Yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel piece by Tallahassee bureau chief Aaron Deslatte delved into the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s influence and it’s displeasure with the republican rebels in the senate who didn’t go along with them on prison privatization and parent trigger.
It was a rare defeat for the Florida Chamber of Commerce in an election-year session that saw the Republican-dominated Legislature provide almost everything the business lobby sought
The chamber bragged about 25 different bills: among them a compromise reform of Personal Injury Protection insurance; further limits on the state’s growth-management laws; and tax breaks for video-game and website developers, oil-drillers, phosphate miners, airplane owners and engine-makers and other manufacturers.
Still, chamber President Mark Wilson said Saturday that his powerful business lobbying organization was displeased with a handful of Senate Republicans — beneficiaries of the more than $3 million the chamber poured into elections in 2010 — and would be deciding within weeks whether to try to defeat them at the polls later this year.
“On paper, after the last election, there were people who said they were more pro-business than their voting would indicate,” Wilson said, singling out GOP Sens. Thad Altman of Viera and Greg Evers of Baker.
“We’re going to invest as much or more than we did last cycle. And we’re very serious about having a pro-business Senate.”
What happened Friday night illustrates the extraordinary influence that lobbying groups, strong-willed personalities like Wilson and even individual corporate political benefactors wield over the fate of public policies that ultimately touch millions of people.
What triggered Wilson’s anger were two big losses suffered at the hands of Democrats and a coalition of moderate Republican senators, who had combined earlier in the session to defeat a bill to privatize more than two dozen South Florida prisons and then killed the parent-trigger bill Friday night.
Maybe the republican senators who helped defeat the two bills in questions are telling Florida voters something the Chamber doesn’t want them to know. Significant opposition exists among republicans for privatization of institutions like state prison management and public schools. They see these as something best administrated by public servants and oversight the ultimate responsibility of elected officials. And that these public servants are able to sustain their professionalism if decisions aren’t affected by bottom-line pressures that privatization would bring. Perhaps there might even be a number of them who don’t buy into the anti-union rhetoric that guys like Wilson use to get their way.