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Dizzying Array of Frightening Bills Racing Through Florida Legislature

BRADENTON -- We all knew that the powerful Republican super-majority would be veto-proof and I think every Floridian expected it to be audacious in its reach. What we may not have been prepared for is the break-neck speed at which the legislature is moving mountains of monumental legislation toward law. Before Floridians know what hit them, their state may be radically altered and face consequences never imagined.

We've already seen anti-union bills and property insurance giveaways get the red carpet treatment. Governor Scott's very first bill signed into law radically changed the teaching profession in Florida and will have profound, if uncertain impacts on education. As the "top-of-the-list" items race toward the finish line, Republicans are quickly moving dozens of additional bills through committee and toward a vote. Here are a few notables:

CS/HB 991 is choc full of changes to Florida's wetlands, water pollution and development permitting rules, essentially making it much easier to destroy vital wetlands in exchange for cash payoffs that supposedly offset such destruction.  

HB 1207, which was vetoed by former Governor Charlie Crist, was successfully overidden in the house on party lines, which clears the way to reestablish "leadership funds," which were a sort of slush fund that allowed for unlimited soft money to be raised from special interests and then controlled by a few powerful legislators.

SPB 782 would allow utilities companies to recoup 100 percent of their investment in alternative energies by passing it on to consumers through rate increases, while requiring that 25 percent of other energy be required to come from sources other than solar and eliminating nearly all financial incentives for individual solar energy production.

The proposed House Pre-K-12 education budget would cut total education funding by over a billion dollars and rollback per student spending to the lowest levels in five years.

In addition to these bills, legislation to create major deregulation in such areas as payroll companies, travel agencies, Medicaid HMO's, and landline telecommunications has been swiftly moving along. Language was removed from a bill, which would have deregulated the sale of "timeshare" properties after companies like Disney, Marriott and Starwood weighed in, fearing that a return to the shady operations that long plagued Orlando's reputation would upend years of work the companies did reversing such outlooks. If you would like to weigh in on these or other bills, The Bradenton Times has created an easy representative contact page to make it simple to email the appropriate political representative. Click here to access our list.


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