Axios Tampa Bay

Picture of the Tampa Bay skyline with TPA written across it.
May 26, 2021

Good morning, Tampa Bay. It's Wednesday, and we hope it's a good one.

  • 🥵 Temps will climb into the mid-90s inland today, and a few degrees cooler on the water. We're so sorry about your lawn.

🪱🐦 Situational awareness: Early-bird Gasparilla Music Festival tickets are on sale.

Today's newsletter is 972 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Central Florida leaders call for immigration reform

A pair of hands pick cherry tomatoes from a vine.
A worker picks tomatoes at a farm in Immokalee, Florida. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio are facing pressure from a group of Central Florida leaders to pass bipartisan legislation that would give more security to some of the roughly 490,000 immigrants living in the region.

What's happening: Business, political and religious leaders are warning of a post-pandemic worker shortage in industries such as agriculture and hospitality, and they're urging across-the-aisle cooperation.

The backdrop: The call comes as a U.S. District Court judge in Texas weighs whether to end DACA, which the leaders say would threaten economic recovery.

Between the lines: One in three hospitality workers in Florida are immigrants, and there are some 60,000 Temporary Protected Status recipients living in the state, many of them Venezuelans.

What they're saying: "We worry about our ability to continue to grow without an adequate workforce," said Arianna Cabrera de Ona, senior vice president of HR and general counsel of Costa Farms, during a virtual event held by the IMPAC Fund and the American Business Immigration Coalition on Tuesday.

  • "When you have over 1,000 CEOs clamoring for reform, it's not about politics," Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said at the same event.

We couldn't reach Scott, but Rubio blamed the Biden administration for a crisis on the Southern border.

  • "I have made it clear that a blanket amnesty for those who are in the country unlawfully is a non-starter," Rubio said in a statement to Axios. "It is impossible to do anything substantive on immigration until President Biden enforces existing immigration law."

Full story: Central Florida leaders call for immigration reform

2. Tampa vaccine sites shut down

Illustration of the coronavirus vaccine and the Tampa skyline, over a pattern of palm trees.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Tampa Greyhound Track closed its coronavirus vaccine site today, while Hillsborough County announced it's closing four of its five vaccination sites next month.

Details: The Palm River Community Center site will stay open, while Raymond James Stadium, the Children's Board, Port Tampa and USF Yuengling sites will close.

  • Find more information here.

What they're saying: At this point, people have either already been vaccinated or don't want to be, Hillsborough County Health Department spokesman Kevin Watler told Bay News 9.

  • "The longer it takes you to get vaccinated, the longer it's going to take for you to have protection," Watler said.

3. DeSantis signs Big Tech social media bill

Illustration of social media icons with warning symbol
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Gov. Ron DeSantis is threatening Big Tech companies who operate social media platforms with fines if they permanently ban candidates running for office in Florida.

What's happening: The Republican governor signed a bill Monday that aims to limit how social media companies moderate their content online.

  • Starting in July, these companies will have to post terms of service with consistent standards for censoring, de-platforming and blocking users.
  • Platforms will be limited to banning candidates for no more than two weeks.
  • Fines for violating are $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for others.

The other side: The governor’s critics called the legislation an unconstitutional move on behalf of former President Trump, Creative Loafing reports.

  • DeSantis declared his war on "the Big Tech cartel" days after Trump left office, moved back to Florida and was banned from Twitter and Facebook when his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Florida Politics noted.
  • Many in the tech industry have warned that the law will be challenged in court for violating the First Amendment.

What he's saying: When asked if the bill was for Trump, DeSantis told a Miami Herald reporter it's for "everyday Floridians."

  • But he added, "When you de-platform [Trump] but you let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong."

What's next: It remains unclear if Florida will even be able to enforce the legislation since federal law prevents internet companies from being sued for removing posts, AP reports.

Go deeper: Tech regulations take different paths by party

4. Jon Cooper looks like a million bucks

A photo collage of Lightning hockey coach Jon Cooper.
Daaaaang, coach. Photo credits: Top: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Bottom left: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Bottom right: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

We here at Axios Tampa Bay do hereby proclaim Lightning coach Jon Cooper the Best Dressed Man in Sports.

  • Have you noticed?

The state of play: Cooper mostly occupies the out-of-the-spotlight space betwixt the back glass and a line of Bolts' helmets.

  • But in a crash-and-dash sport of bloodshed and broken teeth, Cooper, who has a law degree from Western Michigan University, keeps it freakin' dapper.
  • We're talking tailored suits, and accoutrement like pocket squares and neckwear that seem to express the gentleman's mood and personality.

We asked the Lighting front office about it and, get this: coach shops local.

  • His tailor is David Kahn at Bespoke & Co on Bay to Bay Boulevard.

5. The Pulp: Play it, Sam. Play "As Lime Goes By"

Illustration of an orange bouncing from the left side of the screen to the right.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🐸 ZooTampa is saving the Puerto Rican crested toad. (FOX13)

🏠 A Clearwater Beach home, falsely reported to be under contract to Tom Brady, has sold for $6.9 million, still not to Tom Brady. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

📹 A YouTube video hashing out Jay-Z and Offset's beef helped a Tampa man out of homelessness. (ABC Action News)

⚾️ A Tampa Bay Rays' principal owner is being sued for a fraud scheme against minority partners. (St. Pete Catalyst)

🙏 A beloved Riverview man known for handing out water has died. (Bay News 9)

✅ Kathy Castor endorses Charlie Crist for governor. (Florida Politics)

Quote du jour:
"I love it. Ready to die like B.I.G."
— Ronnie Oneal III telling the Hillsborough Circuit Court he's okay with facing the death penalty

6. 💰 Lightning players fined for illegal strikes

Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tangles with MacKenzie Weegar #52 of the Florida Panthers
Pat Maroon of the Tampa Bay Lightning tangles with MacKenzie Weegar of the Florida Panthers in Game 2 . Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images.

Lightning players Pat Maroon and Ryan McDonagh were fined for illegal hits during their loss to the Panthers on Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

By the numbers: McDonagh's retaliatory cross-check on the Panthers' Mason Marchment in the first period cost him $5,000.

  • Maroon was fined $3,879.31 for "bulldozing" Panthers forward Noel Acciari after the third-period puck drop.

What's next: The Bolts have a chance to redeem themselves at home tonight and close out the series.

📖 Ben is reading Rick Moody's old essay "Boys," and listening to the Avett Brothers, who are back on the road.

🍪 Selene is watching her new favorite TikTok star and making these super healthy cookies.

Thanks for reading.