Sunburn â The morning read of whatâs hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Joe Henderson, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Happy Halloween, Sunburn readers.
In case you missed it, here is Ella Joyceâs Not-So-Scary Halloween Display for 2018.
PresidentÂ Donald TrumpÂ will bring his âScare The Dickens Out Of Everyone Tourâ to Estero outside of Fort Myers tonight for a Halloween hoedown sure to contain overstuffed helpings of red meat for the faithful who will attend.
With the midterm elections less than a week away, the President has been in full attack mode as he jets around the country spreading fear, loathing, and the end of the world as we know it unless Republicans hold on to their majorities in the House and Senate.
In an interview Monday with Fox News, the President called Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidateÂ Andrew GillumÂ âa stone-cold thiefâ but offered no proof to back up that statement.
Gillum responded on Twitter, declaring, âI heard @realDonaldTrump ran home to @FoxNews to lie about me. But as my grandmother told me â never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.â
Trump will no doubt stump for Gillumâs opponent, RepublicanÂ Ron DeSantis, as well asÂ Rick Scott,Â who is trying to unseat DemocratÂ Bill NelsonÂ in the U.S. Senate.
The President could also choose to defend his move to send 5,200 U.S. troops to secure the nationâs southern border against a caravan of migrant workers and their families working their way on foot toward what they hope will be a better life.
He also might bring up his (possibly illegal) plan to eliminate so-called âbirthright citizenshipâ for children born in the United States but whose parents are undocumented immigrants.
The President may be itching for a court fight on that one that would put him squarely up against the so-called âcitizenship clauseâ in the 14thÂ Amendment, adopted in 1868, which states: âAll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.â
The press can expect to receive its usual smackdown, and he might repeat his line about Democratic super-donorÂ Tom Styer, who the President called âa stumbling lunatic.â Styer was one of the targets of pipe bombs sent through the mail last week.
And, of course, he always likes to trumpet his handling of the economy, and that should go over well with the crowds who began lining up Monday outside Hertz Arena in Estero to get the best seats for the rally that begins at 7 p.m.
This will be Trumpâs 37thÂ rally in Florida, dating to when he announced his intention to run for President. If you miss this one, there is another Trump rally planned for Nov. 3 in Pensacola.
âRick Scott mum, Ron DeSantis supports Donald Trumpâs proposal to end birthright citizenshipâ via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida âÂ ScottÂ andÂ DeSantisÂ are considered two ofÂ Trumpâs closest political allies but are taking different approaches to the presidentâs proposal, which was floated a week before Election Day. Scott, who raised $20 million for Trumpâs 2016 presidential bid, is noncommittal. âI have not seen the details of what the president is suggesting and would need to fully review the proposal,â his campaign said in a statement. âMy priorities continue to be securing the border and fixing the long-broken immigration system.â The question is more difficult for Scott, who is in a race where both he and Nelson have tried to run toward the middle, seeking to file off any extreme policy edges and appeal to moderate voices. DeSantis, though, is in a race that has been focused on base voters on both sides. He and Gillum have not drastically changed campaign messages from those used in contentious primary contests. DeSantis said at an event in Tampa that he supports the idea, but is not sure it would survive the courts.
âTrump Halloween masks âextremely popularâ at Halloween megastore in Fort Myersâ via David Dorsey of News-Press.com â The masks and wigs were hard to miss upon entering the year-round, Halloween Megastore off U.S. 41.Â TrumpÂ masks havenât been the most popular at the store located at 5120 S. Cleveland Ave., in Fort Myers. That distinction, this year, has belonged to the Marvel character Black Panther, said store managerÂ Stephen LaRosa. But Trump by far has been the best-selling politicianâs mask, he said. âWeâve sold probably a hundred of them,â LaRosa said.
â SITUATIONAL AWARENESS â
â@SenBillNelson:Â The Constitution says that if you are born in the USA you are an American citizen. You cannot change that with an executive order.
â@WillWeatherford:Â Mr President â as a person of Faith, I believe we should not be a society that punishes children for the mistakes of their parents. This concept is bad policy, bad politics and unjust!
â@JMartNYT:Â More than any other race, Trump will own this loss should DeSantis fall short
â@Fineout:Â .@Â in campaign fundraising email blast says âwith our most recent ad buy, we are severely under budgetâ Scott has put more than $61 million of his own money into the Senate race so far.
â@KevinCate:Â The @#Â in Polk County, Florida â a county Trump won by 14 points. Canât fit any more people in here. IncredibleÂ
â@SteveSchale:Â Iâm not a fan of how Q polls, to be honest. They tend to be pretty noisy. âŠÂ They are exceptionally noisy. They often land the plane ok, but for example in 12, they had us anywhere from -6 to +9, and the race never moved more than a 3-4 points all cycle. They float self Id, which in a state where partisanship is stable & on the file, leads to noise.
