Takeaways From Tallahassee — Champions Of Business – Florida Politics

Business crusaders, plus a food fight over data privacy.

Champs and records

The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) has run the numbers to find out which lawmakers are the state’s “Champions of Business.”

AIF this week identified a half dozen Champions, including Senate President Wilton Simpson, President-designate Kathleen Passidomo and President-designate-elect Ben Albritton. Similarly honored are Sen. Jim Boyd and Reps. Andrew Learned and Jay Trumbull.

“A true ‘Champion for Business’ is a legislator who takes risks for his or her belief in the free-enterprise system, defies the status quo when it is harmful to our state’s competitive climate and faces down the opponents to the growing prosperity of Florida’s citizens,” said AIF President and CEO Brewster Bevis. “Each of the six legislators honored this year are the epitome of a champion for business, and we thank them for their unwavering support of the business community in Florida.”

Wilton Simpson and Jay Trumbull both earned AIF’s “Champions of Business” honors. Image via Colin Hackley. A common thread through the awards are the lawmakers’ defense of the business community’s position on data privacy. Simpson led the Senate in resisting civil enforcement, Passidomo worked closely with AIF on the matter, and Learned — a freshman lawmaker and the only Democrat on the list — shared how the legislation would impact his tutoring business as he filed 23 amendments to the bill.

AIF recognized Boyd and Trumbull for leading negotiations to address Florida’s property insurance crisis. Meanwhile, they said Simpson and Albritton led on environmental policy.

This week, AIF also released its 2022 Voting Records scorecard. In an analysis of the 3,755 votes cast on 49 bills, AIF graded lawmakers on the 2022 Regular Session and the property insurance Special Session.

AIF, which calls itself the “Voice of Florida Business,” touts the list as the most exhaustive and complete record of the Legislature’s approach to the concerns of employers.

AIF goes to great lengths to express their positions to lawmakers, Bevis said.

“For 48 years, AIF has published Voting Records, yet these records only tell part of the story,” he continued. “AIF also helps its member companies detect which bills and amendments are filed and by whom and who is taking part in behind-the-scenes efforts and debates on behalf of the business community. These intangible forms of support through non-voting actions are also of vital importance and merit recognition.”

Data privacy was a flashpoint during the Regular Session and precipitated contentious policy debates. The 2022 Voting Records report provides its usual year and lifetime percentages, but it also dedicates two pages to scoring House members for their votes regarding the data privacy legislation (HB 9). Under Simpson, the Senate never took up data privacy legislation.

“The calculated percentages we have used in years past to determine a legislator’s score are a simple and easy tool used by both AIF members and legislators,” said Adam Basford, AIF’s vice president of governmental affairs. “However, from time to time, an issue arises that affects the majority of all Florida businesses regardless of industry, size, location, etc.”

He noted data privacy was one of several priorities alongside workers’ compensation, tort reform and business taxes. But his comments singled it out as a rising issue — and possibly cast some shade at House Republicans.

“All of these factors are considered when AIF makes recommendations to our members as to which legislators truly show strong support for Florida’s business community and that is why this report is an invaluable tool.”

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Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

15-week abortion ban overruled — A state judge has found Florida’s 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional and will issue an order halting the law. Judge John Cooper’s ruling Thursday is a preliminary win for abortion rights advocates, who sought to stop the Republican-backed law (HB 5) before it took effect. Cooper plans to issue a temporary injunction against the legislation but said the written order formally pausing the law wouldn’t come Thursday because of time constraints. Cooper cited the right to privacy enumerated in the Florida Constitution.

Bills take effect with new fiscal year — Although it will be paused, likely beginning Tuesday, the abortion legislation is one of nearly 150 laws that took effect Friday. Chief among them was the $109.9 billion funding outline for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which includes at least a 5.4% pay raise for state workers. Also new is the “Stop W.O.K.E Act” and a bill banning the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Lawmakers also designated strawberry shortcake (with natural Florida dairy topping) as the official state dessert.

