TAMPA — Is it a good idea to serve alcohol at the Glazer Children's Museum?
That's the question state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, posed at a Hillsborough legislative delegation meeting Friday.
Museum leaders want a license to serve alcohol during special events at the museum, set to open in downtown Tampa next year. They've asked local lawmakers to take their request via a local bill to Tallahassee, saying it will generate revenue.
"I question the wisdom of saying in order to make money we have to sell booze at the children's museum," Storms said. "If nobody finds that ironic, well, then I guess I'm on a planet all by myself."
Why not sell cigarettes as well, she asked.
"We could make a lot of money there," she said.
Her colleagues, though, said they expect museum leaders will exercise good judgment and keep the alcohol limited to fundraising events and private functions, such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.
"I doubt seriously that we're going to walk into the children's museum and see the Budweiser/Busch display for the children to interact with," said state Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa.
One by one, all of the delegation members voted to back the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa.
Storms cast the final vote, saying: "From my own planet, no."
The delegation also agreed to back a bill that gives the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission authority to regulate non-consensual tow truck operators.
The PTC already regulates about 50 companies that tow cars by request.
But towers who take cars against the will of vehicle owners from private property are not regulated.
Consumers have complained that the companies — there are about 12 in Hillsborough County — make it difficult to get their cars back by requiring cash payments that near $200, and are aggressive about the towing.
"My husband's favorite car was towed under my watch. It was a horrible experience," Andrea Bount told lawmakers. She said she had to come up with $175 in cash late at night to get her car back, and it suffered $800 worth of damage.
"At least I had the money to get my car back," she said. "If there's anything you can do to regulate these companies more do it because they need it. They are crooks."
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City also support the bills, saying they will no longer have to spend time investigating complaints about possible illegal tows and price gouging.
Another bill related to the PTC that will head to Tallahassee during the 2010 legislative session sets up a process for appealing decisions of the agency.
The delegation elected Crist to serve as its chairman next year, his final year as a state lawmaker. He is term-limited out of his Senate seat and is running for Hillsborough County Commission. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, was elected as vice chair.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.