Sunburn for 1/29 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. 

GROUP OF SENATORS, INCLUDING RUBIO, REACH DEAL ON IMMIGRATION

A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a set of principles for a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, including a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants that would hinge on progress in securing the borders and ensuring that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire, the New York Times reports.

The senators were able to reach a deal by incorporating the Democrats’ insistence on a single comprehensive bill that would not deny eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants, with Republican demands that strong border and interior enforcement had to be clearly in place before Congress could consider legal status for illegal immigrants.

Politico: “The group is expected to unveil the basics of its proposal at a Monday news conference on Capitol Hill, essentially laying down a marker on the issue one day before President Barack Obama heads to Las Vegas to unveil more details about his own immigration proposal.”

Wall Street Journal editorial: “GOP leaders can read the 2012 exit polls, and thanks to the persuasion of Mr. Rubio, Jeb Bush and a few others, more conservatives are now more amenable to reform. Yet neither Mr. Obama nor his White House have reached out to Mr. Rubio, and many Democrats want to use the immigration issue to drive turnout in election after election. Their goal is to have a legislative dance and then blame Republicans for killing reform sometime in 2014.”

GROUPS BANDING TOGETHER FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM PUSH Several civil rights, labor and immigration reform proponents are looking to get in on the action of immigration reform as the Senate’s Gang of Eight and White House prepare to unveil broad principles. The NAACP, Service Employees International Union and Asian American Justice Center, among others, announced today that they’ll be spearheading a “National Week of Action” in April in an effort to push forward immigration reform. The effort will include a major rally in DC on April 10.

TED CRUZ TAKES ISSUE: Cruz, in a statement, took issue with Rubio, et al’s approach. “There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration. However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JebBush: Encouraged by Gang of 8 bipartisan immigration plan. Good step towards comprehensive, common sense reform.

BOY SCOUTS MAY END BAN ON GAYS

NBC News reports that the Boy Scouts of America is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

INTEREST GROUPS BRACE FOR NEW FEDERAL REGULATIONS

Lawmakers, lobbyists and policy groups say they are expecting a deluge of new rules from agencies across the federal government, The Hill reports.

High-profile rules involving air quality and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposal to limit crystalline silica were kept on hold as Obama ran for reelection, as was a decision on whether to support the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Just how aggressively Obama’s White House will push its regulatory agenda remains to be seen. One major clue will be the person he selects to take the helm of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) — a position often described as the gatekeeper of federal rules.

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

23 COLLEGES NOW ACCEPTING SCOTT’S 10K CHALLENGE

Eleven more state colleges have joined Gov. Rick Scott’s “$10k degree challenge,” Scott announced Monday, meaning that all 23 colleges that currently offer four-year degrees have backed the initiative.

But the colleges are also making clear that they intend to be flexible in how they define and achieve the goal laid down by Scott, who has installed higher education affordability as a central plank in his education agenda.

“It is important our students can get an affordable education, and our state colleges have stepped up to the challenge to find innovative ways to provide a quality education at a great value,” Scott said in a statement released by his office. “Our goal should be that students do not have to go into debt in order to obtain a degree — and today’s announcement of nearly all of our state colleges meeting this challenge puts us closer to achieving that goal for our students and families.”

Democrats have slammed what they call the “Walmart” approach to higher education and dismissed the idea as a gimmick.

GOVERNOR LEADING TRADE MISSION TO CHILE IN MAY

Gov. Scott is heading back to South America on anothertrade mission.

Scott will go on a four-day trade mission to Chile from May 20 through May 23. Scott late last year went to Colombia on a four-day trade mission. This marks his eighth trip abroad since he was sworn in as governor in January 2011.

Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, said that Chile ranks sixth amongFlorida’s top products export destinations. Florida exports to Chile increased by 24.3 percent from October 2011 to October 2012.

HOW CAN RICK SCOTT REGAIN MOMENTUM IN 2013 by Gary Fineout 

What can Scott do on his own to turn things around in the coming year and heading into 2014?

The plain fact is that governors – unlike the president – have a much more limited fashion in which to engage with the public and convince them they are doing a good job.

