Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Bills the Governor Should Veto

Newspapers have already been calling for the Governor to veto numerous bills passed by the Legislature.   Here are some excerpts:

Insurers – The governor that championed needed reforms of the state’s property insurance industry went missing this year, hiding from the horde of lawmakers — many from his own party — who eagerly wanted to do the underwriters’ bidding.

They did that and more, most appallingly by removing the authority of regulators to determine when rate hikes requested by large companies are excessive.

All that regulators would be able to do is determine whether those companies’ rates are too low. Right. Like that’ll be something they’ll have plenty of opportunities to evaluate.

Mr. Crist needs to reassert himself and the interests of homeowners by vetoing the insurance reforms rollback. Lawmakers did need to reduce some of the state’s risk, and they agreed to trim the size of Florida’s Catastrophe Fund by $2 billion a year. The fund provides the industry with cheap backup insurance it needs to pay claims after catastrophic storms.

But lawmakers also should have capped the price of backup insurance sold privately. Their failure to do that could result in insurers passing on the exorbitant cost of backup insurance to policyholders — the very thing that sent rates soaring two and three years ago.

Water managers – Senate Bill 2080 looks fairly placid, from a distance. It requires that regional water managers provide Florida-friendly landscaping ordinances for local governments to use as a model. Fine, as far as that goes.

But wade beyond the thickets and there’s a carnivore waiting. The bill would work to effectively devour the authority of water management district board members. They would no longer vote on requests to withdraw water from the aquifer, rivers, lakes and other sources.

Instead, the districts’ executive directors would make those decisions — and largely out of view of the public, which now is allowed to attend regularly scheduled board meetings.

If that isn’t enough to make Mr. Crist, Florida’s environmental governor, break out his veto pen, here’s the kicker: Board members get to weigh in only if the district’s executive director decides the permit is harmful and denies it.

In other words, developers who are denied withdrawals would get a last chance to plead their case to board members.

Hardly what the public needs.  Orlando Sentinel 

Here’s Howard Troxler’s list:

…At the top is Senate Bill 360, which loosens Florida’s growth rules. The biggest change is that developers would no longer have to worry about their impact on traffic in urban areas.

If that’s not enough for a veto, there was a sneaky last-minute addition. In the name of “affordable housing,” this bill also requires every county in Florida to allow the conversion of RV parks to residential developments of the same density. Check it out in lines 1600-1605 of the bill.

Another pro-development measure is House Bill 227, which says that local governments that impose impact fees on growth have the “burden of proof” if a builder challenges their validity. This is a weird and unnecessary reversal of legal tradition. The bill also puts a two-year ban on any increases in impact fees, no matter whether a local government has done a good or bad job of imposing them.

Next up is SB 2626, which goes a long way toward deregulating old-fashioned, wire-in-the-wall telephone service in Florida. The state Public Service Commission would no longer have any say over customers’ service or repair problems, operator charges or just about anything else. A lot of traditional customers will be surprised to learn they’ve been shoved into the deeper waters of the free market.

HB 903 is the latest round in the eternal battle over worker’s compensation in Florida. The Legislature already cracked down on legal fees in 2003. This led to a 2008 Supreme Court ruling saying the fees at least have to be reasonable. This bill tries to reverse that ruling; the governor should let it stand.

SB 2198 says that no matter how much money tobacco companies lose in smoker lawsuits, they only have to put up a total of $100 million in appeal bonds while they fight on. Since their potential liability runs to tens of billions, requiring them to put up only a tiny fraction is an awfully big favor.

Here’s an odd little bill: HB 1065 grants total immunity to airports and their employees, no matter what methods they use to get rid of wildlife. For sure, we have seen the dangers of wildlife around airports, but — a total blank check? Really?

SB 2276 creates a DNA database for every person arrested in Florida on a felony charge. It would be a crime to refuse to provide a sample. And even if the person is never prosecuted, is acquitted, or wins an appeal, he or she would have to go through a petition process to be removed from the database. Why not require the samples upon conviction, with automatic removal if the conviction is later reversed?

SB 1248 is a silly example of micro-managing — the subject is how much Florida schools should charge students or their parents for lost textbooks more than 1 year old. The bill changes the standard from 50 to 75 percent of the original cost to 100 percent. This is just seat-of-the-pants meddling, given that the Legislature didn’t bother to figure out whether it would actually save any money.

Whoops, out of space, although certainly not out of bills.    …   St. Pete Times


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