Today is the 50th day of the 2019 Legislative Session. As the Orlando Sentinelâs Gray Rohrer noted on Twitter, here are all the issues which have not yet gone to Gov. Ron DeSantisâ desk: Amendment 4 implementing bill, arming teachers, 5G deregulation, AOB reform, ban on texting while driving, ban on so-called sanctuary cities, beer ads/promotions, changes to the amendment petition-gathering process, criminal justice reforms, health care deregulation, professions deregulation, tort reform, university spending changes, affordable housing pre-emption, sunscreen pre-emption, tobacco 21 marketing pre-emption, VISIT FLORIDA extension, and/or voucher expansion.
Although there are still ten days before Sine Die, itâs not too early to think about who is emerging from Session as a winner or a loser. Thatâs why weâre asking for your nominations now for the W&L columns.
Think about which bills have already died. Or who or what issue is a winner no matter what happens during the final two weeks.
Please avoid nominating the big-ticket items like the Governor or the budget. Weâre looking for specific people and issues. We will publish your answers (but your identity will remain confidential); send them toÂ Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.
For now, we plan to publish the annual âWinners & Losers of the Legislative Sessionâ post next Friday evening, assuming thereâs a hanky drop then. Stay tunedâŚ
The last couple of years taught us that elections are won at the ballot box, not by opinion polls and endorsements. So, Jane Castor will have to wait until Tuesday night to learn if the seeminglyÂ overwhelming edge she has in the traditional pre-election metrics translates to victory in the race to be Tampaâs next Mayor.
Her opponent, businessman and philanthropist David Straz, has out-spent Castor by about 4-to-1 to paint the former Police Chief as another agent of a corrupt status quo.
His latest attacks have focused on Castorâs connections with many of Tampaâs business and political leaders. Straz has called that the âold boy network.â
Most of the $4.7 million Straz has invested to win the office came from his own considerable bank account. On April 8 he loaned his campaign another $600,000 and has not slowed up his attacks on Castor, despite lagging badly in polling.
A University of North Florida poll last week gave Castor a 36-point lead, while St. Pete Polls had her in front by 27 points. Ominously for Straz, 70 percent of Castorâs supporters in the latter poll said they had already cast ballots.
All but one of Tampaâs living former Mayors endorsed Castor, including current Mayor Bob Buckhorn, along with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, state Sen. Janet Cruz, and former Florida House Speaker H. Lee Moffitt.
Multiple unions, the Hillsborough County LGBTA Democratic Caucus, and the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association also endorsed her.
Throughout the campaign, Castor stressed her knowledge of the city and its neighborhoods from 31 years she spent with the Tampa Police Department.
Tampa will swear in a new Mayor May 1.
ââOne more day until Tampa picks its next Mayorâ via CharlieÂ FragoÂ of the Tampa Bay Times
Assignment editorsÂ âÂ CastorÂ will hold an election watch party, 6:30 p.m., The Vault, 611 N. Franklin St., Tampa.
Peter SchorschÂ will be the featured speaker at Tuesdayâs meeting of Capital Tiger Bay Club. Thatâs 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee. Â For info on last-minute attendance, contact Debby Kent at email@example.com or call (850) 320-2019.
â SITUATIONAL AWARENESS â
â@RealDonaldTrump:Â My friend Herman Cain, a trulyÂ wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!
â@BarackObama:Â Young people all over the world are leading the way in the fight to protect our planet because they know their future depends on it. This Earth Day, I want to celebrate the courageous, committed young leaders who are stepping up to save the one planet weâve got.
â@MattGaetz:Â Had a great call with @#!today coordinating our efforts to support the commercial & military space missions in Florida. @ Â âÂ Florida is the right home for the
â@MearKat00:Â Tomorrow is the first day of the real Session.
â@AGlorios:Â Last night I dreamt I was trying to negotiate an out-of-network hospital charge of $7,700 in outerspace while I was on a super secret mission. We must be entering the budget conference soon for the 2019 legislative session.
â@FarmerForFLSenate:Â I was sickened by the actions of the BSO deputies last week. This was police brutality, plain and simple. This family deserves justice, and these deputies must be relieved of their duties immediately.
â@JaredMoskowitz:Â Dear @@ Will you please announce a reunion tour, so I donât have to hear or see this BTS BS. Thank you, World
â DAYS UNTIL â
âAvengers: Endgameâ opens â 3; White House Correspondentsâ Dinner â 4; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) â 10; Motherâs Day â 19; Florida Chamber Florida Business Leadersâ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity â 32; Memorial Day â 34; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser â 46; U.S. Open begins â 51; Fatherâs Day â 54; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins â 59; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami â 64; Independence Day â 72; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit â 98; St. Petersburg primary election â 127; âJokerâ opens â 164; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins â 188; Scott Maddox trial begins â 195; 2019 General Election â 196; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon begins â 198; Iowa Caucuses â 286; Floridaâs presidential primary â 329; 2020 General Election â 560.
â TOP STORY â
âState estimators figure minimum wage hike will cost state $540 million in 2027â via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics â A proposed hike in Floridaâs minimum wage could cost the state about $540 million in 2027, according to official estimates. And millions more would be lost in the five prior years. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference submitted calculations Monday of financial ramifications from a ballot proposal seeking a $15 minimum wage. Florida For A Fair Wage, chaired by Orlando attorney John Morgan, wants the question in front of voters in 2020. Most of the direct costs from impacts hit public schools.
â THE ADMINISTRATION â
Assignment editors â DeSantis will deliver remarks at the AARP âWe Hear Youâ Prescription Drugs Town Hall, 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, Florida State University, Augustus B. Turnbull Conference Center, Room 108, 555 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee.
