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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.2.22

Good Friday morning.

The challenge of affordable housing — and the lack of obvious solutions — hung over a number of panel discussions at Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting.

In the wake of a hurricane and in the face of an insurance crisis, one thing most agreed on is that the problem is an urgent one.

Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Miami-Dade Republican, expects multiple issues surrounding the cost of living to loom during a Special Session on insurance and in the coming Regular Session.

Craig Perry and Ana Maria Rodriguez talk about affordable housing on a Florida TaxWatch panel. Image via Florida TaxWatch.

“This Session is not just going to be an insurance crisis and figuring out ways to mitigate the skyrocketing costs and these increases,” she said.

Following Hurricane Ian, Rodriguez expects legislation to cut property taxes for homes destroyed by the storm. Of course, that’s just one small piece of the challenges around the supply of housing for working-class Floridians.

She took part in a panel at the Florida TaxWatch meeting alongside Centerline Capital Partners founder Craig Perry, a developer with projects in Florida and other states. He said the crisis of costs was part of a national supply-and-demand problem.

He pointed to local, state and federal regulations that create problems for builders, from a lack of timeline on zoning applications to land development regulations that, in fact, reduce the practical building level allowed by zoning alone.

But both he and Rodrigues said one of the biggest problems is “NIMBYism,” a widely felt anxiety that affordable housing could reduce the value of homes in the immediate vicinity.

“You’re trying to make things as affordable as possible, but nobody wants it in your backyard — until it’s their own kid,” Perry said.

George LeMieux predicts growth will make Florida an economic powerhouse — and a Republican one” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former U.S. Sen. LeMieux says Florida will grow faster and redder than the rest of the country in short order. Central Florida will be home to 20 million people within two decades. Miami will be a financial capital with its own stock exchange. And Republicans will win elections more consistently. “If we are purple, we are a reddish-purple,” he said. LeMieux presented his assessments at the annual meeting of Florida TaxWatch, held this year in Coral Gables.


Here are other items on my radar:

? — 2023 Tampa City Council races are the next hot ticket in Florida politics: All Tampa City Council districts are up for election this year and of those, five have at least three candidates running so far. This year’s municipal cycle could be an interesting one given several headline-making issues this year. A public records lawsuit. A sexual harassment scandal. A red wave that could challenge convention. Read my exhaustive rundown of what to expect in next year’s City Council contests here.

? — Education wars rage loudest in swingy areas: UC Riverside research finds political conflict in education settings is most profound in areas that are politically diverse. Those areas are more likely to drop programs that train teachers to have productive conversations about controversial issues, according to an analysis from Washington Post reporter Laura Heckler. The research stems from a survey of 682 public high school principals, in which more than two-thirds reported parents or other members of their school communities seeking limits on teaching on race or challenging policies related to LGBTQ student rights, access to books, or to social-emotional learning. Read more here.

? — Black turnout in Midterms was one of the low points for Democrats: Despite good news — or at least news that felt good — for Democrats this election cycle, from holding the Senate to remaining stubbornly competitive, it’s clear Black turnout is not one of those feel-good stories for the party. In states like Georgia and North Carolina, where authoritative data is already available, Black turnout sank to its lowest point since 2006, according to a New York Times analysis. Other states are showing similar signs so far. Relatively low Black turnout is becoming an unmistakable trend in the post-Obama era, raising important — if yet unanswered — questions about how Democrats can revitalize the enthusiasm of their strongest group of supporters. Read more here.


@AdamKinzinger: The fact that the former President had dinner with a guy that was SO Nazi, that he disavowed knowing him by saying the dinner was supposed to be with a guy who just said Hitler is dope, is definitely something unimaginable on alternate sane Earth.

@Bencjacobs: Kanye West: “The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world.”

Tweet, tweet:

@janecoaston: There must be an inverse relationship between “people who can win the White House” and “people who believe they can win the White House”

Tweet, tweet:

@alifarhat79: Sam Bankman-Fried: I don’t know where $10 billion went. The Pentagon: We don’t know where $2.2 trillion went. The IRS: You just sent $601.37, don’t forget to report it.

Tweet, tweet:

@kyle_burger: A source confirms that Deion Sanders has visited the USF facilities this week and a major sticking point for him accepting the head coach position is to have a major say in the construction of the new on-campus stadium.


2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 3; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 4; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 4; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 14; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 30; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 54; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 61; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 77; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 78; city of Tampa Municipal Election early voting begins — 87; Tampa Municipal Election — 95; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 95; World Baseball Classic finals begin in Miami — 99; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 112; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 132; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 147; 2023 Session Sine Die — 154; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 154; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 182; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 231; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 238; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 336; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 483; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 539; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 602; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 602; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 644; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 707; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 805; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 882. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,071.


