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Politics

House Readies for Busy Final Week

April 22, 2010 - 6:00pm

With more than 100 bills on the calendar when it convened Friday morning, the House plowed through a host of measures and amendments. Members passed a few, including a measure to expand placing cameras on stoplights, but they mostly set the stage to tackle more bills next week.

The seven-hour session Friday focused on amending measures that the House will vote on next week. But the House also passed efforts that increased legal penalties for credit and debit card crimes and exempted All-Star games and Pro Bowls from sales taxes.

Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, guided the House with a firm hand during the session. Cretul urged members on several occasions to remain quiet and warned that those not at their seats when their bills were called would see their measures and amendments temporally postponed.

Cretul and Speaker Pro Tempore Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, enforced that decision. If a member was not at his seat when his or her bill came up, the House postponed the measure and moved on to the next bill.

A bill that Reagan introduced authorizing cameras to be placed on traffic lights to bust drivers who run red lights, with fines up to $158, passed on a 77-33 vote.

I truly believe this is a public safety issue and that the money will go on to health care, said Reagan.

This is nothing more than a revenue grab, said Robert Schenk, R-Spring Hill, who fought against the measure. Government has an insatiable appetite for our taxpayers hard-earned money."

Others insisted the bill was to increase public safety.

This is a health bill that does something to lower the costs of health in our country, said Ed Homan, R-Tampa, noting that cameras on traffic lights have worked to reduce traffic accidents in his area.

More than a few measures were postponed during the session due to last-minute changes in the legislation.

Due to the flurry of late-filed amendments, its really created some flaws in our system, said Cretul.

Most of the measures the House addressed moved to third reading with no opposition or even questions.

The one exception was a measure introduced by Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, introducing a clarifying amendment to the two redistricting amendments sponsored by Fair Districts Florida. Democrats asked Hukill questions on the measure, preparing for what promises to be a substantial debate in next weeks sessions.

The House flew through other issues, setting the stage for votes on next week to terminate the Florida Agricultural Museum in Palm Coast in 2020, create new license plates, allow the Department of Health to regulate tattooing and open the 2012 session in January to focus on redistricting.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or (850) 727-0859.

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