âRon DeSantis seeks federal funding boost for Michael recoveryâ via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics â âI am officially requesting an increase in federal funding for Hurricane Michael recovery from 75 to 90 percent,â DeSantisÂ said. âIt was clear that the efforts to rebuild and recover were far from over. An increase in the federal share will help Northwest Florida tremendously, and I thank PresidentÂ Trump for his previous commitment to fully fund the first 45 days of recovery from this storm.â Florida Division of Emergency Management head Jared Moskowitz echoed DeSantisâ request saying, âWe recognized the devastation this storm caused and took action in January by putting in place new processes and procedures to get funding out as quickly as possible.â
DeSantis announces launch of Super Bowl LIV Environmental Initiative âOcean to Evergladesâ â Gov. DeSantis joined the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee to help launch Ocean to Everglades (O2E). The initiative is a partnership between the host committee, NFL Green, Ocean Conservancy and The Everglades Foundation to raise awareness and reduce the environmental impact of the Super Bowl. âFlorida is prime for marquee sporting events, and we are honored to host the Super Bowl in Miami next year,â DeSantis said. âPreserving our environment is important to many Floridians âŚ I am thankful to the host committeeÂ and the partners involved in this initiative for putting a plan in place to ensure that our environment will be safeguarded from our oceans to the Everglades.â
Environmental groups demand action from DeSantis â DeSantis received an Earth Day card encouraging him to take strong action to fight climate change. The Florida Clean Energy for All (CEFA) said Florida is the state most vulnerable to climate change, and quick action is needed. âClimate change is the single biggest threat facing Florida, and Governor DeSantis is the single most powerful voice in Florida government,â said Florida Conservation Voters head Aliki Moncrief, who called on DeSantis to speed up the stateâs transition to clean energy. Southern Alliance for Clean Energyâs Florida director, Susan Glickman, took an economic angle, adding that âadvancing clean energy will keep energy dollars in the state, create high-paying local jobs and spur economic development. The choice is clear.â
âOkaloosa Superintendent case teed up againâ via the News Service of Florida â After the Florida Supreme Court ruled against suspended Okaloosa County Superintendent of SchoolsÂ Mary Beth JacksonÂ last week, the legal battle over her ouster is ready to start again in the state Senate. Senate Special MasterÂ Dudley GoodletteÂ will hold aÂ prehearingÂ conference as he prepares to consider Jacksonâs challenge to her suspension by DeSantis. The Senate case was put into abeyance when Jackson also challenged DeSantis in the Supreme Court. But justices ruled last week that the governor acted within his authority when he suspended her. The dispute is playing out in the Legislature because the state Constitution gives the Senate the power to reinstate or remove elected officials from office.
âDeSantis picks for Miami Dade College Board zip through Senate panelâ via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics â In a brief hearing Monday, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee voted to advance the nominations of Dr. Anay Abraham and Carlos Migoya to serve on the Miami Dade College Board of Trustees. Abraham and Migoya are two of five nominees selected by DeSantis to serve on the board in late March. Their nominations will now go to the full Senate for approval. Abraham is the Managing Director of Developmental & External Relations at City Year Miami. DeSantis selected her to serve a full four-year term on the Board. Migoya, however, will fill a term with only two years remaining. Heâs currentlyÂ working as the president and CEO of the Jackson Health System.
âVapingÂ ban lands on DeSantisâ deskâ via the News Service of Florida â DeSantis received SB 7012 that would carry out a voter-approved ban onÂ vapingÂ and the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces. DeSantis will have until April 29 to act on the bill, which the House and Senate passed unanimously. Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment that combined the workplace-vaping ban with a ban on offshore oil drilling. The amendment was placed on the ballot by the state Constitution Revision Commission. While voters overwhelmingly approved the measure, it still needed lawmakers to implement it.
â SESSION â
âProposed reform could cut prison costs by $860M over five yearsâ via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics â The Office of Economic and Demographic Research determined that a plan to decrease the mandatory time-served threshold for certain offenders would result in the most significant drop in prison beds when compared to other proposed statute changes. That adjustment to whatâs known as âgain timeâ is embedded in the Florida First Step Act (SB 642), the Senateâs criminal justice overhaul. Specifically, the provision would lower the time-served threshold from 85 percent to 65 percent for certain first-time, non-violent offenders. It currentlyÂ requires prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.
This is a crappy way to frame this story; way to go LB for pushing back âÂ âOpioidÂ lawsuit bill stalls in Florida committee chaired by sister-in-law of Walgreens lobbyistâ via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times â A bill critical to the lawsuit moving forward has stalled in the committee of a powerful lawmaker â Sen.Â Lizbeth Benacquisto, who said her committee wonât hear it because of concerns it could invade the privacy of patients. She said her objections arenât related to her brother-in-law. That would beÂ Chris Hansen, a lobbyist whose clients include Walgreens â one defendant in Moodyâs lawsuit. âI havenât spoken to him about the issue, and Iâve actuallyÂ been chair of the committee for three times longer than Iâve been his brother-in-law,â she said.
