Takeaways from Tallahassee — Top teaching honors | #lovescams | #military | #datingscams

Shining example

Congratulations to Florida’s teacher of the year, Melissa Anne Matz, who shined above her 185,000 public education colleagues to be named the most exemplary teacher in the Sunshine State.

Education Commissioner Manny Díaz named Matz the Department of Education’s 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year on Thursday, closing out this year’s Teacher of the Year Conference in Orlando. As the winner, Matz, a seventh-grade math teacher at Lakeside Junior High School in Clay County, will serve one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education.

“I am honored to recognize Melissa Anne Matz as the 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year,” Díaz said. “Melissa has risen to the top through hard work, passion and putting her students first. I have no doubt she will represent Florida with excellence in the coming year, just as she has done in her classroom.”

Melissa Matz’s $15,000 check was just the beginning. Image via Twitter.

Matz has displayed classroom excellence and has made significant contributions to her students and school, according to DOE. She has been her school’s math department head and leadership team member since 2015.

Matz was one of five finalists to sit for interviews with the DOE selection committee for the award. DOE says she believes that building rapport with each of her students is an essential step in the process of teaching math, and she takes the approach that stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and taking positive risks are how to reach new achievements.

“Melissa Matz’s students see firsthand that the skills they acquire in her classroom can be applied to a broad spectrum of fields, and therefore, they can become well-rounded members of our community,” said Clay County Superintendent of Schools David Broskie.

For her hard work, Matz wins a $20,000 award, a tuition waiver to pursue a graduate degree from the Florida State University College of Education and a two-year Florida College scholarship from the Florida Prepaid College Board to present to a student of her choice.

Gov. Ron DeSantis stopped by the conference on Tuesday to deliver $15,000 awards to the Matz and the four other finalists — Trinity Whittington, a fourth-grade English language arts and social studies teacher at Bell Elementary School fourth-grade English and social studies teacher Trinity Whittington in Gilchrist County, Sarasota Middle School social studies teacher Jennifer Jaso in Sarasota County, Samoset Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Deelah Jackson in Manatee County, and Eagle Ridge Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Seema Naik in Broward County.

“Florida is the education state not just because we have good policies, but because we have great teachers who go above and beyond for their students,” DeSantis said on Tuesday. “It was great to join some amazing teachers today and to show our appreciation for their hard work and sacrifice. We will continue to invest in our schools and educators while putting policies in place that improve outcomes for students.”


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, Aimee Sachs, 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:

Harris brings abortion talk to Florida — As part of a push for Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, Vice President Kamala Harris hit the I-4 corridor this week. Several lawmakers, including like Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book and House Democratic Leader-designate Fentrice Driskell met with Harris, who chose Florida because of the state’s 15-week abortion ban. “This year, Republican legislators in Florida passed an extreme abortion restriction, with no exception for rape or incest. There are members of the Florida Legislature who are fighting on the frontlines to protect reproductive rights. We must fight back on every level,” Harris tweeted.

Lawmakers attend Joe Biden gun reform event — State lawmakers, local officials and gun safety advocates from across the country, Florida included, made the trip to Washington to celebrate the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The gun reform legislation moved forward following the recent deadly mass shootings in New York and Texas. It includes expanding background checks for gun purchasers under the age of 21 and pouring $11 billion into mental health services. Additionally, the bill bans people convicted of domestic violence from purchasing firearms for five years. The state’s elected leaders were also joined by Florida gun reform advocates such as Fred Guttenberg.

DeSantis picks new anti-woke fight — The Governor is joining the chorus of conservatives criticizing the use of gender-neutral terms like “birthing people” when describing pregnancies. Speaking in Putnam County on Thursday, he took the opportunity to opine on gender-neutral language when asked about implementing stricter anti-abortion laws. “Some of the people in Washington, like, can we actually agree that women get pregnant and not men? Because they don’t seem to say that,” DeSantis said. “It’s just unbelievable, some of the stuff that you’re hearing about that.”

Citizens leaders grouse over rate decision — During a Citizens Property Insurance Corporation board meeting Wednesday, Chairman Carlos Beruff said he wants the Legislature to change the law to allow it to charge some homeowners more next year. Citizens requested a 10.7% statewide rate increase, but the Office of Insurance Regulation only granted a 6.4% increase. “One of the things that makes no sense that we approached OIR about was the ability to not go below zero,” Beruff said. Beruff also bemoaned the practice of taking over the policies of failed companies and being required to charge a lower premium, calling it a foolish practice.

