The Florida House’s Civil Justice Committee recently took a vote on the subject of bond cap repeal, a bill heavily favored by the trial lawyers. The bill passed 14-1.
The business community – the Florida chamber of commerce (they capitalize it but they’ve lost so much power that I intend to use lower case letters for the foreseeable future) and Associated Industries of Florida both opposed it.
This is the same bond cap that was put in place by a Republican, anti-trial lawyer legislature in 2011. The same governor, Rick Scott, signed it in to law, and being that the governor is ACTUALLY PRO-BUSINESS, I’m betting he will surely veto this one, if it makes it through the legislative process.
Only Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant voted ‘no.’ As these members progress through their political careers, they should expect hear about this. This year’s house seems to be more trial lawyer-friendly, and some say anti-business, than any in recent years.
POLITICO had this about the bill:
Controversial legislation that pits trial attorneys against the tobacco industry may not be heard again in the Senate, according to a key committee chairman.
The bill would abolish a state law that makes it much cheaper for tobacco companies involved in a landmark tobacco settlement to appeal adverse court rulings against them. The so-called appeals bond cap was passed after tobacco companies convinced lawmakers that the settlement could result in a wave of costly lawsuits against them.
Trial attorneys want the cap gone, while the tobacco industry is fighting to kill the bill and keep the cap in place.
State Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, says the bill is not the top priority of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, but will be time consuming to consider because of testimony.
“I just need to find a good time to reschedule it, obviously some other things that we want to pass that might take more of a priority.”
The bill was on the agenda of that committee earlier this month, but was “temporarily postponed” after testimony from CSX that helped make some members uneasy about supporting it.
The bill was also postponed in the House last week due to time constraints. It was taken up after a handful of contentious bills, and the committee decided not to try and consider the bill with limited time remaining.
“I’m not sure if it is coming back up, but we need to figure out how much time it will actually take,” Hutson said. “I don’t want to run into an issue again where it takes a lot of time and other bills don’t pass.”
The Senate Regulated Industries Committee is not set to meet this week.
Calling Speaker Corcoran, come in Corcoran.
Memo to the house membership: Right now, you are kissing up to your speaker, which is an age-old tradition in Tallahassee. Speakers can pass all sorts of bad laws when they try hard enough. He’ll be a portrait on the wall in thirteen months but these stupid votes you take will forever haunt your political career.
This year’s legislature has a huge freshman class, so it is unlikely they have any concept of the damage they are doing to themselves by voting for a bill that the Florida Senate has already killed, and that the governor will almost certainly veto.
Ask former Rep. Ritch Workman (R), who served as the powerful Rules chairman under Speaker Steve Crisafulli and lost a bitter primary to now Senator Debbie Mayfield (R0 in large part because he took bad votes and Mayfied did not.
Workman isn’t alone, but at least Workman got to enjoy the pinnacle of legislative power.
The current motley bunch are doing the trial lawyers bidding, and in so doing, are doing irreparable harm to their resumes should they seek higher office, and believe me, a voting record is tattoo, it is lasting.
That they do it with such minimal chance of seeing it become a law is the crazy part to me.
Know this, the trial lawyers are doing their very best to nominate and elect John Morgan, a trial lawyer, to be the next Democratic governor. That Democrat governor is going to want to work with a Democratic legislature, and if history is any indication of what could happen in the future, he’ll have the financial support to come after them.
So, to those Republican members of that committee, who act like sheep to the slaughter and voted to empower the people who seek to end their careers, you have campaign mail to look forward.
This mail will not be of the nice-nice persuasion, rather it will be trashing you for being anti-business and pro-trial lawyer. I’m certain your future Republican primary opponents will take note of it.
Maybe one day the chamber of commerce will fire its impotent president, mark wilson (no capital letters for him, either) and replace him with somebody who knows how to fight, but for now, that’s not a reality.
Until then, congratulations Rep. Jay Fant, you will live to fight another day. Your colleagues will figure it out sooner or later.