Gov. Charlie Crist has been using his veto pen sparingly but effectively this spring. The governor has reaffirmed his willingness to rely on his own judgment and stop bad policy or expose legislative trickery even if it ruffles the feathers of fellow Republicans and goes against the advice of his own state agencies.
Since the Legislature adjourned last month, Crist has vetoed:
• The theft of $250-million from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. that would have been handed to start-up private insurers. Citizens does not have enough cash on hand as it is, and Crist indicated during the session he would veto such a maneuver. Maybe now lawmakers will believe him when he invokes the v-word even before they pass a bad idea.
• A sneaky effort to allow private companies to create sea grass mitigation banks on state submerged land and sell credits to developers who want to ruin sea grass beds along the coast. The amendments were mischaracterized by their sponsor, Republican Rep. Will Kendrick of Carrabelle, and approved without objections by lawmakers. Fortunately, the governor did object even though the Department of Environmental Protection favored the bill.
• An effort by House Speaker Marco Rubio to help out a friend by making it easier for him to bid on fuel contracts along the Florida Turnpike. Not mincing words, Crist called it "disappointing that the Legislature has used this bill to direct a procurement which benefits vendors over the citizens of Florida.'' While the merits of the provision are debatable, the poor judgment by the House speaker is not. Crist followed through Tuesday and vetoed another transportation bill that had the same turnpike language.
There is at least one more bill that deserves to be vetoed, a potentially broad exemption to the Development of Regional Impact review that could benefit some large real estate projects and has powerful backers who should be a bit nervous by now. The governor has demonstrated he has a pretty good nose for sniffing out bad policy that benefits special interests to detriment of most Floridians.