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Robert Trigaux

Associated Industries of Florida's Barney Bishop pushing pro-business envelope




Wake up and good morning. Who is Barney Bishop and why is he saying all these things that are not just pro business but are closer to Business Uber Alles -- business above all things ?

Bishop is president of Associated Industries of Florida, a business lobbying group that won't disclose its members but still manages to exercise disproportionate influence on the state legislature in Tallahassee and Florida politics in general.

Lately, Barney's been on a roll, taking vocal stands calling for higher insurance rates, bashing a state regulator who happens to be against higher electric rates, and urging quick approval for drilling off the coast of Florida:

* Raise property insurance rates. Florida insurance regulators are failing in their duties if they don't make the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. raise property insurance rates by 10 percent across the board, he said said Tuesday. Bishop said it's "astonishing" that the state-backed insurer would not increase rates on all policies by 10 percent. ''It is our position that every rate should go up,'' Bishop told the Office of Insurance Regulation. "'The rates haven't been actuarially sound for the last five years," AP reported. More details here.

* Criticize Florida Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano.She was the sole PSC member to vote against Friday's approved rate hike for power companies seeking higher rates on customers to pay for upfront costs associated with building new nuclear power plants in the state. Bishop makes no secret of that Florida Power & Light is a member of its board and the lobbying organization supports its members, even to the point of intervening in support of the company's rate case. Last Thursday, Bishop called a press conference to bash Argenziano for being impartial and unethical but made no mention of the fact that FPL had helped coordinate the event. More details here from the St. Petersburg Times, here from the Sun-Sentinel and here from the Palm Beach Post.

* "There's no evidence anywhere that offshore drilling has hurt tourism in any area where it has been allowed." That Bishop statement, according to factchecker Politifact, is false. The St. Petersburg Times caught up with Bishop in Washington this month, where he elaborated in this video interview on his pro-drilling stance and his claim there's never been an ocean spill attributable specifically to drilling.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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