Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

When does all this 'deregulation' go too far?

In 1995, the operator of a Pasco County dance studio was sentenced to prison after scamming more than $1 million from lonely, confused elderly customers.

When he got out … he simply went to a new dance studio.

This led to an investigation by the St. Petersburg Times in 2002. Some of the cases:

• In 18 days' time, a 74-year-old widow was talked into writing checks totaling $247,295 for dance lessons, competitions and trips.

• A 67-year-old Clearwater woman spent $88,000 over eight months for lesson packages, trips and competitions.

• An 85-year-old widow signed up for $29,000 worth of lessons.

• An 81-year-old spent $271,000 over a few months.

Investigators found 30 customers who had been talked into signing 328 separate, deliberately confusing contracts worth $3.5 million.

A studio operator defended all this by saying customers had voluntarily made "an adult decision."

As for any complaints, he said: "Maybe some of the students went on these trips and didn't get laid."

He got 30 years in prison.

Why am I dredging up this ancient history?

Because dance studios are one of 20 professions about to be deregulated entirely by the state Legislature.

Maybe they should be. Maybe there will always be crooks, and victims to give them their money.

But the effects of House Bill 5005 will be felt by a lot of Floridians in daily life. Among other things, the bill repeals regulation of:

Auto mechanics.

In-state moving companies.

Charities, real or fake.

And a lot more.

I know, I know.

All regulation is bad.

Just want to make sure that we're all on the same page about this. Once this law passes, don't come complaining to me about it.

• • •

Take car mechanics.

Auto repair shops would not have to give customers a written estimate, nor to call for permission to exceed it.

Neither would mechanics be required, even if the customer asks, to show them the parts that were replaced.

In-state moving companies would not be regulated. They would not be registered. They would be able to jack up the price en route and refuse to turn over your furniture.

Our law now says that movers must release a customer's possessions if a law enforcement officer determines (1) the bill was paid or (2) the mover did not give a proper signed estimate.

But that is Big Government regulation. It is to be repealed.

A charity that solicits money in Florida would not be regulated by the state.

State law now makes it illegal for a charity to use "deception, false pretense, misrepresentation or false promise" to get a contribution.

That will be repealed.

Gyms and health studios, which sell contracts to the public — why should they be regulated?

Travel agents. Auctioneers. Telemarketers, too.

• • •

Anybody would be able to call himself or herself a sports agent or a talent agent. If they can get hopeful people to give them money, good.

As for ice or water vending machines — why should they be regulated in any way?

One profession that has gotten a lot of attention is interior design. Interior designers really want to stay regulated.

Other professions already have been spared. One is land surveying. (Apparently, grownups explained to the Legislature that, see, we need licensed surveyors.)

With these exceptions, though, I am all for deregulating everything else. Let's get Big Government out of the way, and let's put Floridians back to work. This is, after all, about "creating jobs."

If some of those new "jobs" in Florida involving bilking widows, running shady auto-repair shops or hijacking people's furniture — who cares?

When does all this 'deregulation' go too far? 04/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 3, 2011 1:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  2. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  3. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  4. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  5. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to tampabay.com/sports.