âEnvironmentalists try to derail toll-road planâ via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida â Sierra Club Florida DirectorÂ FrankÂ JackaloneÂ said during a news conference in St. Petersburg that his group will âdeclare warâ on lawmakers who sponsor the bill (SB 7068), which is a priority of Senate PresidentÂ Bill Galvano. âWe will amass the most massive campaign the Sierra Club has ever done in Florida, in our history, to stop those toll roads from being put in place,â saidÂ Jackalone, who predicted the projects would bring sprawl, harmful wildlife impacts and water pollution resulting from paving large stretches of rural lands. âThe whole state will change.â
âFlorida House Democratsâ âNew Sunshine Dealâ still in Session shadeâ via John Haughey of FloridaWatchdog.com â When House Minority Leader Rep.Â KionneÂ McGheeÂ introduced the âNew Sunshine Deal,â he acknowledged the chamberâs 47 Democrats faced tough sledding. Components that could not gain traction as bills would be proposed as amendments to other legislation through the committee process, he said. With two weeks remaining before the Legislature concludes on May 3, and committees adjourning for the Session, it is unlikelyÂ any âNew Sunshine Dealâ initiatives will be introducedÂ this year. The 17-page âNew Sunshine Dealâ includes a $500 annual tax rebate forÂ low/moderate-incomeÂ households, a 13-percent salary increase forÂ schoolteachers, a $1,000 raise for state workers, a 700,000-resident expansion of Medicaid and full funding for Florida Forever and affordable housing.
Happy #HoopsDay â Look for several female folks in The Process to be sporting hoop earrings. Hosting Hoops Day areÂ Reps. Anna Eskamani, Amy Mercado, Kamia Brown, Cindy Polo, Fentrice Driskell and Kim Daniels, along with others. They encourage participants to share their #HoopsStory. Lauren Cooper, who works with Eskamani, tweeted: âOur interns were told during legislative orientation that hoop earrings are unprofessional.â She added: âWell we know hoops exist across many minority groups as symbols of resistance, strength & identity thus the unapologetic #HoopsDay has been born!âÂ
Our interns were told during legislative orientation that hoop earrings are unprofessional.
Well we know hoops exist across many minority groups as symbols of resistance, strength & identity thus the unapologetic #HoopsDay has been born!
The FL Capitol is about to get fab đ pic.twitter.com/7gkMB0lIYu
â Lauren Cooper (@_lcoops) April 22, 2019
â LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE â
The Senate will hold a floor session and could approve a wide-ranging bill aimed at bolstering safety in Florida schools. Other measures expected for consideration: A proposal to toughen the stateâs texting-while-driving ban; a proposal to build or expand three toll roads; a proposal dealing with the controversial insurance practice known as assignment of benefits, 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.
The House will take up a series of bills during a floor session, including a measure that seeks to prevent so-called sanctuary cities in Florida. Also expected: A controversial proposal to carry out a November constitutional amendment designed to restore voting rights of many felons who have fulfilled their sentences, 12:30 p.m., House Chamber.
Senate Special MasterÂ Dudley GoodletteÂ will again take up a case stemming from DeSantisâ suspension of Okaloosa County Superintendent of SchoolsÂ Jackson. The process had been on hold pending a court challenge that Jackson lost. Thatâs at 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
The Senate Rules Committee will consider dozens of bills, including a measure to prevent life insurers from using customersâ genetic information in decisions about selling policies or pricing premiums, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will set a special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor. Thatâs 15 minutes after the Rules Committee meeting ends, 401 Senate Office Building.
The House Rules Committee will meet 15 minutes after the floor session, 404 House Office Building.
Assignment editorsÂ â The Florida Education Association (FEA) will hold a news conference, 9:30 a.m., 4th Floor Rotunda.
Assignment editorsÂ â Lawmakers, the We Are Florida Coalition, immigrants, civil rights advocates, and faith leaders will hold a news conference and then pray in opposition to âfamily separationâ bills. Event begins 11 a.m., 4th Floor Rotunda.
Assignment editorsÂ â Former state Rep.Â Irv SlosbergÂ joins state Reps.Â Emily Slosberg,Â Jackie Toledo,Â Ana Rodriguez,Â Geraldine Thompson,Â Mike Caruso,Â Jennifer Webb, Eskamani,Â Dotie Joseph,Â Sam Killebrew,Â Michael Grieco; state Sen.Â Annette TaddeoÂ andÂ Lori Berman; FDOT SecretaryÂ Kevin Thibault, the Florida Highway Patrol Chief of Public Affairs CaptainÂ Thomas Pikul, and NTSB Safety AdvocateÂ Stephanie Shaw, andÂ Demetrius BrancaÂ andÂ Debbie Wanninkhof, both who lost loved ones because of distracted drivers, will host Road Safety Day at The Capitol, which highlight road safety bills and specifically the distracted driving bills moving through the Legislature, noon, The Capitol Courtyard.
â GOVERNORS CLUB MENU â
Split pea soup with ham; mix garden salad with dressings; beet salad with goat cheese and toasted walnuts; broccoli salad; deli board; chicken Caprese; grilled ham steak with grilled pineapples and cherries; cod Francaise with piccata sauce; Yukon gold mashed potatoes; vegetable medley; Creole okra; warm peach cobbler for dessert.
â STATEWIDE â
Assignment editorsÂ â Attorney GeneralÂ Ashley MoodyÂ will speak during the Leon County Republican Partyâs Lincoln Day Dinner, 7 p.m., Florida State University, University Center Club, 403 Stadium Dr., Tallahassee.
