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Takeaways from Tallahassee — The not-so-long and winding road


Early Dad’s Day gifts

With more than four months before the General Election, and more than two months before a single vote is counted, nearly a quarter of the 2022-24 Legislature is already lined up.

Friday’s noon qualifying deadline came and went, and 36 of Florida’s 160 state House and Senate lawmakers secured victory when no one else signed up to challenge them. By the end of the day, as the Department of State’s bookies counted who had paid their qualifying fees, dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s, the final list includes seven current and future Senators, as well as 28 “re-elected” House members. All are Republicans, except for one Senator and five Representatives.

Kathleen Passidomo headlines an expected GOP Majority that is already taking shape. Image via Colin Hackley.

Along with Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo, congratulations to Republican Sens. Jennifer Bradley, Gayle Harrell and Debby Mayfield, as well as Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, on their re-elections. And say hello to future Republican Sens. Bryan Avila and Erin Grall.

On the House side, Republican Reps. Thad Altman, Melony Bell, Chuck Brannan, David Borrero, James Buchanan, Wyman Duggan, Tom Fabricio, Mike Giallombardo, Michael Grant, Joe Harding, Sam Killebrew, Patt Maney, Stan McClain, Lauren Melo, Daniel Perez, Alex Rizo, Spencer Roach, Will Robinson, Bob Rommel, Jason Shoaf, Tyler Sirois, Cyndi Stevenson and Kaylee Tuck will return. Democratic Reps. Kevin Chambliss, Michael Gottlieb, Dianne Hart, Christine Hunschofsky and Felicia Robinson are also uncontested.

Others more secured their party’s nomination, like Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pick to succeed Estero Republican Sen. Ray Rodrigues, Jonathan Martin.

The list is missing Zephyrhills Republican Sen. Danny Burgess, who was listed as unchallenged initially but picked up a late challenger in Tampa Democrat Mike Harvey.

Several lawmakers also lost challengers as the Division of Elections processed paperwork throughout the afternoon. Avila, Bradley and Mayfield lost their Senate challengers, as did Altman, Buchanan, Chambliss and Killebrew.

Notably, Avila was already a given, as his only competition was former Miami Republican Sen. Manny Diaz. Avila only entered the race after Diaz declined re-election to become DeSantis’ Education Commissioner.

For the Republican Majority, the early lead doesn’t shift the needle as far as the expected balance of power. However, it means Republicans presumably have less in question before the Aug. 23 Primary Election and the Nov. 8 General.

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Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

DeSantis looms over qualifying week — While some state lawmakers sailed to another term, and state races formed or solidified, qualifying week meant prospective candidates from the federal level to the local level were jockeying for seats up and down the ballot. DeSantis played a significant role in assembling the GOP’s final slate of candidates in the Senate. With Rodrigues apparently moving into the DeSantis administration, the Governor picked Martin as his preferred Senate District 33 candidate. DeSantis also gave the nod to Volunteer Florida CEO Corey Simon to challenge Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley in Senate District 3 and Green Beret Jay Collins to challenge Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz in Senate District 14. But this week also brought other shakeups, like Corrine Brown jumping into the race for the 10th Congressional District … in Orlando.

Children’s COVID-19 vaccine orders available in Florida — Florida providers can now start ordering doses designed for children. But White House officials say Florida’s rollout will be delayed because the DeSantis administration “intentionally” and “deliberately” missed the pre-order window ahead of the federal government clearing COVID-19 vaccines for children between 6 months and 5 years old. Despite the expected clearance, DeSantis told reporters Thursday that the state would continue recommending against vaccinating healthy children. The advisory from the Florida Department of Health won’t prevent parents from choosing to vaccinate their children, but it does mean they won’t be able to go to state and public health departments to get those shots. The issue breathed new life into the political posturing between DeSantis and President Joe Biden, as both administrations lobbed verbal attacks at each other over vaccines.

