Are Florida Republicans serious about going after Disney?- POLITICO

Good Thursday morning.

It’s A Small World — Is Florida prepared to end its six-decade love affair with Disney? Or is this just election-year posturing that will fade sometime in November?

Can You Feel the Love Tonight? — Disney’s inartful balancing act over Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” measure — or what critics have labeled the “don’t say gay” bill — has earned them sharp criticism all across the political spectrum, but the rhetoric continues to ramp up with Florida Republicans. “They don’t run this state, they will never run this state as long as I’m governor,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Fox News Tuesday evening.

Friend Like Me — DeSantis has repeatedly criticized Disney — the state’s largest employer — for coming out against the newly-enacted law, and now some GOP legislators are returning campaign contributions. (Wait, does this mean that state Reps. Joe Harding and Randy Maggard are acknowledging that donations influence their vote?) AND one legislator caused quite the stir on Wednesday when he contended that he was discussing a repeal of a fifty-plus-year-old law that allows Disney to act as its own local government.

Friends On the Other Side — Disney has routinely given millions of dollars to politicians in Florida, much of it going to Republicans. Both parties also regularly hold big events at Disney — and score free tickets and hotel rooms along the way through a campaign finance loophole. But here’s what more important: Florida law is littered with tax breaks and carve-outs for Disney.

Part Of Your World — In fact, as former Orlando Sentinel reporter Jason Garcia pointed out — DeSantis and Republicans just last year made sure that their bill targeting “big tech” — and which has been challenged in court — did not apply to Disney. The Disney carve-out, as shown by emails he obtained, made it clear that the governor’s office did this on behalf of the company.

How Far I’ll Go — This is nothing new. Back in 2008, amid a push by the National Rifle Association to make it clear that Florida workers could legally store guns in their cars at their job sites, that bill was changed at the last minute so it wouldn’t apply to businesses that had permits for explosives (a definition that included fireworks). So Disney won yet again.

Let It Go — Right now, conservatives and Republicans are making quite a bit of noise. Disney has already paused its donations in response to the controversy around the new law and there are some in the business community who have suggested they may sit on the sidelines heading into this year’s elections. The question is whether all will be forgiven when it comes time for the Florida GOP to act.

— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. DeSantis is scheduled to hold a press conference with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in Ponte Vedra Beach..

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THIS IS A BIG DEAL — “Florida secures $860M from CVS, others to settle opioid case,” by The Associated Press’ Curt Anderson: “The CVS drug store company and pharmaceutical companies will pay Florida a combined $860 million as part of the settlement of an opioid epidemic case, state officials said Wednesday. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said CVS Health Corp. and CVS Pharmacy Inc. will pay the state $484 million. Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. agreed to pay $195 million and Allergan PLC more than $134 million. In addition, Tevan will provide to Florida about $84 million of its Narcan nasal spray used to treat overdose victims. Another company, Endo Health Solutions, is also settling for $65 million, Moody said.”

NOT SO MAGIC KINGDOM — “Disney vs. DeSantis: Florida Republicans bash the Mouse, but is it just bluster?” by Orlando Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher: “Florida Republicans have found an unexpected political punching bag as they head into re-election — the state’s top tourism destination, one of its largest employers, and a reliable donor to their campaigns. Walt Disney Co. and Gov. Ron DeSantis are feuding over HB 1557, officially titled Parental Rights in Education but branded the ‘don’t say gay’ bill by critics. The entertainment giant is pausing its political giving in Florida and vowing to work to repeal the law or get it overturned in the courts.”

BACKLASH — “Parents upset DeSantis signed bill on gender lessons at their school,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Jeffrey S. Solochek: “Elliot Long never felt unwelcome at Classical Preparatory School. ‘Whenever they see my kid has two dads, they’ve always been very kind and warm to both of us,’ said Long, the parent of a first-grader there. The staff has supported Long’s partner, who works at the charter school and dedicates many hours to the students, school and community. ‘But then something like this happens, which makes me question how sincere all of that is,’ he said. Long referred to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ news conference Monday at the school, where the governor signed HB 1557 into law and suggested that opponents of the measure support concepts such as ‘woke gender ideology in the first grade.’”

HAPPENING TODAY — U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will be in Orlando with Rep. Darren Soto to speak with students and families on “Transgender Day of Visibility.” The two will meet with LGBTQ students and family members in a closed press, roundtable discussion to hear about how Florida’s new “Parent Rights in Education” law could affect their communities and school experiences. Cardona and Soto will also tour an elementary school where they will talk about the use of federal coronavirus relief money.

MEANWHILE — “Rubio demands Education Secretary Cardona answer questions about monitoring new Florida law,” by NBC News’ Marc Caputo: “Cardona’s statement prompted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for re-election this year, to fire back Tuesday with a letter demanding answers from the secretary about what that might entail. Rubio’s questions range from ‘Should pre-K through third grade students be required to engage in classroom discussions about sexuality and gender identity?’ to ‘In detail, please explain the course of action the Department plans to take in implementing your order to “monitor” the Florida law?'”