One way is completely out of Scott’s control: Show leadership through a crisis such as a natural disaster. Part of the enduring legacy – for example – of former Gov. Jeb Bush is the way he dealt with the wave of hurricanes that hit the state.

… here’s the avenues left for Scott to try to change his trajectory with voters (outside the hope that the economy will continue to grow and that Scott will get the credit.) … Like it or not Scott’s third year in office will in many ways revolve around what he accomplishes with the Florida Legislature this spring.

AHCA CHALLENGES ER IMMIGRANT RULING via The News Service of Florida

In a case that involves hospitals across South Florida and the Tampa Bay area, the state Agency for Health Care Administration is appealing a judge’s ruling in a dispute about paying for emergency services for undocumented immigrants. 

AHCA filed a notice this month with the 1st District Court of Appeal that it will challenge a Dec. 21 ruling by Administrative Law Judge John D.C. Newton. The state’s Medicaid program pays hospitals for emergency services provided to undocumented immigrants, but the case focuses on the extent of services that should be covered. In the past, payments were made when emergency services were considered “medically necessary.” In 2010, AHCA began using a more-restrictive standard that said payments would be made until patients are “stabilized.” Newton, however, agreed with a coalition of hospitals that AHCA made the changes without going through a required rule-making process.

APPOINTED: Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointments of James Hegemier, Misty Servia and Leticia Vega, and the reappointments of Linda Cinque and Linda Gallen to the Manatee County Housing Authority.

EDUCATION COMMISSIONER TO PARTICIPATE IN NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK

In recognition of National School Choice Week, Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett will talk about Florida’s school choice opportunities at the Florida Alliance for Choices in Education showcase and panel discussion today in Tampa. Commissioner Bennett will join Hillsborough County Schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia and students, parents, school administrators, and teachers to highlight the wide variety of school choice options available in Florida.

POLICY NOTES

>>>The Agency for Health Care Administration’s Medical Care Advisory Committee will meet 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Building 3, Conference Room C, 2727 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee.

>>>The Florida Workers Compensation Joint Underwriters Association’s  Investment Committee holds a teleconference meeting at 11 a.m.

>>>The Southwest Florida Water Management District holds its monthly meeting in Tampa.

STATE TO SELL OFF SOME PROTECTED LANDS via the Orlando Sentinel

One of the most celebrated acts of environmental protection in Florida is the state’s work in recent decades to buy millions of acres forests, wetlands and prairies and protect them from commercial and residential development. But a tiny portion of that gigantic ownership turned out to have little importance for conservation and could soon be sought after as commercial, mining and even airport property.

***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

BLOG POST OF THE DAY – CASE OF THE MISSING EVERGLADES RESTORATION COVERAGE via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

One of the oddest mysteries of last week is what happened to media coverage of the progress on Everglades restoration. Long Senate and House committee meetings Thursday were devoted to it.

But then I thought about it, and I believe I know:

There actually is progress on water quality in the Everglades, especially due to effective water management programs.

We can’t write that in Florida newspapers.

If we’re going to report on the Everglades, we don’t have a story unless there is measurable degradation. I’m talking about bad news the state press corps can grind to a pulp: declining wildlife, polluted drinking water, the invasion of nonnative species.

BILL WOULD CUT HILLSBOROUGH, PINELLAS STRENGTH ON SWFWMD BOARD by William March of the Tampa Tribune

A bill filed by two Sarasota legislators would reduce the power of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties on the governing board of the area’s main water control agency, the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The legislation, by state Sen. Nancy Detert and state Rep. Ray Pilon would reduce the board from 13 to nine members from the district’s 16 counties. It would cut the Hillsborough and Pinellas representatives from five to two and the Polk representatives from two to one.

Todd Pressman of Pinellas County, a SWFWMD board member and former chairman, said the legislation is part of an ongoing attempt by the smaller, less developed counties to wrest power from the two big, urbanized counties, a move he said has had some success in the past—the second Polk representative was added a few years ago.