DeSantis signs immigration bill, announces new measures — The Governor is taking the next step in his plan to crack down on illegal immigration with a plan to fight back against Biden’s “sanctuary federal government.” DeSantis signed legislation and announced initiatives to take more action against illegal immigration at the state level after accusing the Democratic President of violating his oath of office. Among them, DeSantis announced the implementation of a law enforcement strike force on drug and human trafficking, as well as immigrants who are in the country illegally and carrying firearms illegally. The Governor also petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a grand jury on human trafficking and smuggling.

Soil and water supervisors added to qualifying week — Qualification week also brought surprising news for supervisors on Florida’s 56 Soil and Water Conservation districts. DeSantis signed a measure late Wednesday upping the qualification requirements and forcing all sitting and prospective supervisors, regardless of whether they were already up for re-election and whether they had already qualified, to submit new documentation and run this year. The law requires candidates for Soil and Water Conservation District boards to either be agriculture producers working or retired after at least 15 years of work or be employed by an agriculture producer. With the new law, each district’s five board members must meet at least once per calendar year or else the district is immediately dissolved.

Florida’s python hunt challenge is back — Florida’s annual python challenge is back, and the Sunshine State is taking the names of people who want to cull invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and South Florida Water Management District will host the event, which will run from Aug. 5-14. Applicants will have to take an online training course and register to compete in the challenge. Hunters who capture the longest python will get a $2,500 reward, and the hunter who catches the most will receive $1,500.

CPTA and RIF

Florida awarded nearly $1.5 million for community planning projects this week to boost economic development, environmental protection, disaster recovery and more.

On Tuesday, DeSantis announced the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) had unlocked Community Planning Technical Assistance and Rural Infrastructure Fund grants to boost Florida’s infrastructure.

The largest award, and only RIF grant, is $147,000 for Apalachicola to evaluate and improve its existing water facilities.

“These awards will help communities across the state create plans for infrastructure improvements, create jobs, and strengthen their economic resiliency,” DeSantis said in a news release. “Ensuring the success of our state’s small and rural communities is at the heart of the work my administration carries out every day.”

The Community Planning Technical Assistance grant program allows counties, cities and regional planning councils to plan and develop strategies for economic development, environmental protection, disaster recovery and resiliency.

Meanwhile, the Rural Infrastructure Fund grant program helps facilitate the planning, preparing and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities that will encourage job creation, capital investment and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO continues to make valuable, strategic investments in communities across the state,” DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said. “We will work closely with the communities receiving awards to meet their planning needs and help prepare them for future economic development opportunities.”

Shrinkage

Inflation has led to higher prices for many staple products, but even if a sticker price hasn’t gone up, consumers may still feel the hurt.

That’s due to “shrinkflation,” or the practice of reducing the quantity or size of a product while maintaining the same price, such as ramen noodles going from $10 a dozen to $10 a for a 10-pack, or General Mills’ recent switch from a 19.3-ounce “Family Size” box to an 18.8-ounce one.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants every Florida consumer to learn the term and be on the lookout for it next time they go shopping.

Eye the package size, says Jimmy Patronis. Image via AP.

“As the country continues to endure historic inflation and the price of gas and groceries are taking a major bite out of American pocketbooks, manufacturers are ‘shrinking’ their products without reducing their prices. Understandably, companies are doing what they can to keep their doors open as the supply chain remains a disaster and the cost of ingredients for products increase. This trend, however, is not only bad for business, but it is unfair to consumers,” Patronis said.

Shrinkflation is not illegal, so long as product sizes are clearly marked and accurate on packaging. Still Patronis recommends that consumers pay attention to unit pricing, which many stores such as Publix print on the shelf sticker. Consumers can use that information to re-evaluate which brands or product sizes they buy.

Other suggestions from the CFO: Consider signing up for rewards programs and try out the mobile app for your grocery store since they may include rebates and coupons.