â@GrayRohrer:Â National campaign reporters with book deals, if you arenât on the phone with your agents pitching âSurefire Intelligenceâ as the name of your 2018 tome, well youâre missing out
â@JChristianMinor:Â Former @fladjj Secretary @cdaly74 was met with smiles, tears and a standing ovation as she was honored for her 2 decades of service to Floridaâs youth & families at DJJâs Restoring Hope Training Conference Cc:
@BallardFirm who is blessed to have such a servant leader
â@ChrisHandJax:Â Former Governor & Ambassador Adlai Stevenson said it best: âAs citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.â Please utilize the most basic skill of effective citizenship. â
â@MDixon55:Â Carmel M&Ms are an abomination, and anyone who hands them out is looking to get their trees full of toilet paper. There is one industry where we need no innovation or new things: candy
â LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES â
Pre-Election Day voting breached the 3-million-vote mark Tuesday after another 325,000 mail ballots and early votes came were reported to the Florida Division of Elections.
Republicans won the day with 135,482 reported votes, and their nearly 1.3 million ballots checked so far keep them with the 42 percent share of the total vote theyâve enjoyed for several days running. Democrats came a few thousand votes behind, adding 128,866 ballots to their tally for a total of 1.23 million to date for a likewise steady 40 percent share.
The remaining 60,291 votes added in the Tuesday update came from third-party and NPA voters. The running total for âotherâ voters stands at just over 574,000 one week out from Election Day.
That GOPâs 2-point lead in the early vote is a point down from their 3-point lead heading into Election Day 2014, but Republicans are better situated than they were two years ago, when they trailed Democrats in VBM and EV ballots by 1.5 percentage points.
The ever-growing haul has nearly surpassed the 3.18 million votes cast before Election Day 2014, and indicates the Sunshine State may see up to 7.5 million total votes in the midterm. Tuesday also saw the number of returned mail ballots eclipse the 50 percent mark, with 1.8 million returned to county supervisors and 1.64 million still in the wild.
âPost-Hurricane Maria Puerto Ricans wonât swing Floridaâs electionâ via the Miami Herald â Less than 8,500 Democrats and Republicans who registered before the 2018 primary election did so with cellphone numbers containing Puerto Rican area codes, giving them eligibility to vote in the primary, though most Puerto Ricans register without affiliation. Going into Tuesdayâs election, they make up about 0.8% of the stateâs total 2.2 million Hispanics who can vote in the November election. Itâs possible that newly arrived Puerto Ricans could have obtained a Florida-based phone number, but the latest release of the stateâs voter file does not provide any indication that new arrivals will usurp Cuban-Americans in South Florida or Puerto Ricans already in Florida as the stateâs two biggest and most important Hispanic subgroups. A recent study by the University of Florida suggests that between 30,000 and 50,000 Puerto Ricans settled in Florida after Hurricane Maria, lower than previous estimates of 200,000 or more.
As of Tuesday morning, more people have voted early in Miami-Dade County than did in all of 2014, the last gubernatorial elex. 18 thru Mon: 135,110 early voters. 14 on same day: 116,905. (’16 was 239,405 early voters by now)
â Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) October 30, 2018
â TOP STORY â
No trick: Retailers are expecting a near-record-breaking amount of Halloween-related purchases this year.
According to aÂ surveyÂ by the National Retail Federation, an affiliate of the Florida Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend around $8.9 billion by Halloweenâs end â nearly enough to crack the record of $9.1 billion. While that sum is a nationwide calculation, FRF doesnât expect the Sunshine State to be an outlier.
âWith Floridaâs economy surging and numerous statewide economic indicators remaining positive, we expect another strong year for spending on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations, and other themed purchases,â FRF President and CEOÂ R. Scott ShalleyÂ said. âThis should mean another robust sales opportunity for retailers who market their goods and scare enough consumers into their stores.â
In total: a third of those sampled in the survey plan to hand out a greeting card or two, while two-thirds say theyâll pick up a costume. Three-quarters will buy decorations, and all but a few will stock up on candy for kids a the door.
En vogue: Costume-wise, Disney dominates. Marvel, Star Wars â the list goes on.
Staying in?: Youâre not alone. Most American adults wonât be out knocking on doors. Seven out of 10 polled said theyâll handle the door for at least part of their evening, while the other 30 percent will be escorting kids around the block.