âNikki Fried spotlights âAmericaâs forgotten disasterâ via Florida Politics â Hurricane Michael, now officially recognized as a Cat 5 storm, devastated Floridaâs Panhandle. More devastation looms in the form of potential wildfires. To that end, a new video from the Agriculture Commissioner that âdocuments Commissioner Friedâs tours of Panhandle communities devastated by Hurricane Michael, features visually powerful reminders of the damage to forests and timber farms and the looming threat of wildfire.â
Two view the video, click on the image below:
Jimmy Patronis announces âScam Trackerâ partnership with Better Business Bureau â As a part of his Fraud Free Florida initiative, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Patronis announced a new partnership with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to track and expose scams in Florida. The BBBâs onlineÂ Scam TrackerÂ tool will now be integrated into CFO Patronisâ website to help keep Floridians informed of growing trends and emerging scams in their area. âI am incrediblyÂ proud to partner with the Better Business Bureau and to highlight their innovative Scam Tracker,â Patronis said in a statement. âBy informing Floridians about the latest scams in their area and how to avoid them, we will battle the fraud epidemic our state is facing.â
ââMarsyâs Lawâ requests records from prosecutorsâ via the News Service of Florida â The group Marsyâs Law for Florida, which led efforts to pass the amendment, said it had requested records from state attorneys in all judicial circuits. Among other things, Marsyâs Law for Florida is looking for documents about changes in policies and procedures in judicial circuits and information aboutÂ victimsâ privacy protections. âThe passage of Amendment 6 âŚ sent a strong signal that Floridians believedÂ victimsÂ were entitled to rights equal to those provided the accused and convicted, and they were entitled to have mechanisms in place to ensure they are receiving those rights and protections,â attorney Paul Hawkes, who represents Marsyâs Law for Florida, said in a statement.
âBP money eyed for two storm-damaged countiesâ via the News Service of Florida â More than $9 million of BP oil-spill settlement money could be targeted to help a pair of Panhandle counties struggling with the costs of Hurricane Michael. Board members of theÂ nonprofitÂ Triumph Gulf Coast on April 29 will review recommendations to provide grants of $2.65 million for property-tax assistance to Gulf County and $6.67 million to property-tax aid to Bay County. Created by the Legislature, Triumph Gulf Coast oversees three-quarters of the $2 billion the state will get over the next 12 years through the BP settlement from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
âAlgal blooms reported throughout lower basin of St. Johns Riverâ via Brendan Rivers of WJCT â The St. Johns Riverkeeper says multiple blue-green algal blooms have been reported in theÂ Welaka, Satsuma and Palatka areas of Florida. âIn some cases, itâs extremelyÂ thick, and there are reports of it crossing the entire river in the Palatka area,â saidÂ LisaÂ Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper. She said the algal blooms are caused by nutrient pollution in the St. Johns River â mostly nitrogen and phosphorous which frequently flow into the river from septic tanks and fertilizer. âSadly, phosphorus levels are elevated throughout the St. Johnâs,âÂ RinamanÂ said. âWeâve been dealing with trying to reduce the amount of sewage sludge thatâs permitted near the St. Johnâs.â And warmer temperatures are causing the blooms to thrive and spread.
âNumber of hepatitis A cases in Florida surpasses 2018â viaÂ NaseemÂ Miller of the Orlando Sentinel â As of April 20, there were 883 cases of hepatitis A in Florida, compared with 548 in all of last year, according to the Florida Department of Health data. There have been 78 cases of hepatitis A in Orange County, compared with the previous yearâs total of 93. In Lake County, 40 cases of the infection have been reported, compared with 12 last year. Volusia County also reported a notable increase, from 5 cases last year to 39 cases in the first four months of 2019.
âStreamlining edible cannabis rules promises sweet flavor for Florida patientsâ via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics â Medical cannabis represents more than a business buzz for Peter Barsoom, founder of Colorado-based 1906. His wife, Ghita, after being prescribed pharmaceuticals for anxiety and depression, felt significant adverse effects. But cannabis proved to be a treatment without the same side effects. âIt became our mission to improve access to this amazing plant medicine,â Barsoom said. After years of research, he also perfected an edible product thatâs fast acting with easily measured dosage. But for the moment, the chocolate products created by 1906 remain available only in Colorado. The company has plans to expand into several other states and wants Florida to be one of them.
âWomen seeking discount plastic surgery paid with their lives at clinics opened by felonsâ via Michael Sallah and Maria Perez and Steve Reilly of the USA TODAY â Nearly a dozen miles from the iconic beaches of South Florida, the four convicted felons ran facilities that became assembly lines for patients from across the country seeking the latest body sculpting procedures at discount prices. And at those businesses, at least 13 women have died after surgeries. Nearly a dozen others were hospitalized with critical injuries, including punctured internal organs. The state health department was alerted to the casualties. Plastic surgery experts warned lawmakers to take control of the centers by screening owners and boosting regulation. Four times, legislators tried. Four times they failed to muster enough support to change the law, even as the toll at the four businesses continued to rise.
BUSY AT BRIGHTLINE
Brightline, soon to be known as Virgin Trains, has closed on $1.75 billion in private activity bonds and has launched its official re-brand with Sir Richard Branson.
All that, within the last 30 days.
â The plan: With the bonding secured, the train could provide rail-passenger service from South Florida to Orlando within three years. âVirgin Trains sees the Central Florida connection as the linchpin to a business plan that would provide it with potential access to millions of paying customers a year,â wrote David Lyons of the Sun-Sentinel.
â The re-brand: In a move that marked Brightlineâs first major transition to Virgin Trains, Branson unveiled Virgin MiamiCentral earlier this month. âConnecting Metrorail, Metromover, Brightline and soon, Tri-Rail, the destination offers unparalleled transportation options for the millions of commuters, visitors and travelers who will be accessing the station,â the company said in a news release.
â The overlap: âThe company wants to add a stop at PortMiami to provide a link to Bransonâs Virgin Voyages cruise line, which is slated to start operating next year,â Lyons wrote.
