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Sunburn – The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics – 7.6.21

Joe and Jill Biden host the biggest White House July Fourth bash since 2019. Image via AP.

By Peter Schorsch    

Happy Tuesday. We’re back!

We hope you had a nice long weekend and were among the many who made up for skipping out on the Fourth of July festivities last year by celebrating doubly hard in 2021. Fives and zeros are what really matter anyway.

Americans rang in the country’s 245th year with celebrations unseen since 2019. The White House hosted the biggest bash of the Joe Biden era, Will Smith brought fireworks back to the Big Easy, and NYC welcomed back some sorely missed traditions — a special congrats to Joey “Jaws” Chestnutwho downed 76 hot dogs to win another Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest.

Many in South Florida, unfortunately, were not in a celebratory mood on the Fourth of July. It has been 12 days since the Champlain Towers collapse in Surfside, killing at least 27 people. There are 118 still missing, scores more who are now without homes, and countless others mourning a friend, family member, or acquaintance. As one article put it: “everybody in Miami knows somebody from that building.”

The collapse was the biggest story out of Florida last week and the week before, but not due to a lack of other headline-worthy news. The end of June saw Gov. Ron DeSantis work through the last batch of bills passed in the 2021 Legislative Session.

There were some snoozers, sure, but the no-fault repeal wasn’t one of them. Floridians had been waiting to see whether the Governor would sign or veto the bill (SB 54), which — depending on who you believe — could have saved motorists a few bucks or raked them over the coals. The result was a veto, much to the delight of insurers and drivers alike.

The biggest bill to earn the Governor’s approval: the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.

The bill will pump $400 million into the Department of Environmental Protection for land buys in the Florida Ecological Greenways Network. For those not in the know, the corridor spans from the Panhandle to the Everglades and is home to a bevy of native species, including the Florida panther. It’s something every Floridian can celebrate.

Last week was also Florida’s first-ever “Freedom Week.” It’ll take a bit for state economists to deliver hard data on how much the new sales tax holiday saved Floridians, but the early reviews, if you will, indicate it was a success.

Hopefully, Florida’s teachers saved a lot of cash on concert tickets and camping gear because their highly anticipated bonus checks are in limbo.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the fine print on the federal COVID-19 relief package could allow for teacher bonuses, but Florida’s plan doesn’t match the intended goal of addressing the learning loss. Hopefully, some Hollywood accounting can make it work, otherwise, teacher’s bank accounts will get a COVID-19 slide all their own.

Four-figure checks are getting the shaft all around, it seems.

On the first of the month, a federal judge sided with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in a lawsuit to block a new law to cap contributions to committees backing proposed constitutional amendments. Opponents argued the $3,000 cap would make it virtually impossible to get them on the ballot; lawmakers kinda argued the same thing when they pushed it through the Legislature, albeit with a positive spin.

The DeSantis-backed social media crackdown is also in hot water. A federal judge blocked the law — or the would-be law, since it never went into effect — on the grounds that it would be found unconstitutional. The fight isn’t over, and it likely won’t be for quite a while, but Wednesday’s ruling was a win for Silicon Valley and a gut punch to one of DeSantis’ top priorities last Session.

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Personnel note: Jasmyne Henderson to lead Pittman Law Group Orlando office — Tallahassee-based law and lobbying firm Pittman Law Group is expanding into the Orlando market with a new office headed by Henderson. The attorney and FSU law alumna will be leaving Tallahassee to open and manage the law firm’s new office. Founder and managing partner Sean Pittman said she is “ready and prepared to lead” and has proved “invaluable to the firm” during her tenure as director of the firm’s governmental affairs team in Tallahassee. “I’m honored to lead this next era of expansion to the Pittman Law Group. The I-4 corridor is the heartbeat of Florida, so it is a logical next step for me personally and the Pittman Law Group to establish a strong presence in Orlando,” she said.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comJuly 6, 2021

Republished with permission

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