Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.16.21 – Florida Politics

Florida politics and Sunburn – perfect together.

Good Tuesday morning.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a Special Session on vaccination and mask mandates, lawmakers were just as surprised as the public.

There’s usually a lot of choreography involved in a Special Session, especially one aimed at an issue as fractious as regulating what businesses can and can’t require of their employees.

At the very least, Governors want to know that their priorities will pass. In the first days after DeSantis’ proclamation, it wasn’t a certainty.

Media has focused on the cult of personality surrounding DeSantis, perceived GOP infighting and even a “Republicans are crazy” narrative.

Yet, none of them panned out. In short order the Legislature has come together for what looks to be a smooth, quick victory for the Governor — one could even call it routine.

Members aren’t anxious. Both sides have mostly hammered out the final product and it’s expected to pass with both chambers with support. And, more importantly for the Governor, the legislation achieves the goals he laid out but in a more sophisticated way than he asked.

For all the talk of dysfunction, the Special Session proves the opposite: Florida has a highly functioning, competent House and Senate with even-handed leaders who know how to cooperate with each other —  and do it well.

Here are a few other items that caught my attention:

😼Are the bad guys winning?: Anne Applebaum, a writer for the Atlantic, suggests they are in a detailed analysis centering on a stolen election in Belarus. The theme: if the 20th Century marked progress toward democracy over other ideologies, such as communism and fascism, the 21st Century is the opposite. The piece highlights Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s plight in Belarus, where she won the 2020 presidential election with more than 80% of the vote, but the nation’s dictator who she defeated, Alexander Lukashenko, refused to concede and forced her from the country. The situation that unfolded highlighted “the dictator’s learning curve” — a tactic used in the past to repress crowds. Read more here.

🦠When, and how, does COVID end?: The virus, COVID-19 expert Dr. Robert Wachter posits, is unlikely to go away — ever. So the time is now to get back to some sense of normalcy. And that, according to the New York Times, comes from an expert who airs on the side of caution, who believes in the threat of long COVID, thinks people should get booster shots and wears masks regularly (and probably always will). He hopes that while COVID-19 might be here to stay, it will become a manageable virus, like the seasonal flu. And it’s possible even for the weariest of virus worriers — Wachter himself has resumed many normal activities, like dining indoors and playing poker with friends. The trick is to “be thoughtful and careful,” including by continuing to wear masks in high-risk areas, such as on planes, and limiting indoor activities to those who are vaccinated.

💉Not everyone wants to brag about their jab: About one in six vaccinated Americans aren’t telling certain people they got the poke, according to a Harris Poll survey conducted for USA TODAY. Further, one in 17 isn’t telling anyone. For many of these secret vaxxers, they’re staying quiet because they know people around them won’t approve. USA TODAY notes the story of one man, who offered only his first name — William — who isn’t telling coworkers he got vaccinated. There, his boss has made false arguments claiming the COVID-19 vaccines were “experimental” and “rushed” and promulgated various conspiracy theories, including that the shots were being used to install tracking chips into recipients. As a result, William scheduled his vaccination off-hours to avoid suspicion from his boss.

🗯Information Disorder is a thing: Described as a “crisis that exacerbates all other crises,” the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder describes in its newly released report that the problem occurs when “bad information becomes as prevalent, persuasive, and persistent as good information, it creates a chain reaction of harm.” Report co-chairs continued, “Information disorder is a problem that cannot be completely solved. Its eradication is not the end goal. Instead, the Commission’s goal is to mitigate misinformation’s worst harms with prioritization for the most vulnerable segments of our society.” Read more about the issue here.

📺Andrew Sullivan gets the Scott Pelley profile treatment on 60 Minutes: Sullivan, an often controversial conservative blogger (who is also one of my intellectual heroes), weighed in on 60 Minutes with his thoughts, and fears, about American politics, arguing early in the interview that Americans have become too tribalistic. “This country came to the point where we had violence in the usual peaceful transfer of power. That is a huge warning to how unstable our system can be if we remain tribalists in a system that’s supposed to be designed for reasonable citizens.” Sullivan, who is a married gay man, also weighed in on coming to terms with his sexuality and his controversial decision in 1994 to post an excerpt from the book “The Bell Curve,” implying Black Americans have lower IQs than their White counterparts. But in the end, Sullivan expresses hope for the future. “Maybe there’ll be something in the future, a leader, a figure — or there must be a sort of groundswell of people saying, ‘enough of this.’” See the entire interview here.

 — SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@POTUS: It’s official, folks: I’ve signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law.

@EliseSteganik: For years, Democrats baselessly accused President Trump of “weaponizing” the DOJ. In reality, it is the Left that has been weaponizing the DOJ the ENTIRE TIME – from the false Russia Hoax to the Soviet-style prosecution of political opponents.

Tweet, Tweet:

Assuming @SenRickScott was not quoted out of context by @WSJ — this is such a Classic Quote from a party leader whose party is on a poll roll. Clarification: Inflation is NOT a “gold mine” for America’s struggling families. cc: @fineout pic.twitter.com/HnhdghrgNj

— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) November 14, 2021

Tweet, tweet:

Honored to be at the @WhiteHouse today with @POTUS to witness the signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that will deliver billions for improvements to our roads, bridges, airports, transit and to fight climate change — to better the lives of all Americans! pic.twitter.com/ArJkW6F8be

— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) November 15, 2021

@RepGregSteube: -Turkey is up 27%. -Potatoes are up 13%. -Carrots are up 47%. -Cranberries are up 5.2%. You can thank Joe Biden for the most expensive Thanksgiving meal in history!