Andrew Warren’s legal challenge to his suspension by Ron DeSantis is now in the judge’s hands” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — The federal trial wrapped up Thursday in suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren’s lawsuit against DeSantis, following three days of testimony and arguments in a federal courthouse in Tallahassee.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said he would rule “just as quickly as I can” but needs to absorb the voluminous case record and that might take two weeks.

Hinkle had expedited the proceedings in the interest of resolving Warren’s First Amendment claims as quickly as possible, which could mean Warren would return to his job — or not. Warren, a Democrat, had been elected twice before DeSantis suspended him Aug. 4. The prosecutor argues the Governor ousted him (pending a trial before the Florida Senate) not for his policies but because his politics did not match DeSantis’.

Andrew Warren’s fate is now in a judge’s hands.

Hinkle asked pointed questions of each legal team and cautioned that they shouldn’t try to divine from them what his ruling would be. “I don’t know who’s going to win,” the judge said.

But he said one possible view of the facts is that DeSantis has long promoted “law and order” and disfavored Warren’s “woke” approach; had noted the recall of progressive prosecutors elsewhere in the country; and “would like there not to be that in Florida.”

“And, incidentally, it would be good politics to take one down,” Hinkle noted.

He added that the Governor’s Office conducted a “one-sided inquiry” into Warren, speaking “only to those who might be likely to support that side of the issue,” and then “bingo,” the abortion joint statement emerged.


DeSantis sticks to ‘ignoring Donald Trump’ as former President starts 2024 campaign” via Tom LoBianco of Yahoo News — Not long after capturing the 2024 spotlight, DeSantis pleaded with his supporters to “chill out.” DeSantis has been basking in support from key players in the Republican nomination battle following his nearly 20-point victory over Charlie Crist. The election tipped off a cascade of big-name defections from Trump, from the New York Post calling DeSantis “DeFUTURE” to, most recently, GOP supporter and Twitter CEO Elon Musk dumping Trump for DeSantis. And a raft of polling has come out showing DeSantis eating away at Trump’s support in critical early-voting states like Iowa and even beating Trump in hypothetical matchups if the primaries were held today.

The new move is ‘cold shoulder.’

Republicans still like Trump, but they want to nominate DeSantis in 2024” via David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner — The poll was in the field nationwide last week to gauge post-election sentiment. Its results have an important message for Trump: A lot of Republicans are done with this relationship and ready to move on. First, there’s the question about a head-to-head Republican primary. Among registered voters who identify as Republican, DeSantis beats Trump in such a contest 60% to 40%. Among independent registered voters, DeSantis leads 65% to 35%. Another important result: Among all registered voters, DeSantis would start out tied with Joe Biden at 42%. Trump, on the other hand, trails the hugely unpopular incumbent by double digits, 44% to 34%.

DeSantis edges Joe Biden in 2024 Georgia hypothetical” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Peach State voters prefer DeSantis to Biden, according to a fresh Emerson College poll of very likely Georgia voters. DeSantis held a 4-point advantage over Biden, 47% to 43%. In edging out Biden, DeSantis is doing what former Trump couldn’t in the same poll. Biden actually has an edge over Trump at 43% to 42%. Independent voters are a key reason for the performance difference. Biden holds a 6-point lead over Trump, with 20% of independents wanting another option. But DeSantis leads Biden by 3 points, and just 8% of independent voters want someone else.

‘They brought this on themselves’: DeSantis responds to Disney CEO on ‘Parental Rights’ bill” via Andrea Chu of WTSP — DeSantis hinted that Florida’s feud with Disney over the “Parental Rights in Education Act,” dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics,” is far from over. DeSantis appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” this week where he addressed a number of issues, including recently reinstated Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments on the saga. The law bars educators from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade. School districts may opt to ban those topics beyond third grade if leaders deem them not to be age or developmentally appropriate.


DeSantis awards $22.7 million for clean water initiatives in south Florida” via Josh Miller of The Florida Standard — DeSantis awarded $22.7 million to fund water quality projects in South Florida, including $14.5 million for Miami-Dade County. “Biscayne Bay is an important resource for the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Key Biscayne. “It’s the largest estuary in our state and the largest passenger port in the world.” “We’ve seen over the years that it has a lot of unique challenges, and there have been a lot of efforts to recognize this and to ameliorate this,” DeSantis said. “In 2021, I signed House Bill 1177, which established the Biscayne Bay Commission to bring federal, state, and regional partners together to focus on the health of Biscayne Bay.”

Ron DeSantis makes a big investment in clean water infrastructure.