Instagram of the week

The Week in Appointments

State Retirement Commission — DeSantis appointed Michael Kessie and Azhar Khan to the Commission. Kessie, of Bradenton, is the former New College of Florida Police Chief. He previously served as the Law Enforcement Academy Advisory Board Chair for Suncoast Technical College and as the Vice President of the Florida Police Chief’s Association. Khan, of Tallahassee, is a Senior Economist in the Office of Policy and Budget for the Executive Office of the Governor. He was previously an economist for the Florida Legislature and numerous state agencies. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s in business administration and management of information systems from Florida State University.

Board of Medicine — DeSantis named Dr. Amy Derick, Dr. Patrick Hunter and Nicole Justice to the Board of Medicine and reappointed Dr. David Diamond. Derick is the founder of Derick Dermatology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in pre-professional studies from the University of Notre Dame and medical doctorate from the University of Chicago. Hunter is a pediatrician with Pensacola Pediatrics and a Clinical Professor at Florida State University’s College of Medicine. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology from Miami University (Ohio), his master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Mary, and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Louisville. Justice is the Senior Director of Patient Safety at Tampa General Hospital. She is a member of the Florida Society for Healthcare Risk Management and Patient Safety and is the past Chairman of RISE Tampa’s board. Justice earned her bachelor’s degree in management from the University of South Florida and her master’s degree in jurisprudence in health and hospital law and pharmaceutical and medical device compliance law from Seton Hall University’s School of Law. Diamond is a physician at Florida Radiation Oncology. Diamond earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Florida.

Florida Athletic Commission — The Governor on Friday appointed John Holley to the Florida Athletic Commission. Holley is the Vice President of Government Affairs at Florida Power & Light Company. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Florida State University and his law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Jacksonville Aviation Authority — DeSantis on Friday appointed David Hodges Jr. to JAA. Hodges, of Jacksonville, is the Chairman and CEO of Hodges Management Group and 925 Partners Insurance Agency. He previously served as a member of the Jacksonville Housing Authority and was Chairman of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Hodges earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Liberty University and his master’s degree in business administration from Jacksonville University.

Spotlight fatherhood

The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) on Tuesday announced a mentoring and outreach initiative aimed at supporting Florida’s fathers.

The DJJ Dads initiative, created to coincide with House Speaker Chris Sprowls’ fatherhood bill (HB 7065), will work with fathers of juvenile justice-involved youth as well as young fathers and expectant fathers to offer support and insight on the importance of being an involved and active parent. The legislation also designates June as Responsible Fatherhood Month.

Eric Hall is introducing DJJ Dads.

“I want to thank Governor Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Chris Sprowls for championing the issue of involved fatherhood in Florida because their leadership was the catalyst for this new initiative,” DJJ Secretary Eric Hall said during a roundtable.

Other state agency officials — including Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon, Volunteer Florida’ Simon and Eagle — joined Hall at the roundtable.

“DJJ Dads is an opportunity for our agency and community partners to come together to encourage and empower Florida’s fathers to take an active role in the lives of their children,” Hall said. “As a dad, I know there is no greater gift than my children, and this initiative will support dads across our state to become stronger parents and role models.”

Purple Alert

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will soon begin issuing “Purple Alerts” to locate missing adults with mental, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Last year, DeSantis signed legislation (SB 184) establishing the Purple Alert, and the program will begin in July.

The Purple Alert system is similar to that of Silver Alerts, which are sent to help track down missing seniors. Purple Alerts will be sent to the media and subscribers in the area the individual went missing. The alert can be broadcast on lottery terminals in locations such as supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations, and can also be displayed on highway message signs if a missing persons report is filed.

Lori Berman helped make Purple Alerts a soon-to-be reality.

Sen. Lori Berman and Reps. Joe Casello and Matt Willhite sponsored the measure last year.

Law enforcement can send a Purple Alert if the missing person is 18 or older and doesn’t qualify for state or local Silver Alerts. The person must have an intellectual or developmental disability, brain injury or other physical, mental or emotional disability that is not related to substance abuse and the person must not have Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related disease.