After cyberattack, jobs site back online — After more than a week offline, Employ Florida is operational again following a cyberattack that downed the job search portal and dozens like it across the country. Palm Harbor-based Geographic Solutions Inc., the software vendor that operates Employ Florida, was attacked about three weeks ago. With the latest development, service in the Sunshine State began to restart Monday. The Department of Economic Opportunity said the outage did not impact the delivery of unemployment benefits. Applicants can now use Employ Florida to complete their work search requirements. However, DEO will determine whether to turn the work search requirement back on as it evaluates whether the system is back to normal.

Water Street dispatch

Around 11:30 a.m. Friday, a shirtless man stepped up to the bar outside the J.W. Marriott Tampa Water Street.

“Is the Governor here or something?” he asked, not yet looking up from his phone.

Indeed, DeSantis only minutes earlier left the stage at the Moms for Liberty summit to a loud standing ovation, carrying the group’s first-ever Liberty Sword award.

DeSantis spoke at length to the several hundred gathered, recalling each of his administration’s moves on hot-button education issues.

“We also drew a line in the sand and said, ‘You know, in the state of Florida, a parent should be able to send their kid to kindergarten without having woke gender ideology shoved down their throat,” DeSantis said.

“We’re not going to have some first grader being told that, ‘Your parents named you Johnny, you were born a boy, but maybe you’re really a girl.’ That’s inappropriate to be doing in school.”

Casey and Madison DeSantis stop by the Moms for Liberty summit. Image via Twitter.

DeSantis used the issue of gender identity to set up attacks on two favorite targets, “woke corporations” and news media.

The Florida-born and DeSantis-adjacent organization’s summit runs through Sunday. Literally across the street, in the same hotel complex, is the Florida Democratic Party and its Leadership Blue Weekend.

FDP held a news conference immediately after DeSantis spoke to place context to his remarks and to whom he was making them.

Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins, who unseated Moms for Liberty cofounder Tina Descovich, described how she sees the movement behind the organization.

“I ran for School Board because I’m invested in public education,” Jenkins said. “I’m an educator myself. My husband is a teacher. I have a young daughter who just finished kindergarten. When I was sworn into office, I agreed to serve all of my community, even those who opposed me.

“What I never imagined was a battle. Protests at my home, vandalism of my property, being followed by private investigators, harassed by a state Representative, and receiving death threats.”

Moms for Liberty, Jenkins said, “serves as a tool of distraction” for the DeSantis administration as it otherwise dismantles the state’s public schools.

Summer schemers

Scammers aren’t all that original. One of their go-to strategies is piggybacking off of sales events to lure buyers with deep discounts on popular products.

It’s like Prime Day, but the package never comes.

Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians about this and other online shopping schemes with a new entry in the “Summer Scams Series.”

Ashley Moody says be wary of online summer sales.

According to Moody’s office, even if scammers don’t rope in a buyer, they still might get what they’re looking for — your personal information.

Scammers may mimic online shopping sales events to target consumers with malware, phishing texts and other messages designed to steal personal or financial information.

Their tactics include copycat websites, fake security alert emails and, as anyone with a Gmail account knows, phony invoices for antivirus software or Bitcoin.

“Summer sales are a popular way for online retailers to attract customers and promote seasonal items. Scammers know this and may exploit these shopping events by posing as representatives of major retailers to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting consumers,” Moody said.

“As we continue our Summer Scam Series, I am asking consumers to take a few proactive steps to avoid fake emails, text messages and websites designed to impersonate legitimate companies.”

Green for green

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Sequestering Carbon and Protecting Florida Land Program.

The state-funded grant program is aimed at establishing and protecting Florida forests by providing incentive payments to landowners to purchase seedlings, prepare their land and put trees into the ground.

Nikki Fried is incentivizing tree planting. Image via AP.

“Forests are a critical component of addressing climate change, and 65% of Florida’s forest lands are privately owned,” Fried said. “Supporting our forest landowners is vital to Florida’s ecosystems and the timber industry. We must embrace natural climate solutions by keeping forests as forests, and the Sequestering Carbon and Protecting Florida Land Program does just that.”

The grant program is open to non-industrial, private landowners, local governments, and legally organized and registered nonprofits. Applicants may request funding for tree establishment practices on a minimum of 20 acres up to a maximum of 250 acres.

“The initial investment of site preparation, seedlings, and planting is costly,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Florida Forest Service Director. “The Sequestering Carbon and Protecting Florida Land Program helps landowners overcome the hurdle of establishment costs and works toward our mission of ensuring our state’s forest lands are available for future generations.