â VOTAR â
Hispanics are the fastest-growing voting group in Florida.
Alex Daugherty with the Miami Herald reported on new data showing Hispanic voters grew by 81 percent between the last two midterms and that Hispanics who registered to vote as independents grew by 101 percent.
âThe growth of Hispanic voters was double the growth rate of the entire electorate between 2014 and 2018, and 1.3 million Hispanics voted in 2018 compared to 748,000 in 2014,â Daugherty wrote. âThe voter turnout rate among Hispanics jumped from 38.1 percent of eligible Hispanic voters in 2014 to 53.7 percent in 2018.â
â Turnout, too: Hispanics arenât just registering in greater numbers, theyâre actuallyÂ going to the polls. âThe voter turnout rate among Hispanics jumped from 38.1 percent of eligible Hispanic voters in 2014 to 53.7 percent in 2018.â
âÂ Implications: Part of the growth is tied to an influx of Puerto Rican migrants. As one Democratic pollster said, âIf the Republicans show up, and the Democrats donât, the Hispanic voter is likely going to go with the candidate thatâs there versus the candidate thatâs not there.â
â Remember that?: During his successful bid for the U.S. Senate, then-Gov. Rick ScottÂ âfocused heavily on Hispanic voters in his successful 2018 campaign, spending millions to run Spanish-language ads during major events like the 2018 FIFA World Cup and touting his visits to Puerto Rico throughout the campaign.â
â THE TRAIL â
âBuddy Dyer picks up $140K for Orlando mayoral re-election bidâ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics â Orlando Mayor Dyer pulled in more than $140,000 in March to support his bid to be re-elected for an unprecedented fifth term, the latest filings show. Among the other Orlando mayoral candidates, City Commissioner Sam Ings reported raising $16,375 in March, for a total raised of $16,475. Aretha Simons picked up only $625 in February. Through the end of March, her campaign has raised just over $34,000 and had just over $22,500 of that in the bank at the start of April. Shantele Bennett has raised less than $500 to date.
Assignment editorsÂ âÂ Donna Barcomb, a Republican running in Sarasota Countyâs House District 72, is holding a fundraising event. Barcomb is trying to unseat Sarasota Democrat Rep.Â Margaret Good, 5:30 p.m., Signature Events and Catering, 4870 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
â LOCAL â
âPinellas elected officials celebrate Earth Day with call for increased environmental preservation fundingâ via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics â The group Florida Conservation Voters, led by former state Senate candidate Lindsay Cross who serves as the groupâs Public Lands Advocate, hosted a rally and cleanup event at Bartlett Park in Southeast St. Petersburg. âCreating parks and preserves is more than something thatâs nice to do, itâs an economic driver and a reason we continue to attract new jobs and talent to our region,â Cross said. But those efforts are threatened. The group, which included U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long and Ken Welch, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and St. Pete City Council Member Gina Driscoll, urged residents to call or email members of the Legislature to fund Florida Forever fully.
âHillsboroughâs booming growth makes Tampa Bay one of the countryâs fastest-growing regionsâ via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press â More than 51,000 people moved into the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area last year, earning the ninth spot on the Censusâs Top 10 Metropolitan Areas in Numeric Growth: 2017 to 2018 list. Hillsborough County came in 10th for the nation among individual counties for population growth last year with almost 27,000 new residents. In Tampa Bay, the growth was completely driven by new arrivals. Without that inbound migration, Tampa would have lost population since deaths outnumbered births by almost 900 people. About two-thirds of the new arrivals came from U.S. states.
âAndrew Gillumâs brother subpoenaed to testify in ethics hearingâ via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat â The prosecutor for the Florida Commission on Ethics subpoenaedÂ Gillumâs brother,Â Marcus Gillum, to testify live during the former mayorâs ethics hearing. But Andrew Gillumâs lawyer,Â Barry Richard, tried to block the move in a motion after they deposed Marcus Gillum in the case. Richard wrote that Marcus Gillum appeared for deposition under the assumption it would be allowed instead of live testimony. He noted the commission advocate, or prosecutor, didnât object. Richard wrote: âMr. [Marcus] Gillum was fully deposed, including extensive cross-examination by the advocate. There is no reason to believe that anything new could be elicited from Mr. Gillum.â
âAssistant county administrator out, marking fifth resignation in wake of EMS allegationsâ via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal â A fifth Escambia County senior official has resigned in the wake of allegations surrounding the Public Safety Department that include accusations of falsifying training documents. Assistant County Administrator Matt Coughlin turned in his 90-day notice of resignation, citing âtribalismâ in the county. Coughlin oversaw the beleaguered Public Safety Department as well as the Corrections, Public Works, Engineering, Development Services, Building Services, Waste Services and Parks and Recreation departments. âRegrettably, today in Escambia County there is neither the ability or willingness to rise to the occasion and lead together,â Coughlin wrote. âRather, those with the capability to help reverse this downward progression have resorted to tribalism âŚ Unfortunately, along the way, our mission has become a failure and our citizens have become the casualty.â
âJupiter day spa customersÂ sueÂ authorities,Â allegingÂ they were unlawfully videotapedâ via The Associated Press â The lawsuit by 31 âJohn and Jane DoesâÂ allegesÂ that prosecutors and the Jupiter Police Department violated their rights to privacy by videotaping them âwithout their knowledge or consentâ at Orchids of Asia Day Spa in January. The lawsuit alsoÂ allegesÂ Jupiter police unlawfullyÂ obtained âsneak-and-peekâ warrants, which allowed detectives to install hidden cameras at the spa. None of the 31 plaintiffs have been charged with a crime.