“My concern would be that you have to put resources where the demand is,” he said. “It worries me that money would siphoned away from the areas where there’s more population and more to do.”

NO MORE HAPPY ENDINGS: BILL WOULD RESTRICT MASSAGE PARLOR ENDINGS via WPTV.com

Calling it an attempt to combat human trafficking and prostitution, Sen. Jeff Clemens on Monday filed a measure prohibiting most massage establishments from operating after 10 p.m.

Clemens introduced the measure that would require massage establishments to shut down between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless they were operated by a medical professional or located onsite at a hotel or motel.

***The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly would like to congratulate their long term Client American Eldercare and their Grassroots Team for winning Florida’s contract for Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program for Long-Term Care. The Delray Beach firm that specializes in caring for seniors in independent living in their homes as well as assisted living “is the only company that won contracts to enroll customers in every region of the state According to Health News Florida, The market is estimated to be worth about $3 billion.” The PA Team has represented American Eldercare and worked with their Grassroots Team for over 10 years. ***

7 HOUSE INCUMBENTS FILE FOR RE-ELECTION

Those incumbents, who filed papers with the state Division of Elections during the past 10 days, include Rep. Jason Brodeur in District 28; Rep. Ross Spano in District 59; Rep. Janet Cruz in District 62; Rep. Dwight Dudley in District 68; Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen in District 78; Rep. MaryLynn Magar in District 82; and Rep. Lori Berman in District 90.

>>>Also filing papers last week was former Rep. Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat who would run in District 100. That seat is currently held by Rep. Joe Gibbons who will face term limits in 2014.

BRANDES FILES BILL TO EXPAND ANIMAL PROTECTIONS via Sunshine State News

Sen. Brandes has filed a bill, SB 504, intended to make it easier to prosecute those who abuse animals through animal fighting.

“Violence against animals is a serious problem, and I’m committed to ensuring that our law enforcement and prosecutors have the necessary tools to bring animal abusers to justice,” Brandes stated.  “I believe it’s important to prevent this type of violence, and I look forward to swift approval by the Senate.”

The bill would allow offenders to face multiple counts of animal abuse when multiple animals are involved, amending language that typically narrows offenders to a single charge.

>>>“The Humane Society of the United States commends Senator Brandes for introducing this important bill that cracks down on animal fighting in our state,” stated Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “Animal fighting is an inhumane, barbaric activity that the public strongly opposes, and SB 504 sends a clear message to animal abusers that they will face a vigorous prosecution under the law.” 

EARLY VOTING ON COMMITTEE AGENDA via The News Service of Florida

The first proposed legislation to increase the number of early voting days has been sent to a committee and could get a hearing next week. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee has put the legislation (SB 80) on its agenda for Feb. 5. The bill sponsored by Sen. Arthenia Joyner would require early voting to start on the 15th day before an election, rather than the 10th, as was the case during the last election, and not end until the Sunday before Election Day, rather than the Saturday before as is the case under current law. The bill also expands possible early voting sites, and would once again allow voters who move to change their address and vote by regular ballot in their new precinct.

LEGISLATURE TO HOST PRE-SESSION PRESS INFORMATION SESSION

The Florida House and Senate will host the fourth annual pre-session press information session on Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All media are invited to attend to learn about issues expected to be addressed during the upcoming legislative session. Members of the media will have access to the top substantive experts among the senior legislative staff and will have the opportunity to ask questions, for informational purposes, related to complex issues of public policy.

PROFILE OF REP. DAN RAULERSON here.

WALTON, HOLMES, WASHINGTON COUNTY LEGISLATIVE DELEGATIONS TO MEET TODAY

The two members of the Legislature who represent Walton, Holmes and Washington counties in the central Panhandle will hold public hearings in each county on Tuesday to hear comments from local constituents on the upcoming legislative session. The delegation – Senate President Don Gaetz and Rep. Marti Cole will also vote on local bills.

