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Illegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal BuzzIllegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal BuzzBerks food safety inspections February 26 to March 3: Eggs and peeled potatoes stored directly on the floor in one restaurant - Reading Eagle15 Places to Look for Water Damage in Your Home - BobVila.comIllegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal BuzzPosted: 09 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDTMichael S. Cleveland, President and Principal Scientist at Cleveland Environmental, Inc. and Mold Diagnostic Services.This article originally titled, Recognizing Clandestine Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations for Property Insurance Claims and Property Management Professionals – Part One of Three Parts, was originally posted on LinkedIn. Parts two and three of this article will also be reprinted at another time.Based on a true story…The elderly landlord couldn't feel much worse as he stood outside of his apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida. He was…

Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 2.3.20 - Florida Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 2.3.20 - Florida Politics


Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 2.3.20 - Florida Politics

Posted: 03 Feb 2020 01:14 AM PST

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@KevinCate: Some of y'all are wondering how really bad ads air during the #SuperBowlLIV — I assure you, they were written, edited, & approved by committee. Like most bad ads.

Tweet, tweet:

@GrayRohrer: I was promised a Tom Brady-free Super Bowl. I want my money back.

@ChelseaLdH: You mean @POTUS ran a Super Bowl Ad about @AliceMarieFree?! CJ Reform WINS every day and twice on Super Bowl Sunday!! 🥳 #FlaPol

@KCPolice: It's a Super Bowl victory, not the purge.

Tweettweet:

@DJTweets: Imagine if, going forward, everyone on social media considered Kobe's last tweet before tweeting. Imagine if they asked themselves: If these are my last words, will they represent me well? Will they exhibit class and grace? Imagine if people posted, or didn't post, accordingly.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Eighth Democratic presidential debate in Manchester — 4; Capitol Press Corps press skits — 7; New Hampshire Primaries — 8; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 8; South Beach Wine and Food Festival — 16; Ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas — 16; Roger Stone's sentencing — 17; Nevada caucuses — 19; "Better Call Saul" Season 5 premiers — 20; 10th Democratic presidential debate in Charleston — 22; South Carolina Primaries — 26; Super Tuesday — 29; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 39; Florida's presidential primary — 43; "No Time to Die" premiers — 63; Florida TaxWatch Spring Board Meeting begins — 72; TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards — 73; Florida Chamber Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 102; "Top Gun: Maverick" premiers — 144; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 161; Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" premiers — 165; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start — 172; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 197; First Presidential Debate in Indiana — 239; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 203; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 247; Second Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 255; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 262; 2020 General Election — 274.

— TOP STORY —

"Assault weapons ban misses deadline for Florida's 2020 ballot" via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Instead, the organizers behind Ban Assault Weapons Now say they'll focus on getting the amendment on the ballot in 2022. Chairwoman Gail Schwartz said in a statement that they'd continue gathering signatures "despite the best efforts of the NRA and politicians in Tallahassee." "Hundreds of thousands of Floridians from all across the state are behind this critical movement, and it's up to us to make sure we succeed where our so-called 'leaders' have repeatedly failed," Schwartz said. To make it on the November ballot, organizers had to gather 766,200 verified signatures by today. The organizers fell well short with just 147,304.

— LATEST FROM IOWA —

"10 questions that will be answered on caucus night" via Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register — "Who will win? … What will 'winning' look like? … Where will candidates win? … How many 'tickets' will there be out of Iowa? … Is the ground game still king? … Is 'Klomentum' real? … What does 'electability' look like? … Will the satellite caucuses be successful? … Will the new rules streamline caucus night or create new hiccups? … Will Iowa keep its caucuses and stay first?"

It's finally here.