âProsecutors: North Port foster father accused of sex abuse kills himselfâ via Daphne Chen of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune â Gilberto Rios, the 64-year-old North Port foster father on trial for the alleged sexual abuse of a toddler, took his own life, according to prosecutors. Rios sat through court proceedings Tuesday and Wednesday and heard testimony from two girls who said they had both been abused by him when they were 3. A verdict had been expected Thursday, but Assistant State Attorney Ryan Felix said the judge declared a mistrial before closing arguments began and sent jurors home instead. âThis is a terrible tragedy for his family and those close to him, but itâs his actions that put him on trial for capital sexual battery,â Felix said. âWe have zero doubt he is guilty of abusing those children.â
âAhead of David Beckham soccer stadium deal, Miami might kick golf charity out ofÂ Melreeseâ via BrittanyÂ ShammasÂ of the Miami New Times â Miami officials have long been supportive of the First Tee, a nonprofit that teaches golf and life lessons to thousands of kids at the city-ownedÂ MelreeseÂ Country Club. More recently, MayorÂ Francis SuarezÂ became an honorary chairman of the nonprofitâs Young Ambassadors Board. But the Mayor himself is now sponsoring an item on the city commission agenda that says the First Tee has been operating âwithout authorizationâ at the golf course. The measure, which commissioners will consider Thursday, includes a draft of a lawsuit that seeks to eject the charity and 12 other entities from the golf course. Some see the mayorâs move as an attempt to oust the nonprofit amid the effort to bring Major League Soccer to theÂ MelreeseÂ site.
âAmid uncertainty over cannabis, Tallahassee CBD retailer opens second storeâ via Florida Politics â Despite a raid and the seizure of thousands of dollarsâ worth of cannabis-derived products, a Tallahassee CBD retailer has opened another store. ManagerÂ AlexÂ PetrickÂ said the second Natural Life shop is now open on Thomasville Road in Midtown, in a former Chop Barbershop location just down the road from Whole Foods Market. A grand opening is set for May 4, when the shop âintend to put the same product, thatÂ was seized five months ago, back on the shelf,â he said.
âTodd Weaver takes office as Winter Park commissioner, Carolyn Cooper begins final termâ via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel âÂ WeaverÂ ousted incumbentÂ Pete WeldonÂ on April 9 in the Seat 4 race, receiving 52 percent of the 6,129 total votes to Weldonâs 48 percent. Heâll serve a three-year term for the city in Orange County of about 30,000 residents. During his first meeting, Weaver appointed a new member of the Charter Review Advisory Committee and asked that the city revisit the parking and tree-removal ordinances. Commissioners unanimously voted forÂ Greg Seidel to replace Weldon as vice mayor. CommissionerÂ Carolyn Cooper, who was first elected in 2010, took the oath at the meeting for her final term.
âThe Easter bunny literally beat someone up in downtown Orlando last nightâ via Monivette Cordeiro of Orlando Weekly â In what is probably downtown Orlandoâs weirdest fight yet, someone dressed as the Easter bunny ran into an ongoing brawl and beat up a man on Orange Avenue. An Orlando promoter who goes by Workkk caught the whole thing on video and told Orlando Weekly the fight started when a man bumped into a woman with dreads. The two were already punching each other when the fluffy vigilante suddenly jumped in and started swinging. Meanwhile, onlookers yelled, âBeat his ass! Beat his ass!â
To view the video, click on the image below:
ââEaster bunny in downtown Orlando fight video explains why he threw punchesâ via Vanessa Araiza of ClickOrlando.com
â D.C. MATTERS â
âRick Scott uses Senate seat to push legislation benefiting his investments in natural gas pipeline companiesâ via Dan Christensen of FloridaBulldog.org â Scott and his wife own hundreds of thousands of dollarsâ worth of stock in two companies that supply, or are seeking to supply, piped natural gas to liquefaction plants where it is turned into LNG for export: Energy Transfer Equity LP and The Williams Companies. Eagle LNG Partners expects final approval soon from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding construction of a nearby LNG Export Facility capable of producing up to 1.65 million gallons of LNG â predominantly methane â for export per day. Williams has ambitious expansion plans. The Scotts own stock in The Williams Companies worth between $150,000 and $350,000. The two-page Small Scale LNG Access Act would amend the Natural Gas Act to speed up approvals of exports of up to 51.750 billion cubic feet per year to nations âwith which there is in effect a free trade agreement.â The change âshall be deemed to be consistent with the public interest, and applications forâŚexportation shall be granted without modification or delay.â
âPolitical opposites Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Matt Gaetz join forces to push ban on oil drilling off Floridaâs coastsâ via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel â Sheâs announcing the plan or the Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act â on Earth Day and the ninth anniversary that the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico, causing an environmental catastrophe.Â Wasserman Schultz, one of Floridaâs most prominentÂ liberalÂ members of Congress, is joined in the effort by U.S. Rep.Â Matt Gaetz, one of the stateâs most prominent conservatives and a staunch ally of Trump. Two other originalÂ co-sponsorsÂ of the legislation are U.S. Reps.Â Vern BuchananÂ andÂ Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who represents part of Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.
âBrian Mast blasts Army Corpsâs Lake O discharge policyâ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics â MastÂ submitted comments as the corps goes through the process ofÂ replacing its Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule. That LORS policy governs when, why and how much water is discharged from the lake into rivers to make its way to the east and west coasts. The corps is formulating the new policy, dubbed the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, and accepting public comment, because of a section Mast got included last year. âLORS has been a total and absolute disaster. Under the false pretense of âshared adversity,â the entire system was designed to benefit certain water users at the severe detriment of the east and west coasts of Florida,â Mast wrote.