State awards $140M Medicaid IT contract — Florida is going with Automated Health Systems (AHS) to handle a multiyear, $140 million IT contract involving the state’s massive Medicaid program. The Agency for Health Care Administration initially awarded the contract to AHS earlier this month. The company’s competitors had until June 27 to submit written notice to challenge the decision, but none did. The contract could be for up to a 10-year period. The underlying contract is for a seven-year stint, but the invitation to negotiate allows the state to enter into a three-year renewal.

Pediatric panelist ousted over vax views — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis pushed out a pediatrician from the board in charge of running the state’s Healthy Kids program because of her viewpoints on vaccines for children under 5. A brief email did not go into great detail but said Patronis was removing Dr. Lisa Gwynn because she had made “some very political statements that do not reflect the CFO’s point of view, even going so far as to say that the state is ‘obstruct(ing)’ access to vaccines.”

Gov. DeSantis promotes civics education; training scrutinized — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that Florida’s civics and history education scores have risen significantly since he put an emphasis on it in schools and began cracking down on versions of history he calls “distorted.” DeSantis and Education Commissioner Manny Díaz laid out results of 2022 school civics literacy and history exams that showed a 5-point increase from the previous year, to a passing rate of almost 70%. Students’ passing rate in history went up by 2 points. Meanwhile, his department is under the gun for the slides shown to teachers during Florida’s civics training sessions, which some teachers say show a one-sided view.

For Miya

DeSantis this week signed a bill creating new background check requirements for apartment maintenance workers.

Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart, the legislation (SB 898) is known as “Miya’s Law” and is intended to create new safeguards that might save others from the fate of Miya Marcano, a 19-year-old college student who was murdered in Orange County district last September.

The suspected killer was an apartment maintenance worker with a violent criminal background, an obsession with her and a master key that opened her apartment. He committed suicide before he could be arrested.

A little bipartisanship might help keep tenants safe. Image via AP. “Every tenant deserves to be safe in their own home,” DeSantis said. “By signing this legislation, we are making it safer to live in a rental unit and giving renters more peace of mind in their homes. Miya’s death was a tragedy, and our prayers continue to be with the Marcano family. I am proud to act on their behalf to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening to another Florida tenant.”

“Miya’s Law” requires apartment owners to conduct national criminal background checks on employees who could enter apartments. It also institutes rigorous controls, including logs, over master keys to apartments. The law also will require apartment employees to give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering an apartment, up from the current requirement of at least 12 hours.

Stewart, who was joined on the House side by Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman of Weston in pushing for the new law, said it was one of the most difficult but satisfying bills she’s ever carried.

“We’re happy we got this through today. It’s been a real struggle. With all the news coming out every day this is a big hope for not just the family but for those who live in apartments. They want to be safe. And they want to know that we’re going to do the best we can to make them safe.”

Scam shutdown

Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Federal Trade Commission are highlighting an early win as together they take on COVID-19 relief scams.

A federal judge in the Middle District of Florida issued a temporary restraining order and appointed a receiver against Grant Bae and its owner, Traeshonna Graham. Moody and the FTC claim the defendants marketed a fictitious grant-writing service that falsely promised minority-owned small businesses easy access to guaranteed funding and COVID-19 economic relief.

Ashley Moody and the feds are on the same page regarding scams. “The defendants targeted small, minority-owned businesses with the promise they could help secure COVID-19 relief,” Moody said in a statement. “Instead of obtaining the promised federal grant funds, the defendants took fees from struggling businesses and left them in even worse financial condition. I am pleased we have shut down this scam and we will continue to litigate this case in an effort to recover lost funds for those harmed.”

The complaint alleges that Graham and her company violated the FTC Act, the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by targeting minority-owned small businesses with claims that customers could access millions of dollars in grant funding after paying for the defendants’ services.

