This year the Florida legislature passed yet another drug testing law even though the last one they passed is held up in court. The latest law allows for random drug testing of state employees. Not only is the drug testing itself controversial, so is the fact that lawmakers made sure that they themselves are not among those who will be tested.
Among its dubious achievements this year, the Florida Legislature passed a law authorizing random drug tests for state workers.
Guess who’s exempt? Lawmakers themselves.
So now the clerk down at the DMV gets to pee in a cup — but not the knuckleheads in Tallahassee who control $70 billion in public funds.
Whom do you think is more dangerous to the future of Florida?
In the session that just ended, the Legislature jacked up tuition on state college students while creating a new university to placate one cranky senator. It threw more than 4,400 state workers out of their jobs while handing out more than $800 million in tax break to businesses.
Clearly, legislators are impaired. Is it meth? Coke? Mushrooms?
We’ll never know.
Not only did they hand all those tax breaks to big corporations, but they virtually ignored a law from back in 2006 that's tantamount to legally ripping off Florida consumers.
Floridians are currently paying for a proposed nuclear power plant through their utility bills. One problem, that future plant in Levy County is unlikely to get built at all:
A financing scheme that initially seemed plausible has proven to be terribly unfair, leaving Progress Energy customers with more than $1.1 billion in bills and a real possibility of nothing to show for their money. For legislative leaders to not respond — particularly in these tight financial times — is irresponsible.
The so-called nuclear recovery law was pitched as a way to add cleaner, cheaper power generation in a rapidly growing state. Customers would pay a little bit each month toward building the very expensive plants in order to avoid being saddled with big bills for construction once they opened. But in hindsight, it was also a way for the power companies to avoid scrutiny from shareholders or Wall Street bankers. With a guaranteed revenue stream and a major loophole in the law, the pressure to perform evaporated.
As the Tampa Bay Times' Ivan Penn reported last Sunday, the law was not a limited authorization to pass nuclear planning and building costs to the consumer. It allows a fee that includes a profit margin for the utility — regardless of performance. By one estimate, Progress Energy is already entitled to keep at least $150 million in revenue from this scheme even as it has delayed construction of its proposed Levy County plant by at least five years and announced that costs have quadrupled. The company even delayed some fee recovery it was entitled to, proclaiming it was just trying to help its customers. But even that decision will end up profiting Progress Energy.]
[Yet legislative leaders stubbornly and arrogantly refused to reconsider the 2006 law and its twisted incentives — even as a growing number of former legislators who voted for the bill said they had no idea what they were doing. During the recent session, Senate majority leader and energy committee chairman Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, repeatedly refused a request from Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, for a committee hearing on the issue. Gardiner's claim that the law saves consumers money is so 2006. That now seems like an incredible long shot.
This comes on top of the already costly botched repairs at the nuclear plant in Crystal River that will likely remain offline for years.
For Floridians who are already facing a grim economy and watching all those tax breaks go to businesses while their own costs keep adding up, they're also required to "pay" Progress Energy for literally nothing in return.
I have to agree, Mr. Hiaasen does indeed have a point.