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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

After private talks crash, Corcoran wants 'continuation budget'

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes

Tampa Bay Times

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Legislature, still getting over the shock of former Miami Sen. Frank Artiles' resignation after a racist tirade, faced a new problem Monday as backroom talks on a new state budget suddenly collapsed.

That led to a flurry of insults and brought negative comparisons of the Legislature to the perpetually gridlocked Congress, along with talk of extending the 60-day session by at least one week.

If the House carries out its threat to send the Senate a "take it or leave it" budget Tuesday, it could cause a chain reaction and ruin negotiations on major policy issues, all of which are related to the budget, including:

* A $200 million "Schools of Hope" program to expand charter schools, a House priority;

* A new water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce toxic discharges, a Senate priority;

* A compromise on paying for a modest boost in per-pupil public school spending without requiring higher property taxes.

* The House's support for a statewide referendum to increase the homestead exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. …

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House's testing bill set to expand, setting up negotiations with Senate

Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah

Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah

Lawmakers in the Florida House plan to take a priority proposal aimed at reforming the standardized testing schedule in K-12 public schools and transform it into a broader education policy bill — a move intended to set up negotiations with the Senate with less than two weeks left in the 2017 session.

Members of the House Education Committee will vote Monday afternoon to expand HB 773 through a 76-page amendment — filed late Sunday by bill sponsor Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah. The amendment would replace the bill so it incorporates language not only from Diaz’s original measure but also from at least five other education bills lawmakers have considered to varying degrees.

Such a strategic move is typical at this point in session but often draws criticism over a lack of transparency. Individual policy bills that stalled in committee can find new life through omnibus bills lawmakers create by attaching those smaller proposals on to a single, expanded bill that’s still on track to reach the floor.

Senators last week similarly expanded their testing proposal (SB 926), although the tangential education policies being added to each chamber’s testing bill don’t yet align.

More here.

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Jeff Miller joins lobbying shop in Washington

WASHINGTON - Former Rep. Jeff Miller has joined the Washington lobbying firm McDermott Will & Emery.

A news release noted he was "an early supporter of President Trump" and has gotten to know Washington well over eight House terms.

“Jeff’s knowledge of the Administration will be of great value to clients,” said Steve Ryan, partner and head of McDermott’s Government Strategies practice. “His congressional experience will enhance our ability to serve clients in the health care, defense and intelligence industries, and he will provide our government contracting clients with valuable insights and comprehensive solutions to a wide range of complex issues.”

Miller joins a host of former Florida lawmakers who have joined lobbying practices, including Daniel Mica, Robert Wexler, Connie Mack IV, Allen Boyd, Karen Thurman, Cliff Stearns, Jim Davis, Ron Klein, Lincoln Diaz-Balart. (who are we missing?) …

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SBA leader Linda McMahon to travel to Orlando for Hispanic business event

WASHINGTON - Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon will travel to Orlando on Wednesday for a roundtable with Hispanic business owners.

McMahon, of WWE fame, was confirmed by the Senate in February.

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Jury selection starts for former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's fraud trial

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. talks with the press in Tallahassee in 2015.

Associated Press

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. talks with the press in Tallahassee in 2015.

JACKSONVILLE — Jury selection is starting in the trial of a former Florida congresswoman facing fraud charges.

The jury selection process is expected to last two days, starting Monday, in the trial of former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown.

The Florida Times-Union reports that prosecutors and defense attorneys hope to seat 12 jurors by Wednesday when opening arguments are set to begin in federal court in Jacksonville.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rep. Corrine Brown indicted after fraud investigation

Brown's indictment states that she and others raised $800,000 through the charity One Door for Education. The indictment said the organization only gave out two scholarships for $1,200, and that the money was instead used for the congresswoman's personal expenses.

Brown's former chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, and former One Door president Carla Wiley already have pleaded guilty.

Brown has pleaded not guilty.


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Talks stall as Senate blasts House's 'continuation budget' offer

Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart

Tampa Bay Times

Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart

Negotiations between the Florida House and Senate on a state budget are at a stalemate after the House on Sunday proposed a "continuation budget" for the fiscal year that begins July 1, meaning that current spending levels would remain flat with no cuts, no new initiatives and no hometown projects for legislators.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, made his offer in response to what he said was a liberal, free-spending Senate obsessed with higher spending and a lack of respect for the House. Corcoran viewed that as a serious offer, in part because it would keep in place the current spending levels for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida for another 12 months.

But Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, didn't take it seriously.

"That's not an offer. That's the equivalent of packing your suitcase and moving out," Negron told the Times/Herald. "It's a reflexive and lazy response to our responsibility for budgeting."

Negron's chief budget-writer, Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said: "We laughed and went home." …

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Rubio says government shutdown would be 'catastrophic'

Sen. Marco Rubio on Face the Nation said a government shutdown would have a "catastrophic impact" across the globe.

[Times files]

Sen. Marco Rubio on Face the Nation said a government shutdown would have a "catastrophic impact" across the globe.

Sen. Marco Rubio on Face the Nation said a government shutdown would have a “catastrophic impact” across the globe.

“The fight from the White House perspective is over funding for the border wall,” host John Dickerson said. “Is that an issue worth fighting over right now, if a government shutdown is a possible -- is a possibility?”


"Well, first, understand, we’re just trying to finish out the current cycle, the current budget year. And so I think that’s a fight worth having and a conversation and a debate worth having for 2018. And if we can do some of that now, that would be great. But we cannot shut down the government right now. We have a potential crisis brewing with North Korea. We have seen what’s going on, the ongoing crisis in Syria. …

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Rubio denies involvement in Colombian meeting at Mar-a-Lago

Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday denied a role in setting up a meeting at Mar-a-Lago between former Colombian presidents opposed to a peace deal.

Appearing on Meet The Press, Rubio also expressed understanding for President Trump's shifting positions.

"I think when you're running for president, especially someone that's never held elected office, there's one set of things that you may view the world through-- a lens that you may view the world through. Then, you get elected and you get good people. And those good people bring you the facts. And they bring you, "Here's what's going on. Here are our options. Here's what happens if you do this. Here's what happens when you do that." And that reality begins to assert itself. And you have to react to that. You're now the president. You're no longer a candidate. You're not a pundit. You have to actually make decisions that have real impact and consequence. And I think that's what you're seeing here. I think you're seeing a president--


Do you think he's moving away from maybe the isolationist rhetoric and tendencies that he had as a candidate?


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Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

Loser of the week

Frank Artiles. The Miami Republican who resigned Friday after a tirade of racial slurs was a patsy for utility companies he was supposed to help regulate, paid hot calendar girls as campaign "consultants" and was once accused of sucker-punching a college kid in a Tallahassee bar. Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you on your way out of the Legislature, Frank.

Loser of the week II

Miami-Dade. Former Sen. Artiles, R-Miami, said his racist slurs were common words in Hialeah. Let's hope not, although the Miami-Dade community saw another legislator, Ralph Arza, resign over racist language in 2006. On the same day Artiles resigned, news came that former state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, will plead guilty to failing to file a tax return on income of $270,000 in 2011. Wonder why so many Floridians mistrust Miami-Dade politicians.

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How Frank Artiles went from exposed to ousted

Frank Artiles.

Times files

Frank Artiles.

The Times/Herald team of Patricia Mazzei, Steve Bousquet and Mary Ellen Klas bring us an extraordinary tick-tock of a memorable week in the Florida Capitol:

Last Monday afternoon, at the start of the state Legislature’s seventh week of session, Sen. Audrey Gibson raced up three floors to present one of her bills to the Florida Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, stood behind the lectern and tried to catch her breath as she told colleagues about a 6-year-old from back home who had been involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility for three days for a “temper tantrum.” She filed legislation to require such facilities to speed up their evaluation of the about 30,000 admitted each year under the state’s Baker Act.

But a Miami Republican on the committee had questions. Wouldn’t it cost more money for the facilities to work faster? Sen. Frank Artiles asked. Only for more transportation, Gibson said. Artiles continued: If a child is released before 72 hours have gone by and has a psychotic break, won’t lawmakers just be forced to change the law again? …

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In big field of Democratic candidates for governor, two stand out so far

The Democratic field

Times files

The Democratic field

Four of the five top contenders for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination spoke to voters in Tampa Bay on Friday. Two stood out: Andrew Gillum, the 37-year-old, largely unknown mayor of Tallahassee, and John Morgan, the 61-year-old, widely known personal injury lawyer from the Orlando area.

