Thursday, May 14, 2009

Are You A Florida Voter?

I just got this in my inbox. It's also a group that I work with pretty regularly.

Please Call Gov. Charlie Crist now and ask him to VETO SB 2080...

When you call...tell the staff member your name, city, phone number
and let him know how you feel about HB 2080. He has till Saturday
(or earlier) to sign or VETO this bill. If we can create enough
opposition, it may be possible he will NOT sign the bill.

Senate Bill 2080. It is "stealthy amendment that could keep the
public and government regulators from challenging developers seeking
to tap the state's waters. " See article below:

What we think: Fit for a veto

May 9, 2009

It's maddening to review some of the ridiculous bills legislators
consider important enough to send to the governor for his signature.

This year's poster child? A measure permitting state universities to
build on-campus columbariums to house the ashes of alumni, in
perpetuity, of course.

Meanwhile, important stuff that would benefit the living gets buried.
Stuff like a commuter-rail system for Central Florida. A requirement
that utilities generate 20 percent of their energy from clean,
renewable sources by 2020. And a bill allowing red-light cameras in
intersections statewide.

It almost makes us want to urge Gov. Crist to sweep the alumni ashes
bill under the rug just to send lawmakers the message that they
should stop wasting their time on things like the hereafter and work
harder on the here and now.

But the veto pen isn't there to make such a point. This year, it's
there to kill some particularly unworthy measures that Florida's
legislators thought deserved their approval, but that would do the
state considerably more harm than good.

Two stand out: the well-publicized package that coddles the property
insurance industry and a stealthy amendment that could keep the
public and government regulators from challenging developers seeking
to tap the state's waters.


The governor that championed needed reforms of the state's property
insurance industry went missing this year, hiding from the horde of
lawmakers - many from his own party - who eagerly wanted to do the
underwriters' bidding.

They did that and more, most appallingly by removing the authority of
regulators to determine when rate hikes requested by large companies
are excessive.

All that regulators would be able to do is determine whether those
companies' rates are too low. Right. Like that'll be something
they'll have plenty of opportunities to evaluate.

Mr. Crist needs to reassert himself and the interests of homeowners
by vetoing the insurance reforms rollback. Lawmakers did need to
reduce some of the state's risk, and they agreed to trim the size of
Florida's Catastrophe Fund by $2 billion a year. The fund provides
the industry with cheap backup insurance it needs to pay claims after
catastrophic storms.

But lawmakers also should have capped the price of backup insurance
sold privately. Their failure to do that could result in insurers
passing on the exorbitant cost of backup insurance to policyholders
- the very thing that sent rates soaring two and three years ago.

Water managers

Senate Bill 2080 looks fairly placid, from a distance. It requires
that regional water managers provide Florida-friendly landscaping
ordinances for local governments to use as a model. Fine, as far as
that goes.

But wade beyond the thickets and there's a carnivore waiting. The
bill would work to effectively devour the authority of water
management district board members. They would no longer vote on
requests to withdraw water from the aquifer, rivers, lakes and other

Instead, the districts' executive directors would make those
decisions - and largely out of view of the public, which now is
allowed to attend regularly scheduled board meetings.

If that isn't enough to make Mr. Crist, Florida's environmental
governor, break out his veto pen, here's the kicker: Board members
get to weigh in only if the district's executive director decides the
permit is harmful and denies it.

In other words, developers who are denied withdrawals would get a
last chance to plead their case to board members.

Hardly what the public needs.

Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel

Submitted by Save Our Aquifer
PO Box 251, Cocoa Fla. 32923

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