Smooth Sailing in Tallahassee
Florida’s legislative session is over in a little under a month and everything is going as planned – no hiccups or landmines to avoid.
This is exactly what Gov. Ron DeSantis wanted, especially in a presidential election year, so why wouldn’t the Republican-led legislature appease him?
After all, Speaker Jose Oliva and Senate President Bill Galvano all-but had their entire agenda addressed the last session. Yeah, there is the issue of E-Verify that DeSantis supports, but if Galvano kills it in his chamber, you can bet that move will mark the end of his political career.
Congressional run? LOL!
Statewide run for office? More LOL!
On another note, Gov. DeSantis continues to influence Florida’s political scene, legislative session, and how people are dressing in Tallahassee.
The Floridian has learned from a very, very, very, very reliable source that Black Lucchese boot-wearing DeSantis directly influenced (possibly strong-armed or threatened to eat his Chick-Fil-A) his trusty aid Rob to buy those pristine-looking brown cowboy boots of his
2020– Trump vs. Obama
Speaking of that election later this year, apparently President Barack Obama does have a pair of stones on him, as the former president has taken credit for the success of President Trump’s economy. And of course Trump pushed back…
You can’t make this up, or can you? READ MORE
Senator Rick Scott will be ‘at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection International Mail Facility in Miami to discuss the work being done on the federal level to combat counterfeit goods from Communist China. Senator Scott will also discuss the threat of the Chinese Coronavirus, and his call for increased screening and inspections on all products and produce coming into the United States from China.’
Oh, by the way, this year’s session is one big snoozefest, but you all already know that.
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“Mike Bloomberg Accused of Sexual Harassment” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molian – Entering the presidential race late, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (D) has quickly gained support that has propelled him to become one of the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination. However, the Mayor is now taking a big gulp of his own as he faces sexual harassment allegations at the release of a new Washington Post article. In the article, which documents allegations, lawsuits and depositions that have been made against Bloomberg, he is accused of misogynistic remarks and exhibiting a “pattern and practice of s*xual harassment, s*xual degradation of women and discrimination.” A former saleswoman of his sued Bloomberg personally as well as his company, saying that she had been discriminated. She cited that when she was pregnant, the Democratic frontrunner told her to “kill it.” As well, on April 11th, 1995, the Mayor was having a picture taken with a group of Business school students from NYU along with two Company saleswomen. When he noticed that there was an employee who was not in the picture. He then asked, “why didn’t they ask you to be in the picture? I guess they saw your face.” Over the weekend, Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to President Trump, spoke to “Fox News Sunday” about the allegations against Bloomberg. She commented, “the way Michael Bloomberg treated employees, female employees… who were relying on him for their livelihood, for their health benefits, for their 401ks, to have created that kind of culture, that unsafe workplace, to feel that you’re being harassed because of your gender, that is problematic, and I think you’re going to hear more of it.”
“Florida Gas Prices Decline To Lowest Level Of The Year” by NorthEscambia.com – Florida gas prices are continuing to slide downward, falling nine cents in the past 11 days to the lowest level this year. Sunday’s state average of $2.33 per gallon is 6 cents less than a week ago, and 23 cents less than last month. The average price per gallon Sunday in Escambia County was $2.30, while in North Escambia one Cantonment station was at $2.27 Sunday night. That’s a local increase of a penny from last week. “Florida drivers continue to benefit from strong refinery output and low fuel demand, which have contributed to the seasonal slump at the pump,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Unfortunately, these low gas prices may not linger terribly long. Florida gas prices could rise anywhere from 20-60 cents this spring, as demand rises and refineries switch to the more expensive-to-produce summer gasoline.”
“South Florida’s March Elections Are About More Than Just Picking Presidential Candidates” by WLRN’s Caitie Switalski – If you want to vote in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary coming up next month, you have until Tuesday at midnight to register, change your address or switch your party affiliation. To update your information or switch your party, contact your Supervisor of Elections Office before the end of day Tuesday. Across South Florida counties, you can check and request to update your information online. Read more here about where you can go to change your information. In Broward County, there are also municipal elections happening in addition to the presidential primary. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Lighthouse Point, and Pembroke Pines voters get to vote in mayoral races. (Pembroke Pines also has a city commission race for District 2.) Pompano Beach voters will give input on amendments to the city charter. There are also municipal races happening in Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Monroe County. To vote in these local races, you do not have to be registered with a political party. To better understand why Florida has early deadlines and the significance of the March presidential preference primary, WLRN spoke with Professor Charles Zelden. He teaches history and political science at Nova Southeastern University.