Ashley Moody promises fiscal efficiency, efforts to predict organized crime activity” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Moody reacted with glee when Florida TaxWatch gave her office its State Agency of the Year award. “I’m telling you; I’ve not been so proud since I was 17 years old Strawberry Festival Queen,” the Plant City native said. The Republican official said eliminating waste and improving government efficiency is one of her favorite elements of public service, even if it isn’t the most high-profile work in the state’s top legal office. Some more prominent achievements have included being the first state to reach a resolution in legal action against manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies after suing entities for their role in worsening the opioid crisis.

Boat rentals in jeopardy” via Axios — Three words in the new Boating Safety Act, passed last Legislative Session to keep people safer in Florida waters, might doom boat and Jet Ski rental companies across the state after it goes into effect Jan. 1. Florida liveries are for the first time required to carry insurance on both the livery “and the renter” in case of injury or loss. Insurance companies have balked at the change. All agree those words will cripple the industry unless insurers come around or unless the Legislature fixes the law in the next session. Some insurers estimate that compliance would raise rates from around $1,500 per boat annually to more than $8,000 per boat.

The Midterms have busted the myth of conservative ‘minority rule’” via Jason Willick of The Washington Post — The 2022 Midterms dealt a political blow to Republicans who claimed the previous election was rigged. But they also struck a blow against a subtler self-serving theory undermining faith in democracy from the left, that the electoral system itself suffers from a crisis-level “structural” bias against Democrats. It’s hard to overstate the influence this idea has exerted on intellectuals over the past decade. But the 2022 Midterm results expose the growing gap between progressive theory and political reality. Start with the results in the House of Representatives, where there’s no evidence of an entrenched GOP majority.

Florida divests $2B from BlackRock as movement against woke investing matures” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Florida Treasury is divesting an initial $2 billion from BlackRock, the archetype of “woke” investing, as the state steps up its fight against stakeholder capitalism. The Treasury pulled $1.4 billion in long-term securities from BlackRock and removed the investment management company as the overseer of $600 million in short-term overnight investments. By the beginning of 2023, the Republican official expects the Treasury to fully separate itself and the state’s Treasury Investment Pool from BlackRock. After the investment giant received criticisms for its resources in fossil fuels, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink in 2020 announced plans to move toward environmentally sustainable investments.

Florida pulls out of ‘woke’ BlackRock.

Florida’s November consumer sentiment defies national figures, rises despite inflation” via Perry Leibovitz of UF News — Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased in November to 64.7, up 1.8 points from a revised figure of 62.9 in October. However, national sentiment decreased by over three points. All five components that make up the index increased. Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions improved in November. Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 1.9 points from 51.9 to 53.8. Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item like an appliance increased by 3.7 points from 50.1 to 53.8, the greatest increase of any reading this month.

Florida HIV cases increasing — and many people don’t know they have it” via Cindy Krischer Goodman and Caroline Catherman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — While many parts of the country have HIV under control, Florida leads the nation in new infections. Nearly 5,000 people a year in Florida are diagnosed with HIV, a number that hasn’t budged much in the last 10 years despite the nation overall experiencing an 8% decline. In total, about 120,000 people in Florida live with HIV and as many as 17,700 more are undiagnosed and likely spreading the virus to others without it. As the world recognizes its progress on World AIDS day, Dec. 1, Florida is stuck in the past.

Increased venomous reptile penalties among FWC legislative proposals” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — In one more step to getting unwanted reptiles out of Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for state legislation that would increase the penalty for illegally dealing in venomous reptiles to a Level 4 felony violation. “Additionally, staff requests an authorization for the Executive Director to consult with the Chair and the Commission Budget Liaison to make any adjustments that may be necessary as we continue to move through the 2023 Legislative Session,” FWC Acting Legislative Affairs Director Jess Melkun said.

FWC Commissioners don’t budge on breeding ban for diamondback terrapins” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — It’s been 16 years since Florida allowed captive breeding of diamondback terrapins, and despite intense lobbying by people involved in the reptile industry, that door still is shut. “Overseas market demand for turtles is high, and illegal turtle trafficking of native species is a major concern in Florida and among other states,” according to a memo from Melissa Tucker, Director of Habitat and Species Conservation for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and FWC Law Enforcement Col. Roger Young to Commissioners.

100-mile rule left intact in latest gopher tortoise regulation revisions” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Changes are not coming presently as it pertains to the 100-mile relocation rule for gopher tortoises. The rule wasn’t addressed in revisions to the state’s ever-evolving gopher tortoise regulations because of a combination of conflicting opinions and a lack of data. “There are a number of reasons this 100-mile restriction, or 100-mile rule as you might hear it referred to, were put into the guidelines,” said Jennifer Goff, the deputy director for Habitat and…

Read More: Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.2.22

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