â TOP OF THE BALLOT â
âHereâs why Trump is so focused on the Governorâs race.â via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times â Thereâs a good reason why heâs so interested: Itâs critical to his chances for re-election in 2020, according to his former White House political strategist,Â Steve Bannon. If a Republican occupies the Governorâs Mansion, he could steer donors, party leaders and even the machinery of government in directions that benefit a presidential candidate. (The governor appoints the secretary of state, the stateâs chief elections officer, for example.) AndÂ TrumpÂ would have no more loyal acolyte than former Congressman DeSantis, who used Trumpâs endorsement â and only Trumpâs endorsement â to win the Republican gubernatorial primary this year.
ââTrump rallies, tweets help turn Florida campaign into national oneâ via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel
âDo Never-Trumpers matter? Weâre about to find out.â via David Smiley of the Miami Herald â Never-Trumpers, that shrinking segment of the Republican Party that canât fathom to support someone who has shattered every norm of the presidency,Â areÂ weighing a nuclear option as the Sunshine State approaches the midterm elections. Faced with a choice between an unabashed liberal and aÂ TrumpÂ apprentice in the race for governor, they are crossing the thin red line and voting for a candidate who wants to raise the minimum wage and hike corporate taxes. In some cases, Republicans are voting forÂ Gillum, notÂ because of anything he says or stands for, but because they believe a defeat for GOP nomineeÂ DeSantisÂ would be a high-profile indictment of Trump and the first step toward ending the presidentâs reign. For those who refuse to cede the direction of the party to someone they view as an emperor without clothes, Gillum is a means to an end.
ââDeSantisâ short political career setsÂ stageÂ for bidÂ to become Florida Governorâ via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News
Assignment editorsÂ â DeSantis will host a rally, attend a âmeet and greetâ event, then join President Trump at his âMake America Great Againâ rally.
â 8 a.m., Dolphin Aviation Inc., 8191 North Tamiami Trail #100, Sarasota.
â 10:30 a.m., Leroyâs Southern Kitchen & Bar, 201 West Marion Ave., Punta Gorda.
â 7 p.m., Hertz Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero.
Assignment editorsÂ â The GillumÂ campaign bus tour will continue with stops in North Florida.
â 8 a.m. (Central time), St. John Divine Church, 620 E. Jordan St., Pensacola.
â Noon (Central time), Arlene Williams BBQ, 4900 Mobile Highway, Pensacola.
â 1:30 p.m. (Central time), Harbor Docks, 538 Harbor Blvd., Destin.
â SCOTT VS. NELSON â
âGrandma rips Bill Nelson as âmore and more confusedâ in New Republican PAC adâ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics â The 30-second spot âGenerationsâ launches in a statewide TV campaign from the independent super PAC that Gov.Â ScottÂ set up to support his Republican bid forÂ Nelsonâs Senate seat. As a trio of women, apparently a grandmother, mother, and granddaughter sitting in a diner, the mother observers that Nelson has been running for office as long as she has been alive. âAnd the things heâs been saying lately? Poor man seems more and more confused,â Grandma tells her daughter and granddaughter, hitting as hard as any of the New Republican commercials yet on the still-not-explicitly stated open suggestion that Nelson, 76, is losing his mental competence.
To view the ad,Â click on the image below:
âHispanic Leadership Fund launching ads supporting Rick Scottâ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics â The radio ads declare that Scott understands how hard Hispanics work and that is why he has been working so hard to support them. It extols Scottâs jobs creation record in Florida â more than 1.5 million new jobs in eight years â and dismisses his opponent Nelson as an âout-of-touch career Washington politician.â It does not name Nelson. The English ad declares, âAs a successful businessman, Rick Scott knows how to create jobs better than out-of-touch career politicians. Those jobs help us care for our families, buy a house, start a business, pay for health care, or get a college degree.â The Spanish ad says the same.
To hear the ad,Â click on the image below:
ââElection year conversionâ: Nelson on Scottâs health coverage stanceâ via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics â âI support forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions,âÂ ScottÂ said in a recent ad spotlighting his hard-luck youth. âFor Sen.Â Nelson, itâs just another political issue. But for me, itâs personal.â Nelson is skeptical of what he deemed an âelection-yearÂ conversion,â he told reporters. âHe has tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which gives protection. An insurance company canât deny you insurance if you have a pre-existing condition. There are eight million people in Florida who have a pre-existing condition.â Even asthma, Nelson said, qualifies as such. Scott has âtried to repeal the law for the last seven years. Heâs done everything he could to undermine it. And then allows the state of Florida to sue to declare that provision of the law unconstitutional,â he added.