“These scammers targeted minority-owned businesses and misused public funds meant to support honest businesses during the pandemic,” said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine. “Working with our state partners and with new authority granted by Congress, we will continue to shut down frauds that prey on people during the pandemic.”

In addition to the false claims about the services, the complaint alleges the defendants falsely stated Graham’s grant-writing background. Grant Bae only distributed money to a handful of social media influencers and close associates, it continues.

‘Host of calamities’

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is calling the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in West Virginia v. EPA a dangerous setback.

“We’re in a race against time to minimize and avoid the host of calamities that will ensue if we fail to act on climate change. Florida is ground zero for climate change,” Fried, a Democrat who is running for Governor, said in a statement following the ruling.

“We’re in a race against time to minimize and avoid the host of calamities that will ensue if we fail to act on climate change. Florida is ground zero for climate change. We are already seeing more destructive storms, extreme heat, and sea level rise. It’s up to all of us to mitigate these impacts.”

Nikki Fried had multiple SCOTUS decisions to be upset about this term. Image via Scott Powers. Felipe Benitez, executive director and founder of Corazón Latino, also denounced the ruling saying it will hinder President Joe Biden and his successors from being able to set standards to regulate carbon emissions caused by existing power plants. Moreover, she said the ruling stripped the EPA’s authority to rely on clean energy solutions.

“Our families, especially those who live in black and brown communities experiencing the brunt of pollution, will be subject to the consequences of this decision, which include a variety of adverse health outcomes and instability,” she said in a statement.

“Additionally, as emissions fuel climate change, extreme weather conditions will make climate disasters a more significant challenge for us all. This ruling presents a major obstacle to protecting the health of our families and our environment, but we will not be stopped from continuing to fight for climate action.”

9-1-1 tax cuts

Patronis is praising DeSantis and lawmakers who helped implement a tax exemption for first responders and essential workers.

The legislation (HB 1563), which kicked in Friday, provides a homestead exemption for classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare professionals and active-duty military.

Jimmy Patronis and Florida are saying thank you to essential workers. Image via CFO’s Office. “As Florida’s CFO and State Fire Marshal, one of my top priorities is making Florida the friendliest state in the nation for our first responders, military, teachers, and dedicated civil servants,” Patronis said in a statement. “With rising inflation and high gas prices squeezing the wallets of folks across the country, this legislation will provide a much-needed tax cut for our frontline workers who dedicate themselves every day to serving and protecting Florida communities.”

Patronis also thanked Sanford Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur and Polk City Republican Rep. Josie Tomkow, who sponsored the legislation. Both lawmakers thanked DeSantis and Patronis for supporting the legislation.

“This legislation will serve as a long-term token of appreciation to all the men and women who teach our children, protect our communities and guard our borders,” Brodeur said.

“This bill will reduce the tax burden of Florida’s finest and provide an incentive for out-of-state military families and civil servants to move to the great state of Florida,” Tomkow said.

Scoops for Palestine

Patronis is also taking credit for Unilever’s decision to reverse their boycott of Israel by again selling Ben & Jerry’s products in the West Bank.

Patronis and the State Board of Administration had placed Unilever, which is the dairy dessert peddler’s parent company, on Florida’s Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel list in October. That decision came a few months after Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer sell its products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at the end of this year, when its license agreement there expires. But that changed this week.

Jimmy Patronis is claiming a win against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Image via AP. “Unilever’s reversal of their discriminatory decision to forbid sales of Ben & Jerry’s throughout all of Israel is the right move and no doubt, a direct result of the pressure of being added to the Florida’s Scrutinized Companies list,” Patronis said.

“My fellow Trustees of the SBA, including Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, deserve a lot of credit for holding companies accountable for their unlawful targeting of Israel. The state of Florida has deep ties with Israel and its great people and I will continue to work with Governor DeSantis and the SBA in support of our ally and the most free, democratic and prosperous nation in the Middle East.”

