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From your Legislature: A whole big mess o' bills

Let's play Bill-O-Rama! There's plenty of stuff going on up here in the Legislature besides the budget, new taxes and gambling.

We can start with the passel of bills to weaken Florida's regulation of growth, in the name of helping the economy.

House Bill 227 deals with the "impact fees" that local governments charge on new development. They would have to justify those fees if challenged and no increases for two years. It passed another committee vote Wednesday.

HB 1349 is what I call, with bias and slant, the "wetlands destruction" bill. It says a developer just has to fill out an application signed by a "professional," and it's presumed valid. It passed another committee Tuesday.

House Memorial 21 (a memorial is simply an official opinion) calls upon Congress to expand oil drilling in the gulf. If you think this vote is symbolic and unimportant, consider that BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil were in the room Tuesday to make sure it passed.

Other bills would either abolish the state Department of Community Affairs or remove state oversight of big developments. Oh, and there's no money for the Florida Forever land-buying program.

Senate Bill 2284 gets rid of licensing of nursing schools in Florida, apparently to help for-profit schools. Nurses would still have to pass the state test. A Senate committee approved this on Tuesday, and the House version, HB 1209, is up today.

SB 2198 puts a $100 million cap on the total bond that tobacco companies would have to post when they appeal lost lawsuits. Since a lot of these cases are pending, the companies otherwise might be forced to tie up billions.

Here's an issue I wrote about earlier: whether parents should be able to sign a waiver for their kids to take part in commercial activities, like all-terrain-vehicle tracks or rock-climbing walls.

SB 886, still in Senate committee, and HB 363, already past all its committees, would give parents the power to waive all liability. The trouble is, the bill is so broad that a business could even hire child molesters or be wildly negligent, and still be off the hook.

SB 2626, the bill to deregulate telephone companies, except for the most basic of services, is still pending. The House version, HB 1465, was delayed Tuesday. Grumbling from the governor and others might be holding it up a tad.

SB 1154 would count nuclear power and "clean" coal toward the goal of getting 20 percent of Florida's energy from "renewable" sources by 2020. You can see how this might make some solar-power, alt-fuels folks grumpy.

Here's one of my pet causes: local governments using tax dollars to take sides in elections. Two Pinellas legislators, Sen. Charlie Justice and Rep. Janet Long, have filed SB 216 and HB 591 to shut it down. Both have passed early tests but still have a ways to go.

HB 1885 would jack up marriage license fees by $100 — but give you the money back if you agree to take an eight-hour course on how to be married. HB 1343 would require licensing and regulation of tattoo parlors.

You can track the progress of bills on the Legislature's Web site, www.leg.state.fl.us. You also can find legislators' contact information there.

Okay, gotta go to another committee meeting now.

From your Legislature: A whole big mess o' bills 04/01/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 4, 2009 11:39am]

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