First Read for Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

The must-read morning roundup of Florida politics and government.

Good morning. It’s National Beer Can Appreciation Day. Here’s a list of the top 10 best breweries across the state of Florida, from Gainesville down to Miami.


A House Republican on Monday filed a proposal that would expand training about how to handle active-shooter situations for people participating in Florida’s controversial school “guardian” program. Rep. Carolina Amesty, R-Windermere, filed the bill (HB 335) for consideration during the 2023 legislative session, which will start in March. 

The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after one of the 17 people killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, allows school staff members to be armed on campus. Staff members who choose to participate in the program are required to receive training from a county sheriff that includes 132 hours of “comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency” instruction. 

The measure filed Monday seeks to double the amount of training that school guardians would receive in active-shooter or assailant scenarios from eight to 16 hours. Meanwhile, another part of the required training would be decreased under the bill. Instruction on legal issues would be reduced from 12 to four hours.

– News Service of Florida


* DEJA VU? Broward Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright could finally lose her job on Tuesday, as the Broward School Board is set to consider two competing motions to terminate her contract – after the board fired her and then rescinded the firing last year. 

* MUSICAL CHAIRS: In the wake of the November election, there are battles underway to become the next state party chair, for Democrats and Republicans alike. Here are the candidates who are in the running – and a couple more who could enter the fray.

* CAPITOL COLUMN: Of all the promises U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made in his fight to get the gavel, the worst was his pledge to bring congressional term limits to a vote – but fortunately it has no chance of passing, writes columnist Bill Cotterell


* Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a death warrant for Donald David Dillbeck, who was convicted of fatally stabbing a woman after escaping from custody while serving a life sentence for killing a deputy, and the Feb. 23 execution would be Florida’s first since 2019, the Associated Press reports

* DeSantis called for another round of teacher pay hikes, while taking aim at teachers unions and calling for partisan elections – via a constitutional amendment – and stricter term limits for school-board members, the News Service of Florida reports.

* DeSantis stood by Florida’s decision to reject students’ access to an AP course on African American studies as outrage mounts surrounding the move, particularly among Black leaders, Politico Florida reports

* Floridians will soon get another chance to weigh in on the state’s pending ban on medical treatment for transgender children diagnosed with gender dysphoria. But it’s unlikely that the proposed restrictions will change significantly, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

* A state employee raised concerns to a top Florida Medicaid official that the government didn’t follow its standard process in recommending against coverage for gender dysphoria treatment, according to emails included in a federal lawsuit, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

More news below …


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* Four members of the Oath Keepers, including two Floridians, were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack in the second major trial of far-right extremists accused of plotting to forcibly keep Donald Trump in power, the Associated Press reports

* Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis blocked asset managers from investing a $5.1 billion state pension pool in sustainable funds, the latest escalation in his fight against ESG, Bloomberg reports

* Jacksonville’s City Council could vote today to approve developing a 97-house subdivision in the heart of a patchwork of nature preserves created to protect Northeast Florida’s ecology, the Florida Times-Union reports.

* A bail-reform proposal that would allow certain low-level offenders in Miami-Dade to be released from jail without posting bond or seeing a judge has prompted some local cities to preemptively oppose the plan, the Miami Herald reports.

* Palm Beach County commissioners have approved a lawsuit settlement that will award $121,103 to a former employee who alleged she was wrongfully terminated in 2019 based on gender discrimination, the Palm Beach Post reports.


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The governor on Monday morning attended the Florida Sheriffs Association 2023 winter conference in St. Johns County, where he called for a supermajority by a jury in death penalty decisions, and held a press conference at a Jacksonville charter school to announce educational initiatives

In the afternoon, he had meetings with with Policy and Budget Director Chris Spencer, General Counsel Ryan Newman, Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Kelly, Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Stephanie Kopelousos and Chief of Staff James Uthmeier. 


* Attorney General Merrick Garland is defending the Justice Department’s investigations into how classified materials wound up in several locations at President Joe Biden’s home as well as at a think-tank office in Washington, Politico reports.

* Former President Donald Trump is laying the groundwork to ditch his social media platform Truth Social and return to Twitter, which would mean scrapping an exclusivity agreement with his social media company, Rolling Stone reports.

* Trump posed for a photograph at Mar-A-Lago with former Philadelphia mob boss Joey Merlino, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

* New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore writes that as Trump weighs his options for taking down intraparty opponents for the first time since 2016, he could try to run to the left of cultural warrior Ron DeSantis.


* Here is how U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle came to his decision in the Andrew Warren case, ruling that the governor violated the First Amendment and the state Constitution but refusing to reinstate Warren, the Tampa Bay Times’ Lawrence Mower writes.

* Try as he might, DeSantis can’t spin vindication out of a judge’s decision that flayed him for violating the state and federal constitutions when he suspended Warren, Hillsborough County’s Democratic state attorney, the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board writes.

* Permitless carry in Florida is a terrifying idea that won't make anyone safer, Katie Hathaway writes in the Florida Times-Union.

* DeSantis’ decision to block the AP African American Studies course did not prevent the study of Black Americans in Florida, but was him taking issue with what specific sort of curriculum a given state should favor, Stanley Kurtz writes in the National Review.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To former Tampa Bay Times photojournalist Scott Keeler … to former state Rep. Bev Kilmer … to Florida House of Representatives Attorney Roberta Skinner … to Karen Woodall, director and CEO of Florida People's Advocacy Center. 

ON THE MOVE: Former U.S. Rep. Al Lawson is set to lobby in Tallahassee on behalf of Gadsden County, an area he represented in Congress for decades until this year, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Jossie Barroso is the new communications director and press secretary for the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus and the first Latina to ever have the role. She is coming over from her time reporting and producing for the Florida Channel.

Robert “Bobby” Block, managing editor of Florida Today, will succeed Pamela Marsh as executive director of the Florida First Amendment Foundation. Marsh, a former U.S. attorney, is joining the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Cesar Fernandez has joined FanDuel as a senior director and head of state government relations. He was previously director of U.S. public affairs at Pacaso.

CONGRATULATIONS: Elnatan Rudolph, managing partner at Converge Public Strategies,  for celebrating his fourth year with the lobbying practice.

IN MEMORIAM: Steve Turner, managing partner of the Broad & Cassel law firm’s Tallahassee office for over 30 years, died Jan. 17. He was 81. Turner also was an adjunct professor at Florida State University’s law school.

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YOUR MESSAGE HERE: City & State First Read is the must-read morning roundup of Florida politics and government. Reaching thousands of subscribers each morning, it's the most effective and targeted digital ad venue to get your message in front of city and state elected officials, agency and industry leaders, and the staff, advocates, media and operatives who drive the issues of the day – all by 7 a.m. each weekday. For advertising information, please email:



“I’m a bigger believer in that what we’ve seen happening is a major population shift.”

Peter Haslag, an assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University that studies population trends, via the Palm Beach Post, arguing that population trends during that pandemic that have shot up populations in states like Florida are here to stay.