Instagram of the Week

The Week in Appointments

Department of Management Services — The Governor this week picked Pedro Allende to succeed exiting DMS Secretary Todd Inman. Allende, an attorney, has been a member of Florida’s Cybersecurity Advisory Council since September 2021. He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure, Risk, and Resilience Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he led policy development to protect critical infrastructure against cyber, physical and natural threats while overseeing policy efforts to increase federal, state, and local preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities. Before DHS, he held high-level positions at the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Labor. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics, master’s degree in decision and information science and law degree from the University of Florida.

CareerSource Florida Board of Directors — DeSantis appointed Rep. Dana Trabulsy and a half-dozen others to the CareerSource board. Trabulsy, a Fort Pierce Republican, is co-CEO of the Treasure Coast Business Summit and All Things Treasure Coast. She was elected to represent the current House District 84 in 2020. The Governor also appointed Abe Alangaden, a Senior Project Portfolio Manager at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care; Sarasota Mayor Erik Arroyo; Bayne Beecher, a Senior Manager of Supply Chain at PGT Innovations; Mel Ponder, an Okaloosa County Commissioner who previously served in the House and also works as President and CEO of Business Empowered; Brian Sartain, the Senior Vice President of Aerospace Repair and Overhaul at AAR Corporation; and Meredith Stanfield, the Legislative Policy Director for Florida Professional Firefighters and Paramedics.

Commission for Independent Education — DeSantis named seven appointees to the Commission this week. Mildred Coyne, of Cocoa, is a Senior Vice President of Broward College. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from Point Park University and her master’s degree in higher education administration and doctorate in higher education leadership from Capella University. Jeff Cross, of Orlando, is the Senior Vice President of Online for Herzing University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from California State University and his MBA from Webster University. Judith Marty, of Miami, is the President of Doral College. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Kean University and her master’s degree in education from the University of Miami. Troy Stefano, of Wellington, is an Associate Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from St. Thomas University, his master’s degree in history of Christianity and doctorate in history of Christianity and systemic theology from the University of Notre Dame. Sharon Taylor-Ellis, of St. Cloud, is the Vice President of Advanced Training at Universal Technical Institute and the Campus President of the Orlando campus. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and Asian studies from Wake Forest University. Kristin Whitaker, of Tallahassee, is the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Mercury and previously served as Vice Chancellor of Public Policy and Advocacy for the State University System of Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international affairs and her master’s degree in elementary education from Florida State University. Burton “Tra” Williams III, of Lakewood Ranch, is the president and owner of FleetForce Truck Driving School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine from the University of Georgia and is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Franchise Management Program.

Bridge the gap

Minority students and students from disadvantaged families closed the game in math and English in the latest, and final, round of standardized testing.

Díaz announced Tuesday that Black students, Hispanic students and students from economically disadvantaged families made gains in mathematics and English language arts during this year’s Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) and End of Course (EOC) Assessments. The Department of Education (DOE) credits reopening classrooms early in the pandemic for keeping vulnerable students from falling behind.

As the new Ed Commissioner, Manny Díaz wants Florida to double down. Image via Scott Powers. “Every child deserves access to the best possible education available, regardless of income or background,” Díaz said in a statement. “Today’s increases — spanning grade levels, subject areas, and demographics — would not have been possible without our hard-working teachers and staff and their dedication to student success. Now is the time to double-down on our efforts to accelerate student outcomes.”

Florida is doubling down in part by replacing the FSA with progress monitoring. DOE recognized progress monitoring, literacy support and record funding as tools to improve student achievement.

Compared to last year, all student subgroups increased or maintained performance in math and English. Additionally, achievement gaps narrowed between White and Black students in 3rd to 10th grade English, 3rd to 8th grade mathematics, and Algebra 1. Between White and Hispanic students, achievement gaps fell in 3rd to 8th Grade math and 3rd to 10th grade English.

Honing skilled vols

Volunteer Florida announced Wednesday that nonprofits can access more than half a million dollars in grant funding to recruit and retain skills-based volunteers.

