December 16, 2005
Below is a quick synopsis of the special session bills that were signed by the Governor this week. Six of the ten bills passed by the legislature have been signed thus far. Missing from this list is the Slot Machine Gaming bill; the Governor has previously stated that he will sign the Slots bill.
On Wednesday, December 14th the Florida Department of State held a proposed rule change hearing in conjunction with the Division of Elections. The three proposed rules reflect changes in practice and procedure for the Division of Elections and implement changes passed during the 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions. The reforms move up the deadline for the Secretary of State to receive certified initiative petition signatures from the supervisor of elections from 91 days before the general election to February 1st of each general election year in order for the initiative to be placed on the ballot during the November general election.
One particularly important change in these new rules is the outlawing of “bundling.” Bundling is the practice of attaching multiple signature petitions for separate initiatives. The outlawing of this practice should help reduce the proliferation of initiative petitions.
As the lone business association in attendance at the hearing, AIF was pleased to state for the record that we applaud the Division of Election’s foresight in implementing these new rules.
The 2005 Florida Energy Forum was held on Wednesday, December 14th in Tallahassee. During the day long meeting, industry leaders discussed issues ranging from electric power and transportation fuel to energy conservation. The Florida Energy Forum was part of an Executive Order signed in November by Governor Jeb Bush. The Governor signed this executive order to develop a statewide comprehensive energy plan. In this order, he directs Florida’s executive agencies to continue their energy conservation efforts and encourages the development of additional innovative conservation initiatives. He directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a comprehensive energy plan by evaluating Florida’s current and future energy supply and demand.
To begin the evaluation process, DEP Secretary Colleen Castille gathered some industry leaders and asked them to address Florida’s energy supplies, energy generation, transmission, distribution, conservation and energy security. During the forum, a great effort was made to discuss the barriers presented by government as well as potential incentives that may be offered to the private sector to help secure Florida’s future energy needs.
The discussion was divided into three sections: (1) Electric Power, (2) Transportation Fuel and Conservation, and (3) Efficiency and Alternative Energy Programs in Florida. No concrete decisions were made during the forum. Instead, ideas and concepts were presented by the panelists and the audience was encouraged to submit questions, thereby ensuring a free-flow of ideas. DEP staff was present to gather information for the purposes of submitting recommendations to the Governor and Legislature.
Here are a few highlights from the panelists:
At the conclusion of the forum Secretary Castille asked for comments from anyone with an interest in energy to submit information and/or suggestions to the DEP by December 21. She would like to see suggestions for short term; mid term and long term solutions. A report will be given to the Governor; President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House by January 17, 2006. On a related note, Senator Lee Constantine (R-Altamonte Springs) has already stated that his committee will have an “Energy Bill” for the 2006 Session and expects the House to do the same.
*AIF recently held a press conference on the topic of Off-Shore Drilling. Please go here for a copy of the official press release.