florida.

“The Feeding Florida statewide network of food banks are critical in mobilizing the necessary resources tailored to meet the needs of each community,” said Robin Safley, executive director of Feeding Florida. “We are excited to partner with SC Johnson to provide our communities with the education and prevention tools necessary to protect families from mosquitoes and reduce the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

About 300 families received mosquito repellent during a Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida mobile drop at the Apostolic Church of Jesus in Altamonte Springs this week. The drop was part of Feeding Florida’s effort to distribute mosquito repellent to families in need. (Photo via the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.)

The donation from SC Johnson meets their commitment to donate at least $15 million in OFF! products and financial donations to combat the rising outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases.

“SC Johnson is pleased to provide this donation to Feeding Florida, with the goal of helping protect families from mosquitoes that may carry mosquito-borne diseases including Zika,” said Kelly Semrau, senior vice president of global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability at SC Johnson. “Their statewide network of food banks has the ability to quickly and efficiently get OFF! personal repellent into the hands of individuals and families in need.”

In 2016, there were 1,325 Zika cases reported in Florida. So far in 2017, there are four locally acquired cases in Florida, according to the Department of Health.

Manufacturers marketplace

Associated Industries of Florida and the National Association of Manufacturers are teaming up.

The two organizations announced this week they’ve launched “Manufacturers Marketplace,” a new digital marketplace featuring interactive listings on more than 300,000 leading U.S. manufacturers, including nearly 18,000 in Florida.

“Manufacturers in the United States need the best tools available to compete and win — and the Manufacturers Marketplace is unlike any resource the industry has to create new business and support more American jobs,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the NAM. “What Google and Yahoo did for online searches, Manufacturers Marketplace will do for buyers and sellers in the manufacturing economy — whether they’re large or small firms. As only the NAM and our state partners can do, we’ve created the most comprehensive, simple to use and innovative industry network in the market.”

The website works by including large and small businesses in the marketplace, whether they are a member of the National Association of Manufacturers or a leading state manufacturing association. Registered users are prompted to expand their listings with detailed information, including additional locations, certifications, equipment, capacity and more.

“The Manufacturers Marketplace is a valuable tool for manufacturing businesses in Florida,” said Tom Feeney, president and CEO of AIF. “Whether Florida businesses are looking for partners down the street or across the country, the Marketplace will quickly help companies find the perfect partners to meet their business goals.”

Pitch a tent

Thinking of going camping this summer? The Florida Forest Service is making pitching a tent a bit easier.

The Florida Forest Service announced that residents and visitors can reserve campsites at all of Florida’s state forests online. The state’s forests offer a variety of camping options, from developed campsites with electricity, water and centralized restrooms with showers, to primitive campsites that offer a backcountry experience in remote settings with no amenities.

“Florida’s natural attractions are second to none, and visitors and residents alike can now conveniently plan their trips to one of Florida’s 37 states forests and reserve their campsites online,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The online service, according to the Florida Forest Service, allows visitors to search for camping options across the state. Campers just need to create an account to start planning their trip.

The forest service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land across 37 state forests.

Closer look

Rep. Randy Fine is calling for an audit of the “operational practices and managerial oversight” in Palm Bay.

The Brevard County Republican, sent a letter to Sen. Debbie Mayfield, the chairwoman of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, asking for the audit after receiving numerous calls from his constituents in response to media reports regarding concerns at City Hall.

According to the letter to Mayfield, Fine said constituents are concerned “City Council may not be acting in accordance with the City Charter.” Fine said constituents are concerned the mayor, who under the charter is a councilman and meeting moderator, “appears to be operating in a ‘strong mayor’ form of government.”

Rep. Randy Fine, a member of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, is asking for an audit into the “operational practices and managerial oversight” in Palm Bay. (Photo via Mark Wallheiser.)

Fine also said constituents are concerned that the “resulting dysfunction at the Council level has led to inadequate controls and supervision amongst senior city managers, both by the Council and individual managers.”

In his letter, Fine said as a new member of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, he was impressed by the thoroughness the Auditor General brought to the special audit of the city of Archer, and felt Palm Bay “requires a similar outside, top-to-bottom, review.”