WEATHERFORD TAPS SCHENCK TO CHAIR HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON GAMING

“The House Select Committee on Gaming will be charged with looking Florida’s gaming activity holistically to determine ways to improve the state’s oversight of the industry,” said House Speaker Weatherford.  “Under Representative Schenck’s leadership, I’m confident we can determine what changes – if any – are needed to develop a comprehensive policy for gaming in Florida.”

“Gaming is an issue that requires a careful consideration of existing law before any decisions are made regarding the industry’s future in Florida,” said Representative Schenck.  “I look forward to conducting a comprehensive review to set a long term vision for the future of gaming in Florida.”

The Select Committee on Gaming’s responsibility will be to conduct a comprehensive review of Florida’s gaming industries and to recommend legislative actions to solidify a unified, long-term policy for the future of gaming in Florida that serves the best interest of all Floridians.

The Select Committee will also review the Gaming Compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida.  Following this review, the Select Committee will recommend whether to renew its authorization for banked card games and potential areas for renegotiation.  The select committee shall report its findings and recommendations prior to the 2014 Legislative Session.

***Last week, Walmart made the Veterans Welcome Home and Manufacturing commitments; offering jobs to honorably discharged veterans with expected hiring of 100,000 over the next five years and boosting sourcing of U.S. products by $50 Billion over the next ten years.  Click here to learn more about Walmart’s veterans and manufacturing commitments.***

BIG NAMES LOBBYING UP via the News Service of Florida

As lobbyist registrations roll in more than a month before the 2013 legislative session, some big corporate names are amassing large lobbying teams. Walt Disney World companies had 16 legislative lobbyists registered as of Monday afternoon, according to a state website listing registrations. AT&T had 14, while United States Sugar Corp. had 13. Also, South Central Florida Express, a railroad that is a subsidiary of U.S. Sugar, had 10 lobbyists registered.

4TH FLOOR FILES talks to legendary GrayRobinson lobbyist Fred Leonhardt about the last day of session and owning a restaurant. The file on Fred is here.

LAUREN’S KIDS FOUNDATION UNVEILS “DON’T MISS THE SIGNS’ CAMPAIGN

“Don’t Miss the Signs” – that’s the message Floridians will soon see on television ads, posters and other materials, urging them to raise their voices to stop child abuse. 

The comprehensive public awareness campaign will educate Floridians about their obligation to report suspected abuse under Florida’s sweeping new child abuse reporting law, which took effect Oct. 1, 2012.

Last year, the Florida Legislature passed the nation’s most protective child abuse reporting law, making it clear that reporting suspected child abuse is everyone’s responsibility, not just designated “professional reporters” such as medical professionals and teachers.  The law also clarifies that the state’s abuse hotline will accept reports of abuse committed by people other than parents and primary caregivers, such as a coach, teacher or neighbor.

“Florida has set a national standard for child protection through the strength of our laws,” said DCF Secretary David Wilkins.  “But our laws are only effective if our citizens are willing to do their part and report abuse if they suspect a child is at risk.”

To support the new law’s implementation, the Legislature funded a comprehensive effort to raise awareness, encourage reporting and promote prevention.  DCF developed the new “Don’t Miss the Signs” campaign in partnership with the Lauren’s Kids foundation, which seeks to end childhood sexual abuse.

SAVE THE DATE FOR THIS FUNDRAISER benefiting Reps. Matt Hudson and John Wood on February 6. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Library Room of the Governor’s Club in Tallahassee.  

SPACE TOURISM — THE NEXT BIG THING?

A recent study by The Tauri Group on the still-nascent suborbital space industry projected $600 million worth of demand in the next 10 years, saying individuals eager for an out-of-this-world experience would be the primary buyers. Governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations were expected to make up the rest.

>>>Check out this video interview with Frank DiBello, President of Space Florida. DiBello spoke about Space Florida’s role in the state’s economy and about the future of space exploration and tourism. One quote: “You’ll see a growing economy that is in low-Earth orbit, with people going for adventure tourism.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com***

FINALLY ON THE TWITTERS: The Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith. Follow her at @NancyLBSmith.

THANK YOU FOR THE FOLLOW: @RaySeaman, @ZacAndersonNews

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my colleague Daphne Taylor Street. 

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