The House has a couple really interesting bills in committee today. In the Committee on Business Regulation, HB 309 by Rep. Joe Gibbons will be workshopped – the bill would require restaurants to disclose whether food is prepared with or contains trans fats. The Committee on Financial Institutions will hear HB 481 by Rep. Audrey Gibson which will require service stations to disclose the dollar amount and length of time a hold is placed on purchases made with a debit card.
Among the bills on the Special Order Calendar for this afternoon are two bills that should not pass.
HB 793 by Rep. Adam Hasner, which creates the National Idea Bank – basically taking Speaker Rubio’s 100 Innovative Ideas plan national. Now, consider that ALEC, NCSL, and Stateline basically ARE national idea banks — in addition to myriad think tanks and universities — and they all have professional staffs to conduct research on ideas, and you can see that it’s just a small ego boost – not something that Florida really needs to do. Florida’s taxpayers would basically be creating and funding a wholly redundant entity.
HB 529 by Rep. Trey Traviesa, which allows cable television franchises to be granted at the state level and eliminates the ability for local governments to ask companies for local, educational, or public access channels. This bill is crafted completely and totally by telephone companies, especially Verizon, because local governments were asking for high fees or too many “free” channels. Bear in mind, these telephone companies want to use the right of way owned in large part by local governments. The bill also does not include provisions that require companies to serve entire areas – which means they can “cherry pick” the good neighborhoods, and leave other areas completely without service.
The Senate companion to HB 529, SB 998 by Sen. Mike Bennett, will be heard in the Committee on Communications and Public Utilities – in the form of a committee substitute. However, those cable television provisions are rolled up in a much larger bill that includes the repeal of the 2003 telephone rate increases. (The current meeting packet for the committee has a detailed bill analysis.)
In the Committee on Community Affairs, SB 158 by Sen. Steven Geller would preclude hurricane mitigation improvements from adding to the value of a homestead property. The Appropriations Committees will finalize their independent budget recommendations for the new budget.
The Senate Special Order Calendar includes bills implementing two amendments to the Florida Constitution passed in 2006: SB 1024 by Sen. Mike Haridopolos increases the maximum homestead exemption for persons over 65 years of age, SB 1026 (also by Sen. Haridopolos) provides a discount on property taxes for disabled veterans. There are also a number of technical bills on the calendar, creating trust funds, making technical revisions to state statutes, etc.
Thursday is FSU Day in Tallahassee.