“Florida Could Extend Time for NCAA on Student-Athlete Pay” by Associated Press’s Bobby Caina Calvan – Florida lawmakers sought to delay when college athletes can begin striking endorsement deals, and agreed to extend the game clock on Monday for the NCAA on its own to address the issue of compensation for the 450,000 student athletes under its purview. But the move did not slow the momentum that could make Florida the second state in the country — behind California — to allow student athletes to make money off their names much like professional athletes now do. While the California law won’t go into effect until 2023, the proposal in Florida would have allowed athletes from some of the country’s highest profile sports programs to be the first in the country to reap the benefits of a growing movement to undo longstanding NCAA prohibitions. If signed into law as expected, the new rules would have gone into effect July 1. But a Florida Senate committee on Monday unanimously agreed to push back that date a year, giving the collegiate body some wiggle room. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has already expressed his support for the effort. The movement has gained steam not only among lawmakers in Florida, but across several other states. As a result, the NCAA has been under pressure to address the issue. Last year, it vowed to take up the matter but gave no definitive timeline to do so.
“Want to vote in March primary? Tuesday is last day to register” by Palm Beach Post’s Antonio Fins – It’s too early to tell what role Florida voters will have in picking this year’s presidential candidates. But Tuesday is the deadline if you want to have a say in the March 17 presidential preference primary. The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office will close the books on voter rolls at the end of the day. If you are not already registered to vote, time is running out to file your paperwork. Ditto if you want to change your party affiliation. Florida is a closed primary state, so voters can only vote for the candidates of the party they are registered with. That means only Democrats can vote for Democratic candidates and only Republicans can vote for GOP candidates.
“Central Florida lawmakers hail federal government terrorism grant” by Palm Beach Post’s Three Florida lawmakers on Friday hailed the awarding of a “major terror-prevention and preparedness grant” from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Reps. Val Demings, Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy, all Democrats who represent districts in the Orlando area, said in a statement that the amount of the grant will range from $2.8 million to $3.5 million. It will be issued under Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative, or UASI. “Having the safety and shield of well-trained, well-prepared first responders is what has allowed Orlando to become a haven for business, art, culture, tourism, and innovation,” Demings said. The UASI program provides funding for terror prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas which could be targeted. Central Florida, with it’s popular theme parks, seemed to be a natural fit for the program. But the region was excluded from UASI funding in 2014. Dollars were again allocated to the region in 2018 by the Trump administration, to the tune of $1.5 million. The amount was doubled to $3.25 million last year. “As a top tourist destination, the Orlando area is vulnerable to acts of terrorism that endanger the lives of residents and visitors alike,” Murphy said. “That’s why our congressional delegation fought so hard to ensure Orlando received this critical funding.”
“Trump Kicks Off the Daytona 500, and a Race for Florida Votes” by New York Times’s Michael D. Shear – President Trump put his showmanship skills on full display on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway, leading the famous stock car drivers in a lap around the 2.5-mile racetrack. A sold-out crowd of 101,500 people cheered his appearance in a state he must win this year to secure re-election. Serving as the grand marshal for the kickoff race of the NASCAR season, which was ultimately interrupted and then postponed because of rain, Mr. Trump arrived at the packed stands after a rare Air Force One flyover and later rounded the track in his limousine, nicknamed The Beast, to raucous cheers from the crowd. Shortly after the president told drivers to “start your engines,” Air Force Thunderbirds roared overhead. “NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country,” Mr. Trump said to the thousands in the stand and group of invited guests and members of the military at Victory Lane before the race started. He called it a moment of “pure American glory” and said “the cars will take to the tracks, the tires will screech, rubber will burn, fans will cheer.” “Good luck, and may the best team win,” he said. As Mr. Trump was leaving the speedway and the 40-car field was approaching the green flag to start 200 laps of racing, rain started to fall. After an hour delay, the race began and continued for 20 laps until rain again interrupted.
“New Proposals Could Squeeze Florida Ballot Initiatives” by CBS Miami – New proposals have emerged in the Florida House and Senate that would make it harder to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. The House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee this week are slated to take up newly filed measures that would increase petition-signature requirements for political committees backing ballot initiatives. The proposals come as the Republican-controlled House and Senate also are moving forward with other bills that would place additional restrictions on the petition-signature process. The newly filed proposals (House PCB JDC 20-07 and Senate SPB 7062) are scheduled to be heard Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee and Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The fact that they are emerging more than halfway through the legislative session in the key committees indicates they likely have support from House and Senate leaders. Currently, backers of ballot initiatives must meet two petition-signature requirements to take proposed constitutional amendments to voters. Both requirements are based on a calculation of 8 percent of the number of votes cast in the last presidential election year. One of the requirements involves submitting an overall number of petition signatures that equal 8 percent of the votes cast statewide. For proposed constitutional amendments on the 2018 and 2020 ballots, that equated to submitting 766,200 petition signatures statewide, based on the number of votes cast in the 2016 election. The other requirement says backers of ballot initiatives must submit petitions signatures that equal 8 percent of the votes cast in at least half of Florida’s congressional districts — in effect forcing political committees to get signatures from various parts of the state. In 2018 and 2020, that meant hitting the target numbers in 14 of 27 congressional districts.