Organizations wishing to apply for one of the 24 possible grants through the Volunteer Generation Fund should respond to the RFPs by 5 p.m. on Aug. 12. In total, Florida nonprofits can access up to $520,000 in grant funding.

Volunteer Florida wants nonprofits to get to work. The Volunteer Generation Fund helps organizations recruit, manage, support and retain skills-based volunteers, such as nurses, lawyers and accountants. Volunteer coordinators expect the programs will help local nonprofits manage and support approximately 9,600 skills-based volunteers who will collectively contribute 72,000 hours of service in Florida.

Organizers will give special consideration to groups supporting rural communities, increasing economic opportunities through workforce development and for those that have received a certificate of completion of Volunteer Florida’s Grant Writing Training. New and second-year subgrantee organizations will be eligible to receive $20,000 in grant funding, and third-year subgrantees will be eligible to receive $24,000 in grant funding.

Volunteer Florida, which administers AmeriCorps in Florida, connects Floridians who are looking to volunteer with organizations that need their help. The agency will host a webinar July 12 for organizations that wish to apply for funding.

Women, girls, survivors

Although it’s just the first battle in the legal fight over abortion in Florida, Judge John Cooper’s decision calling the 15-week ban unconstitutional is earning praise from Democrats.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who led impassioned opposition against the proposal during the Legislative Session, said the ruling reaffirms the rights of women, girls and sexual assault survivors.

“Extremist GOP leaders will continue their crusade to strip away women’s rights and freedoms — that much is clear — but make no mistake: advocates for choice and for women to have autonomy over their bodies will be there at every turn, continuing to fight with everything we have until women’s rights are fully restored,” she said in a statement.

Lauren Book is one of several Democrats praising the District Court’s decision. Image via Colin Hackley. Gainesville Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson similarly called the ruling a victory.

“This is a win for privacy, this is a win for women, and this is a win for bodily autonomy,” Hinson said. “As our constitution states, every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into their own private lives. Though, despite this decision, Republicans will not let up and will continue to attack our fundamental rights. We will be preparing for a fight in these upcoming months and years.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Díaz called out the Governor by name in his statement.

“Ron DeSantis’ unconstitutional law was a gross interference in personal medical decisions that should be between patients and their doctors,” Díaz said. “Politicians like the Governor have no business restricting Floridians’ health freedoms.”

Let’s get to work

In an effort to strengthen the state’s workforce and make Florida a leader in disability employment the Able Trust is launching a new three-year initiative dubbed Inclusive Florida that will marry research, outreach, and capacity building in an effort to ensure more Floridians with disabilities are able to enter the job market.

The announcement comes on the heels of a recently released report that shows there are 500,000 unfilled jobs in the state and a potential workforce of 700,000 people with disabilities between the ages of 20 and 64 who can fill those jobs.

Florida still has a gap in workforce representation. Stock image via Adobe. The report shows there has been a 20.3% increase in people with disabilities in the workforce between 2016 to 2020. Despite the gains, though, there continues to be a 40% workforce participation gap between people with a disability who are employed and those with jobs who do not have a disability.

The Able Trust has made a goal of adding 300,000 people with disabilities to the state’s workforce by 2032. And that makes now the time to act, said Allison Chase, President and CEO of The Able Trust.

“The national conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion of our workforce is at center stage for business, government, and community leaders,” Chase said in a release. “There is no better time to leverage Florida’s talented yet underutilized pool of workers with disabilities to strengthen our workforce and ensure Florida’s economy continues to grow.”

The Able Trust is created in state statute to support the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The Able Trust collaborates with Florida employers, community organizations, and career development partners to help Floridians with disabilities of all ages enter the workforce.

Abridged version

If the state’s $110 billion budget makes your head spin, Florida TaxWatch has a remedy.

The nonpartisan watchdog group has this week released “The Taxpayers’ Guide to Florida’s FY2022-23 State Budget” which, as the title hints, aims to explain the state’s spending plan to people whose eyes glaze over once policy wonks start excitedly trotting out terms such as “recurring dollars” or “reimbursement rates.”

