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How they voted: Bad in the Senate, worse in the House

Fifth in a series of columns on key votes taken by the Florida Legislature since the last election.

The hits just keep on rolling. So far we've talked about the Legislature's votes over the past two years to:

• Weaken growth rules in Florida.

• Try to trick the voters with a "poison pill" amendment to thwart the Fair Districts movement.

• Make big water use and the destruction of wetlands easier by taking their permits out of the public process.

• Re-create "leadership funds," legal slush funds for special interests to pay unlimited campaign cash directly to the Legislature's incoming leaders.

Whew! But we're only halfway done.

Today let's split our attention between the Senate and the House.

For the Senate, it was this year's sacking of two members of the Public Service Commission — for the "crime" of opposing higher electric rates.

For the House, it was a vote rammed through in 2009 to open Florida waters to oil drilling, without any study or sobriety. It was too reckless even for the Senate, which refused to go along.

• • •

In January 2010, the Florida Public Service Commission made a historic ruling — it rejected big rate hikes by the state's two biggest electric companies.

This apparently is not done in Tallahassee.

At least, it had never been done before, not on this scale. Credit goes to Gov. Charlie Crist's appointments to the five-member PSC.

But pushed by Florida Power & Light, the Senate — which still needed to confirm Crist's two latest appointments — quickly declared the two to be "unqualified."

And two other PSC members whose terms expire this year were not chosen again in the nomination process controlled by the Legislature.

So by summer's end, four of the five were dead meat.

(As for who was more "qualified," when the Legislature nominated replacements, the list included two of its own members.)

Here are the Tampa Bay area senators who voted to ax one or both of the PSC members: Victor Crist, R-Tampa; Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa; Ronda Storms, R-Brandon.

Here are the area senators who voted to confirm both nominees: Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island; Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg.

• • •

Maybe drilling for oil in Florida waters makes sense, with study and safeguards.

But in the spring of 2009, the Florida House voted to do it on the spot and on the fly, no thinking required. Had the Senate not refused, it would be our law today.

House Bill 1219, which passed on a floor vote of 70-43, ordered the state Cabinet to take bids — and to award them within 30 days of receiving them.

There was a rare break in party unity, with coastal Pinellas Republicans voting no, but Hillsborough Republicans voting yes.

Here's how our local delegation voted on oil drilling:

House members in favor: Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa; Rachel Burgin, R-Tampa; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; Ed Homan, R-Tampa; John Legg, R-New Port Richey; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton; Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

House members against:

Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin; Jim Frishe, R-Belleair Bluffs; Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Janet Long, D-Seminole; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Betty Reed, D-Tampa; Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg; Ron Schultz, R-Homosassa; then-Rep. Mike Scionti, D-Tampa.

How they voted: Bad in the Senate, worse in the House 09/25/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 25, 2010 6:01pm]
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