Tweet, tweet:

Never forget — the United States Congress stands behind the Cuban people in their fight for liberty. 🇺🇸

Today, we march with you. #SOSCuba #15NCuba 🇨🇺 pic.twitter.com/SrH6iBwAwh

— Rep. María Elvira Salazar (@RepMariaSalazar) November 15, 2021

@AnaCeballos: Rep. Thad Altman, an Indialantic Republican, with a different angle to the debate. He says Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push for the bill means he is “willing to relinquish this responsibility and put it in our hands” and that it is a “real compliment” to the Legislature.

@RepCBenjamin: Florida’s direction can only be to meet or exceed OSHA’s standards; and ETS or not – OSHA can require strict COVID protocols that don’t rise to the level of a direct mandate. So a State OSHA plan doesn’t necessarily mean no vaccine protocols. This action jumps the gun.

Tweet, tweet:

I’m proud to have my kids in town as Florida once again leads the country in freedom! Thanks Rep. ⁦@Johnfsnyder⁩ for the awesome picture. ⁦@FloridaGOP⁩ ⁦@FLGOPMajority#specialsession pic.twitter.com/GgnYj4qHBt

— Joe Harding (@josephbharding) November 15, 2021

Tweet, tweet:

My incredibly blurry photo of @benshapiro walking away after taking a pic with Speaker @ChrisSprowls on the House floor. pic.twitter.com/9QSAn19As9

— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) November 15, 2021

Tweet, tweet:

Look who stopped by the office today! Great to meet @benshapiro. pic.twitter.com/FrSvWo9zgj

— Christina Pushaw 🐊 (@ChristinaPushaw) November 15, 2021

— DAYS UNTIL —

ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 2; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 8; FSU vs. UF — 11; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 15; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 21; ‘Sex and the City’ revival premieres — 23; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 24; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 24; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 36; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 43; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 49; final season of ‘This Is Us’ begins — 49; CES 2022 begins — 50; NFL season ends — 54; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 56; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 56; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 56; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 57; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 59; NFL playoffs begin — 60; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 80; Super Bowl LVI — 89; Daytona 500 — 96; CPAC begins — 100; St. Pete Grand Prix — 101; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 107; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 174; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 195; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 199; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 235; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 246; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 325; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 360; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 363; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 395; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 458; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 619. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 703; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 983.

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— TOP STORY —

Amid protests in Cuba, Gov. DeSantis announces $25 million proposal to revamp Freedom Tower” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Behind a podium boasting Patria y Vida at the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Monday morning, DeSantis announced a $25 million request to make structural repairs to the historic tower. The budget request will be part of DeSantis’ multi-billion dollar proposal for the 2022 Legislative Session, and is subject to approval by state lawmakers. The nearly century-old Freedom Tower, which was built in 1925 as the headquarters for the Miami News, served as the central location for processing and documenting Cuban refugees fleeing to Miami during the Cold War.

Tweet, tweet:

Hoy más que nunca el pueblo cubano quiere libertad. Todo mi apoyo a las personas que quieren protestar este #15NovCuba por sus derechos. Le pido esta administración que vigile y denuncie las acciones represivas que el régimen castrista puede tomar en contra del pueblo. #CubaLibre pic.twitter.com/GOAg1XD2Vf

— Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (@RepCarlos) November 14, 2021

Brave Cubans defy crackdown, show the world just how powerful their voice has become” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — The Cuban regime is very, very afraid of a generation that won’t take “No” for an answer from the static patriarchy leading Cuba, island gulag, only 90 miles from Key West. Threats and angry mobs armed by the government with clubs don’t dissuade them. Jail time doesn’t, either. They have truth and a just cause on their side. Accustomed to 62 years of acquiescence by force, the dictatorship run by Miguel Díaz-Canel, the appointed strongman du jour unleashed its considerable repressive apparatus on Cubans intent on staging a second protest Monday, following July 11 demonstrations, to call for change and democracy.

Cuban security tries to suppress street protests. But people already have made their point” via the Miami Herald editorial board — All eyes are on how the island government will react to these planned and unprecedented acts of civil disobedience. The most likely immediate response by Cuba and its suffocating security apparatus? Shutting off the Internet, which the Cuban government seems able to do at will, as if it had a light switch. No internet removes the outside world from helping protesters on the island or spreading news of it. Arrests are sure to be another feature of the government’s crackdown. Some 700 people were taken into custody during this summer’s protests.

A Cuban dissident with a rose sends powerful message amid island government’s crackdown” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — The Cuban government has unwittingly created a powerful symbol of its fear of an increasing opposition movement led by young Cubans, after state security agents and government supporters prevented playwright Yunior García from going outside his apartment on a solo walk Sunday carrying a white rose. Instead, García was forced to show the rose through the blinds in his window to journalists standing afar, creating an iconic image for the dissident movement. A white rose is a powerful symbol in Cuban history, harking back to one of the most famous poems by Cuban writer and independence war hero José Martí, who wrote that he would grow a white rose for both friends and enemies.

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— SPECIAL SESSION — 

Senate committee advances bill banning vaccine mandates” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Spurred by a handful of health care workers as well as a group of staunch opponents to COVID-19 vaccines, a Florida Senate panel on Monday voted 7-3 to approve legislation pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that would clamp down on private companies mandating employee vaccinations. The bill also would beef up a 2021 law meant to give parents more control over their children at school. “What we are seeking here is to make sure employees are not getting fired,” said bill sponsor Sen. Danny Burgess.  Sen. Dennis Baxley said it was “time to act” so that Floridians “are not subjects of a totalitarian national government.” President Joe Biden’s administration is moving forward with vaccine mandates for health care providers, federal contractors and large employers.