âScott a âdesperate politician who is losing,â Nelson saysâ via Florida Politics âA house that Nelson sold decades ago has become, improbably, an issue in his re-election campaign against Scott. The deal in question involved property Nelson purchased in McLean, Virginia, in 1983, while he served in the U.S. House. Nelson bought the land for $145,000 and built a $1 million home in the Washington suburb. Nelson in September 1989 sold the property for $3.4 million to a company belonging to Middle East businessmanÂ Rafik Hariri,Â then an adviser to Saudi Arabia. Hariri went on to become Prime Minister of Lebanon. Republicans say the sale amounted to an illegal campaign contribution. Nelson says thatâs hogwash from a failing campaign. âThis is an untruthful false statement by a desperate politician who is losing and who tried to divert attention from the fact that he has profited off of public office in the eight years heâs been governor,â Nelson said.
âSierra Club opens âScottâs House of horrorsââ via Florida Politics â âHalloween is right around the corner, and, tbh, thereâs some super scary stuff going on this year. Bomb threats, white nationalism, embattled midterm elections, and a new IPCC report that predicts climate catastrophe by 2040 if we donât get our act together and transition to renewable energy ASAP,â the BuzzFeed quiz reads. After a primer on the challenges climate change is expected to bring to the Sunshine State, the Sierra Club takes aim atÂ Scott, whom they said has ârepeatedly denied the existence of human-caused climate change, and throughout his political career has been in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry.â The quiz takes the Halloween theme and runs with it, casting the Republican U.S. Senate candidate as everything from fortuneteller with a magical ability to deny climate change to a vampire âsucking Floridaâs lifeblood with cuts to environmental protections.â
White Republican felons fare better when Scott restores voting rightsâ via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel â A new study by the Palm Beach Post found thatÂ ScottÂ restored voting rights to a lower percentage of blacks and Democrats â and a higher percentage of whites and Republicans â than any Florida governor in the past half-century. In one case, Scott restored an ex-offenderâs rights after telling the governor heâd previously voted for Scott âŠ illegally.Â Jeb BushÂ andÂ Charlie CristÂ restored rights to roughly equal numbers of whites and blacks. Under Scott, the Post found the proportions changed â to more than 2-to-1. While black men, for instance, accounted for 38 percent of all people released from prison, the Post found they accounted for only 16 percent of those for whom Scott restored rights. The full Florida Cabinet votes on restoration. But the governor must agree.
â NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL â
Assignment editorsÂ â U.S. Sen.Â BernieÂ SandersÂ will headline a rally at the University of Central Florida âto encourage students and all Floridians to get engaged, vote and volunteer in the final stretch of the campaign.â Thatâs at 11 a.m., CFE Arena at UCF, 12777 Gemini Blvd. N, Orlando.
âMatt Caldwell ads show âNo Bullâ approachâ via Florida Politics â Two new ads from GOP Agriculture Commissioner candidateÂ Matt CaldwellÂ emphasize the farm and grime aspects of the job â and also highlight the North Fort Myersâ sense of humor. One 30-second spot, titled âNo Bull,â features Caldwell in a field with a bovine co-star, rattling off political clichĂ©s with down-home aplomb. A second spot released the same day includes highlights from his â#2LaneTravelsâ tour of the state. Itâs titled âDirty Jobsâ and draws heavily from the reality show of the same nameâs themes and style.
To view one of the ads,Â click on the image below:
ââWhen Florida elects a CFO, itâs also choosing the stateâs top arson investigatorâ via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union
Marsyâs Law supporters launch final videos in campaignÂ â Marsyâs Law for Florida released its final series of videos featuring crime victims, survivors and advocates who have shared their personal reasons for supporting Amendment 6/Marsyâs Law for Florida, a measure that would place a new set of specific crime victimsâ rights in the state constitution. The crime victims and survivors appearing in these video series not only share their stories of how crime has forever altered their lives, but also describe ways in which they feel the criminal justice system has ignored them, left them without a voice and revictimized them. One video feature State AttorneyÂ Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who shares her perspective on how we can strengthen victimsâ rights and protections in our state constitution without weakening or removing any of the rights currently afforded to those accused or convicted of a crime.
