Newspaper lobbyists bracing for fight in House
There's an axiom in politics: Don't pick a fight with somebody who buys ink by the barrel. But the House will consider a bill Wednesday that would allow cities and counties to move legal ads from newspapers to the Internet, potentially wiping out a major source of revenue for financially-ailing papers.
The bill (HB 1511) by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne (left), places the Brevard County lawmaker on a collision course with his hometown Gannett-owned newspaper, Florida Today, which is represented by veteran lobbyist Guy Spearman (right). Wednesday's hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the Government Affairs Policy Committee, headed by Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill.
Media firms, operating under the name "Keep the Public Noticed," are circulating fliers noting that 62 percent of elderly adults don't use the Internet, as well as 36 percent of Hispanics and 30 percent of African-Americans (according to a 2009 Pew study).
Similar legislation has been filed in recent years without success. The Senate version (SB 376) is sponsored by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, and has not been scheduled for a hearing. If, for some reason, the bill could make it out of the Legislature, might it be vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist? Ya think?