Law enforcement must also conclude that the person poses a credible threat of immediate danger to themselves and can only be returned safely through law enforcement intervention.

Wandering can be a danger to a person with limited cognitive abilities, according to the bill analysis. About 12% to 60% of individuals with a cognitive disability wander, and about 5% of wandering instances result in physical harm.

High and DRI

Shifts in population in the past year led to six local governments being added to the long list of municipalities exempt from Florida’s developments of regional impact regulations, or DRI.

Every year, state economists update the list of cities and counties that qualify as a dense urban land area exempt from the requirements for DRIs, which must go through a state approval process.

Welcome Lee County to the list of exempt jurisdictions.

This year, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research added Lee County, Duval County, Daytona Beach Shores, Flagler Beach, Islamorada and Palm Beach Gardens to the list of exempt locales, according to a letter sent by the office Monday to DEO, which oversees the DRI reviews.

Avon Park, Groveland, South Bay and Wauchula were taken off the exemption list.

The reason for the moves is tied to the increase or decrease in population for each area. To qualify for the list, a county or city must have at least 1,000 people per square mile.

There are other factors that could qualify a proposed development for a DRI exemption, such as being located within an urban service area.

‘Passionate’ advocacy

With praise for her “passionate” advocacy, Miami Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia was appointed to serve on the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, Senate President Wilton Simpson announced this week.

“She … will be a strong voice in the search for solutions,” Simpson said in a statement, that cited her legislative effort that are already protecting victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. “She has a strong commitment to help those who have been abused, neglected, and victimized. I know she will serve the Senate and Florida well in this important role.”

In her first term as a lawmaker, Ileana Garcia has focused on human trafficking. Image via Colin Hackley.

Among the bills that Garcia championed that were passed into law:

— HB 1577 (similar to SB 1708 that Garcia proposed in the Senate) which establishes programs targeted to help homeless youth on whom traffickers often prey.

— HB 615 (similar to SB 1436 that Garcia proposed in the Senate) which trains fire inspectors and foster parents to recognize and report human trafficking.

— SB 68 in 2021, which exempts information about personnel and victims at domestic violence shelters from the public record.

— SB 70 in 2021, which makes it a first-degree misdemeanor or felony to maliciously disclose information about domestic violence shelters.

Garcia said she was thankful to have such an opportunity to make a difference on this issue.

“Human traffickers are dangerous criminals in constant search of new ways to evade law enforcement,” Garcia said. “We know what we are up against and must therefore be even more dedicated and strategic in our pursuit of innovative ways to bring these criminals to justice.”

‘Legislator of the Year’

The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police has awarded its 2022 “Legislator of the Year” awards to Fabricio and Diaz.

FOP recognized the two South Florida Republicans for their work on a bill (SB 266) that requires law enforcement agencies to maintain motor vehicle insurance for officers who drive department-owned vehicles while not on duty, such as to and from work.

DeSantis signed the bill on May 6. It goes into effect on July 1.

Police report Tom Fabricio as a major responder this year. Image via Twitter.

FOP presented the award to Fabricio this week. Diaz has since been appointed Education Commissioner and Rizo accepted the award on his behalf.

“I’m very grateful to receive this award from the Fraternal Order of Police,” Fabricio said. “The brave men and women of our law enforcement work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, and it is an honor to be a recipient of their support. It was also a privilege to work alongside Sen. Manny Diaz during this year’s legislative session to pass SB 266, and I will continue to advocate for legislation that will protect and defend those who put their lives on the line daily.”

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 364,000 members in more than 2,100 lodges nationwide. The Florida State FOP ranks as the third-largest state lodge.

FOP is dedicated to improving workforce conditions for law enforcement officers through education, legislation, information, community involvement and employee representation.

Labor of love

Lawmakers agreed this year to add eight additional specialty license plates, including one for Down syndrome and other communities for people with intellectual disabilities.