OSHA bill ready for House floor, moves in Senate despite Democrats’ objections” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The full House is ready to consider legislation asking Ron DeSantis to develop a state workplace safety proposal, but Democrats say it’s not a serious proposal. The measure (HB 5B) would ask the Governor’s Office to develop a plan for Florida to seek federal approval for a state counterpart to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. State occupational safety agencies must be at least as strict as the federal OSHA, but leaders in Florida’s Republican-led Legislature have framed the measure as a way to bypass vaccine mandates from a “weaponized” OSHA. During a House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee meeting on Monday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed support for a state-level agency. The bill sponsor, Land O’Lakes Republican Rep. Ardian Zika, said the federal vaccine mandate kicked off discussions asking whether creating a state workplace safety agency would help meet Florida’s growing economy.

Lawmakers OK bills to limit Surgeon General emergency powers” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Lawmakers moved forward Monday with proposals that strip the surgeon general’s authority to mandate vaccinations during a public health emergency. The House Health and Human Services Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee OK’d the measures  (HB 7 & SB 8) with party line votes. Republican Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Alex Andrade are the bill sponsors. The proposals are among a handful on the agenda during a five-day Special Session dubbed “Keep Florida Free.”  The Session, ordered by Ron DeSantis, aims to thwart COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Florida. “There’s no circumstance I believe where forced vaccination, essentially at gunpoint… would be acceptable,” Andrade said.

Shielding COVID-19 vaccine complaints ‘unconstitutional,’ First Amendment expert says” via Jeffrey Schweers of USA Today Network — Among other goals of this week’s Special Session on COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Florida lawmakers are looking to punish businesses that fire workers for not wearing masks or getting vaccinated with massive fines. But they want to keep the basis of employee complaints confidential, that is, their religious or medical condition. One of the four pieces of legislation filed for the Special Session would shield from public view all information relating to a complaint or investigation from employees who were not offered a medical or religious exemption from vaccine requirements imposed by their bosses.

Top Dem calls Special Session a ‘measuring contest’ between two men” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne blasted DeSantis on Monday, suggesting the state effort to block the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate is little more than a testosterone-fueled political stunt. “This is not about guaranteeing anyone’s freedoms,” Jenne told reporters. “This is not about governmental policy. This is about two men having a measuring contest that they should have in private. Instead, they’re letting it spill out in front of the full public view.” Jenne’s remarks chide DeSantis’ ongoing feud with President Biden. The pair spar often on issues ranging from immigration policy to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The political sparks though are seemingly invaluable, resulting in a conflict that boosts DeSantis’s status among conservatives.

Today’s Spec. Session schedule:

—The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet to consider the slate of Special Session bills to ban employers from enacting vaccination mandates. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

—The House will hold a floor session to consider legislation to ban employer vaccination mandates. They convene at 10 a.m.

—The Senate Select Subcommittee on Congressional Reapportionment is meeting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

—The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet to set the agenda for the chamber floor session. The meeting will be held in Room 412 of the Knott Building. It starts 15 minutes after the Appropriations Committee adjourns.

Assignment editors — Governor candidate and U.S. Rep. Crist will hold a virtual press conference criticizing the Special Session and calling on the Legislature to focus on other issues, 9:30 a.m., on Facebook. RSVP to [email protected]

— DATELINE TALLY —

>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples. 9:15 a.m. DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton and DEP Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains also to attend.

Cities to file lawsuit against ‘anti-riot’ law — The cities of Gainesville, Lake Worth Beach, Lauderhill, North Bay Village, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Miramar, Tallahassee, and Wilton Manors will file a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging the so-called anti-riot legislation DeSantis signed earlier this year. The cities are represented by the Public Rights Project, Southern Poverty Law Center, Community Justice Project, and the law firm of Jenner & Block. The lawsuit filing will take place during an 11 a.m. virtual news conference, where Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter, former Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson, and Public Rights Project Legal Director Jonathan Miller are expected to speak. Registration is online.

Lawmakers bring back bills to set up regulatory framework for cryptocurrency” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican lawmakers have once again filed legislation to set up a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency in Florida. The filings come after House lawmakers unanimously approved a similar bill last Session, though the bill later died in the Senate. The bill would help clear up some confusion following the 2019 ruling in Florida v. Espinoza, which bucked guidance from the Office of Financial Regulation and found that individuals who own Bitcoin cannot sell it without a license. GOP Sen. Jason Brodeur is the new sponsor for this year’s Senate bill (SB 486) after Sen. Jeff Brandes carried the measure last Session. Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis, who fronted the House version last Session, will once again take over in the 2022 Session.

Red, white and yum: Plant City-area lawmaker seeks official status for strawberry shortcake” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A Plant City-area lawmaker believes that it’s high time the importance of the strawberry gets acknowledged and strawberry shortcake becomes the official state dessert. The legislation (HB 567) that Rep. Lawrence McClure has filed may go down as the only berry mouthwatering kind this Session. Officially designating strawberry shortcake as the state’s primo dessert would recognize the vital role that the hybrid species of the genus Fragaria plays in the state’s economy, McClure says. “Strawberries represent about a billion-dollar economic impact,” McClure said. The 36-line bill also cites the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records recognition given to Plant City as the home of the most oversized shortcake in the world as evidence the strawberry shortcake should enjoy a higher stature.

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—STATEWIDE—

Florida education officials appear to defy feds’ cease and desist complaint regarding state funds” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — Despite warnings from federal education officials, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has been defiant against the U.S. Department of Education’s warnings that Florida could be breaking federal law. But Florida education officials believe that the feds are the problem. The State Board of Education has called a meeting Tuesday “to discuss the federal government’s overreach and unlawful behavior,” said Cassie Palelis, press secretary for the Department of Education. At issue is the withholding of state funds equal to federal grants intended to help two Florida school boards, Alachua and Broward, cover financial penalties.