To view the video ofÂ Aleta JarrettÂ of Tallahassee, whose father and her brother were murdered,Â click on the image below:
The view the video of Rundle,Â click on the image below:
â MORE NOTES ON THE TRAIL â
âLauren Baer a âlimousine liberal?â GOPÂ adÂ says yesâ via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics â The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is attempting to frame Democratic candidateÂ BaerÂ as a limousine liberal ahead of next weekâs vote in Floridaâs 18th Congressional District. The ad also hits a familiar note for the GOP, as it tries to tie Baer to House Minority LeaderÂ Nancy Pelosi. The NRCCâs newÂ adÂ is titled âPlans,â and argues Baerâs policies will hurt the everyday American. âWe work harder,â the adâs narrator begins, before transitioning to a mock-up of Pelosi and Baer riding together in a limousine. âLiberal politicians live better. Under Lauren Baer, the divide would grow. Lauren Baer and Nancy Pelosi would move us toward government-run health care, get rid of tax cuts for families, slice the child tax credit in half.
To view the ad,Â click on the image below:
Assignment editorsÂ â TV personalityÂ Montel WilliamsÂ and Democratic congressional candidateÂ Mary BarzeeÂ FloresÂ will join health care advocates âto call for an end to the GOPâs continued war on Floridiansâ health careâ as part of Protect Our Careâs nationwide bus tour, 11 a.m., Borinquen Health Care Center, 3601 Federal Highway, Miami.
âNRCC ad argues Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will âthreatenâ the environmentâ via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics â The NRCC, which aims to elect Republicans to the U.S. House, hits what it calls Mucarsel-Powellâs shady ties to donors in its new ad titled âThreaten.â âWhatâs with Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and all these shady characters?â the adâs narrator asks. âWe know about her shady money from a Ukrainian militia leader accused of bribery, embezzlementÂ andÂ murder. But now we learn that her family profits off a company that repeatedly violates environmental laws, and her campaign is flooded with dirty coal money, the very polluters that threaten our way of life in the Keys. If Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is with them, she canât be with us.â
To view the ad,Â click on the image below:
âRepublican Anthony Rodriguez accused of rental mismanagement in new adâ via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics â RepublicanÂ Rodriguez, a candidate in House District 118 and owner of Florida Advanced Properties, is being accused of neglect and mismanagement by two residents at a residential property in Kendall managed by his company. Those allegations come in the form of a new digital ad from the Florida Democratic Party, featuring those allegations. The 30-second spot includes testimony fromÂ Francisco Arbelaez, who has a mortgage for one of the units located at 15665 SW 82nd Circle Lane in Kendall. Arbelaez says Florida Advanced is responsible for collecting Arbelaezâ mortgage payments, which are made to U.S. Condo Association. He says heâs lived at the property since 2001. But following Hurricane Irma in 2017, Arbelaez says the property has not been given proper attention.
To view the ad,Â click on the image below:
â A BILLION HERE âŠ â
A new report fromÂ The Center for Responsive PoliticsÂ estimates more the final spending tally for the 2018 election cycle will hit $5.2 billion nationwide, a $1 billion increase over the previous record when adjusted for inflation.
So far, $4.7 billion of that cash has already been spent. And unlike past cycles itâs Democrats, not Republicans, leading the way. The Center estimates Democratic candidate spending at more than $2.5 billion, putting them $300 million ahead of $2.2 billion spent by their GOP rivals.
The spending disparity is particularly wide in U.S. House races, where Dem candidates have raised $951 million thus far compared to Republican candidatesâ to-date haul of $637 million. That extendsÂ to GOP-leaning seats, where most Democrats are keeping pace as well as âtoss-ups,â whereÂ Republicans are getting blown out of the water.
The gulf is smaller in U.S. Senate races, where the split is $513 million to $361 million, advantage Democrats. Then again, there areÂ 26 Senate Democrats up for re-electionÂ compared to just eight Republicans.
The source of the blue teamâs edge? Women. The study found Dem campaigns have received a whopping $308 million in contributions from women, dwarfing the $90 million raised by their Republican counterparts.
Mega-donors are still making a mega impact, however, and most of their funds are heading to GOP pols. Casino magnateÂ Sheldon AdelsonÂ and fellow billionaireÂ Richard UihleinÂ have anted up more than $150 million for R candidates, while the top Democratic donors this cycle,Â Tom SteyerÂ andÂ Michael Bloomberg, have spent $89 million. Bloomberg hadÂ previously pledgedÂ to plunk down $100 million this cycle.
ââFemale candidates break barriers, except when it comes to moneyâ of The New York Times
â AFTER MICHAEL â
âHurricane insured losses top $2 billionâ via the News Service of Florida â As of Monday afternoon, 108,560 claims had been filed, with estimated insured losses at $2.034 billion. The largest number of claims, 77,239, involved residential property. By far, the largest number of claims were in Bay County, where 64,731 had been filed. Jackson County had the second-largest number of claims as of Monday afternoon, with 11,195. It was followed by Leon County, with 7,131 claims; Gulf County, with 6,281 claims; Gadsden County, with 4,497 claims; and Calhoun County, with 3,317 claims.