"CNN and The Des Moines register will not release Iowa poll results, network says" via Kate Sullivan of CNN — "A respondent raised an issue with the way their interview was conducted, which could have compromised the results of the poll. We were unable to ascertain what happened during this respondent's interview and cannot determine if this was a single isolated incident," the network said in a tweeted statement. "CNN, The Des Moines Register and Selzer & Company aim to uphold the highest standards of survey research, and therefore the partners decided not to proceed," the statement continued. A source familiar with the decision said that a respondent reported that an operator, during a telephone interview, did not name former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg when listing the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

"'We're flying blind': Democrats floored by star-crossed caucus" via David Siders of POLITICO — It was a fitting coda to a star-crossed campaign — the scrapping late Saturday of the most highly-anticipated poll of Iowa caucus season. All last week, the Democratic presidential contest had been fixed in a state of suspended animation. Campaign strategists and reporters encamped at the Des Moines Marriott and around the white tablecloths at 801 Chophouse. Caucus tourists descended on Raygun for T-shirts and local parties prepared for an orderly caucus. The stunning, last-minute cancellation of the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll and its accompanying, hourlong CNN special deprived the political class of the eleventh-hour marker it was relying on to frame the final days of a campaign that is running unusually close.

"How Iowa could decide Joe Biden's fundraising future" via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — The movement of money and energy into Iowa is a sign of not only the opportunity that Biden's campaign now sees here — he sits in second or first place in most polls — but also the acute risk for him, according to interviews with Democratic strategists, Biden fundraisers and allies. In Iowa, Biden is not just chasing votes and delegates. He's chasing cash. A disappointing finish in the state, where there are four candidates bunched in the top tier in polls, could dampen his fundraising at a crucial juncture. Candidates need resources to build up their operations in delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like California, where campaigning and ad rates can be prohibitively expensive and early voting begins this week.

"Donald Trump and Republicans join forces to attack Biden ahead of the Iowa caucuses" via Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post — Republican lawmakers have used the spotlight of Trump's impeachment trial to accuse Biden of corruption, [Scott] is running television ads against Biden in Iowa, and several Trump campaign surrogates have ramped up their attacks against the former vice president as they prepare to fan out across the state in support of Trump's reelection bid. "There is a mountain of evidence to suggest the Bidens' behavior was harmful to the United States," Sen. Lindsey Graham said from the U.S. Capitol, where several GOP lawmakers used the impeachment trial's question-and-answer session to insinuate wrongdoing by Biden. Trump's campaign is dispatching Vice President Mike Pence and more than 80 other surrogates to Iowa ahead of caucus votes.

"Biden advisers say he's 'anything but doomed' ahead of Iowa vote" via Jennifer Epstein of Bloomberg — Top advisers to Biden sought to temper expectations for his performance in Monday's Iowa caucuses, projecting a close result and insisting that any outcome won't doom the former vice president's campaign. "Joe Biden is anything but doomed," former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a longtime Biden friend who has endorsed his former colleague, said Sunday at a Bloomberg News reporter roundtable in Des Moines. Biden's team has long played down the importance of Iowa to its strategy, arguing that contests later in February in Nevada and South Carolina, followed quickly by Super Tuesday, March 3, are critical to demonstrate that a candidate is capable of defeating Trump.

Joe Biden speaks at a campaign stop at National Cattle Congress Pavilion in Iowa.

"Bernie Sanders' caucus target: Latino voters usually overlooked in mostly white Iowa" via Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post — Although Latinos make up just 6% of Iowa's population — the vast majority of the state's residents are white — they have more than doubled in number over the past two decades. There are more than 50,000 registered Latino voters in the state, plus thousands more eligible, making them a potential force in caucuses that campaigns expect to draw up to 240,000 voters. Sanders's operation has done far more than his competitors in seeking the support of those voters, having belatedly realized in his 2016 campaign the growing heft of Iowa's Latino voters — and their attraction to him. It estimates that fewer than 3,000 Latinos participated in the 2016 caucuses overall and hopes to increase that number this year dramatically.