Nikki Fried pursuing rule to phase out foam packaging” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Agriculture Commissioner Fried has begun pursuing a new rule-making process to mandate a phase-out of plastic foam packaging by thousands of businesses regulated by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Fried joined business and environmental leaders after the departments held a rule-making workshop in Orlando on a proposal to force stepped reductions in polystyrene plastic packaging used at grocery stores, food markets, gas station convenience stores and other businesses regulated by her department. The rule, should it be adopted would target the foam packaging that has been at the forefront of environmental and public health concerns for decades, as it is not biodegradable and is made up of chemicals that are poisonous to humans and to animals.

Two Joel Greenberg associates indicted on federal charges in alleged real-estate fraud scheme” via Jason Garcia and Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Federal prosecutors investigating the crimes of Greenberg have charged two of Greenberg’s associates and accused them of a multimillion-dollar real-estate fraud scheme, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. Authorities say Keith Ingersoll and James Adamczyk, working with other unnamed co-conspirators, bilked an Orlando-area investor out of $12 million by persuading the investor to put up money for more than half a dozen fraudulent real-estate deals in Florida, other states and The Bahamas.

Cops find respect, warm welcome, more money in Florida” via Kerry J. Byrne of The New York Post — Lakeland mounted a social media campaign targeting NYC cops earlier this year, and in April, dispatched a delegation to recruit in Times Square. Fourteen former Finest moved to Lakeland in the past year, 12 of them wooed over the past two months thanks to the recruiting trip. The respect accorded cops in Florida “was an eye-opener,” former NYPD cop Matthew Spoto said at a September press conference after heeding Lakeland’s call of duty. In New York, “it was almost like I was ashamed to be a law enforcement officer,” he said. NYPD officers start out earning $42,500 per year. The minimum PD salary in Lakeland is $53,000 following a pay raise earlier this year.

Seniors looking for relief from high medication costs” via Cait McVey of Bay News 9 — Rheumatoid arthritis treatments are among the most expensive drug costs seniors face today, along with cancer treatments. A plan to bring those prices down made its way back into the social safety net legislation this week, after a brief removal during negotiations. Florida AARP Director Jeff Johnson says this is something the organization has been pushing for – the ability for Medicare to negotiate drug prices and a cap on how much seniors pay out of pocket each year. “The fact that this fell out of the plan a week ago and is back in is solely a testament to the fact that the people who are directly affected have raised their voices,” Johnson said.

Happening today — The Florida Association of Health Plans annual conference enters its third day. The agenda includes DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris and state Medicaid director Tom Wallace. It begins at 8 a.m. at the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek in Orlando.

Happening today — The 2021 Florida Energy and Climate Summit kicks off at 8:45 a.m. at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando. The agenda includes panel discussions on energy equity, energy and agriculture, transportation, workforce development and resiliency. Fried is also scheduled to speak at 9 a.m.

Happening today — The Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation and the Department of Environmental Protection will continue Florida Recycles Week programming with a presentation titled “You can Recycle Right” to educate Floridians on what items can be recycled. The Zoom event begins at 11 a.m.

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— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: 1,992 cases, 147 deaths, fewer people in the hospital again” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida on Monday reported to CDC 1,992 COVID-19 cases and 147 deaths. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,671,481 confirmed COVID cases and 60,845 deaths. Of the deaths added Monday, about 75% occurred over the past 28 days and about 38% in the last two weeks. In the past seven days, the state has added 61 deaths and 1,471 cases per day. There were 1,374 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida. COVID-19 patients take up 2.43% of all inpatient beds in the latest report’s hospitals.

Florida reports unprecedented 1.1 million new COVID-19 vaccinations, offers no explanation” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — The number of Floridians who have gotten their first shot of the free coronavirus vaccine spiked by more than 1.1 million in the past week, state health officials reported Friday. The total is, by far, the biggest one-week increase recorded in the number of Florida vaccinations since the shots became available. The state Department of Health said in its weekly report that 2,890,568 Florida residents are now awaiting second doses of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. The tally Nov. 5 was 1,740,770.

Leon County cases fall 21.4%; only 10 people hospitalized in Tallahassee” via Mike Stucka and Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The monthslong trend of plummeting COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continues both on a state and local level. As of Monday morning, there were 10 COVID-19 patients between Tallahassee’s two hospitals: Capital Regional Medical Center, with three COVID-19 patients, and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare with seven. Although, TMH’s case total includes “patients on isolation as well as patients who are no longer infectious but still require hospital care.” In the first two weeks of November, four COVID-19 patients died in TMH. In October, there were 12 COVID-19-related deaths. Both mark significant declines from the hospital’s August and September totals.

Baptist Health announces 95% of staff vaccinated, unvaccinated staff has 30 days to get vaccine, exemption” via First Coast News —  Baptist Health Jacksonville announced Monday that 95% of their staff is vaccinated from COVID-19. In early August, Baptist Health announced all employee must either be fully vaccinated or qualify for an exemption by Nov. 15. Virtually all of the system’s employees have met that deadline. However, Baptist Health is offering one last opportunity for those who are still not vaccinated to get the vaccine or get an exemption. All unvaccinated, non-exempt employees will have 30 days to get an approved COVID-19 vaccine or receive either a medical or religious exemption. The affected employees will no be scheduled to work until one of the requirements is met.

Palm Beach County teacher at center of ivermectin lawsuit dies after battling COVID-19” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — A Palm Beach County teacher at the center of a battle to get a hospital to administer an unproven drug for her worsening COVID-19 symptoms has died from the illness. Tamara Drock, 47, died from complications of COVID-19 on Friday, 12 weeks after being admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for treatment, her husband said. As she struggled with the disease, her husband, Ryan Drock, sued the hospital last month in an attempt to require it to administer ivermectin, a drug approved to treat conditions caused by parasitic worms but not COVID-19.