âElection problems in the Panhandle may impact election resultsâ via Niala Charles of CBS12.com â Hurricane Michael destroyed many of the election centers, and the area is still struggling to get back on its feet. âThey lost their homes, and if your ballot was sitting on the kitchen table, you lost your ballot with it too,âÂ Susan Bucher, the Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach County. Bay, Gulf, and Jackson counties were hit the hardest, an area that holds almost 160,000 registered voters. Jackson County Supervisor of ElectionsÂ Sylvia StephensÂ says turnout will be lower. âThe first thing thatâs on their minds is their homes, their safety, food, welfare, where theyâre going to sleep,â she said.
âTourism marketing backed afterÂ hurricane, red tideâ via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida â The VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors approved an $8.89 million marketing campaign intended to address the hurricane and red-tide issues and protect the stateâs brand by stressing what is open across the state. The agency has been using Facebook to post videos of parts of the Panhandle that werenât hammered by Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10 and plans a website will go live Thursday to provide information outlining what is open, saidÂ Staci Mellman, VISIT FLORIDAâs interim chief marketing officer. The site will also encourage visitors to try new areas. âIf they like a certain kind of beach, maybe they might like something else,â Mellman said. The crisis-response campaign, which is something VISIT FLORIDA officials admit they have had to become experts at the past few years, will expand as counties still digging out from Michael are able to start welcoming visitors.
Utilities wonât pester disaster zone customers for paymentÂ â The Public Service Commission voted Tuesday to waive regular monthly billing while ratepayers recover from Hurricane Michael. The waivers apply to Duke Energy Floridaâs 28,523 customers in Bay, Gulf, Franklin, and Wakulla counties, and to 13,000 Florida Public Utilities ratepayers in Jackson, Calhoun, and Liberty. The utilities will notify customers when willing resumes, and will work out payment arrangements when needed. âBecause so many homes and businesses, as well as roads, have been damaged or destroyed, mail delivery has been suspended in many areas,â PSC ChairmanÂ Art GrahamÂ said. âCustomers can now focus on recovery without worrying about their bill.â
âParty held forÂ homelessÂ baby born in wake of hurricaneâ via The Associated Press â The family of a baby who spent his first night out of the hospital in a Walmart parking lot after Hurricane Michael just got a surprise baby shower.Â Wilmer Capps, his wifeÂ LorraindaÂ Smith and their babyÂ LukeÂ were surprised on Tuesday after they were told to show up at the Walmart for a hurricane recovery meeting. They were greeted with the best news theyâve had in a while: a yearâs supply of diapers, a food voucher, and a cake with rubber duckies on it that said, âWalmart loves Luke.â
Commissioner Adam Putnam addressing a packed house of farmers, ranchers, growers & more at agricultural recovery listening session in Blountstown. Main message: This extraordinary storm demands an extraordinary response. pic.twitter.com/D5VBa1C8KB
â FDACSNews (@FDACSNews) October 30, 2018
âAfter Michael, where to celebrate Halloween in hard-hit townsâ via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat â Hurricane Michael has played a trick on some recovering small towns leaving debris as the scariest thing in front of most houses. Because of the dangers from lingering downed trees and power lines, door-to-door trick-or-treating is being discouraged. Instead, the festivities are being replaced with community events. The Franklin County Sheriffâs Office is encouraging trick-or-treating as normal. Apalachicola: Trunk-or-treat: 6-8 p.m., downtown Apalachicola, Avenue D from Main Street to Riverfront Park. Carrabelle: Lighthouse Reopening Party: Candy, free moonlight tower climbs, free Keeperâs House Museum tours. 6-9 p.m., Crooked River Lighthouse, 1975 US-98 W. Carrabelle Christian Center: Trunk-or-treat. 6:30 p.m., 142 River Rd, Carrabelle. First Baptist Church of Carrabelle: Trunk-or-treat, 6-8 p.m., 206 SE Avenue A.
â STATEWIDE â
âState, business groups target local minimum wageâ via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida â Attorney GeneralÂ Pam Bondiâs office and major business groups urged the Florida Supreme Court this week to prevent the city of Miami Beach from moving forward with a local minimum wage. Bondiâs office and the business groups filed briefs arguing that the Supreme Court should uphold lower-court rulings that said a state law bars Miami Beach from gradually increasing its minimum wage to $13.31 an hour in 2021. The case also has drawn attention from local governments, which have sided with Miami Beach. The legal battle stems, in part, from a 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment that gave Florida a higher minimum wage than the federal rate. Bondiâs office and the business groups argue that another state law â known as a pre-emption law â effectively requires Floridaâs minimum wage to be the same throughout the state and blocks local governments from passing higher rates.