"Did Elizabeth Warren get her ad campaign wrong in Iowa?" via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — From mid-August until late October, when her rivals were flooding the airwaves, Warren would remain dark on TV for 12 weeks. Her first ad on broadcast TV ran Oct. 26, long after she had risen to the top of the field. Beginning in mid-August, Buttigieg pretty much took the opposite approach. Since that, the race's dynamics have shifted again and again, and heading into the last weekend before the Iowa caucuses, most observers consider it a four- or even five-way race that's too close to call. The Warren campaign's theory of the case is that caucusgoers make a decision late in the game, so spending early money on television would do little but waste valuable resources.

"'Too blue to bother': In Iowa, suburban Democrats are trying to stage a political takeover" via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post — Newcomers had helped reshape politics in the Des Moines suburbs in the 2018 vote, electing more Democrats to public office. And as the world descended on their state in the opening volley of the 2020 presidential campaign, newcomers would show that this flourishing group of Democrats wasn't going away. Local Democrats are done playing "Iowa nice." They are mounting aggressive recruitment campaigns, mocking opponents and organizing to try to push Republicans out of elected seats, including offices that are traditionally nonpartisan. Their strategy has upended the live-and-let-live atmosphere that often permeates the suburbs, where some Democrats said they used to be content to focus on their families and leave local politics to the other party.

"South Floridians heading to Iowa to campaign for their favorite presidential candidates" via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Christine Hunschofsky, Kevin O'Connor, Shevrin Jones and Kaitlin Walters, are all part of the quadrennial ritual, in which people who are passionate supporters of various presidential candidates head to early caucus or primary states to help their preferred choices. That's essential in a state like Iowa. The caucuses are very different from primaries in states like Florida, where people go to the polls, or vote early, for their preferred candidate. In Iowa, candidate supporters have to turn out for events at which they'll divide into groups of supporters for each candidate. The process can take hours, and it's essential for campaigns to do everything they can to make sure their supporters actually turn out.

"The graying of the American economy is on display in Iowa" via Dionne Searcey, Alan Rappeport, Trip Gabriel and Robert Gebeloff of The New York Times — Like most campaign events held in daylight hours during the week, Buttigieg's town hall in Dubuque recently was a sea of gray hair. With an impeachment reprieve over the weekend, all of the top Democratic presidential candidates were back in Iowa this weekend, seeking support in Monday's caucuses from an electorate that is more white and more rural than most of the United States. Iowa's outsized role in presidential politics is often criticized for precisely that reason. But Iowa mirrors the nation's economy and demography in one very striking way — the state's rapidly aging population and the myriad economic, political and social consequences that flow from it.

—"Caucus crunch time" via Amie Rivers of The Courier (Ankeny, Iowa)

—"10 questions Iowa caucuses will answer his cycle ends" via Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register

—"Picking a favorite still elusive for some Democrats" via Erin Murphy of The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)

—"Dems make final pitch" via Graham Ambrose and Sarah Hayden of the Quad-City Times

—"Hoops or caucus? Game changer: caucus prompts schools to rethink plans" via Nick Hytrek of the Sioux City Journal

—"We better not screw this up" via Patrick Condon of the StarTribune

"Dear Iowans: Apologies for Sen. Rick Scott's lack of decency" via Gwen Graham of The Hill — "While I fully support Joe Biden, I also respect those, from the right and left, who may disagree with him on policy or his record — but to smear his character with blatant misrepresentations, is beneath any candidate — and certainly beneath the dignity of a United States Senator. In attempting to influence your caucus vote with baldfaced lies, Iowans should respond to Scott with [Sen. Joseph] Welch's words: 'Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"'

"You had a nice run, Iowa, but it's time to fade into the background for a while" via Charles Pierce of Esquire — Oh, Iowa, you had a nice run, but it's time for you to fade into the pale background of the presidential nominating process. Seriously, will no one rid me of this turbulent process? On Saturday night, the Des Moines Register announced that, due to a glitch involving Buttigieg, it would not be releasing the results of its feverishly anticipated final poll before Monday's caucuses. And good for all concerned. This is the correct decision, both ethically and politically. But what the hell is the sense in a system where one poll from a good mid-sized newspaper wields so much influence over the presidential nominating process that it throws into a panic a system that already is complicated — and undemocratic — in the extreme?