Fiona Lashells missed two months of school for refusing to wear a mask. Now she’s happy to be back.” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Eight-year-old Lashells walked onto her elementary school campus Monday with a pink backpack and the fanfare of a homecoming war veteran. Family friends waved signs and cheered. A state legislator strode proudly alongside. It was, in a sense, a return from battle. For two months, the second-grader and her mother had waged an increasingly high-profile standoff against the Palm Beach County public schools over their mask mandate. Refusing to wear a facial covering, Fiona amassed nearly 40 days of suspensions in September and October, requiring her to spend weeks doing her classwork at home. She and her mother spoke out at school board meetings and posted videos online, winning plaudits from conservative media and political leaders.

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— 2022 —

Happening today — The Florida Elections Commission is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Florida State Conference Center.

Republicans gain heavy House edge in 2022 as gerrymandered maps emerge” via Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times — Republicans are already poised to flip at least five seats in the closely divided House thanks to redrawn district maps that are more distorted, more disjointed and more gerrymandered than any since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. The rapidly forming congressional map, a quarter of which has taken shape as districts are redrawn this year, represents an even more extreme warping of American political architecture, with state legislators in many places moving aggressively to cement their partisan dominance. The flood of gerrymandering, carried out by both parties but predominantly by Republicans, is likely to leave the country ever more divided by further eroding competitive elections.

Anthony Sabatini skips Special Session for D.C. fundraiser” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Sabatini pitched a Special Session on vaccine mandates long before Ron DeSantis. When the Governor put out the call, Florida Politics reluctantly gave Sabatini an up arrow because he seemingly had his finger on the pulse for the first time in his political career. Well, the Special Session that Sabatini so badly wanted is happening, yet the Howey-in-the-Hills Republican is 900 miles away. According to House Communications Director Jenna Sarkissian, this is another unexcused absence for the man otherwise known as Rep. Blackface. What’s he doing? Accepting a “Legislator of the Month” award from an organization that could best be described as a conservative knockoff of AARP. It’s worth noting that while Sabatini has a few strengths, getting bills signed by the Governor is not one of them.

Roger Stone, Michael Flynn endorse CD 16 candidate who called Donald Trump ‘wretched,’ MAGA ‘bigots’” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — How much would it cost to turn your back on a President who granted you a full pardon, sparing you multiple years in the clink? In Stone’s case, we have an answer: $10,000. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Zac Anderson broke the news last week that Stone, a Florida man who just a year ago was facing serious jail time for witness tampering and obstruction of justice, has officially signed on as Martin Hyde’s political consultant for his congressional campaign. Hyde is a man with a long history of publicly denigrating former President Trump and his supporters. Until now, Hyde was most infamous for a viral video where he freaked out and hurled racist insults at young Puerto Rican tennis players. Now, he is challenging incumbent Republican Vern Buchanan in Florida’s16th Congressional District.

Ileana Garcia, Janelle Perez both surpass $300K raised in shifted Senate race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — October was a good fundraising month for Sen. Garcia and her challenger, Perez, who both passed $300,000 in funds raised toward their expected bid next year in a remapped Senate District 40. Garcia added $48,000 last month through her campaign and political committee, No More Socialism, with strong showings from the health care sector and the specialized airport baggage-handling business. She now holds more than $345,000 to defend the seat she won last November by just 34 votes. Garcia accepted fewer than 10 individual contributions in October. They ranged from $100 to $2,500. Perez, conversely, raised $137,000 last month.

‘We’re going to shoot our shot’: Michael Grieco files for remapped SD 37” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Grieco is officially running for the Florida Senate. After hinting at a potential Senate bid last week, Grieco, a Miami Beach Democrat, told Florida Politics he filed paperwork Monday to vie for Senate District 37. “We’re going to shoot our shot and see how it works out,” he said. Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia now represents SD 37, but redistricting to reflect the 2020 Census could place her in newly remapped Senate District 40, where she’ll still face Democratic challenger Janelle Perez. That leaves SD 37 wide open. The district will shrink to only cover a portion of Miami-Dade County’s coast, including parts of Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Sweetwater and West Miami.

—”Lori Berman has one of her best months yet in October fundraising for SD 31” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—“Unopposed Christine Hunschofsky raises $11,700 to defend HD 96 seat” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—“Michael Gottlieb hits personal high second month in a row in HD 98 fundraising” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—“Dotie Joseph adds $11K in October to defend HD 108, more than half from alcohol, health care” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Demi Busatta Cabrera raises $17K in October to defend her HD 114 seat” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Rep. Busatta Cabrera doesn’t yet have an opponent in her swingy Miami-Dade House District, but she netted $17,000 last month to fend off any challenge that may materialize. The freshman lawmaker flipped House District 114 from blue to red in the last election. Donations to her personal campaign account and her committee, People Above Politics, in October show support from the health care sector, the insurance industry and several affiliates of a Miami auto dealership. Between her personal campaign account and her committee, Busatta Cabrera has $152,248 on hand. Simply Healthcare Plans Inc. in Cincinnati gave Busatta Cabrera’s committee $2,500, the biggest donation of the month from a single entity.

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Hillsborough County Democrats to host top gubernatorial contenders at annual fundraiser” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Hillsborough County Democratic Party will host Florida’s top three Democratic gubernatorial candidates Dec. 11 for the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year, its 2021 Kennedy-King Gala. Crist, Fried and Sen. Annette Taddeo will all speak at the event. The 2022 candidates will join U.S. Rep. Val Demings, another prominent Democrat running for office in 2022, challenging U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Crist’s campaign reached out to the local party to request a spot on the line-up after reading that Primary competitor Fried would be a featured speaker. The party agreed to give Crist a moment at the event, and then contacted Taddeo, who also confirmed her attendance.