“Senator Tom Cotton Repeats Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins” by New York Times’ Alexandra Stevenson – The rumor appeared shortly after the new coronavirus struck China and spread almost as quickly: that the outbreak now afflicting people around the world had been manufactured by the Chinese government. The conspiracy theory lacks evidence and has been dismissed by scientists. But it has gained an audience with the help of well-connected critics of the Chinese government such as Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist. And on Sunday, it got its biggest public boost yet. Speaking on Fox News, Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, raised the possibility that the virus had originated in a high-security biochemical lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. “We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there,” the senator said, “but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says, and China right now is not giving evidence on that question at all.” Mr. Cotton later walked back the idea that the coronavirus was a Chinese bioweapon run amok. But it is the sort of tale that resonates with an expanding chorus of voices in Washington who see China as a growing Soviet-level threat to the United States, echoing the anti-Communist thinking of the Cold War era.
“Democrats Storm Nevada Ahead of High-Stakes Caucuses” by WSJ’s Ken Thomas – Democratic presidential contenders are blitzing Nevada in the final week before the state’s caucuses, a contest that could determine whether Sen. Bernie Sanders has staying power at the top of the pack and whether centrists will rally behind an alternative or remain splintered. As they made appearances across the state, the candidates are preparing for a Wednesday night debate in Las Vegas that could include the debut of billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has poured more than $400 million into his campaign with an eye toward the Super Tuesday states next month. Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist, and Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, emerged as the leading contenders after Iowa and New Hampshire. But Nevada’s contest this Saturday, which features a large Latino electorate, and South Carolina’s, the first with a large African-American voting population, will test whether Messrs. Sanders and Buttigieg can appeal to a more diverse electorate. “If we have, as I hope we will, the highest voter turnout in the history of the Nevada caucus, we’re going to win here in Nevada,” Mr. Sanders said during a Sunday rally in Carson City. In a sign of his strength, Mr. Sanders has been campaigning in recent days in a series of Super Tuesday states, set to vote March 3, including California, Colorado, North Carolina and Texas. He was holding a Monday night rally in Tacoma, Wash. Mr. Buttigieg hopes to use Nevada as a springboard to consolidate support among centrists, hoping to fend off an energized Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who finished third in New Hampshire, and a faltering former Vice President Joe Biden, who finished fifth.
“Sanders, Bloomberg Offer Differing Theories of Democratic Desires” by WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib – To say that Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are different is one of those statements that is at once both entirely true, yet woefully insufficient. For all the differences that separate the Vermont senator and the former New York mayor, though, the most profound one is very simple: They offer divergent theories of what the 2020 presidential election is all about. Mr. Sanders believes Democratic voters are ready to overthrow the system. Mr. Bloomberg thinks they merely want to overthrow President Trump. The question of which approach Democrats are buying is central to the fate of these two unconventional candidates, and to the whole scrambled Democratic presidential race. One of the most important aspects of any presidential campaign is the theory of the race: What is it that voters are really looking for that year? Ronald Reagan won in 1980 because voters were ready, after an ineffective Democratic presidency, for a turn in a conservative direction. Barack Obama won in 2008 because voters were seeking, in the midst of a deep financial slide and a depressing war in Iraq, a candidate who represented both hope and change. Donald Trump won in 2016 because voters wanted somebody who would defy the establishment of both parties. This year, the Democratic primary fight turns on the question of what the party’s rank-and-file are most yearning for: a genuine revolution, or a simple change in command. Mr. Sanders and Mr. Bloomberg both want to defeat the president, of course. But that isn’t all, or even most, of what Mr. Sanders is selling. He argues that Democrats should upend the system that prevails in the political and financial halls of power. The influence of “millionaires and billionaires” must be curbed, and their taxes, extracted at a much higher rate, should be used to finance a wholesale reordering of the social compact. Health care will be free, college education will be free, student debt will disappear, the minimum wage will rise.