Gillum brought Democrats roaring to their feet in Manatee County with a soaring speech about being raised by a hard-working dad who never got past fourth grade, and a mother who never got past high school. Democrats need a nominee who will take a progressive agenda to every corner of the Sunshine State, including the conservative Panhandle, where Floridian families struggle to make ends meet and vent over high-stakes testing in schools just like elsewhere in Florida.

“They’re as frustrated, those rural, white working-class voters, as much as the black and the Latino working-class voters,” declared Gillum, who would be Florida’s first African-American gubernatorial nominee. “Don’t let them separate us in that way. We have a lot more in common than we do that separates ourselves.” …

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Trump adds another Floridian to his administration

President Donald Trump announced new nominations, including:

Heather L. MacDougall of Florida to be a Member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

"Ms. MacDougall was designated acting Chair of the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission in January 2017.  In 2014, she was nominated to the Commission by then-President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the Senate.  Before this, Ms. MacDougall had 20 years of experience representing employers throughout the United States in matters involving labor, employment, and occupational safety and health law, most recently with Akerman LLP in West Palm Beach, Florida.  In addition, she served as Chief Counsel to OSHRC Chairman W. Scott Railton.  Earlier in her career, she was Associate General Counsel to the HR Policy Association, a public policy organization that advocates for the human resource officers of major employers, where she represented the association as amicus curiae in U.S. Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court cases. Chairman MacDougall received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from Marquette University Law School."

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Replacing Artiles: Who's in and who's out (so far)

Miami politics went into overdrive Friday following state Sen. Frank Artiles' resignation, as elected officials and their political consultants scrambled to figure out who might run in a yet-to-be-scheduled special election to replace the freshman Miami Republican.

Political insiders in Miami and Tallahassee had begun whispering about Artiles' potential successor even before he stepped down. District 40 in Southwest Miami-Dade County is a competitive, Democratic-leaning and overwhelmingly Hispanic seat.

Here's what potential candidates had to say Friday.


Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck (R): "I will be announcing my campaign."


State Rep. Robert Asencio (D):"I ran for office because we deserve better. I want to make sure that the best person gets elected to that seat, and whereas I will consider it, I need to be very realistic and ask myself, 'Do I think I am the right person for that seat?'"

Former state Sen. Dwight Bullard (D): "I have a lot of folks that were supporters that would like to see me back in the Legislature, but at the same time you have a lot of considerations. I'm a pragmatist in the sense that sometimes you need new energy, new ideas."

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (R) …

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John Morgan: I was not drunk that night at Boots N Buckles

Personal injury lawyer John Morgan speaks to guests of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC in Tampa on Friday.


Personal injury lawyer John Morgan speaks to guests of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC in Tampa on Friday.

More to come later, but John Morgan charmed an overflow crowd at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club today, where he was asked about that 2014 viral video of him, drink in hand, addressing a crowd at the Boots N Buckles saloon in Lakeland while campaigning to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Good question, considering how many of the people who doubt Morgan's strength as a candidate mention booze. (Morgan was charged with driving under the influence in 1997 and 1993.)

"First of all, I was not drunk when I was on that video," said Morgan, laughing off the question and explaining that he had had two drinks at Outback before that video was filed. "I guess if I use the f-word, f-bombs, people think I'm drunk. If that's the case, I'm drunk every damn day of my life. ... When I got on my bus to go back to my beach house, I got drunk. And when I got to my beach house, I got drunker. But I was not drunk at Boots N Buckles. But I do love Boots N Buckles it will be in my heart forever."

If he runs for governor — and many people in the crowd today thought he sounded more likely to run than not — Boots N Buckles may be his unofficial campaign headquarters, Morgan said. …

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Politicians react to Frank Artiles' resignation over racist, profane remarks

Former Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami

Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

Former Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami

Since embattled Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles resigned earlier today, Florida politicians have begun to react on social media.

Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens 

.@oscarjb2 on @Artiles40 Senate resignation: "His actions, today, show the contrition demanded, and the Senate was owed.” #Sayfie #FlaPol

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes

My statement on the resignation of @Artiles40

Broward County Rep. Shevrin Jones of West Park

Lesson for everyone:"Be careful what we do & say to one another." With that being said, let's get back to work and #finishSTRONG, TOGETHER!

Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa

@Artiles40 is my friend but he made the only choice possible. Purposefully offensive speech has no place in politics. Or anywhere.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando

Chris King, a Democratic candidate for governor

This proves the power and strength of energized organizing. If we work together, we CAN build a better Florida. #riseandlead

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for governor …

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