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— CORONA NATION —

COVID-19 cases rise in pockets of north and west, halting Delta variant’s decline in U.S.” via Jon Kamp and Kris Maher of The Wall Street Journal — COVID-19 cases are climbing in places like the upper Midwest, Southwest and parts of the Northeast, hindering the nation’s progress in ending a surge triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Nationally, the seven-day average of new cases appears to be edging back up after hovering just above 70,000 for several weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, halting what had been a decline from the Delta-fueled peak that began in September. While the Southeast cools off from its summer surge, other regions are under pressure, including places where colder weather has brought people back indoors where the virus can more easily spread.

Some U.S. states dangle cash and scholarships to get children vaccinated.” via Todd Gregory and Daniel E. Slotnik of The New York Times — State governments in the United States are offering incentives for coronavirus shots for children, just as they did for adults earlier in the year. With the pace of inoculations stagnating among U.S. adults, states are rushing to encourage vaccinations among newly eligible younger children, despite some questions about the effectiveness of incentive programs. The rewards announced for children so far are mostly cash and scholarships, but in some areas, local attractions are also being dangled. Visa gift cards worth $100 are available to children in Louisiana and Chicago. In New York City, $100 prepaid debit cards are also available.

Oklahoma National Guard rejects Pentagon’s coronavirus vaccine mandate” via Alex Horton and Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post — The Oklahoma National Guard has rejected the Defense Department’s requirement for all service members to receive the coronavirus vaccine and will allow personnel to sidestep the policy with no repercussions, an order from the governor that could serve as a blueprint for other Republican-led states that have challenged Biden administration mandates. Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, appointed this week by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt as adjutant of the state’s 10,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen, on Thursday notified those under his command that they are not required to receive the vaccine and won’t be punished if they decline it.

Border Patrol vaccination rates increase, but 20% of agency’s workforce has not gotten shots” via Nick Miroff of The Washington Post — Of the agency’s 21,393 employees, 77% were fully vaccinated as of Nov.­ 10, and an additional 3 percent were partially vaccinated, the figures show. Another 15.5% of agents and employees have sought a religious or medical exemption, while 3.4% have not responded to the internal reporting requirement and 1.1% listed their status as unvaccinated, without seeking an exemption. The roughly 4,000 Border Patrol agents and employees who remain unvaccinated could face disciplinary action if their exemption requests are denied or if they remain out of compliance with the President’s requirement for all federal workers and contractors to be immunized by Nov. 22.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Democrats, don’t dismiss public’s fear of inflation” via Catherine Rampell of The Palm Beach Post — Let’s talk about why it’s reasonable for ordinary Americans to worry about inflation, and why liberal pundits and politicians should take that pain seriously. There are the raw numbers: Inflation is undoubtedly up. Price growth has been stronger, and lasted longer, than most had predicted earlier this year. In October, prices rose 6.2% compared with the same month a year ago. This was the largest annual increase in about three decades. wages are rising. But … they’re not rising quickly enough to keep pace with consumer prices. If recent job growth has been dominated by lower-wage positions that could skew the average downward.

— MORE CORONA —

50 percent of people who survive COVID-19 face lingering symptoms, study finds” via Linda Searing of The Washington Post — At least 50 percent of people who survive covid-19 experience a variety of physical and psychological health issues for six months or more after their initial recovery. Often referred to as “long covid,” the adverse health effects vary from person to person. But the research, based on data from 250,351 adults and children, found that more than half experience a decline in general well-being, resulting in weight loss, fatigue, fever or pain.

What Richard Corcoran is reading — “Schools embrace more COVID-19 testing over quarantine to keep kids in class” via Sabrina Siddiqui and Brianna Abbott of The Wall Street Journal — Grant Rivera spent 18 months struggling to conduct school safely during the pandemic before he stumbled upon an op-ed describing a way to keep children in class by testing them frequently for COVID-19. For Dr. Rivera, superintendent of Georgia’s Marietta City Schools, a district northwest of Atlanta with roughly 8,700 students, the strategy was a revelation. Children exposed to a known COVID-19 case could be tested frequently and stay in school if they remained negative. Setting up robust testing routines can be expensive and laborious, some schools have said. Some health departments and officials have been slow to roll out testing programs or to explain the benefits of in-school screening.

Racial disparities in kids’ vaccinations are hard to track” via The Associated Press — The rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind. Only a handful of states have made public data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race and age, and the CDC does not compile racial breakdowns either. Despite the lack of hard data, public health officials and medical professionals are mindful of disparities and have been reaching out to communities of color to overcome vaccine hesitancy. That includes going into schools, messaging in other languages, deploying mobile vaccine units and emphasizing to skeptical parents that the shots are safe and powerfully effective.

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— PRESIDENTIAL —

Joe Biden signs infrastructure bill into law” via Axios — Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law on Monday, capping off the hard-fought victory for his domestic agenda. The legislation includes massive investments in roads, bridges, waterways and other “hard infrastructure.” It’s the biggest public-works bill since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the interstate highway system in 1956. The White House on Sunday named former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as the senior adviser responsible for coordinating the implementation of the legislation. Biden held off on signing the bill after it passed the House on Nov. 5 so that a bipartisan group of lawmakers back from congressional recess could join the event.

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President Biden said the infrastructure bill was “proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results.” Photo credit: Doug Mills.

Shevrin Jones lauds Biden after attending bill signing — Sen. Jones was at the White House when Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. “I was honored to witness history today as President Biden signed this once-in-a-generation bipartisan bill into law. The infrastructure package is a gamechanger for Florida and will create good-paying jobs, strengthen our state and country in the face of the climate crisis, and put us on a path to win the global economic competition for the 21st century,” he said. “The American people deserve an infrastructure they can trust — from the roads and bridges we drive, to the water we drink. It is long past time for us to invest in our shared future and build the modern, sustainable economy and equitable clean energy future that every American can be proud of.”