The new specialty plate, the first in the state to recognize people with intellectual disabilities, was pushed by Rep. Daisy Morales, a Democrat from Orlando who was a caregiver for her sister, Diane, who had Down syndrome. It was passed as part of SB 364 and was signed by DeSantis earlier this week.

Daisy Morales helped stamp an important plate. Image via Colin Hackley.

“With this bill signing, Florida residents who have Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities will receive the help they need for housing, scholarships, educational opportunities and employment assistance that are otherwise underfunded or do not exist. Plus, the organizations that serve them will get a much-needed boost in funding to do even more for them,” Morales said in a statement, adding that the law is a “special tribute” to her 54-year old sister who now is deceased.

Our City Beautiful founder Hope Chinchak, worked with Morales on the bill. Our City Beautiful is a non-profit organization serving the special needs community.

“We are proud of our great state of Florida for joining our mission to create awareness and acceptance of the ‘ who, what, when, where, why (and) how’ of the people with Down syndrome,” Chinchak said in the statement.

Simon subs out

Simon resigned his post as CEO of Volunteer Florida on Tuesday after filing to run for Senate District 3 against Ausley.

In a letter to DeSantis, the former All-American defensive tackle and National Football League pro-bowler thanked the Governor for the opportunity to serve in his administration.

“I am incredibly grateful for the confidence you placed in me. It was an absolute honor serving the citizens of Florida to strengthen our communities through national service and volunteerism,” Simon wrote.

Corey Simon held the defensive line for DeSantis for nearly a year and a half.

Simon, a Broward County native, played football for Florida State University on a scholarship and was a 1999 BCS National Champion before being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as the sixth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft.

His career spanned eight NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. One of those seasons he did not play, but he still earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the winning Colts.

DeSantis drafted Simon as Volunteer Florida CEO in 2020 to replace Clay Ingram, a fellow 1999 Florida State football national champion-turned Republican politician. Simon is the only candidate qualified to run against Ausley as the Tallahassee Democrat mounts her first re-election bid to the Senate.

“I’m appreciative of your support throughout my tenure. Thank you for this tremendous opportunity to be a part of your vision for our great state. I look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of Florida with you at the helm.”

DeSantis has endorsed Simon’s Senate bid, as has Republican Senate leadership.

Volunteer Florida administers AmeriCorps in Florida and joins Floridians looking to volunteer with organizations that need their help.

Counterattack

With Judge Renatha Francis back in the pool of potential Florida Supreme Court Justices, Judicial Nominating Commission member Jesse Panuccio commented this week that he saw public officials behave in a way that “dishonored their office” in 2020 when they opposed DeSantis’ nomination of Francis to the Court.

Though Panuccio didn’t mention names, he was referring to state Windemere Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson, who successfully challenged Francis’ nomination to the high court by arguing she didn’t meet the minimum requirements for the job. Thompson issued a statement Friday firing back at Panuccio.

Here’s a second chance for Renatha Francis. Image via Colin Hackley.

Well, Mr. Panuccio should know a lot about dishonoring an office due to his disastrous implementation of the CONNECT unemployment system to serve Floridians who needed unemployment/reemployment assistance when he was Secretary of the Department of Economic Opportunity. Under Jesse Panuccio’s leadership , the CONNECT system, which cost Floridians $77 million, did not work when he unveiled it and it does not work today,” Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson continued noting that Panuccio is not the chair of the JNC, “yet he has chosen to exert himself and his opinion as a spokesperson for the JNC. It is baffling that his dismal performance as Secretary of the Department of Economic Opportunity catapulted him to the critical role of recommending nominees to the highest court in the state of Florida.”

The JNC this week forwarded to the Governor a list of six candidates to replace Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson, who is scheduled to retire Aug. 31.

Cuba request

The Legislature has officially filed its message to Biden and Congress to enlist the United Nations in stopping atrocities and genocide in Cuba.

