Daily News Portal

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.16.24

Good Friday morning.

House Speaker-Designate Danny Perez sent $50,000 to the Republican Party of Florida’s coffers as the party works to maintain its historic majority in the state Legislature.

“As Speaker-Designate, and throughout my term as Speaker, I look forward to joining (Chair Evan) Power and the RPOF to support our collective mission of continuing to maintain and grow our majority in the Florida House and support all Republican candidates on the upcoming November ballot,” Perez said.

In an email announcing the contribution, Power said it reasserts “the main mission all Sunshine State Republicans know to be true: together we will win!”

To support the Florida GOP, Danny Perez puts his money where his mouth is.

“With this important commitment, support and leadership of Speaker-Designate Danny Perez, we Republicans will continue to grow our voter registration advantage over Democrats, currently over 825,000 and counting, while fighting for the conservative principles that have made Florida a national beacon of freedom,” Power said.

Perez’s contribution follows similar commitments from other top Florida Republicans in the weeks since Power was elected as party Chair, including Senate President-designate Ben Albritton and Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson.

Heading into the 2024 elections, Florida Republicans hold 28 of 40 state Senate seats and 84 House seats, giving the party supermajority control of both chambers.


Here are a few other items that crossed my radar:

❓Did you get it when they said ‘he gets us’?: David French, an opinion columnist for The New York Times and a self-avowed Christian, tackled a prickly subject this week — the “He Gets Us” foot-washing ad that aired during the Super Bowl. It juxtaposed people who would likely be foes — an oil rig worker and an environmental activist, a cop and a Black man; an elderly woman and a younger woman about to have an abortion, etc. — and shows one washing the other feet, a thing, the ad reminds that Jesus did. While the ad has gotten pushback both from Christian fundamentalists offended by it and those less religious who thought it a silly waste of money when actual people are suffering, French dissects it into the powerful message he believed it was. You should definitely read it here.

🎧Carlos Trujillo on what Donald Trump would mean for Latin American Policy: Speaking on the American Quarterly podcast, the former ambassador to the Organization of American States discusses how the former President would affect Latin American policy in a second term, pointing to what he describes as empty words from the President Joe Biden administration. Listen in to hear Trujillo answer the question: Do we want to be a country that provides aid or provides opportunities? Listen here.

👋Parental rights = don’t hit my kid: The 74 has published a feature entitled “Florida students seize on ‘parental rights’ to stop educators from hitting kids,” exploring how many Florida students, about a third, still face corporal punishment in districts where the practice remains ingrained in the culture. Read more here.

📺Don’t miss the new ‘Peanuts,’ featuring the cartoon’s first Black character: Franklin Armstrong isn’t new to Peanuts — he was added in 1968 — but it is the first time the once-controversial character will be featured as a main character. The new special, “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” chronicles Franklin’s move into Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s neighborhood. So basically, it’s must-see TV, on Apple TV.


Ninth Annual Suits for Session begins — 4; Season 6 of ‘Drive To Survive’ premieres on Netflix — 7; South Carolina Republican Primary — 8; Michigan Democratic Primary — 11; James Madison Institute’s ‘Red, White and Bluegrass’ dinner — 12; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 14; Michigan/Idaho/Missouri GOP Primaries — 16; Netflix to stream “The Netflix Slam,” Rafael Nadal/Carlos Alcaraz faceoff — 16; Super Tuesday — 18; State of the Union address — 20; last day of Regular Session, if Legislature completes work in 60 days — 21; 2024 Oscars — 23; Georgia Democratic Primary — 26; Arizona/Florida/Illinois/Kansas/Ohio Primaries — 33; James Madison Institute’s ‘2024 Naples Dinner’ with keynote speaker Laura Ingraham — 34; ‘3 Body Problem’ premieres on Netflix — 34; Trump’s New York hush money trial begins — 38; The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the mifepristone/abortion pill case — 39; Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2024 season — 41; March Madness Final Four (women’s) begins — 48; March Madness Final Four (men’s) — 51; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 55; The Masters begin — 56; Kentucky Derby — 79; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 84; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 91; French Open begins — 94; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 96; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 96; Monaco Grand Prix — 100; the 2026 World Cup begins — 116; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 134; Republican National Convention begins — 150; the 2026 World Cup ends — 154; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 159; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 161; Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 179; Democratic National Convention begins — 185; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 190; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 245; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 245; 2024 Presidential Election — 260; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 276; MLS Cup 2024 — 291; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 364; ‘Moana’ premieres — 494; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 525; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 525; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 630; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 672; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 809; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 825; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,036; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,176; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,135; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,857.


Florida GOP’s culture war platform ignores state’s needs, analysts say” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The Republican Party of Florida’s new platform that promotes culture wars and staunchly opposes giving the voters a say on abortion rights ignores the issues most important to Floridians and could hurt the party’s fortunes, political analysts say.

Some parts are even too much for Republican Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who said they wouldn’t happen on her watch this Legislative Session.