— DATELINE: TALLY —

"Ron DeSantis, Clarence Thomas share Federalist Society judicial doctrine" via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Supreme Court Justice Thomas said he participated in a new documentary about his life to counter "libelous, slanderous propaganda" that's been made against him over the last four decades. During a talk at the Federalist Society's Florida State Conference at Disney's Yacht Club Resort, the 71-year-old justice said he hadn't seen "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words." He said it wasn't his idea to participate in it, either. DeSantis introduced Thomas with effusive praise, calling him the "greatest living justice." If Thomas is on one side of a Supreme Court case, DeSantis said, "99% of the time — maybe more — you figure that must be the right side of the case to come out on."

Clarence Thomas dispenses wisdom at a meeting of the Federalist Society in Orlando. Image via Twitter/@iypmgt.

"Fight refueled over gas pump stickers" via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried's office would have to replace stickers that display her smiling face on gas pumps by mid-September under a House budget proposal. The directive is tied to the House's proposed $91.37 billion budget. The budget also would require placing in reserves more than $19.7 million for other programs until plans are offered to replace the stickers, a process that Fried's spokesman said is already underway. The issue, which isn't in the Senate's budget outline, comes after a decision last year by the Republican-dominated Legislature to limit what could be shown on gas-pump inspection stickers posted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"After shunning Medicaid expansion, Florida Republicans see the political power of tackling health care" via John Kennedy of the USA TODAY network — House Speaker José Oliva is promoting wide-ranging changes to the state's medical landscape that may cause a possible side effect. Republicans hope they help at the ballot box in the nation's biggest presidential swing state. With polls showing health care access and cost among the top issues for voters, Oliva is among a chorus of Florida Republicans getting behind Trump's promise last spring to make the GOP "the party of health care." But in a state where Republican leaders' opposition to the Affordable Care Act also has left it among the few not to expand Medicaid coverage for lower-income residents, some think the Miami Republican is more interested in the optics and political messaging of reform.

— LEGISLATION —

"Both chambers of Legislature arming different proposals in gun control debate" via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida lawmakers had filed more than 30 gun-related bills to consider during this year's legislative session. Still, as they prepare for week No. 4 of their nine-week gathering, just four bills have been heard in committee. The measures in play reflect a deep divide within the ruling Republican Party in how to ensure public safety. While the House remains on the hunt for opportunities to repeal regulations on who can carry guns where, the Senate aims to tighten current laws to restrict access. House bills, which sailed through their first committees, would allow concealed-weapon permit holders to carry guns into places of worship that also have schools, and into meetings of city councils, county commissions and school boards.

"House counters Senate across-the-board pay raise for state workers with targeted increases" via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Senate budget grants a 3% raise. The House would boost the pay of those making less than $50,000 by $1,800 — about a 4% hike for the average state worker who makes around $38,000, according to state records. Both plans give workers a toehold in budget negotiations that begin now that DeSantis, the House and the Senate have revealed their proposed bottom lines for the 2012-21 fiscal year. Going into budget talks "with pay raise language on both sides … is a great starting point," said Rep. Loranne Ausley after the House released its plan. "I am very grateful that House and Senate leadership have recognized our hardworking state employees," she added.

"Evictions would be easier under proposed changes to mobile-home laws, advocates warn" via Carolyn Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — Sen. Ed Hooper, who introduced Senate Bill 818, said the changes are necessary to modernize the current statutes and will increase the availability of affordable and workforce housing. Sen. Travis Hutson filed a separate bill mirroring 818′s language. However, opposing groups, including the Federation of Manufactured Homeowners of Florida, which represents a portion of the 2 million Floridians living in mobile home parks, fear the changes would strip homeowners of some of their basic rights and hinder their access to affordable housing. "They're trying to chip away at renters' rights and make it easier to evict them — that's pretty clear," said Esther Sullivan, assistant professor at The University of Colorado Denver.