â 2020 â
âTrump wins over big donors who snubbed him in 2016â via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO â Deep-pocketed Republicans who snubbed Donald Trump in 2016 are going all in for him in 2020, throwing their weight behind a newly created fundraising drive thatâs expected to dump tens of millions into his re-election coffers. The effort involves scores of high-powered businesspeople, lobbyists and former ambassadors who raised big money for George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney â and who are now preparing to tap their expansive networks. The project, which is closely modeled after the famed Pioneers network that helped to fuel Bushâs 2000 campaign, is slated to be formally unveiled on May 7, when well-connected Republican fundraisers from around the country descend on Washington for a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides.
âDems hope Florida Puerto Ricansâ dislike of Trump translates to actual votes next timeâ via S.V. Date of the Huffington Post âÂ Hazel BryantÂ has spent 25 of her 35 years in Puerto Rico. She lives in Florida. She thinks Trumpâs words and deeds about the island show heâs a racist. âHe has failed as a president.â Unfortunately for Democrats, she also does not vote. Latino activists worry that Democrats are yet again failing to lay the groundwork to ensure a healthy turnout among the Puerto Rican community in the 2020 presidential election. âItâs a gigantic opportunity,â saysÂ Alex Barrio, Alianza for Progressâ political director. âBut Iâll tell youÂ right now,Â not a single Democratic presidential candidate has reached out to us. None of them have come down here.â
âElizabeth Warren proposes $640 billion student debt cancellationâ via Alex Thompson of POLITICO â The plan would eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for each person with less than $100,000 in household income. The $50,000 in relief would gradually diminish for people with household incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 ($1 less relief for every $3 earned).Â WarrenÂ couples the student debt forgiveness with a proposal to eliminate tuition and fees at all two-year and four-year public colleges. [She] also proposed changes aimed at closing the racial wealth gap. That includes a prohibition on public colleges using an applicantâs criminal history or citizenship status in its admissions decisions and a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.
â OPINIONS â
âJoe Henderson: ToÂ claimÂ middle ground voters, Democrats canât lean too far leftâ via Florida Politics â The battle by Democrats over how far they can lean toÂ the left without scaring off millions of middle-ground voters came to Florida recently. House SpeakerÂ Nancy PelosiÂ named U.S. Rep.Â CristÂ regional vice chair for the DCCC operations in the South. It was a move to keep Democrats focused on a message of âso-calledÂ kitchen table issues.â Pelosi designated him because Crist represents centrist politics. Itâs where elections are won or lost. One reason Trump won is that he convinced enough voters in swing states that Democrats no longer understood or cared about them. As a key operative in the South, Crist can craft a moderate message that could resonate in 2020.
âThis is ridiculous. Itâs been 6 months since Category 5 Hurricane Michael hit. These counties need more help than theyâre gettingâ via Julie Hauserman of Florida Phoenix â Still, Congress has not passed a comprehensive disaster aid package. Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. The plight of people in the Panhandle is now mixed up with politics over massive hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, wildfires, and floods in the Midwest. Of all the things the federal government does with tax money, helping people who live in places that are flattened and flooded should be at the top of the list. Instead, Hurricane Michael survivors watch politicians breeze through the region to âtskÂ tskâ at the rubble piles and snapped-off forests. They are still waiting for Washington to give a damn.
âTalbot âSandyâ DâAlemberte: Legislature must support Amendment 4âs plain language, chief purposeâ via Florida Politics â On its face, the amendment is clear and unambiguous. The Court said: âThe chief purpose of the amendment is to automatically restore voting rights to felony offenders, except those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses, upon completion of all terms of their sentence.â Proposed legislation substitutes legislative judgment for judicial determinations of criminal penalties. Not only does this proposal unconstitutionally usurp judicial authority, it creates a new unjust system in place of the old. It establishes two classes of returning citizens: a group wealthy enough to get their voting rights back and another group too poor to get their voting rights back.
âGregÂ Newburn, Sal Nuzzo: Nothing to fear from Florida First Step Actâ via Florida Politics â The proposed legislation is ready for a vote in the Senate, so some special interests that benefit from the status quo have begun their annual ritual of trying to scare lawmakers away from approving it. The smart move would be to ignore them. Hereâs why. The most important element of the Florida First Step Act is long overdue sentencingÂ reform. For example, the bill creates a âsafety valve,â which would allow for departures from mandatory minimums in drug sentencing under certain narrowly defined circumstances. The bill retains mandatory minimums for defendants who used or threatened violence, used a deadly weapon, or participated in an ongoing drug conspiracy, as well as anyone with a violent criminal history.