Late last week, House and Senate officials delivered the memorial resolution (HM 43) to the Florida Secretary of State.

Spurred by the uprising in Cuba last July when protesters took to the streets, and the crackdown that followed, Fabricio introduced the measure ahead of the 2022 Session. Garcia shepherded the resolution through the Senate for its final passage in March.

Which is more effective, a letter to Joe Biden arriving on his doorstep?

“The Cuban government continues to repress all peaceful attempts by the Cuban people to bring democratic change to the island nation by denying universally recognized civil liberties,” Garcia said. “It is the reason people have perished, drowned in international waters when fleeing in rafts.”

The resolution urges Biden and Congress to call an emergency meeting with the U.N. Security Council to address the crackdown, which the measure says, is “killing its citizens, torturing and silencing the will of its people.”

The memorial says the Cuban government is “using torture, violence and intimidation, and is withholding food, water, medicine, electricity, education and communication to the outside world in order to strangle the population into submission.”

The legislation also alleges that the Cuban government has used human trafficking, child labor, indoctrination, harboring terrorists and terrorist activities.

Copies of the memorial will be sent to the President, Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and each member of Florida’s congressional delegation.

A smoking success

The Florida League of Cities on Friday thanked DeSantis for embracing changes to state law that allow counties and municipalities to regulate smoking.

HB 105 amends the FCIAA to allow counties and municipalities to restrict smoking, except for unfiltered cigars, within the boundaries of any public beach or park they own. “We applaud (the Governor) for signing HB 105 and thank Rep. Randy Fine for sponsoring the bill. The League has championed this issue throughout the Session and is proud to see it come to a successful conclusion,” FLC said in a prepared statement.

It’s time to let cities decide. Image via WTSP.

Before the changes to the law, referred to as the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, counties and municipalities were preempted from regulating smoking. The statutes reflected the language in the Article X Section 20 of the state Constitution.

But HB 105 carves out from the pre-emption counties that want to restrict smoking, except for filterless cigars, within the boundaries of any public beach or park they own. HB 105 also changed the name of the statute from the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act to the “Florida Clean Air Act.”

“This bill provides Florida’s cities and counties with the long-awaited ability to provide smoke-free zones in public parks and on public beaches. Local governments will now have the tools they need to provide healthy, clean environments that are free from unsightly cigarette trash and unwanted secondhand smoke, and our residents and our visitors will be able to safely enjoy public parks, playgrounds, recreation fields and beaches even more than they already do,” the FLC statement said.

Built back better

More than four years since Hurricane Michael leveled many of the facilities at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, the park is opening new primitive group camp facilities.

In the aftermath of the storm, hundreds of trees were lost, along with many of the facilities needed to support recreational activities. The rebuilt and updated group camp facility, made possible by a $60,000 grant from the St. Joe Community Foundation, includes a new activities pavilion, restroom facilities, a fire circle and benches.

St. Andrews State Park is shaping back up. Image via State Parks Foundation.

“Generations of young people have enjoyed this site, and our staff are excited to welcome the first visitors to experience our new facilities and amenities,” said Chuck Hatcher, acting director of Florida State Parks. “Thank you to the Florida State Parks Foundation, the St. Joe Community Foundation and all of our partners who support St. Andrews State Park.”

The St. Joe Community Foundation’s mission is to enrich the quality of life for the people of Northwest Florida. Created in 1999, the Foundation provides grants toward education, environmental stewardship, building healthier communities and cultural programs.

“Creating environmental stewards starts with active youth participation, and camping at this beautiful state park is a great way to set children on this path,” said the organization’s executive director, April Wilkes. “We are proud to have supported the efforts in reopening this important resource for our community and look forward to its continued enjoyment for years to come.”

The Florida State Parks Foundation partnered in the project.