Applications are available online and will be accepted through Aug. 12.

‘Game changer’

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said his office is seeing results from its insurance fraud squads in the I-4 corridor.

Patronis deployed two new teams to the area in December to root out property insurance fraud. While based in Central Florida, the 12-person troupe has the authority to investigate significant cases throughout the state.

Jimmy Patronis’ fraud squads are getting results. Image via Colin Hackley.

“Last year, I was proud to work with the Florida Legislature to create two new property insurance fraud squads to solely focus on combating the property insurance fraud epidemic in our state. I’m excited to report that in just 12 months, these two fraud fighting units have opened nearly 200 cases, resulting in nearly $300,000 in court ordered restitution,” Patronis said.

“The addition of these two new fraud squads has led to a 148% increase in fraud cases, a 55% increase in arrests, and 129% increase in successful property fraud prosecutions statewide. That’s tremendous progress in just one year to protect insurance consumers from fraud and help combat rate increases statewide.”

Patronis said the squads have also proactively responded to areas throughout the state where unlicensed contractors solicited homeowners, as well as locations that were impacted by natural disasters. At these locations, detectives made contact with contractors, adjusters, homeowners and local authorities in an effort to educate and provide contact information in case fraud is detected.

The success comes as Florida’s property insurance crisis continues. Many insurers blame fraudulent claims — often for roof damage — as one of the top drivers of property insurance costs in the state.

Instagram of the Week

The Week in Appointments

Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit Court — DeSantis named Craig McCarthy, of Orlando, to serve as Circuit Judge. McCarthy has been General Magistrate at the court since Chief Judge Donald A. Myers appointed him in 2021. Previously, he worked in private practice for 16 years. He received his bachelor’s degree from U.S. Military Academy West Point and his law degree from Florida State University. McCarthy fills the judicial vacancy created by retiring Judge Bob LeBlanc.

Peruse jobs with Cruz

Sen. Janet Cruz hopes to connect employers with job candidates during her 12th annual job fair next week.

On Wednesday, Cruz is inviting prospective employees to Higgins Hall in Tampa, where there’ll be 100 employers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., representing dozens of industries and hundreds of available jobs. There will also be career and resume services, and attendees are encouraged to bring copies of their resume.

Bring your professional headshots when you come to Janet Cruz’s job fair.

This event is free to attend for both employers and jobseekers and no registration for those attending as a prospective employee.

“As our community continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic, I am hard at work connecting Hillsborough residents with good-paying jobs and connecting local businesses with the qualified individuals they need,” Cruz said. “Any one that has the desire to work, should have the opportunity to get a good-paying job.”

Employers will come from a slew of industries like construction, manufacturing, restaurants, hotels, medical, government and retail.

“We are excited to partner on this annual job fair with Sen. Cruz,” Maria Suarez of CareerSource Tampa Bay told FL Patch. “Sen. Cruz is dedicated to host this annual job fair in Hillsborough County, and we love to be a part of connecting talent to opportunity.”

‘Step forward’

This week was a busy one for Florida’s Democratic lawmakers, including some who took the field trip to Washington.

Among them was Rep. Dan Daley, who visited the White House as President Joe Biden signed the breakthrough gun safety legislation.

The legislation will close the “boyfriend loophole” and will be a critical step to preventing people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun to include romantic or intimate partners. The old version of the law only applied to married people living with or having a child with the victim, creating the deadly loophole.

Joe Biden signs the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Image via AP.

Additionally, the bill addresses mental health and the gun purchasing process. The bill signed into law today invests more than $7 billion in mental health services and provides state funding for what are known as “red flag laws,” enhancing the background check process for gun buyers ages 18 to 21 and cracking down on the illegal gun trafficking.

“While there is still more to do, this national legislation represents the most significant step forward to protect communities against gun violence in decades,” Daley said in a statement. “It’s a somber realization that for the majority of my life, gun violence has increased, making its way through churches, malls, schools, including my alma mater Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and even community parades, as we tragically saw just last week.”

“Until today, Congress did very little to stop this growing scourge on our nation,” he continued. “I applaud the bipartisan support of this life saving legislation and will continue to work to pass more common-sense gun safety legislation in Florida.”

Sen. Shevrin Jones, Rep. Christine Hunschofsky and Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey were also in Washington for the event.

“We still have much work to do, but this is a step in the right direction, as we work TOGETHER to make our schools & communities safer!” Jones tweeted.

