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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

"One of the most wicked bills ever filed" in Fla



Howard Troxler: In the way that a detective admires a master criminal, I whistle in amazement at our state House and its new bill that "reforms" the Florida Public Service Commission.

Bluntly put, this is one of the most wicked bills ever filed. The Legislature's past favors for Florida's electric companies (advance billing for nuclear plants, etc.) pale in comparison.

It's hard to know where to start. This 72-page bill that magically popped up for the first time on Tuesday would, among other things:

• Take away the PSC's entire regulatory staff and put it under the direct political control of the Legislature. The bill says the Legislature can fire that staff's director "at any time," just as it tried earlier this year to fire the public's advocate, Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, stopped only by public outcry.

• Declare that this staff, once under the Legislature's control, has "discretion" not to get involved in utility cases at all — keeping the staff on the sidelines while outgunned consumer advocates fight high-powered utility lawyers before a gutted PSC.

• Strip away the PSC's power to do anything by itself, such as opening its own cases, seeking information from utilities, reducing rates, punishing wrongful acts by utilities— or even going to court to have its own rulings enforced!...

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:30pm]


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