As FTW President and CEO Dominic Calabro explains, “This report takes a 517-page document that is very hard for non-insiders to understand and condenses it into this handy pocket-sized guide. We do this each year because Florida TaxWatch remains committed to ensuring Florida taxpayers can easily access clear, understandable analyses of where and how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent.”

Dominic Calabro and Florida TaxWatch have broken down the budget for you. Image via Florida TaxWatch. The easy-to-digest guide analyzes all appropriations for the new fiscal year beginning July 1, including the General Appropriations Act, “back-of-bill” spending, general bills and the Governor’s vetoes.

“With the new fiscal year right around the corner, Florida TaxWatch is hopeful that people will use this annual guide to equip themselves with the information they need to actively participate in government and hold their elected officials accountable,” Calabro said.

“The Florida Legislature had almost $54 billion in General Revenue to develop this new budget, and they made substantial investments in the environment, education, and health care areas, in addition to providing $1 billion in tax relief and maintaining a record level of reserves — bolstered by the governor’s $3 billion in line-item vetoes.

“These thoughtful decisions are poised to have a lasting impact on our state’s wellbeing and ultimate success, and we look forward to joining our fellow taxpayers in monitoring their implementation in the months ahead.”

Rattlers for Justice

Four Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law students are working in public interest law positions this summer after receiving Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship awards.

All four recipients are members of Rattlers for Justice.

Third year student Alba Manuela Suarez, who emigrated to the United States from San Cristobal, Venezuela, said her family and friends’ struggles with the immigration system helped catapult her legal career. She currently is working with the Department of Children and Families.

“I am determined to use my legal skills to fight for important matters and help those who would otherwise have little chance of succeeding in our judicial system due to lack of compassionate representation,” she said in a prepared release announcing the awards.

Rattlers for Justice is a scholarship for those who seek to rattle a few cages. Image via FAMU. Jai’Ehir Jackson-Hawkins, who also won, is working at the FAMU Law Legal Clinic.

“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the John Paul Stevens Foundation for providing the funding for me to complete this experience,” she said.

Third-year law student Derrick Gaiter is a legal intern at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.

“I am receiving hands-on experience in the preparation of criminal cases in both state and federal court while being able to attend pre-file conferences, court hearings, jury and bench trials, and depositions,” he said.

Gaiter recalls always wanting to become a lawyer to ask the tough questions and help the underserved. News that he won the award is making him “beam with Rattler pride.”

Seana-Jahan La Coa also received the award. The third-year law student from Palm Beach County works in the Guardian Ad Litem Legal Clinic administered by her law professors.

“The John Paul Stevens Fellowship allows me to participate fully in the benefits of the legal clinic, specifically working closely with professors as I explore my passion for public interest work.”

The John Paul Stevens Fellowship Foundation in 2021 partnered with law schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The partnership includes Florida A&M University College of Law, Howard University School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Southern University Law Center, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

What will they do?

Florida’s capital city, like the rest of the state, is witnessing a surge in real estate values that could eventually result in residents paying more in property taxes depending on what actions local governments take in the next few months.

Leon County Property Appraiser Akin Akinyemi announced that taxable property values have increased 9.33% over last year, which is the largest increase in over a decade.

“Real estate in Florida has seen significant demand driven by a large influx of new residents and limited supply, resulting in surges in property values,” Akinyemi said. “Leon County is not immune from these factors and has seen record appreciation over the last several years.”

Tallahassee is green with growth. Akinyemi’s office released the preliminary 2022 tax roll data that it submitted to the Department of Revenue. It shows that the taxable values for local governments as well as special districts in the county grew anywhere from 8% to more than 9%.

This means that the city of Tallahassee, Leon County and the local school board will have more money coming in if local elected officials keep property tax rates at their current levels. But that also means local homeowners will see their overall tax bills go up.