“Cities in the State of Florida are the creation of the State, which has granted them Charters to operate. As our creation, we have an obligation to ensure that they are operating appropriately and protecting our constituents from out-of-control local governments,” wrote Fine. “All indications are that Palm Bay is in crisis, and it is my hope that an independent, non-criminal audit can help them remedy these failings so they can administer their locality as designed by our Constitution and the Legislature.”

Awards Season

Five honored as “FSA Legislative Champions” — The Florida Sheriffs Association tipped its hat to five state lawmakers — three representatives and two state senators — this week, honoring them for their significant contributions during the 2017 Legislative Session.

“The Florida Sheriffs Association is honored to recognize these legislators for their commitment to public safety,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, the president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, in a statement.

Sen. Greg Steube was one of five state lawmakers — along with Sen. Jack Latvala, and Reps. Jim Boyd, Jamie Grant, and Chris Sprowls — honored by the Florida Sheriffs Association as an FSA Legislative Champions for their work during the 2017 Legislative Session. (Photo by Phil Sears)

The organization named Reps. Jim Boyd, Jamie Grant, and Chris Sprowls, and Sens. Jack Latvala and Greg Steube as the FSA Legislative Champions. Demings said Boyd and Steube were recognized for their “dedication and leadership in passing comprehensive legislation to address Florida’s heroin and Fentanyl epidemic.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the FSA’s legislative chair, said Latvala and Grant were honored because they “made addressing the problem of a lack of accountability among repeat juvenile offenders a priority with the passage of the prolific juvenile offender bill (SB 7059).” Sprowls was honored for his work on that bill, as well as “numerous other public safety issues that had to be addressed throughout Session.”

22 honored as “Friend of the Sheriff” — Nearly two dozen state lawmakers can proudly call themselves a “Friend of the Sheriff.”

The Florida Sheriffs Association announced 22 lawmakers would receive the award, which is given to lawmakers who support legislation that would have had a positive impact on public safety, this week.

This year, the FSA acknowledged 18 senators — Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Lauren Book, Rob Bradley, George Gainer, Bill Galvano, Rene Garcia, Denise Grimsley, Travis Hutson, Tom Lee, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Darryl Rouson, David Simmons, Wilton Simpson, and Kelli Stargel — who supported a motion to recede from an amendment on the final day of session, and who, along with Latvala and Steube, voted in favor  of a bill (HB 477) enhancing penalties for crimes dealing with opioids.

Sen. Darryl Rouson was one of 18 senators honored by the FSA as a “Friend of the Sheriff” this week. The statewide association also honored Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Reps. Jason Fischer and Joseph Abruzzo. (Photo by Phil Sears)

The FSA also honored Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Reps. Jason Fischer and Joseph Abruzzo with the award.

“Without the aid of these important state legislators, and Attorney General Bondi, the Florida Sheriffs Association would not be able to serve the citizens of Florida to the best of our ability,” said Steve Casey, the group’s executive director. “On behalf of the entire Florida Sheriffs Association, I would like to honor these men and women for doing their part to help keep Floridians safe.”

Culture matters

Culture in Florida is big business.

Just how big? Well, according to a new report from the Americans for the Arts, the nonprofits arts and culture industry in Florida generates $4.68 billion in total economic activity, supports 132,366 full-time jobs, and delivers $492.3 million in local and state government revenue.

“At the Florida Department of State, we believe that Culture Builds Florida, and this report sends a strong signal that supporting the arts and culture industry helps to build Florida’s economy and strengthen our state’s identity as the best place to live, work and play in the United States,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

The report found that spending by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations totaled $2.29 billion during fiscal 2015. That same year, 121,264 volunteers donated more than 6.5 million hours to nonprofit arts organizations in Florida, which equals an estimated value of more than $153.6 million in donated time.

Researchers estimated nearly 85 percent of the 70 million non-profit arts attendees were residents, while 15 percent were visitors. Nonresident attendees spent an average of 93 percent more per person than local attendees.

The last economic impact study of arts and culture was conducted in 2009, which found arts and culture generated $3.1 billion in economic activity.

“Thanks to the support of Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature, the Department provides funding, programs and resources, including grants, to help promote and grow Florida’s arts and cultural industry at the local and state level, and we encourage arts and cultural organizations to reach out to us so we can be of service,” said Detzner in a statement.

Schoolhouse news

New (wo)man in charge — Out with the old, in with the new.

The Florida School Boards Association announced this week it elected April Griffin to serve as the president of the statewide association.