“Trump fires back after Obama claims credit for economic boom: ‘Con job’” by Fox News’ Brooke Singman – President Trump fired back Monday after former President Barack Obama, in a subtle swipe at the commander in chief, claimed credit for the economic gains in both their terms. Obama tweeted Monday morning to note the anniversary of his signing the 2009 economic stimulus package. “Eleven years ago today, near the bottom of the worst recession in generations, I signed the Recovery Act, paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history,” Obama tweeted, alongside a photo of his signature on the bill. But, the Trump campaign, in a statement to Fox News, countered that the economy was recovering only because of the actions Trump took to undo his predecessor’s policies. “President Trump reversed every single failed Obama-era economic policy, and with it, reversed the floundering Obama/Biden economy,” Trump campaign national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “Obama and Biden orchestrated the worst economic recovery in modern history.” She added: “By contrast, though, deregulating, lowering taxes, and supporting free-market policies, President Trump has created the hottest economy on record, with unemployment hitting generational lows and all-time lows for African Americans, Hispanics, the disabled, veterans and many other hard-working Americans.” “Paychecks are growing at the fastest pace in a decade and twice as fast for low- and middle-income Americans,” she continued. “It’s no wonder Democrats seek to take credit for the Trump economy after eight years of betraying blue-collar workers and inflicting pain upon the middle class as Americans everywhere suffered. But the failed days of Democrat stagnation are over, and the soaring Trump economy is here to stay.”
“AOC’s competition: Meet the candidates running against Ocasio-Cortez” by Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly – In her short time in office, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has become a household name as well as one of the most divisive figures in American politics. The 30-year-old New York lawmaker has quickly become an icon among progressive Democrats for her stances of immigrant and women’s rights, her Green New Deal plan and her support of plans like “Medicare-for-all.” On the right, however, she has been panned as a radical socialist advancing unrealistic government takeovers. Ocasio-Cortez’s polarizing persona has now earned her a long list of challengers – both Republicans and fellow Democrats – hoping to take her seat in November’s election. Here are the candidates running against Cortez for the seat representing New York’s 14th Congressional District. Fernando Cabrera: The New York City councilman joined the race for Ocasio Cortez’s seat last October – arguing that the district needs a moderate Democrat instead of “a no show in the district” who “hasn’t brought about anything except division within the party.” Cabrera opposes Ocasio Cortez’s Green New Deal and “Medicare-for-all,” and says he was inspired after hearing Ocasio-Cortez argue against Amazon’s planned headquarters in Queens. The councilman himself, however, is not without controversy, as a video surfaced a few years ago of him praising the policies of the Ugandan government – which include harsh penalties for homosexuals – and he has appeared on a radio show of the conservative Family Research Council. Cabrera countered the criticism by saying that while on the city council he has voted for every piece of legislation pushed by the LGBT caucus.
“Virginia lawmakers reject Northam’s assault-weapons ban, as Dems balk” by Fox News’ Tyler Olson – A bill backed by Gov. Ralph Northam that would ban the sale of assault-style weapons in Virginia failed on a committee vote Monday morning, setting back one of the biggest priorities for the newly minted Democrat-controlled government in the state. A crowd of gun-rights activists packed into the committee room cheered as the vote came in, with four moderate Democrats joining Republicans to shelve the bill until next year. Heated exchanges over guns have dominated this year’s legislative session. They were also a key topic of last year’s legislative elections – particularly after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach claimed a dozen lives – and gun control groups heavily funded Democratic candidates. Gun-rights protesters have been out in force for weeks in Richmond, Va., the state’s capital, over Democrats’ gun control agenda. “I have friends that are not going to comply,” warned Nicholas McGraw, a gun owner from King William County who came to protest the assault weapons bill on Feb. 7, before the measure died. McGraw’s comments reflected the attitude of many conservatives and Second Amendment activists in Virginia, especially in its more rural areas. More than 100 Virginia cities and counties have declared themselves to be sanctuary jurisdictions for gun rights since Democrats, led by Gov. Northam, took control of the state’s government.
“At least 140 travelers denied entry to US over coronavirus and thousands more screened” by CNN’s Geneva Sands – The Trump administration has prevented at least 140 travelers from entering the United States as it attempts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the US. Fourteen foreign nationals were turned away at US airports and 126 people were refused entry at land ports from February 2 to February 12, according to data provided to CNN by the Department of Homeland Security. Airlines are responsible for removing passengers who are denied entry to the US out of the country. Additionally, 34 travelers were stopped at preclearance locations — airports where US officials conduct screening before passengers board US-bound flights. On February 2, the US began implementing stringent travel restrictions that include temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days before they arrived in the US. American citizens returning from China are also subject to health screenings and potential quarantine. Those US citizens and others traveling to the US from China are being funneled through 11 airports where authorities can conduct additional screening and transfer people for quarantine if needed. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 71,000 people around the world, mostly in mainland China. The death toll is 1,775, including five people outside mainland China. “The vast majority of folks that we are processing are US citizens coming back from China,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told CNN earlier this month. “We continue to screen those at those 11 airports, continue to refer those to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) who are then making further medical determinations about quarantine procedures.” Customs officers referred 43,263 air travelers for potential secondary screening since the efforts began on February 2. Of those referred at airports, 23,836 required secondary screening, according to the data.