Florida law does put a cap on how much certain property values can rise in one year, and homeowners can also receive exceptions that lower the taxable value of their homes.

This fall, Akinyemi will send out an official notice that shows residents how much their tax bills could go up if local officials keep tax rates at their current levels.

Great TEMPO

A record 122 people graduated from Tallahassee’s nationally recognized youth program that identifies at-risk youth and connects them with educational and employment opportunities.

It’s called the Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity (TEMPO) program and is administered by the City’s Department of Housing & Community.

In a ceremony on June 24 at the Old West Enrichment Center, 68 formerly at-risk students received their GED certificates. Another 54 received technical certificates in cosmetology, EMS, certified nursing and welding. One TEMPO graduate is the mother of a 2021 TEMPO alumnus.

TEMPO welcomed its newest and largest graduating class. Image via Tallahassee. “Seeing the pride on the faces of the TEMPO graduates speaks volumes about how this City program changes mindsets and lives,” Mayor John Dailey said. “With marketable skills and newly gained confidence, these students are creating a better future for themselves, their families and our entire community. TEMPO alumni are showcasing the positive trajectory the program provides with a zero percent recidivism rate, more than 400 now employed and 319 enrolled in higher education.”

The Legislature provided $500,000 in state funds to TEMPO in the 2022-23 budget that runs from Friday through June 30, 2023. That’s double the amount of money directed to the program in the budget year that ended Thursday.

Capitol Directions

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — If it was possible to OD on schadenfreude, the Jan. 6 hearings would kill him.

Ron DeSantis, Part 2 — Up arrow — July 1 must be an exception to meatless Friday, because he just delivered a ton to his base.

Nikki Fried — Down arrow — We want to get off Mr. Bone’s Wild Ride.

Jimmy Patronis — Down arrow — We weren’t aware the CFO had a medical degree.

Privacy — Down arrow — One guess on which fundamental right you’re losing next.

Dep’t of Education — Crossways arrow — We’ll wait for someone who learned math outside of Florida to tell us if 55% proficiency is bad.

Dep’t of Education, Part 2 — Down arrow — Oh, they did. And yeah, it’s bad. Time to pump more money into VocEd.

Civics — Crossways arrow — Teachers are panning the new civics curriculum, but we’ll probably get some good Fundie Fridays episodes out of it.

Ray Rod — Up arrow — At least someone is excited to read thousands of viewpoint diversity surveys.

Randolph Bracy — Crossways — Allied Health bungled his child vaccination event. No good deed goes unpunished.

Chip LaMarca — Up arrow — Happy birthday, NIL!

Andrew Learned — Up arrow — AIF praising a Democrat? What’s next, a functional unemployment benefits system?

DEO — Up arrow — Somebody pinch us.

State coffers — Double up arrow — If we allowed acceptance speeches for up arrows, record-high inflation would get a shout-out.

David Altmaier — Down arrow — OIR’s hands-off approach isn’t really working.

Bob Chapek — Up arrow — Chapek v. DeSantis has been renewed for three more seasons.

New York City — Down arrow — It was off by a few decades and a little too Sinophobic, otherwise Escape From New York nailed it.

Driving laws — Down arrow — Floridians can cruise on the interstate with their hazards on but can’t jam out with the windows down. Why do we let septuagenarians write traffic laws?

Sarah Couture — Up arrow — At least the new citations will have an affordable payment plan.

Division of Elections — Down arrow — The employee training video is just a worn-out VHS copy of Brazil.

Florida Democrats — Down arrow — Going all-in on people who don’t know how to use email is so 2016.

Joe Gruters — Up arrow — He snagged another Complete and Total Endorsement™.

Shane Abbott — Up arrow — He’s the prescription for HD 5.

Diapers — Crossways arrow — 6% off isn’t much of a sale, but we’ll take it.

Fireworks — Up arrow — Scaring birds is no longer a requirement, just a bonus.

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