DSCC TO TROLL SCOTT WITH TARGETED ADS (From D.C. Playbook) National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair RICK SCOTT is set to speak at a Heritage Foundation event today at 1 p.m. And just in time, we’re told the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is preparing to expand a series of digital ads knocking Scott for his proposed GOP agenda. The DSCC’s latest Scott ad — which features a clip of Fox News anchorJOHN ROBERTS pressing the Florida Republican on his proposal to raise taxes on half of Americans and sunset programs like Medicare and Social Security —actually went live in key swing states Wednesday. But today, DSCC is going up here in Washington right as Scott takes the stage, “geo-targeting” the conservative think tank and areas around it.

WAIT, WHAT JUST HAPPENED? — The U.S. House on Wednesday blocked consideration of a bill pushed by Sen. Marco Rubio that would rename the federal courthouse and federal building located in downtown Tallahassee after Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett. Hatchett, who died in 2021, was the first Black person appointed to the Florida Supreme Court and eventually became a federal appeals court judge.

Both Rubio and Florida Sen. Rick Scott backed the effort to rename the courthouse after Hatchett with Rubio saying back in December that “his story is worthy of commemoration.” But it took a two-thirds vote — a process setup for legislation considered uncontroversial — for the House to take up the Senate bill and the effort failed largely due to opposition from House Republicans.

Ten of the 16 Republicans from Florida voted against Rubio’s bill: Reps.. Dunn, who is from Panama City, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Byron Donalds, Neil Dunn, Scott Franklin, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, John Rutherford and Greg Steube, who represents part of Tallahassee and in the most recent map vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis would have represented the entire city. Axios reported that Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) was “behind the defeat of the bill because Clyde said he ‘let it be known’ to colleagues that Hatchett authored a 1999 opinion banning prayer at public school graduations.”

‘CHINA IS A 100-YEAR PROBLEM’ — “Rubio urges more attention to China’s rise in Latin America,” by The Associated Press’ Joshua Goodman: “Sen. Marco Rubio is urging the Biden administration to pay more attention to China’s growing influence in Latin America and the Caribbean even as another U.S. adversary, Russia, rattles its saber in the region amid rising geopolitical tensions over Ukraine. The Florida Republican, as the ranking member of the foreign relations subcommittee for Latin America, will co-chair a hearing Thursday with U.S. officials and experts to discuss China’s deal making and diplomacy in the region.”

MOTION — “Judge who worked with GOP on redistricting is asked to withdraw from suit over new maps,” by Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas: “The plaintiffs who filed suit over Florida’s congressional redistricting process have asked 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Allen Winsor to remove himself from the panel handling the case because he represented the Florida House in the last redistricting cycle. Common Cause Florida, FairDistricts Now and five individual voters filed a motion late Tuesday asking Winsor to recuse himself from the lawsuit the groups filed March 11, asking the federal court to set the new congressional districts.”

— “What Tampa Bay lawmakers think about the upcoming redistricting special session,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Romy Ellenbogen

— “Tom Leek, Ray Rodrigues say Florida’s congressional map should come from the Legislature,” by Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles

CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Wednesday endorsed Senate President Wilton Simpson for agriculture commissioner. The two Republicans backed Simpson even though he is heading into what could be a competitive primary. Gov. Ron DeSantis has not weighed in on the race …. The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday announced it planned to target two additional Democratic-held Florida seats in this year’s elections: Florida’s 14th District now held by Rep. Kathy Castor, and the soon-to-be open seat in South Florida now held by departing Rep. Ted Deutch. One of the leading contenders for Deutch’s seat appeared nonplussed by the NRCC’s announcement. Former state Rep. Jared Moskowitz tweeted out a picture of the cover for the film “The Money Pit” and said “I have this on VHS if they need it.” The NRCC is already targeting the seats held by Democrats Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist, both of whom are not running for reelection.

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Nine charged in Alachua County as part of ongoing statewide voter fraud investigation,” by The Gainesville Sun’s Alan Festo: “Nine inmates have been charged in Alachua County with election crimes, with several more under investigation following complaints filed by a Gainesville database researcher. The inmates charged are the first group of dozens who could face criminal charges in an ongoing, far-reaching law enforcement investigation spanning the Sunshine State.”

