First Read for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

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

Good morning. It’s National Hot Chocolate Day. You know plenty of Floridians have sipped one to warm up during the cold snaps over the past few weeks.


A Senate Republican on Monday filed a measure that would change a residency requirement for school-board candidates. Under current law, candidates have to live in the districts they are seeking to represent at the time they qualify to run. 

The bill (SB 444), filed by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, would revise the requirement so they would have to live in the districts at the time they assume office. The proposal is filed for the legislative session that will start in March. The bill is one of multiple proposals that Republican lawmakers are considering to change laws about school boards. 

For example, state Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, and Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, have filed identical proposals (HJR 31 and SB 94) that seek to turn school-board elections into partisan races. If approved by the Legislature, the proposed change would go before voters in 2024 because it would require a constitutional amendment. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Alex Rizo, R-Hialeah, has filed a proposal (HB 477) that would create eight-year term limits for school-board members. That would be a reduction from 12-year term limits approved by lawmakers last year.

– The News Service of Florida


* BILL COTTERELL: In this week’s Capitol Column: “The French … gave us the well-known saying that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold.’ And so it is that Gov. Ron DeSantis is coldly getting even with Florida’s teacher unions.”

* GOT GUNS? Calling the proposal an effort to “remove the government permission slip,” House Speaker Paul Renner announced legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without licenses.


* According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, an affiliate of the Florida Chamber of Commerce indirectly provided the funding for a secretive political committee that didn’t disclose its donors and spent more than $160,000 on mail ads in a competitive Central Florida state Senate race in 2020, the Orlando Sentinel reports

* A judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the Florida Department of Transportation and a contractor did not fully comply with public records requests about state-funded flights of migrants to Massachusetts, the News Service of Florida reports

* Gov. Ron DeSantis pitched a $7 billion proposal to speed completion of 20 highway projects as a deadline nears for him to roll out a budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year, the News Service of Florida reports

* Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is seeking to extend his stay in Florida as authorities in his home country investigate him for alleged wrongdoing, including whether he inspired his supporters to storm government buildings in Brasilia, Politico Florida reports

* Eddie Speir, one of six new trustees appointed by DeSantis to the New College of Florida board, plans to suggest replacing the school’s president and replacing all faculty members, Florida Politics reports

More news below …


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* A judge has rejected the city of Miami’s bid to block a lawsuit challenging its 15% parking surcharge, a tax that has generated tens of millions of dollars in recent years, the Miami Herald reports

* A man has filed a defamation lawsuit against Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey for wrongfully saying he was a fugitive during one of his weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” videos posted to social media, the Associated Press reports

* A Democratic analyst says his party suffered an “unprecedented” plummet in Hispanic support in Osceola County in last year’s election, setting off a warning sign for a party that once saw Central Florida as a solid blue wall, the Orlando Sentinel reports

* After a week of headlines about members agreeing to the church’s “Statement of Biblical Sexuality,” First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Senior Pastor Heath Lambert said the church “is not closing our doors to anybody,” the Florida Times-Union reports

* The city of Tampa lost a bid for property containing a 104-year-old segregation era historically Black cemetery that it had been maintaining for years, the Tampa Bay Times reports.


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The governor held a press conference in Auburndale where he announced the Moving Florida Forward initiative. Later in the day, he had meetings with Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, Policy and Budget Director Chris Spencer, and Deputy Chiefs of Staff Katie Strickland and Alex Kelly, according to his official schedule. 


* Former President Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on DeSantis as he kicked off his presidential campaign this past weekend, portraying the Florida governor as a hypocrite who “unapologetically shut down” the state during the early COVID pandemic, the Orlando Sentinel reports

* Two new polls from New Hampshire and South Carolina show Trump ahead of potential Republican opponents in those states, Florida Politics reports

* DeSantis has not yet announced that he plans to run for president in 2024, though he might as well have after several key steps he has been taking, Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin writes

* Trump is going to likely be running in a field of candidates who not only recognize his political playbook (and its effectiveness) but who also have used it themselves, the Washington Post’s Philip Bump writes


* St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch’s decision to choose the team to redevelop the Historic Gas Plant District might end up being the most important decision he makes for as long as he remains in City Hall, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board writes.

* The Republican Party moved away from its environmental conservation ethos in the last few decades, but DeSantis is one of many Republicans reigniting that in Florida, Eric Carr writes in the Tallahassee Democrat.

* Orange County Sheriff John Mina says that as a law enforcement officer who has been serving for over 30 years, he vehemently opposes any type of permitless or open-carry legislation, he writes in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

* Florida’s public universities deliver high-quality education and graduate high earners but all that could be threatened with a potential new regulation around post-tenure faculty review, University of North Florida faculty members Parvez Ahmed and Elizabeth Brown write in the Florida Times-Union.

* DeSantis loves to talk about sports, but he’s been silent about Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White, who was captured on video slapping his wife during a New Year's Eve dispute, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Roger Brown writes.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Jossie Barroso, communications director for the Florida Senate Democratic Office … to Jason Delgado, Florida Capitol correspondent for Spectrum News to Gwen Graham, assistant secretary for legislation and congressional affairs, U.S. Department of Education … to Ryan Ray, Leon County Democratic Party chair and aide to  Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow … to U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz.

ON THE MOVE: Emily Bruno has joined the Senate Democratic Office as chief legislative analyst. Bruno, a former attorney analyst for the House Judiciary Committee, returns to the legislature from her most recent position as claims counsel for the Florida Sheriffs Risk Management Fund. 

Sarah Gledhill has been named the next President & CEO of the Florida Wildlife Federation. She is the organization's fourth leader in its 87-year history and the first woman. Gledhill replaces Preston Robertson, who retired at the end of last year. 

Daniel E. Nordby, a partner in the Tallahassee office of Shutts & Bowen, was named leader of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group. He was general counsel to then-Gov. Rick Scott. 

CONGRATULATIONS: Dr. Christine Cauffield, president of the Florida Association of Managing Entities and LSF Health Systems, recently accepted a national award for innovation from Lutheran Services America. The 2023 Innovator Award recognizes the organization's success with training and certifying recovery peer specialists in Florida.

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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:



It “should not be incorporated into a curriculum, nor supported through school sponsored programs or activities.” 

– New College of Florida Trustee Eddie Speir, via Florida Politics, on the importance of removing “wokeness” from the school.