Jason Garcia Profile picture
Investigative reporter covering corporate influence in Florida. Publisher of Seeking Rents. Garcia.JasonR@gmail.com.
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Mar 28 5 tweets 2 min read
A Florida House committee just approved a bill (HB 715) that would cut between $40 million and $100 million a year from education funding in order to give more money to stores that sell lottery tickets.

A lobbyist for 7-Eleven testified in support of it. The sponsor of the bill – Rep. Jim Mooney, a Republican from the Florida Keys – repeatedly claimed that the bill wouldn’t impact education funding.

He ought to think about reading the staff analysis for his own bill:
Mar 28 13 tweets 3 min read
The Florida Senate starts to move today on a 6-week abortion ban meant to strengthen Gov. Ron DeSantis’ position in the Republican presidential primary.

As they do, here’s an example of how sensitive DeSantis and his staff are to charges that their abortion bans are anti-women: Just before the end of last year’s session, DeSantis’ senior leadership team began plotting out the public bill-signing rallies and ceremonies they could hold around the state to attract more news coverage for the governor.
Mar 27 7 tweets 2 min read
At the risk of being Charlie Brown and the football, here's some promising news from Tallahassee:

House Bill 5 (House Speaker Paul Renner's bill to abolish Enterprise Florida and a bunch of tax incentive programs) would finally eliminate the single worst tax break in Florida. That tax break is the "Urban High Crime Area Jobs Tax Credit Program."

It was created in the 1990s, championed by Black lawmakers looking to help crime- and poverty-stricken communities around Florida.

It has instead become an ongoing subsidy for Universal Studios.
Mar 27 4 tweets 1 min read
The bills to protect car dealers and high-interest loan companies passed unanimously.

Bipartisanship! In related news, the Florida Automobile Dealers Association (lobbyists for car dealers) and the Florida Financial Services Association (lobbyists for high-interest installment lenders) have been showering campaign contributions on lawmakers in both parties.
Mar 24 6 tweets 2 min read
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner just acknowledged that the defamation bill moving through the Legislature that would make it much easier to sue news organizations – another bill that began with Ron DeSantis – is intentionally unconstitutional. The goal, he said, is to provoke a showdown before the United States Supreme Court and potentially overturn a landmark case (New York Times v. Sullivan) that sets a very high bar for defamation suits brought by public figures.
Mar 23 10 tweets 3 min read
The Florida Senate is going to take up an aggressively anti-union piece of legislation later today that Gov. Ron DeSantis is driving through the Legislature this session (SB 256). The Orlando Weekly's @SheCarriesOn has done some really good deep dives into the legislation.

But the bottom-line goal here is to destabilize, defund and, ultimately, decertify unions that collectively bargain on behalf of most public-sector workers.

Mar 22 12 tweets 3 min read
Big day for billionaire Major League Baseball team owners in Tallahassee!

Committees in the House and the Senate are hearing bills to screw minor league players out of the state minimum wage.

Records show just how hands-on MLB and its lobbyists have been with these bills. Here's a lobbyist for Major League Baseball (who also happens to be Ron DeSantis' former chief of staff) sending a white paper explaining the legislation to the office of Sen. Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers), who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate: Image
Mar 22 5 tweets 1 min read
A coalition of public-interest attorneys from across Florida has come out against vendor-driven bills moving through the Legislature this spring that would ensure landlords can charge tenants perpetual, unlimited & nonrefundable fees instead of a refundable security deposit. In a letter sent yesterday to members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee (which will vote on the bill later this morning), the Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar rips the "scheme" being pushed primarily by a real-estate tech company called LeaseLock.
Mar 22 4 tweets 1 min read
Here's a fun little bit of hypocrisy: The Florida House and Senate start moving bills today meant to force all public employers (state agencies, cities, counties, universities, school districts, etc.) to prioritize work experience over higher education when hiring people. The bills (House Bill 1109 and Senate Bill 1310) are being branded as the "Expanding Public Sector Career Opportunities Act."

Among other things, they would generally bar any government from not hiring someone because they don't have a college or university degree: Image
Mar 20 13 tweets 3 min read
At 12:30 p.m. today, the Florida Senate's Transportation Committee will take up one of the most anti-consumer bills of the 2023 session:

SB 712, a piece of legislation written by car dealers for car dealers.

flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2… Lobbyists and lawmakers who support this bill are claiming it would protect local car dealers from Big, Bad car manufacturers in Detroit and Germany and Japan.

