A series of bills to create new specialty vehicle tags, including wild flower, U.S. Olympic Committee and Special Olympics plates, advanced through the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday. But they face a doubtful future even if they clear the full Senate because of opposition in the House. Other bills approved by the panel would create tags for Purple Heart medal recipients, Vietnam veterans and members of the Fraternal Order of Police. On Monday, the Senate Natural Resources and Conservation Committee voted to redesign the Florida panther auto tag because not enough motorists are buying the plates, which raise money for wildlife education programs. The panther on the tag looks more like an "emaciated house cat," said committee chairman George Kirkpatrick.
Gambling ships that offer passengers a "cruise to nowhere" would remain exempt from Florida's sales tax, under legislation approved Thursday by the Senate International Trade, Economic Development and Tourism Committee. Cruise industry officials contend the one-day trips should be considered transportation, which is not taxed, rather than entertainment, which is taxed.
A Senate committee on Thursday temporarily postponed confirmation of a newly appointed member of the state panel that regulates utilities. Luis Lauredo of Miami became the first Hispanic to be appointed to the Public Service Commission when he was named by Gov. Lawton Chiles. Lauredo, a native of Cuba, is a banker and international businessman. But at least one senator said he wants more information about Lauredo, who has worked in high-level positions for several banks that later failed. Lauredo also has been sued over a personal loan from one of the banks. Lauredo said recently he has paid the settlement reached in the case. He said the banks where he worked were Hispanic-owned and faced problems during the recession.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"We see this white limo coming in, thinking it was a (lottery) winner."
LOTTERY SECRETARY MARCIA MANN,
describing the arrival of lobbyist
Sam Bell, who had not yet registered.