Biden to spend Thanksgiving on Nantucket, reviving a family tradition” via Jim Puzzanghera and Mark Shanahan of the Boston Globe — President Biden will spend Thanksgiving on Nantucket, reviving a family tradition of gathering his family for the holiday on the island. The exact timing and location of the visit still is being determined, the source said. Biden has celebrated Thanksgiving on Nantucket nearly every year since 1975. He does not own a home there and has stayed in different rental properties over the years as he hosted a large family gathering and participated in events like the polar plunge.

— D.C. MATTERS —

The polls are clear: Democratic holdouts are killing Biden” via James Downie of The Washington Post — The new Post-ABC News poll is a brutal read for Democrats. President Biden’s approval rating is at a new low of 41%. Fifty-one percent of registered voters say they’ll vote Republican in the 2022 midterms, the best showing for the GOP in the poll’s 40-year history. The good news is that the poll also provides a screamingly obvious remedy. Perhaps most worryingly for the President, the drop in Biden’s approval rating didn’t come among Republicans or independents, but Democrats, from 86% to 80%. The remaining Democratic support is less enthusiastic as well: The share of Democrats who approve strongly of Biden’s performance has declined from 54% to 44%.

Dems’ bitter pill: Popular health provisions won’t kick in until after the midterms” via Alice Miranda Ollstein and Laura Barrón-López of POLITICO — Democrats are close to making good on long-held promises to lower prescription drug costs and make health care more affordable. The rub? Voters won’t feel much of it until after the 2022 elections. The party is increasingly banking its midterm prospects on passage of the president’s domestic agenda in the coming weeks, convinced that it can help counteract concerns of inflation and inaction in D.C. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said the party’s physical infrastructure bill that Congress recently sent to Biden’s desk isn’t enough and pointed to the health provisions of the still-pending $1.75 trillion social spending bill as the types of measures that could win over voters.

New poll shows GOP nullifying Democrats’ edge on education” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — The Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday asked voters which party they preferred, including on several issues. The big headline is that registered voters prefer the GOP by 10 points on what’s known as the generic ballot. But it’s not the only area in which Democrats seem to be taking on some water; so, too, is education. The poll asked which party voters preferred on that issue, and while 44% chose Democrats, 41% chose Republicans. That’s still a narrow edge for Democrats, albeit within the margin of error. What’s key here how this compares to how this issue polls historically. The last time the Post-ABC poll surveyed this issue was in the mid-2000s; at the time, Democrats led by more than 20 points.

Greg Steube returning to Washington after hospitalization” via Gary White of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — U.S. Rep. Steube expects to return this week to Washington, D.C., after recently being hospitalized for about a week. Alex Enlow, Steube’s deputy communications director, said the medical emergency was not related to COVID-19. Steube represents U.S. House District 17, which covers the southern half of Polk County and all or part of seven other counties. He is in his second term. House records show that Steube voted by proxy from Oct. 28 through Nov. 6. U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin cast more than 30 votes on Steube’s behalf during that period.

— CRISIS —

Steve Bannon surrenders after indictment on contempt of Congress charges” via Rebecca Beitsch of The Hill — Bannon surrendered himself to law enforcement Monday, and was set to appear for a hearing after he was indicted by a federal grand jury for defying a congressional subpoena. Bannon is facing two charges of criminal contempt of Congress, one for failing to appear for an Oct. 14 deposition before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and another for refusal to provide documents to the panel. The charges were filed by the Department of Justice on Friday, leaving Bannon facing a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $200,000 if convicted.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP — 

Mitch McConnell sought to disinvite Donald Trump from Joe Biden’s inaugural” via Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — The level of distrust that McConnell had for then-President Donald Trump in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill was greater than previously known. The then-Senate majority leader sought to have Trump disinvited from Biden’s presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. McConnell “felt he could not give Trump another opportunity to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.” McConnell even wanted to have the four congressional leaders write a letter to Trump informing him he had been disinvited, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy opposed the idea. Trump preemptively put out a tweet, his very last on the platform, announcing his decision to not attend.

Donald Trump’s company to sell D.C. hotel lease for $375 million, report says” via Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post — Trump’s real estate company plans to sell the federal lease to its luxury D.C. hotel to Miami-based CGI Merchant Group. The Trump Organization, which leased the Old Post Office property beginning in 2013, has been in discussions with CGI Merchant about selling the lease. CGI Merchant signed a contract to buy the lease for $375 million. The sale requires the approval of the GSA, which receives $3 million in base rent annually, plus increases tied to inflation. The GSA could also be entitled to a cut of profits, depending on how much the lease sells for, according to the lease terms.

—“‘Heavy hearts’: Eric Trump confirms sale of D.C. hotel. Miami firm with A-Rod is buyer” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald

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— LOCAL NOTES —

Windfall of tourism tax revenue fuels major Manatee County projects” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Manatee County will use a windfall of tourism tax dollars to pay for major projects to expand the Bradenton Area Convention Center and enhance the Premier Sports Campus. Tourism has come roaring back in Florida this year, and it could just be the tip of the iceberg as international travel returns. Manatee County already has generated $22.78 million in tourism tax revenue as of the end of September. That is a significant increase over previous years. For instance, between 2017 and 2020, the tax generated between $13.3 million and $15.87 million in revenue per year.

First facilities adopt HCA Florida Healthcare branding” via Florida Politics — HCA announced Monday that a batch of facilities has adopted the new HCA Florida Healthcare branding. “Our colleagues and physicians across Florida have long been united in serving our mission. Now, we will also be united under the HCA Florida Healthcare brand and will continue to work together to deliver top-quality care for patients across the Sunshine State,” said Chuck Hall, national group president at HCA Healthcare. The first wave of facilities includes four existing hospitals and six freestanding emergency rooms, as well as the new state-of-the-art HCA Florida University Hospital, which opened its doors Monday. The 330,000-square-foot facility is located near Nova Southeastern University campus in Davie.

