Written by The News Service of Florida Thursday, 04 March 2010 09:55
State Capitol Briefs - Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The News Service of Florida
GUN PERMIT FUND PROTECTION PASSES SENATE
The Senate approved shielding the state’s concealed weapons trust fund from legislative raids Wednesday, despite opposition from several Democrats angered by the special protection given the gun lobby. The legislation (SB 1158) cleared the Senate 31-9 and is a top priority of the National Rifle Association. The NRA is looking to block a repeat of last year’s decision by lawmakers to pull $8 million out of the trust fund to fill budget holes. The transfer was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist, who still allowed several hundred million dollars to be redirected from other state trust funds into the budget. In his latest budget proposal, Crist again recommends diverting $352 million from state trust funds into conventional spending and taking $233 million from the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund normally reserved for children’s health and elder programs. “You are making a statement about priorities,” said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, among those – all Democrats - voting against the measure. “And I guess I have a problem with those priorities.” Marion Hammer, the NRA's lobbyist, has argued that the fund transfer was unconstitutional because it effectively turned the regulatory fees into a tax on gun ownership protected by the Second Amendment. “This supports background investigations on over a million people who want concealed weapons permits,” said Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness. “This is a public safety bill.”
INSURANCE BILL MEETS CRITICS
A sweeping insurance bill that would roll back provisions that have favored consumers and give the industry more flexibility to raise rates and limit claims faced some opposition in its first committee test Wednesday and a terse debate that may portend of things to come. Much anticipated, the release of SB 2044 was met with considerable interest from insurance groups that support the changes and homeowner advocates wary the measure would take away consumer protections put in place after the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. Unable to reach consensus on key points, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee posptponed a final vote on the bill Wednesday. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples and chairman of committee.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING BILL PASSES FIRST HURDLE
Efforts to eliminate a cap on affordable housing trust fund expenditures got off the ground Wednesday as a measure to abolish the cap passed its first House panel. Housing advocates applauded the action of the House Military and Local Government Affairs Committee, which passed HB 665 by unanimous vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, would repeal a 2006 law that placed a $243 million cap on the trust fund. "By repealing the cap, we restore the integrity of the housing trust fund," said Jaimie Ross, president of the Florida Housing Coalition. "Using that money on housing, the result would be nearly 15,000 Florida jobs and over $1.4 billion in economic activity for Florida." The measure requires that affordable housing funds be spent on existing homes, a provision that backers say will allow state dollars to be used to buy down the inventory of existing homes.
This information originally published on March 4, 2010.
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