“The group campsite was used for organized youth camping, which engaged young people in hands-on nature experiences away from electronics and modern amenities, allowing them to connect with the environment,” said Tammy Gustafson, Florida State Parks Foundation President. “We are thrilled these improved facilities are back up and running, helping children to learn firsthand the importance of our natural resources in a fun and impactful way.”

Paris bound

Thirty-five members of the Florida A&M University Marching “100” will play at the Louis Vuitton Men’s Fashion Show in the Louvre Museum next week.

To prepare for the gig, band members and 12 FAMU staff members leave for Paris on Saturday. The musicians will rehearse Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Marching “100” performs on Thursday at 2 p.m. Paris time, or 8 a.m. eastern time.

The FAMU Marching 100 is heading to Paris.

The Marching “100” last played in Paris in 1989 for Bastille Day.

“The Marching ‘100’ is symbolic of the excellence of FAMU students and the expertise and care of our Music Department faculty and staff. We can’t wait to see them wow the city of Paris once again,” FAMU President Larry Davidson said after the invitation was made.

‘Civil’ screening

Tallahassee-based lawyer Ben Crump is already a nationally renown civil rights attorney, and his story goes global when the documentary about him hits Netflix on Sunday, Juneteenth. But Crump is putting his alma mater on the same level as the Tribeca Film Festival and the American Black Film Festival with a third screening of “Civil,” this time at the Florida State University Law School.

Netflix followed Crump for almost 18 months at the height of the pandemic as the lawyer fought for the families of Black men and women, like George Floyd, who died during interactions with police. The film will be available to Netflix’s millions of subscribers on Juneteenth.

‘Civil,’ Netflix’s documentary about Ben Crump, is getting a special showing.

Crump told Florida Politics it will be just as rewarding to premiere the documentary with law students and the Tallahassee community as it was to premiere it at the film festivals this week.

“The fact that Netflix expects millions and millions of people, not just in America but all around the world, to watch this documentary on Sunday and the fact that I get to be home with my family and my alumnus from Florida State University Law School — which had I not been given the privilege to attend the law school and get my law degree, none of this would be happening — I think it’s very, very gratifying to be in Tallahassee with the law students and the community and have our own premiere of ‘Civil,’” Crump said.

He also relayed a lesson for young law students from his personal hero, the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall:

“Even if it’s unpopular, if it’s controversial, even if you are criticized for it, you stand for right, and we all know what is right in our heart,” Crump said.

FSU Law will screen “Civil” at 3 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Dad’s big day

Of course, Sunday is Father’s Day, too. And the Florida Retail Federation says it’s going to be a big one.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, FRF’s parent organization, three-quarters of American adults plan to celebrate the holiday and they are planning to spend an average of $171.79 to show the fathers and father figures in their lives some much-needed love.

Nearly half of shoppers (44%) told NRF they are prioritizing unique or different gifts this Father’s Day, and 37% are looking to create a special memory with their gift. One-quarter of shoppers plan to give dad a “gift of experience” — a catchall that includes everything from event tickets to bungee jumping. Interestingly, 37% of respondents said they are interested in gifting a subscription box this Father’s Day.

Florida retailers want kids and family to think local this Father’s Day.

“Shoppers are focused on finding new and creative ways to honor dad this Father’s Day,” said Scott Shalley, President and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Remember, Florida retailers are here to provide the perfect gift for the father figures in your lives. When you shop local and ‘Find it in Florida’, you are helping support your community and local economy.”

Online retailers will get the biggest cut of the business, with 34% saying they plan to do their shopping online. Tied at 22%, the remaining shoppers will look towards specialty stores or discount stores to find that special item for dad.

As far as dollars and cents go, shoppers will spend the largest portion of their budget ($32.29) taking dad out to his favorite restaurant. Clothing followed at $26.62, then electronics at $19.32, personal care at $11.93, home improvement at $11.60 and tools at $11.03. Other categories fell in the under-$10 range.

An important note, the figures represent the average across all survey respondents — people aren’t buying their dads cheapo tools and a combo meal. He simply won’t stand for that. Well, the first one at least.