Some say Ed Hooper's mobile home bill could open the door to more evictions.

"Forget hurricanes and sea rise. This bill could lead to a building boom in the Keys" via David Goodhue and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — An amendment slipped into a House bill this week seeks to extend the hurricane evacuation time on the archipelago from 24 hours to 30 hours — a move that would effectively bump up the amount of development allowed in the Keys. Emergency managers, environmentalists, and a key Monroe County lawmaker called it irresponsible to cram more people and homes in an area where tidal flooding already lasts for months in some pockets and is expected to become worse and more frequent in the future. "This is foolishness," said Craig Fugate, Florida's former director of emergency management and head of FEMA. "First of all, 24 hours is a fantasy anyway."

"Walton organizers encourage grassroots effort to repeal HB 631" via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — About 60 people gathered on a Thursday evening to discuss taking their fight for a repeal of the law that wiped out the county's customary use ordinance to the Florida Legislature. "Tonight is a very important night, it is a call to action," said Dave Rauschkolb, chair of Florida Beaches for All, who co-hosted the event with fellow activist Samantha Herring. Rauschkolb and Herring were recruiting help from the community to assist them in convincing legislators to repeal the 2018 law created through passage of the infamous HB 631. They want to round up a crowd to travel with them to the state's capital Feb. 10 to participate in a noon rally to repeal the law.

"Legislature to consider ending puppy mills for good" via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — SB 1698 and HB 1237, known as the "Florida Pet Protection Act," would set up licensing requirements for pet stores to ensure they don't engage with breeders who have been flagged by the USDA for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The bills, sponsored by Sen. Manny Diaz and Rep. Brian Avila, would also require pet stores to adhere to standards aimed at fostering a safe, clean and comfortable environment for their animals. In the proposed rule book: Pet enclosures must be kept between 67 degrees and 78 degrees at all times; puppies must be afforded at least 30 minutes of exercise and socialization at least twice a day, and a copy of each breeder's most recent USDA report must be kept on hand. A licensed veterinarian would drop in three times a week to ensure stores are up to snuff. The bills come as counties and municipalities around the state have struggled to root out bad actors in the pet business — several dozen have taken the nuclear option of banning pet stores altogether. While that can get bad breeders out of town, it doesn't do much good if they can set up shop a few miles down the road.

— TODAY IN CAPITOL — 

The House Ways & Means Committee meets to consider HB 637 from Rep. Nick DiCeglie, which seeks added restrictions on local governments for collecting impact fees, noon, Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The Senate Education Committee meets to consider confirmation of four members for the state university system's Board of Governors and trustees, 1:30 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets to consider several bills, including SB 1146 from Sen. Jeff Brandes, which seeks to add juvenile detention officers and juvenile justice detention supervisors to the special risk class of the Florida Retirement System, 1:30 p.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee meets to consider SB 810 from Sen. David Simmons, which seeks to strengthen tobacco and vaping regulations, as well as put the age to purchase smoking, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes to 21, 1:30 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meets to consider HB 955 from Rep. Jason Shoaf, which seeks to prevent doctors from referring patients to hospitals in which the doctors have investments, 2 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1275 from Rep. Sharon Pritchett, which seeks to make changes to regulations of amusement rides, 3 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1289 from Rep. Evan Jenne, which seeks to mandate written consent for health care providers to perform pelvic examinations if the patient is anesthetized or otherwise unconscious, 3 p.m., Room 212, Knott Building.

The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee meets to consider HB 183 from Rep. Mel Ponder, which seeks to allow local elected officials to carry concealed weapons to public meetings, 3 p.m., Room 12, House Office Building.

