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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Prison privatization stalls again; Fasano punished



For the second day in a row, the Senate stalled a controversial prison privatization bill, and not even personal lobbying of senators by Gov. Rick Scott helped. Scott summoned Sens. Charlie Dean and Steve Oelrich to separate one-on-one meetings in his office, and both ex-sheriffs remain firmly in opposition to privatization.

Senate leaders want to privatize 26 prisons and work camps in 18 South Florida counties, but a powerful coalition of Republicans and Democrats has the votes to kill it, so Senate President Mike Haridopolos refused to bring the bill (SB 2038) up for a vote. Privatization is a priority of leadership and the Merritt Island Republican is struggling to move his agenda as the session nears the midway point.

Three GOP senators -- Jack Latvala, Paula Dockery and Mike Fasano -- have overpowered Haridopolos and his lieutenants so far on the issue. When Haridopolos shelved the bill Wednesday afternoon, Latvala asked him for fair warning before it's brought back to the floor: "I think there's a concern level here that it's going to come bursting forward with a minimal amount of notice," Latvala said.

Haridopolos promised him a day's notice before the bill resurfaces. Then, moments after the Senate recessed for the day, Fasano was stripped of his chairmanship of a budget subcommittee on civil and criminal justice appropriations. Fasano said he was told it was because of his criticism of prison privatization on the Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC on Monday.

Fasano, already tasting victory in the privatization fight, said: "It's unfortunate when leaders of the Senate can't lose like gentlemen."

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 4:08pm]


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