“Bolton issues plea that his upcoming book isn’t ‘suppressed’ by White House” by CNN’s Vivian Salama and Kylie Atwood – John Bolton issued a rebuke against White House “censorship” of his book manuscript in his first public remarks since the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump concluded, and expressed uncertainty about whether the public will ever have an opportunity to read what he described as his “effort to write history.” Bolton, who departed from his job in September following some policy disagreements with the President, reiterated some of those differences during the event at Duke University on Monday, but declined to corroborate any of the details offered by witnesses in the impeachment inquiry or divulge other details from his highly anticipated book, which is currently under review by the White House. “I hope it’s not suppressed,” Bolton told the audience, referring to the White House’s review of his book. “I say things in the manuscript about what he (Trump) said to me,” he added. “I hope they become public someday.” For weeks, Bolton and his lawyers have been embroiled in a battle with the White House over the contents of the book, which is due to be published in March — the administration is raising concerns about the publication of classified information that it says is protected by executive privilege. The White House’s records management office has been responsible for reviewing Bolton’s book and providing feedback, although the office typically reviews manuscripts for information that is protected under executive privilege and often defers on classified matters to the National Security Council.
Though the book is being reviewed, the White House has not attempted to stop Bolton speaking publicly and has not asked him to avoid publicly discussing issues related to his time working for Trump. The administration has argued much of the book can’t be published due to the sensitivity of the content. The former national security adviser’s comments at Duke, the first of two public appearances this week, was billed as focusing on the national security challenges facing the country.
“Pelosi defends decision to rip Trump’s State of the Union address” by CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her decision to rip up President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address earlier this month, a dramatic move that was criticized by Republicans as being disrespectful and a “breach of decorum.” “One of my disappointments is the fact that with all that we have done legislatively, whether its equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, gun violence protection, issues that relate to our children, the list goes on. I thought, well, let’s get attention on the fact that what he said here today was not true,” Pelosi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview from the Munich Security conference Saturday. The full interview will air on CNN International at 1 p.m. ET on Monday. Pelosi reiterated that she had no intention of tearing up her copy of Trump’s annual address to Congress, but that as she read along, she “realized that almost every page had something in it that was objectionable.” The tension on display at this year’s State of the Union came a day before the GOP-led Senate was expected to and eventually voted to acquit Trump of two articles of impeachment. “You can’t have an acquittal unless you have a trial and you can’t have a trial without witnesses and documents. So he can say he was acquitted, and the headlines can say acquitted but he’s impeached forever,” Pelosi told Amanpour on Saturday.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump – Did you hear the latest con job? President Obama is now trying to take credit for the Economic Boom taking place under the Trump Administration. He had the WEAKEST recovery since the Great Depression, despite Zero Fed Rate & MASSIVE quantitative easing. NOW, best jobs numbers….
Maxine Waters @RepMaxineWaters – Barr is Trump’s puppet, acting as his personal lawyer rather than the people’s atty. He’s undermining our democracy by interfering in the sentencing of Roger Stone & seeking a review of Flynn’s case. Barr claims this is ordinary procedure – he’s an ordinary LIE! He’s got to go!
We need to get an up-to-date picture of the threat we face.
Marco Rubio @marcorubio – The legitimate Interim President of @jguaido is back in #Venezuela after a successful international trip in which the U.S. and international community made clear they will never accept the illegitimate #MaduroRegime
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell @RepDMP –It’s shameful and dangerous that all it took for AG Barr to undermine the rule of law was a tweet. Barr owes the American people an explanation. The president’s attempt to subvert our justice system must be checked by the DOJ Inspector General.
FL officials have a responsibility to prevent gun violence & keep our cities safe.
Rep. Lois Frankel @RepLoisFrankel – Port Everglades must modernize & expand, or new ships will pass us by – taking with them thousands of new jobs & millions of dollars from the South Florida economy.
I’m excited to see this critical port deepening project officially begin!
Rep. Brian Mast @RepBrianMast – This funding will go a long way toward helping us get critical water infrastructure projects like the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir built ahead of schedule!
(HB 7051) are not “pay to play” and will only benefit those intercollegiate athletes who seek to enter the free market with ingenuity and creativity outside of their team play.