The House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 971 from Rep. Michael Grant, which seeks to create regulations for electric bicycles, 3 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 1302 from Chair Anitere Flores, which seeks to increase the potential liability of government agencies in lawsuits, 4 p.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee meets to consider SB 688 from Sen. Tom Wright, which seeks additional penalties for people who kill bears during closed seasons, 4 p.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meets to consider SJR 1216 from Sen. Joe Gruters, which seeks term limits on school-board members, 4 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee meets to consider SB 7040 from Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., which seeks to bolster security measures at public schools, 4 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet 15 minutes after the end of other committee meetings.

Happening today — Members of the Film Florida Board of Directors will be at The Capitol through Tuesday to meet with legislators about the state's film, television and digital media industry.

— HOSPITAL DAYS —

This week, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) welcomes representatives of member hospitals to The Capitol for its annual Hospital Days. For two days, there will be meetings with lawmakers to discuss the importance of hospitals in the community and efforts to improve access to high-quality care.

Events begin Monday with a gathering in the House Chamber to hear from state leaders, including DeSantis' Chief of Staff Shane Strum, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, and House Speaker pro tempore MaryLynn Magar, on FHA priorities for Session.

"This year, FHA is proud to support legislation that will accomplish these goals by expanding the capacity of our health care workforce and increasing transparency around patient safety culture in hospitals," said FHA interim president Crystal Stickle.

It's a big day for FHA interim president Crystal Stickle

On Tuesday, FHA members will visit legislators, including a meeting between FHA Board members and Senate President Bill Galvano. Also, President-Designate Wilton Simpson will address the Board at their morning meeting.

— STATEWIDE —

"Florida to debut high school civics test" via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — In a memo to school district superintendents, K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva announced that the test would be available in the spring for schools to pilot on a voluntary basis. "Pilot exam results will not affect graduation requirements or school accountability," Oliva wrote. "The department will report on which districts and schools participate in the pilot, and on student participation and pass rates." Although not required at this point, the department is encouraging students taking U.S. government or economics courses to take the test. The department would provide the exam to the districts and allow them to offer it either via computer or paper. The test would take 100 minutes and could be spread over two sessions.

Chancellor Jacob Oliva is introducing a new Florida high school civics test.

"Wyndham, ABC wine join other companies halting donations to scholarships that go to anti-LGBTQ schools" via Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The announcements come after the Orlando Sentinel reported that more than $105 million from the tax credit program, which pays for low-income children to attend private schools, went to more than 150 Christian schools with anti-LGBTQ policies last year. Wyndham Destinations, which sent a rainbow-decked float to Orlando's gay pride parade in October, released a statement saying it would not support the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program until changes are made. It has contributed $6.75 million since 2011, most recently in December 2018. ABC Fine Wines and Spirits said this week it too was halting donations to the program until schools that discriminate are prohibited from receiving scholarships.

— MOTHER NATURE —

"The battle over Lake O levels: toxic algae, water supplies at forefront" via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — South Florida water leaders are concerned about keeping faucets flowing to homes and farms as interests clashed over how high to keep Lake Okeechobee — a key to Everglades restoration and water supply, but also a breeder of toxic algae. A massive rewrite of lake management rules is the impetus for the ongoing skirmish, which played out in West Palm Beach during a meeting of a 175-member committee working to develop the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). While Treasure Coast residents and some Lake Worth Lagoon advocates want a lower lake to avoid summer discharges that can trigger blue-green algae blooms in estuaries, others want a higher lake to ensure spigots don't go dry during a drought.

The battle over Lake O levels rages on. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.

"Every little bit helps" via Karl Schneider of the Naples Daily News — Florida has millions of acres protected in federal and state preserves. But across fast-growing Southwest Florida, thousands of acres are also preserved in presumed perpetuity behind the gates of private communities. Alone, 80 acres here and 100 acres there might not have much of an environmental effect, but taken together, the tracks provide water recharge areas, stormwater systems and habitat for wildlife ranging from raccoons and foxes to nesting birds and alligators.

