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    Legislative briefs

    Today is the 11th day of the 60-day session.

    By ANITA KUMAR, LUCY MORGAN and Times wires
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 1, 2002


    House launches pension probe

    The House began an investigation Thursday into how Florida's employee pension fund lost more than $300-million from its purchase of Enron stock.

    Rep. Mark Flanagan, R-Bradenton, is heading a special investigative committee to determine what role the state Board of Administration, which runs the employee pension fund, played in the loss. The committee held its first meeting Thursday.

    The state board, which is overseen by Gov. Jeb Bush, Comptroller Bob Milligan and Treasurer Tom Gallagher, already has joined a federal class action lawsuit in Texas against Enron and its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen.

    Earlier this week, Bush urged board director Tom Herndon to conduct a thorough but quick review of a third company, investment management company Alliance Capital Management Corp., and possibly sue that company as well.

    Florida's pension fund lost $325-million, which constitutes a relatively small percentage of the $94-billion fund, when it waited until the Friday before Enron declared bankruptcy to pull out of the Houston energy giant's stock. The fund also lost another $9-million on investments in Enron bonds.

    The Legislature doesn't control the pension fund, but it does write the pension laws the state Board of Administration must obey.

    This district meets carving board

    TALLAHASSEE -- Democrats tried to help Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman of Dunnellon by redrawing district lines devised by Republican senators but were soundly defeated by the GOP-controlled Senate Redistricting Committee.

    The committee did approve a minor amendment to a map prepared by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, but rejected a plea from Sen. Daryl Jones, D-Miami, who offered a new plan that would have made it easier for Thurman to win re-election.

    "The bottom line is I'm running, wherever they put me," Thurman said after seeing the plan earlier this week. "We're going to sit back and let things happen."

    The Republican plan, approved on a largely party line vote, removes Pasco, Hernando and most of Citrus counties from Thurman's district and extends it from the Gulf of Mexico at the Cross Florida Barge Canal to the Atlantic Ocean at the Georgia border.

    Hail, hail, the gang's all here

    The number of Democrats on the floor of the House swelled dramatically when former representatives gathered for the annual House reunion.

    The current 120 House members -- 77 Republicans and 43 Democrats -- stopped work on their agenda for the reunion, which attracted about 85 former members -- nearly 60 Democrats and half as many Republicans.

    Four former speakers attended the reunion, including John Thrasher -- who was the immediate past speaker before Speaker Tom Feeney -- T.K. Wetherell, Lee Moffitt and James Harold Thompson.

    * * *

    For information about legislation, call 1-800-342-1827 or 1-850-488-4371 toll-free during business hours.

    For Internet users, Online Sunshine is the official site for the Legislature: www.leg.state.fl.us

    Capitol Update, a half-hour TV program on the day's legislative highlights distributed by the Sunshine Network, airs weekday evenings on a number of public stations. Check TV Times for schedules.

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    From the Times state desk