— “‘I’m not going to disparage’ Cherfilus-McCormick, Holness says as he kicks off campaign to defeat her,” by South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man

— “Gov. DeSantis pairs up with UFC fighter Jorge Masvidal for re-election event,” by WPLG’s Terrell Forney

‘WE TOOK THE BUILDING’ — “Florida man pleads guilty to role in Capitol riot,” by The Associated Press: A Florida Panhandle man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge related to storming the U.S. Capitol during the January 2021 insurrection. Andrew William Griswold, 33, of Niceville, Florida, pleaded guilty to a civil disorder charge in District of Columbia federal court, according to court records. He faces up to five years in prison at a July 13 sentencing hearing. Griswold was arrested in Pensacola in March 2021.

On the scene — “Once inside, Griswold made his way to the Gallery of the Senate. After leaving the building, Griswold spoke with a reporter and said, ‘We took the building. They couldn’t stop us,’ and ‘Don’t mess with us. Back off. This is our country. We showed ’em today. We took it. They ran. And hid.’”

— “Former Viera High teacher sentenced to probation for role in U.S. Capitol riots,” by Florida Today’s Eric Rogers

— “North Florida prison employee could face jail for misdemeanor guilty plea in Capitol riot,” by Florida Times-Union’s Steve Patterson

— “South Florida Trump club lands Trump himself as speaker,” by South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man

‘THE JURY HAS TO KNOW THE FOOTSTEPS’ — “Parkland judge to decide if jurors will tour shooting site,” by The Associated Press’ Terry Spencer: “Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz and his prosecutors argued vociferously Wednesday over whether the jurors who will decide whether he is sentenced to death should be allowed to tour the blood-stained, bullet-pocked classroom building where he murdered 17 people four years ago.”

GO AWAY — “AccuWeather predicts another busy hurricane season for 2022,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Richard Tribou: “After two years of alphabet-depleting hurricane seasons, 2022 looks to be more of the same, according to predictions from weather site AccuWeather. In its early season predictions released Wednesday, the site expects to see 16-20 named tropical systems. That’s just shy of last year’s 21 names and much lower than 2020′s record 30 named systems, but still above average.”

GONE — “CDC drops cruise ship travel health notice, in place since early in the pandemic,” by POLITICO’s Alex Daugherty: The CDC on Wednesday dropped their Covid-19 warnings for cruise ship passengers for the first time since it was instituted in the early days of the pandemic, a largely symbolic step that was hailed by cruise companies who’ve argued they were singled out compared to other modes of transportation despite most major companies imposing vaccine mandates. The notice, which until Wednesday warned that cruising carried Covid-19 risks, was lifted amid a larger push to end travel-related Covid-19 restrictions such as masking on public transit.

RULING — “Judge OKs $83M for property loss in Florida condo collapse,” by The Associated Press’ Curt Anderson: “People who owned units in a Florida oceanfront condominium building that collapsed last year will divide $83 million for property losses, with the compensation for families over the 98 deaths still to be determined, a judge ruled Wednesday. The money for owners of the 136-unit Champlain Towers South building will come from sale of the now-vacant beachfront land as well as insurance policies, officials said.”

BRING BACK CROCKETT AND TUBBS — “Jai Alai hasn’t been hot since ‘Miami Vice’ days. A Florida casino wants to change that,” by Wall Street Journal’s Arian Campo-Flores: “Magic City’s latest bid to revive the game is Battle Court, a new league launched last month. Gone is the traditional round-robin style of play that baffled new viewers. Four teams compete in a tennis-style format—singles and doubles matches, two out of three sets to win. Bettors can wager on matches, sets and points. Such changes, made by Magic City Chief Operating Officer Scott Savin, have sent jai alai purists into a tizzy. They include shrinking the size of the court to make the game faster and replacing granite walls with glass ones in the front and rear so online viewers can see the pelota streaking toward them.”

— “Florida ending emergency manatee feedings on Friday,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Kevin Spear

— “Another Florida home insurer loses financial stability rating and will likely be dissolved,” by South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ron Hurtibise

— “Feds demand Hillsborough, Pinellas return $4.3M in CareerSource misspending,” by Florida Politics’ Mark Puente

— “Is customary use doctrine constitutional? Walton County judge declines to rule on it,” by Northwest Florida Daily News’ Tom McLaughlin

— “Tallahassee-based Black News Channel files for bankruptcy, says it’s $10M to $50M in debt,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Christopher Cann

— “Celebrities: Monkeys near Florida airport delight visitors,” by The Associated Press’s Terry Spencer: “Mikey, as he is called by his human observers, has long been the laid-back alpha male of a troop of monkeys ruling this tract of land, tucked off a busy runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. But this day he lost when challenged by a feisty youngster called Spike. Mikey fled screaming and was now sullenly staring at humans watching him from 15 feet (4 meters) away. ‘Did you have a bad day?’ asks Deborah ‘Missy’ Williams, a Lynn University science professor who has been studying the troop and others nearby since 2014. She is also founder of the Dania Beach Vervet Project, which seeks to preserve this unique colony.”

BIRTHDAYS: State Rep. Dana Trabulsy

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