“It’s just shocking how much it doesn’t deal with bread-and-butter issues that are facing Floridians on a daily basis,” said Gregory Koger, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami. “ … I’m just not sure these are issues of resonance to the average Floridian. But they are consistent with the long-term proposals of the Republican Party.”

Many of the ‘culture war’ bills are a little too much, says Kathleen Passidomo.

Other top items on the party’s legislative agenda, approved by GOP leaders at its annual meeting on Feb. 10 at a Pasco County golf resort, include:

— Preventing employers and employees from having to use someone’s preferred pronouns.

— Banning LGBTQ or other “ideology” flags from government buildings.

— Banning the removal of historic monuments, including Confederate memorials.

— Lowering the minimum age for buying a rifle back to 18.

— Requiring IDs to state a transgender person’s sex at birth and not their gender.

“Our bill process is not the Republican Party of Florida. We are the Legislature. We make the laws,” Passidomo told reporters. “None of those bills are moving in the Senate anymore. … I’m not going to because the Republican Party of Florida has a platform; take it out of a Committee or violate our rules.”

Power, the new Chair of the state GOP who oversaw the annual meeting, appeared to accept the situation.


With Florida seen as solidly Republican red, Ron DeSantis and GOP clamp down on blue cities” via John Kennedy of USA Today Network — With his White House dream over, DeSantis and his GOP allies in the Legislature are clamping down on Florida’s politically blue communities with an array of bills targeting local governments’ ability to tax, regulate and respond to issues. “We’re seeing legislation in Florida and other states very specifically targeting and harming historically marginalized communities or rolling back progress that local communities have made to address the housing crisis, homelessness and promoting the inclusion of LGBTQ folks,” said Kate Belanger with Local Solutions Support Center, a national nonprofit which tracks state pre-emptions. “Florida is absolutely at the forefront of these strikes,” she added.

Ron DeSantis turns his eye toward the blue parts of Florida.

Social media ban ready for vote on Senate floor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A social media ban has been combined in the Senate with a requirement that porn sites verify user age. The legislation also advanced from its final Committee with no exceptions for parents granting permission to children who want accounts. Sen. Erin Grall said the predatory behavior of tech companies seeking data on minors warrants government action. “They talk for regulation on one side, and they want no accountability on the other side of their mouth,” Grall said. “And so, they have decided to come for our kids.” The Senate Fiscal Policy, before advancing the bill (SB 1788), approved an amendment to the legislation that effectively ties the issue directly to proposed regulations with online porn distributors.

After woman’s privacy was violated, video voyeurism penalty could get tougher under new bill” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A Broward County woman’s stepfather secretly installed miniature cameras inside her toilet and facing the mirror, so he could watch her most private movements. Every day he repositioned the cameras and by the end, he captured more than 8,000 hours of video footage over 344 days. But when the man was caught, he got a slap on the wrist for his constant stealthy surveillance, one lawmaker said. He was charged with one count of video voyeurism and was sentenced to 344 days in the county jail plus three years of probation, according to a state lawmaker. Now, Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book says the state needs to beef up its laws. “SB 1604 makes many important changes to Florida’s voyeurism statute to ensure injustices like the one suffered by (the Broward County woman) does not happen again,” Book said.

Senate unanimously votes to ban hemp cannabinoids, cap delta-9 THC” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Sen. Colleen Burton’s bill (SB 1698) proposes a number of material changes to what the sponsor calls an “unregulated market” and a “continuation” of work begun by the Legislature in 2023. These include a ban on currently commercially available and federally legal products, along with a cap on delta-9 THC, which could negatively affect the 487 growers and roughly 10,000 retail outlets in the state. Her bill enjoys the support of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). And it came with new changes during its first hearing by the full Senate on Wednesday, a meeting that set up the floor vote.


Lawmakers try to move aquatic preserve’s boundary to benefit developer” via Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix — Hollywood is famous for its ability to spin colorful worlds of wild fantasy. Elves and dwarfs fight over jewelry in “The Lord of the Rings!” Drug addicts ride giant worms in “Dune!” Old dudes battle with big flashlights in “Star Wars!” But nothing compares to the unbelievable flights of fancy spun by our fine Florida Legislature. Over the weekend, I heard about one that was new to me. It’s a bill to cut a chunk out of one of the state’s aquatic preserves. It’s being pushed as a way to help hurricane victims by clearing up an error on an old map. Actually, it’s being done for the benefit of a developer.

Senate approves harassment-free zone around first responders” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A bill enabling Florida police, firefighters and paramedics to establish a harassment-free zone around themselves in the field is heading to the House after clearing the Legislature’s upper chamber with unanimous support. Senators voted 39-0 for the measure (SB 184), which would make it illegal for a person to approach or remain within 14 feet of a first responder performing their official duty after receiving a warning to back away. The bill specifies that the restriction applies only to people who intend to threaten, harass or interfere with a first responder’s work. Several Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about that standard. Violators would face a first-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in prison and $1,000 in fines.