Griffin, along with four other school board members, was sworn in as the executive officers for the 2017-18 term during the annual meeting this week.  Jerry Taylor, a Suwannee County school board member, will serve as the president-elect; Ida Wright, a Volusia school board member, will serve as vice president, Milton Brown, a Washington school board member, and will serve as treasurer. Tim Harris, a Polk County school board member, will serve as the immediate past president.

“By the end of this year I am hoping that we will begin changing the conversation, looking forward, and finding solutions instead of excuses,” she said.

Best ‘Pals — Kudos, Rachel Shelley!

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced this week that Shelley, a Sarasota County principal, has been named the 2017 Principal of the Year. Stewart also announced Kelly Stedman, a Lee County assistant principal, was the 2017 Assistant Principal of the Year.

“School leaders set the tone for educators, students, parents, and community members, and they are integral to student success,” said Stewart in a statement. “Dr. Rachel Shelley and Kelly Stedman have demonstrated unwavering dedication to Florida’s students, and I am honored to recognize them with this prestigious award. The exceptional leadership that they and their colleagues throughout Florida offer is essential to ensuring students receive a world-class education.”

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced Rachel Shelley was selected as the 2017 Principal of the Year. (Photo via the Department of Education.)

Shelley, a principal at Booker High School in Sarasota County, has more than 28 years of experience in K-12 education. She has been praised by her colleagues for dedication to helping students succeeds and for relationship-based leadership. As a winner of the 2017 award, she will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and $1,000 for her school.

Stedman is the assistant principal at James Stephens International Academy in Lee County. According to the Department of Education, her colleagues expressed appreciation for her passionate support of students and the way she works to help teachers grow. She will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and $500 for her school.

Virtual reality — The Florida Virtual School Board of Trustees has a new chairman.

The board elected Robert Gidel, Sr. to serve as chairman, replacing Dhyana Ziegler, who served a two-year term as the board’s chair.

“We are grateful to Dr. Ziegler for her leadership and guidance over the last couple of years and her strong dedication to educational excellence,” said Ronald Blocker, president and CEO of Florida Virtual School. “Under Mr. Gidel’s leadership, the FLVS Board of Trustees is positioned to continue that path of excellence with a strong strategic commitment to serving Florida’s youth.”

Gidel has been on the board since September 2015, and is the managing partner of Liberty Capital Advisors. A graduate of the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida, he was elected a life member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Foundation and was a past chairman of the Finance Committee.

“I am honored to be named Chair of the Board of Trustees for Florida Virtual School,” said Gidel. “I look forward to continuing our work in positioning FLVS at the forefront of this ever-changing educational landscape.”

Dig in

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to hear from you.

Who? You — on the development of species conservation measures and permitting guidelines for the Florida burrowing owl.

The FWC will hold a meeting in July at the Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium Field House in Lauderhill to gather input on the process for developing permitting guidelines and on interim permitting processes for Florida burrowing owls in urban areas.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking input on development rules when it comes to the Florida burrowing owl. (Photo via FWC)

While the owls’ habitat was once native dry prairies, it is now likely to be found in open areas of urban and suburban landscapes. They dig their own burrows, but move into the burrows of other species, like gopher tortoise, or inhabit man-made structures like pipes and drains.

The Florida burrowing owl is the only owl east of the Mississippi River.

In January, the status of the Florida burrowing owl changed from species of special concerned to state threatened, as part of rule changes implementing the FWC’s imperiled species management plan approved in November.

Red pen action

A planned advisory council for the Capitol Complex fell victim to Gov. Scott’s veto pen this week, after the governor said it would add an “unnecessary layer of red tape bureaucracy.”

Scott vetoed a bill (SB 2512) that would have created the Capitol Advisory Council within the legislative branch. The council, among other things, would have been able to make recommendations on the operation, maintenance, preservation and protection of the structures and grounds of the Capitol Complex.

In his veto letter, Scott wrote it was “vitally important that all building repairs and maintenance be made in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.” However, the governor said the bill would create “requirements that are duplicative of current processes and would add an unnecessary layer of red tape and bureaucracy.”

Lawmakers pushed the idea of a council after emergency repairs to two underground parking garages at the Capitol were announced last year. The building also underwent upgrades to its main entry plaza.

