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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Legislative family feud another blow to SunRail



Update: This blog has been expanded and bolstered with documents at this link

There’s little love lost between Sen. J.D. Alexander and Rep. Baxter Troutman (more here) And there will be even less now that Troutman filed an official vote-abstention form with the House Clerk, noting that he’s a “significant” shareholder in a family company called Phoenix Industries, which does work for CSX. And since CSX stands to earn $1 billion off proposed legislation, Troutman said the deal will “inure a special gain for all family shareholders.”

Family shareholders like Alexander. Except Troutman doesn’t quite say it.

Alexander said he’s not abstaining. He said he asked the Senate’s counsel in March of 08 to render a ruling and he was told at the time that it would not mean a special gain for the company. “It’s de minimus,” Alexander said of any potential profit.

Still, Troutman’s letter put Alexander on the spot. So he’s again asking the Senate counsel to issue a legal opinion.

If Alexander can’t vote, it spells major trouble for SunRail. Senate President Jeff Atwater called the special session with barely enough votes to pass it. Some say he didn’t have enough votes. And he lost one today when Sen. Carey Baker said he couldn’t go along.

The Senate could get out of its pickle by changing language to give the unions more comfort. But a Republican insider says the House won’t take it: “Their plan is to pass the bill and give it to the Senate. They’ll let the cat die on our porch.”

-- Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:08pm]


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