Consumer sentiment declines forÂ thirdÂ month in a row, but the economy is strongÂ via the University of Florida â Consumer sentiment among Floridians fell three-tenths of a point to 97.8 from a revised figure of 98.1 in September. This is the third consecutive month with a decline in consumer sentiment in Florida. Of the five components that make up the index, three increased and two decreased. Floridiansâ perceptions about current economic conditions were mixed. Perception of oneâs personal financial situation now compared with a year ago dropped 3.9 points from 91.8 to 87.9, the greatest decline of any reading this month. The decline is shared by all socio-demographic groups except men and is strongest among women, plummeting 13.7 points.
âLooking ahead: Florida TaxWatch publishesÂ guideÂ for âwhoeverâ wins gubernatorial electionâ via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics â Whoever wins, the nonprofit state government watchdog is hoping to provide a helping hand. âWeâre looking forward to helping him, and his team get a quick jump from the campaign to government,â TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro said. âThe important thing is when the election is over, we can put aside those partisan differences, and we look first and foremost at how Florida is second to none.â The handbook, more than 60 pages long, provides a preview of the roles and responsibilities of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, as well as a listing of âprominent issues facing Florida,â ranging from big-ticket items like public education spending to abstract but important policies like gaming and affordable housing.
âFlorida invests $3.5M to finish Everglades highway projectâ via The Associated Press â Gov.Â ScottÂ announced the funding atop a new 2.6-mile (4-kilometer) span of the elevated Tamiami Trail. A 1-mile (1.5-kilometer) section was raised in 2013. The completed project will allow water to flow under nearly 6 miles (9.5 kilometers) of the highway into Everglades National Park. Scott also directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to request $40 million more in state money to complete the project.
âSexual harassment claim against Florida Senate allowed to continueâ via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times âÂ Rachel Perrin Rogers, a top aide to Sen.Â Wilton SimpsonÂ had alleged in a discrimination complaint filed against the Florida Legislature in January that she had been retaliated against once she filed a sexual harassment claim against former state Sen.Â Jack Latvala. The state Senateâs lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the complaint late last month, but this week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicated her case would continue to proceed. The lawyers had argued that they had insufficient due process and that Perrin Rogersâ claim was insufficiently substantiated, which the court asserted did not meet the threshold for dismissal. The judge,Â Alexander Fernandez, also took issue with lawyersâ arguments that the âFlorida Legislature,â which is named in the suit, is not technically her employer because the Senate is, though the Legislature is listed on Perrin Rogersâ pay stubs.
âHouse seeks to defend medical marijuana lawâ via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida â House lawyers last week requested approval to help defend the law, which was designed to carry out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. A Leon County circuit judge this month sided with a Tampa-based firm that contends the 2017 law did not properly follow the constitutional amendment, in part because the law capped the number of medical-marijuana licenses that can be issued. In a motion filed last week seeking to intervene in the case, House lawyers contended that the 2017 law was carefully crafted to carry out the voter-approved constitutional amendment and to comply with federal guidance about medical- marijuana issues. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though it has been legalized for medicinal and recreational uses in various states.
âFloridaâs Stand Your Ground law is unconstitutional, Miamiâs top prosecutor tells high courtâ via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald â A South Florida organization of prosecutors that includes Miami-Dade State AttorneyÂ Fernandez RundleÂ is telling the Florida Supreme Court that the latest version of the stateâs controversial âStand Your Groundâ self-defense law is unconstitutional. The League of Prosecutors, in newly filed court documents, asked justices to strike down the law because it unlawfully forces state attorneys to try cases involving self-defense claims before a judge, not a jury. âThere is nothing specialized or unique about this defense that the common juror cannot understand,â according to the brief. Fernandez Rundle, the longtime elected top prosecutor in Miami-Dade, also filed a brief joining in the effort â the first state attorney to break with Attorney GeneralÂ Pam Bondi, whose office is defending the broadened âStand Your Groundâ law passed by the Florida Legislature last year.
Duke Energy cleared to drop contract with power plantÂ â The termination agreement, approved Tuesday by the PSC, will save customers as much as $35 million. Duke has been buying power from the Ridge Generating Station in Auburndale since it began operating in 1994, and was to have continued doing so through 2023. However, the plant, which converts waste including scrap tires, into electricity, is no longer cost-effective, the commission concluded. Duke has ample supplies without the facility. âThe good news is that this termination agreement saves Duke customers millions of dollars,â PSC ChairmanÂ Art GrahamÂ said.