— CORONAVIRUS —

"Coronavirus infections predicted to grow exponentially; first death outside China; outbreak becomes political" via Washington Post — The Philippines and New Zealand have joined the list of countries that have sharply restricted entry to people traveling from or through China, as the number of cases confirmed outside the mainland continues to grow. Meanwhile, inside China, the number of reported cases has grown rapidly, and scientists predict that exponentially more have been infected.

>>>There are nearly 14,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus in China, including 10 on the self-governing island of Taiwan, with more than 300 dead. A new study says that as many as 75,815 people in Wuhan may have been infected.

>>>Doctors say the virus can be spread by fecal matter, as well as droplets from the mouth and nose.

 Coronavirus infections are expected to grow exponentially.

"China could increasingly walled off as countries seek to stem coronavirus" via Alexandra Stephenson of The New York Times — Vietnam became the latest country to try to close itself off from the world's most populous country, barring all flights from and to China. Overall, nearly 10,000 flights have been canceled since the outbreak. Australia joined the United States in temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who have recently traveled to the country. There are officially eight confirmed cases in the United States, including one person connected to the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Japan also said it would bar foreigners who had recently been in the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak, or whose passports were issued there. Major businesses have started to acknowledge the effect that the virus — and China's near shutdown — is having on their bottom lines.

"White House seeks to calm U.S. fears over Wuhan coronavirus" via Sarah Cammarata of POLITICO — White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien Sunday sought to quell fears over the Wuhan coronavirus, saying the outbreak poses "low risk" now in the United States. "Right now, there's no reason for Americans to panic. This is something that is a low risk, we think in the U.S.," O'Brien said on CBS's "Face the Nation." The virus is a "top priority. We're taking steps to keep Americans safe," he added. O'Brien is a member of Trump's coronavirus task force along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and others, and the National Security Council is coordinating the administration's response. The administration took dramatic actions Friday to contain the virus, which has jolted financial markets and led to widespread airline cancellations.

"Florida health officials take a back seat to CDC in warning about coronavirus" via John Kennedy of the USA Today Network — Florida health officials are letting the federal government lead the way in warning the public about the growing threat posed by the deadly coronavirus, but some leaders are pushing for stepped-up action in a state that is a magnet for travelers. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott said he has written to seaport and airport managers, calling for them to heighten their vigilance in what the World Health Organization terms a global public health emergency. The virus has killed more than 100 people and sickened thousands. But while the cases are mostly concentrated in China, it has been detected in 16 other countries, including at least six cases in the U.S., although none in Florida.

"Keeping an eye on the Coronavirus, what it means for Florida residents" via Gretchen Kernbach of WJHG — Gulf Coast Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Helmrich said the alarm has been overstated. "We know the number of deaths, and it's actually not that great," Dr. Helmrich said. … Helmrich reminds folks that number doesn't compare to the amount of flu-related deaths. "I would tell you the same thing about this virus as I would about another virus," Dr. Helmrich said.

"South Florida doctors trying to stop anxiety over coronavirus" via Cindy Goodman of the Sun-Sentinel — The efforts come as people have begun to panic over flu symptoms, convinced they have coronavirus, even though they haven't been anywhere near Wuhan, where the virus originated and is spreading rapidly. So far, six of the eight people in the U.S. who are confirmed to have the virus had traveled to Wuhan, and one is the spouse of someone who did. "People are nervous," said Dr. Daniel Perez, a Plantation infectious disease specialist and attending physician at Westside Regional Medical Center. "Ultimately, it's going to happen. We will get it here. We just need to be prepared and ready, so it's not a major thing."

— 2020 —

"Trump mocks Mike Bloomberg's height in Sean Hannity pre-Super Bowl interview" via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — "Mini Mike" is Trump's tagline for his newest challenger, former New York Mayor Bloomberg. The quip came in a tweet, ahead of the interview's premiere, but after its recording. "Very little. I just think of little," he said on Fox News. "Now he wants a box for the debates to stand on. OK, it's OK. There's nothing wrong. You can be short. Why should he get a box to stand on, OK? He wants a box for the debates. Why should he be entitled to that, really? Then does that mean everyone else gets a box?" Bloomberg's campaign denied the accusation and called the President a "pathological liar."