“Today was bittersweet because while celebrating, we also remember all the lives that have been taken by gun violence, the communities that still struggle, and the families who have dedicated themselves to do everything in their power to stop gun violence,” Hunschofsky tweeted.

Bad product

Rep. Randy Fine still isn’t happy with the Brevard County School Board.

The lead House Republican on PreK-12 spending is asking the Brevard County Commission to vote against a tax hike sought by the School Board. In a letter to County Commissioners, Fine backed Commissioner John Tobia’s effort to rescind the $50 million tax increase.

“The School Board has engaged in rank dishonesty in asking this be put before voters, and as the chief House budget drafter determining the budget for Brevard Public Schools, I am compelled to correct the falsehoods they have propagated,” Fine wrote.

Randy Fine has some words for the Brevard County School Board. Image via Colin Hackley.

The School Board requested the extra funds to pay teachers more, address rising costs and the upcoming $15 an hour minimum wage, and to address declining attendance in the district’s schools. But Fine says those reasons aren’t valid.

Lawmakers’ base funding increase for Brevard Public Schools was more than twice as much as increases to retirement costs and wage increases. Plus, the Legislature set funds aside specifically to increase teachers salaries.

Finally, Fine said parents aren’t pulling their children out of “government-run” schools for financial reasons. The county shouldn’t reward the district for a bad product, he continued.

“In the past four years, wokeist politicians on the Brevard School Board have ignored their fiduciary obligation to focus on educating our children, instead pushing for boys to play girls sports, boys to use girls’ restrooms, hiring a director of Critical Race Theory and indoctrinating CRT in schools, pushing pornographic and inappropriate books on our children, and advocating for the sexual grooming of kindergarteners. And the bill has come due — Brevard Government Schools dropped from an A-rating from the state to a B,” Fine said. “This is a school system in collapse.”

Doctor’s orders

AARP Florida is tipping its hat to DeSantis, the Agency for Health Care Administration and its Secretary, Simone Marstiller, for tackling prescription drug prices.

Last week, DeSantis issued an executive order he said will bring more transparency into the role played by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and whether they’re causing the price of prescription drugs to go up in Florida. AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson thanked state leadership for elevating the issue of prescription prices and its burden on families, especially older Floridians.

Jeff Johnson is thanking Florida for taking on Big Pharma.

“AARP is committed to helping Floridians afford their medications. We’re paying more for nearly everything today — from groceries to gas to housing. As inflation reaches its highest in 40 years — rising 7% last year alone — Floridians are forced to choose between paying for their medicines and other essentials,” he said.

“The impact of inflation is only made worse by skyrocketing prescription drug prices. In January alone, Big Pharma raised prices on more than 800 prescription medicines – and they have levied similar increases for decades, with no effective way to stop them from ripping off seniors. If consumer prices had risen as fast as drug prices over the last 15 years, gas would now cost $12.20 a gallon and milk would be $13 a gallon. Enough is enough.”

DeSantis took the action even as he expressed frustration that the Biden administration hasn’t approved the state’s Canadian drug importation program.

The drug importation program was pushed with the help of then-House Speaker José Oliva and was signed by DeSantis in 2019. The state has estimated the program could save Floridians between $80 million and $150 million.

“We have more work to do at the state and federal level to help families struggling with the high cost of their medications. AARP Florida will continue to be a wise friend and fierce defender of Floridians 50-plus as we keep up the fight to lower Rx prices.”

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Greg Cook, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, will serve as the Chair of the 2022-23 VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors.

Cook succeeds Danny Gaekwad, owner of MGM Hotels, who led the panel of tourism industry experts for the 2021-22 year. VISIT FLORIDA’s Board of Directors — along with the members of its committees — provide guidance, input, and insight into the evolution of VISIT FLORIDA programs, processes, and messaging.

“As Florida continues to dominate the nationwide recovery from COVID-19, we are honored to have these new members on our Board to help us keep the momentum going and propel us into even greater successes in the future,” said VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young.

Greg Cook is backed by a strong team. Image via The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

Joining Cook and Gaekwad, who stays as Immediate Past Chair, on the Board of Directors is an extensive list of industry leaders. Board leadership includes:

Jennifer Rominiecki, President & CEO, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Vice Chair & Chair of Industry Services, Small Business and Rural Development Council

John Lai, President and CEO, Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce, Second Vice Chair

Eric Marshall, Senior Vice President of Destination Sales, Universal Orlando Resort, Secretary

Scott Shalley, President & CEO, Florida Retail Federation, Treasurer

Patrick Murphy, Senior Vice President of Operations, The St. Joe Company, Chair of Audit Committee

Andres Barry, President, JetBlue Travel Products, Chair of Marketing Council

Carol Dover, President/CEO, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Chair of Public Affairs

Court reporting

The Florida Bar has read, watched and listened, and they’re ready to deliver the 2022 Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida.