Longtime Orange County Democratic leader Doug Head dies” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Head, who chaired the Orange County Democratic Party through much of the 1990s and 2000s and spent decades since as a sometimes indomitable and irascible conscience for the party, died after a long illness Saturday night in Orlando. Head was 74. He came to Orlando in the early 1980s and by the late 1980s was a force in county politics. He served as Orange County Democratic Chair from 1992-2004. He also was a Florida Democratic Party State Committeeman from Orange County from 2016-20. He was “like a bulldog,” said Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart.

Toddler spots, mistakes 6-foot alligator as ‘turtle’ in sewer outside of Florida restaurant” via WFLA — Joe Brenner was out with his 2-year-old son when the toddler spotted what he thought was a “turtle” actually turned out to be an alligator in a sewer outside a Jacksonville restaurant. In a video shared with WFLA, Brenner in the video says, “Yo, look at this in the sewer outside of Cantina. There is a ginormous alligator and it is alive as hell.” His son can also be heard saying, “Hello Mr. Alligator!” “My 2-year-old son looked down into the sewer outside the restaurant and said ‘turtle’ not quite,” Brenner told WFLA. The family took a few pictures of it before enjoying dinner and said the gator was “pretty friendly.”

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— TOP OPINION —

In Joe Biden’s sticky inflation crisis, poor families suffer the most” via Rick Scott for National Review — Since August, Biden’s inflation crisis has only grown worse. Government reports show inflation jumped to a 31-year high of 6.2% over the year in October. Here’s what’s clear: Biden’s inflation crisis isn’t transitory. It’s sticky. Trends don’t lie. With inflation surging higher every month of Biden’s presidency, we can’t allow the President and his economic advisers to continue ignoring the obvious. Sticky inflation is dangerous because it has the ability to completely upend the American economy. It has a domino effect. It’s a cycle. Prices go up. Costs go up. Wages go up. Prices go back up and the cycle restarts. What I’m describing here is a downward spiral that hurts families and businesses and kills our economy.

— OPINIONS —

Republicans must stop defending an ex-President who defends death threats” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — In a newly released interview, former President Donald Trump was asked about the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters who threatened to kill Vice President Mike Pence. Did Trump respond as any responsible adult would, and condemn that threat? Of course not. Repeating his delusional claim that Pence could have overturned the election, Trump defended the rioters’ fury at his Vice President, calling it “common sense.” With the possibility of another Trump presidential run still in play, every Republican officeholder who hasn’t yet disavowed him — which is most of them — should be asked to defend this latest, most grotesque evidence of his unfitness. If they can’t (and they can’t), then why are they still enabling him?

Racism and road-building isn’t ‘weird stuff’ — as I-4 shows, it’s reality” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — When highway planners were designing a route for Interstate 4 in the 1950s, their first thought was to bring it directly through downtown Orlando via Winter Park. That didn’t sit well with Winter Park’s well-to-do residents, and after a furious lobbying campaign the route was shifted to the west, along the city’s downtown outskirts. Some 550 pieces of property, including homes and businesses, were taken in Parramore, and the highway effectively walled off the predominantly Black neighborhood from Orlando’s downtown district. Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said last week that a portion of the recently approved infrastructure bill would address some of the historical inequalities baked into road-building decisions of the past.

Ron DeSantis reveled in U.F.’s Top 5 status; now his minions threaten its academic freedom” via Diane Roberts of Florida Phoenix — Last Session DeSantis and his legislative minions jammed through a bunch of policies restricting the use of drop boxes, restricting voter registration drives, and making it harder for voters to get absentee ballots. A number of groups have filed suit against this assault on the franchise, and three University of Florida professors, experts in voting rights, were set to testify. But U.F. President Kent Fuchs said no until bad publicity forced him to back down. The damage, however, has been done. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the body that accredits the university, says they’ll investigate. No accreditation, no federal funding. Not a good look for a Top Five public institution.

Black voters in District 20 deserved a clear winner. Ranked choice voting could help” via Marvin Randolph of the Miami Herald — A special Democratic primary election in South Florida has been one of the most competitive in the country. Last Tuesday, 11 candidates vied to succeed Alcee Hastings, a longtime congressman and leader in the Congressional Black Caucus who died of pancreatic cancer in April. The candidate field was strong with 10 Black candidates, including two Black county commissioners, two Black state representatives, and a Black state senator. This crowded, 11-candidate field was destined to be complicated and confusing from the beginning. In Florida’s 20th, a Ranked Choice Voting victory could have given an inspiring Black leader majority support and a mandate to govern.

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— ALOE —

Thanksgiving travel should be almost back to normal, AAA projects” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It’s almost time to go back over the hills of Lake County and through the woods of Ocala National Forest to Grandmother’s house in The Villages. And those roads and skies should be crowded again. Travel should increase by 13% overall for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday period, compared to last year. Much of that increase will be through the friendly skies, AAA forecast Tuesday. AAA predicts 53.4 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, including 2.9 million Floridians. That would put the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday just 2% below the travel pace of pre-pandemic years. “It’s beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year,” AAA Vice President for Travel Debbie Haas said in a news release.

It’s time to take ‘Star Wars’ movies away from Kathy Kennedy” via Matthew Belloni of Puck News — You’ll forgive my skepticism when it comes to Kennedy’s management of the Star Wars film franchise. Since 2012, when Disney paid $4 billion for George Lucas’ company and installed her as his handpicked steward, Disney has sold billions of dollars in toys, books, games and merchandise; incorporated Star Wars lands into its theme parks; pioneered virtual production techniques at Industrial Light and Magic; and generated a slew of TV projects. But when it comes to the Star Wars films — the basis of the franchise, and the skillset that Kennedy, one of the most successful and prolific film producers of all time, brought to the company — what a mess.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Johnson & Blanton’s Darrick McGhee, who last year was added to INFLUENCE Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in Florida Politics.

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Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil AmmannRenzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

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