"Iowa is first on the calendar, but Florida is already voting for President" via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Though the Sunshine State won't officially vote for presidential candidates until March 17, thousands of ballots have already been mailed to voters stationed overseas. On Friday, Broward County's supervisor of elections will ship out some 3,000 ballots, followed Saturday by another 2,300 sent from Miami-Dade County. And starting Feb. 6, the state's 67 local election offices will begin sending massive numbers of mail ballots to Florida voters in the states, kicking off a one-week stretch in which 1.6 million ballots will be sent through the mail — all of which can be immediately filled out and returned. "You could easily say the election has already begun," said Tammy Jones, the head of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

Democrats are trashing the legacies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, keeping their eyes off the prize — defeating Donald Trump.

"DNC overhauls debate requirements, opening door for Bloomberg" via Zach Montellaro, Sally Goldenberg and Christopher Cadelago via POLITICO — Candidates will need to earn at least 10% in four polls released from Jan. 15 to Feb. 18, or 12% in two polls conducted in Nevada or South Carolina, in order to participate in the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas. Any candidate who earns at least one delegate to the national convention in either the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary will also qualify for the Nevada debate. The new criteria eliminate the individual-donor threshold, which was used for the first eight debates, including the debate in New Hampshire. Bloomberg has refused to take donations from other individuals, which has thus far precluded his participation in any of the debates since he joined the race late last year.

"$375,000 salaries, furnished housing and a lot of sushi: Inside Bloomberg's spending spree" via Sally Goldenberg and Christopher Cadelago of POLITICO — The staggering sums demonstrate the trademark lavish spending that has characterized Bloomberg's late-in-life political career: a virtually bottomless wallet that fills in when campaign customs don't appeal to him. The former New York City Mayor's determination that the traditional Iowa-centric presidential primary calendar doesn't suit him simply wouldn't work for another candidate. But it's perfectly compatible with Bloomberg's reality — when that reality includes $140 million spent on TV and digital ads, $3.3 million on polling alone, and nearly $1 million to crisscross the country in pursuit of delegates in Super Tuesday states other candidates can't yet afford to focus on.

"Sanders once likened poor whites to blacks under Apartheid" via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — In 1978, according to the Rutland Daily Herald, Sanders compared the plight of many across the planet to slavery, saying that "I believe that the vast majority of the people of the world and of this country are living in a slave-like condition not terribly different from what existed in this country before the Civil War."

"Elizabeth Warren campaign open second office in Florida, becomes 1st Dem candidate with office in Orlando" via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — The office had been in the Warren campaign's plans since September when it announced its official presence in Florida as part of its strategy. The campaign's first state office opened in Miami last year. The Orlando office features several training and workrooms for volunteers looking to phone bank and canvass on behalf of the campaign, which has been slipping in the polls following what appeared to be an early surge. Orange County Vice Mayor Emily Bonilla, who endorsed Warren and is a surrogate for the campaign, said while any of the current Democratic candidates for President are preferable to Trump, she feels she is more "empathetic" to the plight of the average person.

"Pardon Trump? Andrew Yang says he might" via Rishika Dugyala of POLITICO — A President Yang might pardon Trump. One of the entrepreneur's 2020 rivals, U.S. Sen. Warren, has suggested she would appoint a task force to investigate Trump's wrongdoing if she won the presidential election. But Yang Sunday said that would make moving forward difficult. "You suggested … that President Yang might pardon President Donald Trump, why?" "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked the candidate. Yang responded that he would listen to the guidance of his attorney general, but added, "You have to see what the facts are on the ground. If you look at history around the world, it's a very, very nasty pattern that developing countries have fallen into, where a new President ends up throwing the President before them in jail," Yang said on ABC's This Week.

— INSTA OF THE DAY —

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