The Florida Bar’s Media & Communications Law Committee selects winners from print, radio and television each year, as well as runners-up. The award recognizes journalism highlighting the legal system and how justice affects Floridians.

It was a busy year for justice reporters. Stock image via Adobe.

In first place for print is Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post for her story, “Judge wary of ordering Palm Beach Gardens hospital to give ivermectin to COVID patient.” In second place is Melissa Holsman of TC Palm for her story, “Aspiring rapper, ‘Pierre the Truth’ uses voice to laud life’s turnaround in Mental Health Court.”

WLRN earned a clean sweep in radio. In first place is Caitie S. Muñoz and Daniel Rivero with “How Florida put the silencer on changing gun laws.” In second was Veronica Zaragovia with her story, “Some relatives want Surfside site to be a memorial.”

For TV, the Bar only named one winning story, “A tale of two rapists” by Gregory Fox and Gordon Portell of WESH.

The Parker Thomson Awards honor news stories, series, features, editorials, blogs, documentaries, columns and special sections — anything that is produced by a news organization and deals with law and lawyers, courts, law enforcement, the delivery of legal services, the effectiveness of the justice system, the work of the organized Bar or related matters.

First-place finishers receive $500 while runners-up receive $250. All honorees and their media outlets will receive plaques.

The winners will be highlighted in a video during the Aug. 4-5 Florida Media Conference sponsored by the Florida Press Association and Foundation.

Power players

The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) is recognizing powerful utilities personnel and Congress for their contributions to the “Florida Public Power” community.

At a banquet held in Palm Beach on Thursday, FMEA awarded Member of the Year, Associate Member of the Year and Friend of Florida Public Power honors to four recipients.

Darren Soto and Neal Dunn helped pass a law that’s key for electric utilities.

FMEA named Gainesville Regional Utilities Chief Customer Officer Kinn’zon Hutchinson Member of the Year. Hutchinson represents Florida in numerous national organizations and chairs FMEA’s Customer Connections Committee. He also frequently presides over FMEA general sessions and breakouts.

LJA Surveying Project Development Manager Melissa Seitzinger received Associate Member of the Year. She has spent 23 years managing utility and public service projects. She has assisted FMEA in multiple roles for more than a decade, including by supporting the American Public Power Association Lineman Rodeo.

U.S. Reps. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, and Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, were each named Friend of Florida Public Power recipients. Both played instrumental roles in passing the FEMA Loan Interest Payment Relief Act, which provides financial assistance to local governments as reimbursements for qualifying interest on disaster-related loans.

“One of the greatest strengths of public power has always been our support of one another, whether it’s a community a couple towns over or a fellow public power utility in a state across the country. This year’s award recipients exemplify that commitment to supporting public power in every way they can,” FMEA Executive Director Amy Zubaly said in a statement. “These public power champions have had a huge impact on our industry, our association and our communities and we thank them from the bottoms of our hearts.”

Eagle’s nest

Former Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson is back in Tallahassee this weekend to host his Second Annual Marvin & Friends Youth Football Camp.

Wilson, who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, is bringing teammate Kary Vincent Jr. and the New York Jets’ Hamsah Nasirildeen, also a former Seminole, for the football camp Saturday afternoon. Together, the three athletes and other trainers will lead area youth and foster children in football drills, yoga and other activities at no cost.

Marvin Wilson is back in his old stomping ground. Image via AP.

The camp is free for K-12 students, but they must have been registered by Friday evening. The camp will run from 2-5 p.m. at St. John Paul II Catholic High School.

The event, sponsored by Simply Healthcare Plans, is hosted by Wilson’s nonprofit, Marvin’s Movement, and in partnership with GameTime Prep. Ashley Davis of Simply and Ed Hill of GameTime Prep will be there alongside Wilson and his squad.

A media availability will begin 30 minutes before game time.

After signing with the Eagles in September, Wilson made his NFL debut in week 18 on Jan. 8, collecting 3 tackles in a 51-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He is currently on a reserve/future contract with the Eagles.