But what it would really do is protect car dealers from the car-buying public.
Feb 27 5 tweets 2 min read
One of the people Ron DeSantis just appointed to the board of the Reedy Creek Improvement District gave DeSantis $50,000 last year. Martin Garcia is the chair of Pinehill Capital, a private investment firm. And he's a big Florida Republican donor:
Feb 13 5 tweets 2 min read
Fun fact: This politically connected interim president now making $700K a year is also the Florida politician who is arguably most responsible for the state's decision to deny Medicaid health insurance coverage to ~800,000 Floridians. "Come to war with us," he said.

Feb 13 12 tweets 2 min read
Re-upping a little history lesson from Sunday's edition of Seeking Rents:

Shortly after he took office in 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis put four people all at once on the seven-member board that runs Orlando International Airport. The new DeSantis majority — urged on by advisers like political consigliere Matt Gaetz and the governor’s chief of staff — quickly launched an attempted hostile takeover of the agency, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on vendors, contractors & concessionaires.
Feb 9 5 tweets 3 min read
A story in screenshots:

On Aug. 10, six days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Tampa prosecutor Andrew Warren, the governor's communications director sent a proposed public records request seeking copies of Warren's emails to a writer at a new conservative news outlet: Image Fifteen minutes later, the writer submitted the records request in his own name to the 13th Circuit State Attorney's Office.

It was a verbatim copy/paste — right down to picking up a typo that misspelled the acronym for the American Civil Liberties Union as "ALCU"). Image
Feb 9 8 tweets 2 min read
The full Florida House of Representatives is going to hear Ron DeSantis' Disney punishment bill today.

Supporters are broadly making two main claims about this bill.

One is completely true.

The other is utterly false. First, the true claim: The bill will strip Disney of its self-governing power.

Right now, Disney controls all appointments to the board of supervisors of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which provides most municipal services at Disney World (roads, trash, zoning, etc.)
Feb 7 6 tweets 2 min read
So Ron DeSantis is letting Disney keep all its Reedy Creek-related tax breaks. (See screenshot from a staff analysis of the legislation.)

Let me walk you through an example of just how valuable this is for Disney. Disney has built three big parking garages around its "Disney Springs" shopping district.

These garages exist solely to serve Disney's business.

But Disney didn't build these garages itself.

It had Reedy Creek build them instead.
Feb 4 14 tweets 5 min read
The Florida Legislature is calling a special session next week that everyone will say is about punishing Disney.

But it's actually about cleaning up the mess Ron DeSantis made when he had his staff con a bunch of migrants in Texas into boarding a plane to Martha's Vineyard. I'm sure everyone remembers DeSantis' migrant relocation/kidnapping stunt. But a quick recap:

DeSantis paid a contractor to round up ~50 mostly Venezuelan migrants in San Antonio, fly them to Martha's Vineyard and drop them off without any warning, and filmed the stunt for Fox.
Feb 3 7 tweets 2 min read
Via @reporterannie: Investigators following the trail of dark money spent on crucial state Senate elections in 2020 unearthed some big donations from the Florida Chamber of Commerce:

orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-ne… Here's the timeline:

On Sep. 2, 2020, a dark-money nonprofit controlled by the Florida Chamber of Commerce ("Secure Florida's Future") gave $630,000 to a second dark-money nonprofit controlled by a Republican strategist ("Foundation for a Safe Environment")
Dec 14, 2022 18 tweets 3 min read
After the Senate approved the Legislature’s giant property-insurance package yesterday, the state House will cast a final vote later today and send it on to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill does a lot of stuff. But here’s one especially subtle, and mean-spirited, change it makes: This change involves Citizens, the state-run insurance company for Floridians who can’t find affordable or adequate property insurance on the private market.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are insured by Citizens.
Nov 24, 2022 13 tweets 4 min read
Here's one of the odder details in the story of how Ron DeSantis came to suspend Tampa state attorney Andrew Warren.

To set it up, this began in December 2022, when DeSantis, apparently unprompted, asked a few top aides whether any state attorneys were “not enforcing the law.” This prompted one of those aides – Larry Keefe, the former Matt Gaetz law partner who is now DeSantis’ “public safety czar” – to begin contacting sheriffs and other law enforcement folks to see if they had any complaints about their state attorneys.
Nov 23, 2022 7 tweets 3 min read
Whoa: A week before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended state attorney Andrew Warren, DeSantis' staff prepared an internal memo weighing the "benefits" and "drawbacks" of the move.

One of the benefits?

"A leftist prosecutor is removed from a position of power." Here's the full chart, showing all the options DeSantis' office considered -- and the political calculations behind each.

Among other things, they worried about raising Warren's profile.