â MOVEMENTS â
Personnel note: Abigail Vail becomes Chief of Staff at Office of Financial Regulation â Vail comes from the State Board of Administration, where she was a senior external affairs specialist. She previously was vice president of external affairs for UnitedHealth Group, senior cabinet aide for the Florida Department of Financial Services, and an attorney with Blank & Meenan. The FSU Law grad has been a member of The Florida Bar since 2008. OFR Commissioner Ronald L. Rubin said in a statement: âAbby is enthusiastic about my goals of fighting financial fraud, encouraging financial innovation, and reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens in Florida. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position, and I am excited to have her join my team.â
âState arts lobbyists seek smaller piece of state budgetâ via Jay Handelman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune â Sherron Long, executive director of the Florida Cultural Alliance, told a conference call of arts group leaders that the organization is pressing now for $27.5 million for cultural and museum matching grants in the Legislatureâs budget plan, down from the initial request for $42.1 million. The lower total would fund about 65.5 percent of the grant requests that have been approved through a long-established vetting process. In all, the Alliance is seeking $43 million in four different categories, down from the initial request of $61.6 million before the legislative session began. âWe have been led to believe that full funding is not a realistic ask,â Long said.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Michael Abrams, Carol Bracy, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: Florida A & M University Foundation, Pringle Lane Farm
David Custin, David R. Custin & Associates: The Special Committee for Healthcare Reform
Jerry Haag: Florida Baptist Childrenâs Homes
George Levesque, GrayRobinson: Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Kenneth McKay: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Antonio Verdugo, Winning Strategies: 32nd Ave Rebuilts, Best Rebuilt Specialist, Dealer Motor Vehicle Rebuilt, EZ Rebuilt Inspections, Miami DMV, Venecurrier
â SUNSHINE SPORTS â
Few forecasters give the Magic much of a chance to defeat the Raptors when the teams convene tonight for Game 5 at Scotiabank Arena. The website FiveThirtyEight gives Toronto an 89 percent chance to win.
â But, as Josh Robbins writes in The Athletic, âsomething intangible also will be at stake Tuesday night: the Magicâs heart and soul, the culture the team is trying to build, the culture thatÂ was in tatters when (coach Steve) Clifford became coach last May.â
âA hard-fought performance tonight, even in a series-ending loss, would at least solidify the culture the team started to establish down the stretch of the regular season.
The NFL Draft begins later this week, but the big news from last week was the announcement of the leagueâs schedule.
â In Miami, the Brian Flores era starts with four of the first five games at home in the South Florida heat, including a September 15 visit from the New England Patriots. The downside means four of the last six are on the road against cold weather teams in Cleveland, back-to-back games in New York, and the season finale in New England.
â Bruce Arians begins his stint as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach with a home game against San Francisco on September 8. The Bucs will face division rival Carolina in London on October 13, preceded by two tough road games against the Rams and Saints. Tampa Bay will end the season with home games against Houston and Atlanta.
â Over in Jax, former Eagles passer Nick Folesâ first regular season game as the quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars will be against offensive powerhouse Kansas City on September 8. The Jagsâ annual trip to London comes on November 3 against division rival Houston. They will play Jacksonvilleâs only intrastate game on December 1 Tampa Bay visits TIAA Bank Field.
Canât wait for Thursday? Youâre in luck. The Los Angeles Times asked beat writers from all 30 NFL franchises to project their teamâs first-round pick.
â Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times said the Buccaneers would take University of Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver with the fifth overall pick.
â At No. 7, writer John Reid of the Florida Times-Union said Jacksonville would select offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor from the University of Florida.
â At No. 13, South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Omar Kelly said the Miami Dolphins would take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
Plenty of good seats are available at Floridaâs two Major League Baseball stadiums. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins are at their accustomed positions at or near the bottom in attendance.
â Despite leading the American League East, the Rays rank 28th overall with an average of 15,109 through 13 home games at Tropicana Field.
â The Miami Marlins are 30th and last, averaging only 9,951 after 16 home games.
â ALOE â
âExperience the gourmet dining of Wolfgang Puckâs Spago at Disney Springs eventâ via Marta Madigan of the Orlando Sentinel â During the one-night event, âThe Spago Experience,â dine as the beautiful people of Beverly Hills do. The flagship of Puckâs culinary empire, Spago serves East-meets-West fusion food synonymous with Southern California cuisine. To deliver âThe Spago Experienceâ dinner for up to 350 guests, Puck enlists his pack of experienced chefs âÂ AramÂ MardigianÂ (Wolfgang Puck American Grille, Atlantic City, N.J.),Â Andrew SkalaÂ (CUT, Washington, D.C.) andÂ TetsuÂ YahagiÂ (Spago Beverly Hills) â toÂ MichaelÂ Tivaâs kitchen at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Lake Buena Vista. When: 5-10 p.m. Cost: $98 (beverages, tax and gratuity are not included) Reservations: Visit sevenrooms.com or click the link in the restaurantâs bio on Instagram: @wpbgorlando.
âDisneyâs Hollywood Studios theme park attraction delayedâ via Richard Bilbao of the Tampa Bay Business Journal â Mickey & Minnieâs Runaway Railway, which is replacing The Great Movie Ride, will open upÂ in spring 2020 instead of this fall, said the Disney Parks Blog. Disneyâs post gave no reason for the new opening date, but it was part of a larger announcement that the same attraction also would be built at Disneyland Park in California. And with a 2020 opening, it would further provide an incentive for tourists who are waiting for crowds to slow down to visit Central Florida. The new ride also may offer a nice alternative new experience for what is expected to be a very busy and crowdedÂ Star WarsÂ area.
âA welder in Kentucky made a homemade replica of the throne in âGame of Thronesââ via Ryan Prior of CNN â Michael Hayes, a 32-year-old welding student in Louisville, worked with welders at the Knight Welding School to build a life-size version of the throne in the hit HBO show, according to CNN affiliate WLKY. Early in their relationship, he and his wife, Kacie, bonded over their love of the show, and he asked buddies at the welding school to help him build her a wedding present. His bride, Hayes said, just happens to look a lot like Daenerys Targaryen. Anthony Williams, an instructor at the Knight School, told WLKY building the throne took 110 hours and over two months.
â HAPPY BIRTHDAY â
Best wishes to Sen. Randolph Bracy, Katie Crofoot of Strategic Digital Services, and Laura Lenhart of Frontier Communications.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.