Capitol Directions

Ron DeSantis — Crossways arrow — Florida could have saved some time and pre-ordered vaccines for kids, but then we would have missed out on another vax shaming press conference.

Ron DeSantis’ wallet — Down arrow — Where’s that book deal money?

Disney — Up arrow — Mickey can dish out pain, too. How much you wanna bet the Lake Nona campus opens the day after DeSantis resigns to run for Prez?

Tampa Bay Bucs — Down arrow — Whoever wrote that job listing should write another one … for their replacement.

Kathleen Passidomo — Down arrow — Perception is reality, and she is going to her Presidency perceived as the weakest incoming leader since Haridopolos.

Passidomo, Part 2 — Up arrow — If Senate Republicans win a supermajority, forget we ever said that.

Ben Albritton — Crossways arrow — I’ve asked those close to Gov. if the moves against the Senate are designed to weaken Albritton. Not enough folks say ‘No.’

Paul Renner — Up arrow — I don’t see Ron DeSantis playing in his sandbox.

Ileana Garcia — Down arrow — Oh, if we’re doing joke appointments, put Sabs on the Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.

Ray Rodrigues — Down arrow — All he has to show for his brief Senate career is a gutted congressional map, an overturned contribution cap, and a pewter parachute to a DeSantis administration job.

Janet Cruz — Crossways arrow — A DeSantis-backed veteran will probably prove a tougher foe than a revamped Shawn Harrison.

Todd Inman — Up arrow — It’s better for DMS to miss him than for his wife to. Best wishes, Secretary.

Corey Simon — Crossways arrow — Volunteer Florida lost a good one. Maybe he can come back when the ‘Red Wave’ doesn’t carry him to the Senate.

Melony Bell, David Borrero, Chuck Brannan, Wyman Duggan, Tom Fabricio, Mike Giallombardo, Michael Gottlieb, Michael Grant, Joe Harding, Dianne Hart, Christine Hunschofsky, Stan McClain, Lauren MeloDaniel PerezAlex Rizo, Spencer Roach, Felicia Robinson, Will Robinson, Bob Rommel, Tyler Sirois, Cyndi Stevenson and Kaylee Tuck — Up arrow — See you next Session.

Bryan Avila, Danny Burgess, Erin Grall, Gayle Harrell, Jason Pizzo, and Ana Maria Rodriguez — Up arrow — Pack up, kids, the summer vacation is back on. 

Chris Latvala — Up arrow — He can spend the next several months looking for office décor inspiration on Pinterest.

Retreads — Down arrow — Corrine, Grayson, Hill, Rivera … Florida politics has a worse case of sequelitis than Hollywood.

Write-in candidates — Down arrow — There are ways to spend $1,781 that don’t involve disenfranchising two-thirds of your neighbors, you know.

Mike Caruso — Up arrow — He should get some signs up in council members’ neighborhoods just to rub it in.

Fred Karlinsky — Up arrow — The next Florida Supreme Court justice can thank him for the job recommendation.

Marion Hammer — Crossways arrow — Thanks for the Jason Priestly episode of Eddie the Eagle and … no, that’s pretty much it. Enjoy retirement.

UF — Up arrow — They assuaged academic freedom concerns faster than their QB can drive a Dodge Charger.

FP&L — Up arrow — Not net zero. “Real Zero.”

John Dailey — Up arrow — We’d give his video team a shoutout, but when a candidate creates thousands of jobs the ads pretty much write themselves.

Tallahassee Realtors — Up arrow — They’re looking to hire some cash counters.

Panthers — Up arrow — Bad news, Bambi. Florida panthers are making a comeback.

Smokers — Down arrow — Get your butts off the beach.

Pythons — Down arrow — You can run, but you can’t hide. Actually, reverse that.

Jack Capra — Halo — We’re going to miss running into him and Rocco. Gone too soon.


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