Amid ‘Cocaine Bear’ jokes, House passes bill allowing people to shoot bears” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO — The 88-29 vote was largely along party lines. But both sides agreed that the 2023 movie “Cocaine Bear,” a comedy thriller, was not a documentary. The House voted after Rep. Jason Shoaf said his legislation is needed because a generation of bears that have no fear of people are threatening families in their North Florida homes. Bear hunting and killing bears is illegal in Florida. “It is time to let all Floridians know it’s OK to use good judgment and defend your home, your pets and your life,” Shoaf said. House Democrats said during a floor debate on Thursday bears are shy, have never killed anyone in Florida, and rarely come into physical contact with people.

‘Cocaine Bear’ was not a documentary.

Senate passes package of consumer safeguards against moving company scams” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Legislation broadening consumer protections against price-gouging by moving companies is packed up and traveling to the Legislature’s lower chamber with uniform approval from the Senate. The bill (SB 304) targets movers and the businesses that link them with customers, hiking documentation requirements and prohibiting them from withholding people’s possessions for excessive fees. It applies only to moving operations within Florida. Moves between states are subject to federal oversight. In 2022, the Better Business Bureau received more than 15,000 complaints against moving companies and moving brokers that act as intermediaries between movers and customers.

Fantasy sports regulation bill advances in House” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — New regulations for large-scale fantasy sports betting could be on the way to Florida, as legislation setting up parameters for companies offering the games to operate passed through a House panel. The bill (PCB COM 24-01) would regulate fantasy sports operations with prize payouts of more than $1,500 per season or more than $10,000 per year. It would ban platforms from offering direct bets on sporting events in addition to the competitive fantasy games. Ads for casinos, with “depictions of slot machine-style symbols, cards, dice, craps, roulette or lotto” would also be banned. Players would be required to be told of prize award amounts before the contest begins, and award amounts couldn’t be based on the number of participants or the size of the entry fee.

Senate advances bill to offer free kid swimming lessons for poor families” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — The stories are heartbreaking. A toddler drowned in the pool at his home day care. A young child drowned in a hotel pool on vacation. A death at the beach in the strong current. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children between the ages of 1 and 4. “Annually, there are enough children under the age of 5 lost to drowning (50 in 2019, 60 in 2020 and 75 in 2021) to fill three or four preschool classrooms,” according to the Florida Health Department. The state is trying to lower those numbers. A bill advancing through the Legislature seeks to help cut the number of deaths by paying for swimming lessons for families who might otherwise be unable to afford them.

Bill classifying balloons as litter floats from House floor on near-unanimous vote” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Floridians may soon want to hold their balloon strings tighter and find other ways to celebrate and commemorate loved ones. A bill (HB 321) that would reclassify intentionally released balloons as litter is now floating to the Senate after clearing the House on a 114-1 vote. “There is no good reason to intentionally release a balloon, and there are a lot of bad reasons,” said Rep. Linda Chaney, the bill’s sponsor. “Balloons do not go to heaven. If you adopt this bill, hopefully, they will go in the statute.”

Beautiful going up; litter coming down.

House approves renaming A1A as ‘Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida State Road A1A won’t be undergoing any changes in latitudes anytime soon, but it may get a new title to honor beloved Buffett. In a cheerful and, at times, playful motion, House members voted unanimously for a bill (HB 91) to rename the thoroughfare “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” from its tip in Ferdinand Beach to Mile Marker 0 in Key West. “This may be the most fun bill of the day,” said Rep. Jim Mooney, one of the bill’s two prime sponsors. “Everybody in this room’s a Buffett fan.” If approved in the Senate, the measure would direct Florida Department of Transportation personnel to erect “suitable markers” for the designation across 13 counties spanning the state’s east coast by Aug. 30.


Alex Andrade calls radio station owner ‘liar,’ says Cory Mills has ‘midget mind’ while defending defamation bill” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A controversial defamation bill has state Rep. Andrade slamming conservative media outlets. In an angry text exchange with a Florida radio station owner, the Pensacola Republican called the executive a “liar” motivated by “hurt feelings.” “So, calling me a liar is an insult or defamation?” wrote James Schwarzel, owner of 92.5 FOX News in the Fort Myers-Naples market. “You lied about a bill,” Andrade replied. “It’s a statement of opinion, it’s also the truth. Did I hurt your feelings?” “I didn’t lie, so it’s defamation, and my feelings don’t get hurt,” Schwarzel responded. “Your feelings obviously are,” Andrade replied.

Alex Andrade devolves into name-calling with a local radio station.

Florida may copy a Texas law bringing chaplains to public schools, despite First Amendment concerns” via Jackie Llanos of the Florida Phoenix — Florida is one of about a dozen states considering allowing chaplains to provide support services to students in public schools. The trend stems from a first-of-its-kind law the Texas Legislature passed authorizing schools to pay for religious figures to work in mental health roles. The Texas law went into effect in September, requiring more than 1,200 school districts to vote by March 1 for or against allowing chaplains to be employed or accepted as volunteers in counseling roles.

Immigrant activists rally for better times in Florida” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — “From 2019 we have experienced consistent dehumanization of immigrants with last year’s [Senate bill] 1718, which was the most egregious anti-immigrant policy in the history of our state,”…

Read Nore:Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.16.24