Sticky situation

Folks over at MyDatingAdviser.com know a thing or two about turning up the heat. Now, they’ve run the numbers to determine that Tallahassee is the fifth sweatiest city in America.

“Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, we looked at various environmental factors to pinpoint ‘hot spots’ across the country,” said MyDatingAdviser.com Editor-in-Chief Amy Pritchett.

“The study factored in the average summer temperatures of each city and proximity to large bodies of water. In addition, the exercise rate of the population, as well as population density and major sporting events, were also considered for the rankings, knowing that more frequent exercise and crowded events lead to a city’s overall sweatiness.”

Tallahassee’s summer season is 4.4 months, according to their research of the nation’s 200 largest metro areas. The average summer temperature is 82 degrees with 93 degree highs and 71 degree lows. Plus, it hits 90 degrees nearly a third of the year. It’s enough to make you sweat just thinking about it.

The capital city’s population density, 1988 people per square mile, is also a factor. So is the exercise rate of 52.6%.

In another reason not to move Florida’s capital to Orlando, the City Beautiful earned No. 1 on their list of sweaty cities. Corpus Christi, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and New Orleans round out the top 5.

Not all hot places are created equal. Sweatiness is more related to humidity and population density than straight-up temperature.

Predictably, the Sunshine State is prone to perspiration. Two other Florida cities made the top 10: Cape Coral in eighth and Jacksonville in 10th.

Pritchett’s post is dripping with details about their methodology. Check in there for more information.

Capitol Directions

Florida — Crossways arrow — North Carolina may have a better economy and lower cost of living, but we’ve got … um, more freedom? Whatever that means.

Ron DeSantis — Crossways arrow — Who cares if he gerrymandered, he got it through.

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — The stars are aligning for 2024, and Donald Trump is kicking them into place.

Gavin Newsom — Crossways arrow — He probably thought Christina Pushaw was coming after his L’Oréal hair gel, but he’s still right about it not being an “anti-grooming bill.”

Christina Pushaw — Up arrow — She snagged a Future40 from MavPAC and a guest slot on Dave Rubin’s show. Quite a lot for a Press Secretary.

Moms for Liberty — Up arrow — Not to take away from the accomplishment, but how does a year-old org pull off a bigger and better-produced event than a state political party?

Reedy Creek firefighters — Down arrow — Their next endorsement: smoking in bed.

AHCA — Down arrow — Their transgender care report is like Philip Morris’ tobacco research, but bigoted.

Citizens Insurance — Down arrow — Can we revisit the nuking hurricanes idea? There’d be less fallout that way.

Dep’t of Ed — Crossways arrow — When do we get deets on this “bold” teacher pay plan? The first presser after the gas tax kickoff?

Dep’t of Health — Down arrow — We wouldn’t be waiting this long for an anti-vaxxer MMJ license.

DCF — Down arrow — If you need something swept under the rug, don’t call The Wolf. Just file a whistleblower report at the agency that cares for vulnerable children.

Lawmakers — Up arrow — DeSantis’ map. DeSantis’ court battle.

Keith Perry — Down arrow — Approps lobbyists are going to wear out his rubber stamp next Session.

Kamia Brown — Up arrow — She’s taking the baton in the fight to end hair discrimination.

Parole — Up arrow — Wait, there’s something better than “superpredator” era criminal justice policy?

Pete Antonacci — Down arrow — If his election police can’t find fraud, they’ll just commit some.

Rights of nature — Down arrow — They get about as much respect as local ordinances.

Adrian Lukis — Up arrow — Oh, so that’s why lobby firms hire top-level staffers.

Doug Holder, Rob Schenck — Up arrow — The Legis Group’s clients just got a nice value-add with the Overtons.

Kaleo — Up arrow — Continental Strategy snagged a stellar tech lobbying wing.

FMEA — Up arrow — Their conference was … what’s another word for “electric?”

Paige Carter-Smith — Up arrow — The last day of camp is usually bittersweet. Not for her.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks — Down arrow — She can write checks with cuffs on? Impressive.

Jake Bergmann — Down arrow — We wondered how he didn’t see this lawsuit coming, but then we remembered he can’t even see a brick mailbox 10 feet in front of him.

Tia Mitchell — Up arrow — From #Duuuval to D.C. … we like to say we knew you back then.

Anne Swerlick — Up arrow — A well-deserved Bulldog of the Year award.

City of Tally — Down arrow — Their new anti-corruption rule is like locking the barn door after the Maddox and Gillum horses get out.

Tallahassee utilities — Up arrow — Planning pays off.

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