Surging sales

The housing market is hot, hot, hot.

That’s according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Realtors, which showed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 27,850 in May, up 7.6 percent compared to May 2016.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month, according to the new data, was $239,000, up 7.7 percent from the previous year. The median price for townhouse-condo properties in May was $178,000, up 8.1 percent from a year ago.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in April was $246,100, up 6.1 percent from the previous year. The national median sales price for condo prices was $234,600.

On the board

Welcome back, Joel Anderson and Richard Scanlon.

Gov. Scott announced this week he reappointed Anderson and Scanlon to the Continuing Care Advisory Council.

Anderson, a 46-year-old Sarasota resident, is the chief executive officer of Village on the Isle. He was reappointed to a term ending Sept. 30, 2019. Scanlon, a 58-year-old St. Petersburg resident, is the managing director of B.C. Ziegler and Company. He was reappointed to a term ending Sept. 30, 2018.

Scott also reappointed Kymberlee Curry Smith, a 36-year-old Cooper City resident, to the Florida Elections Commission. She was reappointed to a term ending Dec. 31, 2020.

Syd Kitson and Darlene Jordan have been reappointed to the Board of Governors of the State University System, the governor announced this week.

Scott reappointed Kitson, the 58-year-old CEO of Kitson and Partners, and Jordan, the 50-year-old executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, after the Senate failed to consider them for confirmation before adjourning the 2017 Legislative session sine die. Scott also announced he reappointed Alan Levine, the 49-year-old president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance, to the board. All three were reappointed to a term ending Jan. 6, 2024.

Ted Feaster is heading back to the Construction Industry Licensing Board. The governor announced he was reappointing the 63-year-old Ocala resident to the board after the Senate failed to confirm him before the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. He was appointed to a term ending Oct. 31, 2019.

The Florida Building Commission will welcome back Diana Worrall, a 70-year-old Naples resident. Scott announced he reappointed Worrall, the former Americans with Disabilities Act director for Miami-Dade County, to the board for a term ending Feb. 7, 2021

Scott appointed Jason Robbins, a 44-year-old Merritt Island attorney, to the Workers’ Compensation panel. He fills a vacant seat, and fills a term ending at the pleasure of the Governor. The governor also announced the appointment of Raja Shekhar Komuroji to the Board of Employee Leasing Companies for a term ending Oct. 31, 2020.

The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Help wanted

Attention Floridians: Florida Fish & Wildlife needs your help.

The state wildlife agency is asking Floridians to help in monitoring fish health by tracking marine and freshwater fish kills in the Sunshine State.

“The public’s involvement is critical to locate, monitor and understand the extent of fish kills,” said Theresa Cody, an associate research scientist with FWC. “Reporting observations to the hotline ensures a coordinated response to incidents and alleviates public concerns.”

A necropsy, an autopsy on an animal, is performed on a fish by FWC staff. FWC is asking for the public’s help when it comes to reporting fish kills. (Photo via FWC.)

Several factors can contribute to fish kills, including sudden temperature fluctuations or extreme temperatures. Heavy rains can compound the situation by suspending sediments in the water column, and by washing vegetation, like leaves and grass clippings, into the system.

The public is encouraged to report fish kills to FWC by calling the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. All of the data collected from fish kill events, Cody said, are used in conjunction with “directed research to further understand the causes of fish kills and disease incidences.”

Operation Outdoor Freedom

Lobster hunting, scalloping and even kayaking …

Those are just a few of the events veterans can apply to take part in as part of Operation Outdoor Freedom, an initiative run by the Florida Forest Service that provides recreational opportunities to wounded veterans.

More than 3,000 wounded veterans have participated in more than 400 hunting, fishing, boating and other recreational events at no cost since the program was launched in 2011.

“Operation Outdoor Freedom is a special way of connecting the natural resources and beauty our state is blessed with to the men and women of our armed services who have courageously sacrificed for our nation,” said Agriculture Commissioner Putnam. “It’s the least we can do for those who have done so much for us.”

The program offers two types of events — guided events, which are complete with guided services, housing and meals, and unguided events, which provide the area to be used, primitive campsites and portable restroom facilities.

Veterans are encouraged to apply to take part in the mini-season lobster hunt, a scalloping and fishing event in the Perry district; and a Chipola River kayak event.

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,,, 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.

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