âRegulators OK Gulf Power plan to share tax savings with customersâ via Michael Moline of Florida Politics â Gulf Power Co. will return $9.6 million in its savings from the 2017 federal tax cuts under a deal the Public Service Commission approved Tuesday. The âflow-back,â effective Jan. 1, follows more than $103 million in tax savings the company already began returning to its ratepayers. The settlement followed negotiations between Gulf Power, the Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group (FIPUG), and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy over the arcana of the federal tax code. âThe bottom line for the average customer is savings of about $32 per year that will begin in January,â Gulf Power President and CEOÂ Stan ConnallyÂ said in a written statement.
âFlorida A&M hires lobbyist Peter Harris to direct its medical marijuana projectsâ via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat âÂ HarrisÂ is a 1990 graduate of Florida State Universityâs College of Law. He received his bachelorâs degree in 1987 from the University of Miami. Since 2011, Harris has been a consultant or senior policy adviser in Florida, mostly asÂ ownerÂ of Peter Harris & Co., where heâs worked with local, state and federal agencies. Harris said his background includes advising âa leading national medical cannabis company on a variety of issues.â Other clients have included the Florida State Medical Association, the Florida Hospital Association and the Florida Pharmacy Association. Heâs also advised the Florida Department of Health on issues such as smoking cessation and minority health issues, a connection that may be helpful in FAMUâs initiatives that are coordinated with the DOH.
âTaxWatch says Halloween treats taxed trickilyâ via Florida Politics â Every year, Florida TaxWatch, the nonpartisan government watchdog, uses Halloween to demonstrate the stateâs boggling rules on what gets taxed and what doesnât. âGroceries are generally exempt from Florida sales tax, but candy can get confusing,â the groupâs 2018 handout says. Most candy is subject to the 6 percent state sales tax (and any applicable local sales tax), as long as it costs at least 10 cents. âSeventeen states are like Florida and do not consider candy to be groceries and, therefore, tax it at the full rate,â TaxWatch says. But âit gets tricky.â Our favorite: Marshmallow-based candy is taxable, but marshmallows themselves are exempt. Also, âchocolate and glazed or sugarcoated fruit is taxable, but chocolate chips and glazed fruit are exempt when âadvertised or normally sold for use in cooking or baking.ââ Moreover, âall these treats can be covered in chocolate, candy, honey, or yogurt and remain tax-free.â
Florida teens makes Halloween capes for preemie superheroesâ via The Associated Press â The babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at a Florida hospital may not remember their first Halloween. But theyâll have costumes, thanks to a 13-year-old middle schooler who made more 100 capes featuring emblems from Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and The Incredibles.Â Rachel MaretskyÂ tells the Orlando Sentinel itâs the second year sheâs made the capes for babies at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, who she calls superheroes. She says sheâs already gearing up to do the project again next year.
Man wearing Halloween costume featuring a bandolier with real bullets detained at UCF after sparking “suspicious person” alert, campus cops report. https://t.co/YWM6fiOZzG
â Jeff Weiner (@JeffWeinerOS) October 30, 2018
âNew 689 area code to debut in Central Florida next summerâ via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel â The Florida Public Service Commission announced on its website that it would start to roll out phone numbers with a 689 area code on June 4 in areas now served by 321 and 407.Â John Manning, senior director of the North American Numbering Plan Administration, which oversees forecasts of dates an area code will run out of numbers, said in a May 16 letter that 407 numbers would run out within 12 months. The 407 area code serves Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and parts of Lake and Volusia counties.
â D.C. MATTERS â
âRobert Mueller investigators probe Roger Stone conference callsâ via Drew FitzGerald and Shelby Holliday of The Wall Street Journal â Special CounselÂ Muellerâs investigators are examining comments byÂ StoneÂ â a longtime adviser toÂ TrumpÂ â about WikiLeaks during a series of conference calls he hosted in 2016, according to a witness in the probe and another person familiar with the matter. In at least two August conference calls advertised online to the public and promoting himself as âthe ultimate political insider,â Stone told callers about WikiLeaksâ plans to release information that he said would affect the 2016 presidential campaign before the election, according to people who listened to the sessions and recordings of one of the calls published online. Investigators have collected records and interviews related to the bi-weekly conference calls, according to the witness âÂ Jason Sullivan, a social-media specialist who organized some of the conference calls on Stoneâs behalf â and the person familiar with the matter.
âDespite new law, Florida will still âfall backâ forÂ endÂ of Daylight Saving Timeâ via The Associated Press â The âSunshine Protection Actâ aimed to make Daylight Saving Time permanent in Florida, meaning those in the Sunshine State would no lon