tampabay.com

They also mull, eye, weigh and haggle

By HOWARD TROXLER
Published May 1, 2007


We're here with our old friend and cliche expert I.M. Hackneyed to discuss the final week of the Florida Legislature's 2007 regular session.

Q: Dr. H, welcome back. Would you agree that legislators are rushing to meet their deadline for adjournment?

A: Indeed. Our lawmakers, or solons, are hard pressed, under the gun, working overtime and racing to beat the ...

Q: Clock?

A: You have struck the proverbial nail on the head.

Q: What is the main issue?

A: Property tax reform. The citizens cry out for relief. They clamor. The House and Senate are deadlocked, at odds, in a standoff or stalemate. Neither side will blink, or budge.

Q: Why?

A: The Senate tax plan does not go far enough. It is a Band-Aid approach. The House goes too far with a risky scheme to swap out property taxes for sales taxes. Local governments decry draconian cuts.

Q: What does the governor say?

A: He is optimistic.

Q: But what happens if lawmakers cannot ...

A: Strike a deal, achieve consensus, hammer out a compromise? They threaten to go into overtime at a cost to taxpayers of $40, 000 a day.

Q: Isn't that figure of $40, 000 a day a fiction that has been cited by cliche-ridden journalists such as me?

A: I am a cliche expert, not an accountant. The governor may call, summon or slate a special session. He will flex his leadership muscles so he can declare victory for the people. After all, they are the boss.

Q: What about other issues?

A: Other issues lurk in the background but are overshadowed. Lawmakers must pass a $70-billion budget.

Q: Aren't you required to say something else there?

A: Excuse me. The budget is the only thing the Legislature is required to pass under the Constitution.

Q: What else?

A: Election reform. Big phone companies. No-fault auto insurance. House Bill 7203. Much more.

Q: What about elections?

A: A bill to replace Florida's touch screen voting machines has been weighed down with amendments. It has become that type of bill known as a ...

Q: A locomotive, choo-choo, iron horse?

A: No. I will think of it in a sec. Also, there is a bill to let phone companies sell video with less local regulation.

Q: Does that involve a term involving fruit to describe not serving all neighborhoods?

A: Yes. Cherry-picking.

Q: What is House Bill 7203?

A: The development industry welcomes, or, if you will, heralds it. Environmentalists denounce it as a license.

Q: A license for what?

A: Rampant or unrestricted growth. The bill exempts Pinellas County and the city of Tampa, along with other places, from state review.

Q: Why?

A: The stated reason is that they do such a good job of managing growth already.

Q: Isn't that kind of ironic?

A: Again, I deal in cliches. My associate, Ms. Morissette, is the irony specialist.

Q: What should citizens do during this final week?

A: Hope. Pray. Call or e-mail to make their voices heard.

Q: Does that really work?

A: Hope springs eternal. Only time will tell.

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Join Howard from noon to 1 p.m. today on TroxBlog for a live chat. Go to www.tampabay.com, click on "Blogs" and look for TroxBlog.