Monday, March 23, 2009

Slim Chance for Outlawing Dealer Fee or Bestiality in Florida

Just about one year ago I wrote a column entitled, “The Dealer Fee, Bestiality, and Tallahassee Politics.” You can read that column by clicking on my blog, www.EarlStewartOnCars.com. The timing had to do with the 2008 Florida legislature being in session. The 2009 legislative session is in process and it’s time for another progress report on capping the dealer fee or making it completely illegal in Florida.

Last Saturday’s PB Post carried a column by Frank Cerabino, “Put teeth into ending abuse of animals”. In my opinion, Frank Cerabino is one of the funniest writers on the Planet and if you want some belly laughs, you can read his column online by clicking on www.PBPost.com. The theme of his article is how ridiculous our Florida lawmakers are to not be able to pass a “no-brainer” law like making it illegal for humans to have sex with animals. Florida is one of 16 states in the Union without such a law!

Although, Frank Cerabino raises the possibility that there are some Florida lawmakers who may be blocking such a law from passing, this is only Frank’s acerbic sense of humor talking. The real reason this law does not get passed is from lack of lobbyist support. Unlike Insurance Companies, Trial Lawyers, and the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, The SPCA, Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals, is very poorly funded. They cannot afford to support Florida politicians’ elections, making large campaign contributions to gain access and influence. There can be no other possible serious explanation for such a bill not passing our legislature last year and apparently not going to pass again this year.

Legislators will tell you that each Senator and House Representative is allowed only a very few bills [about 5] to sponsor. This number is a small fraction of the total number of issues and causes that are requested by citizens to be considered as new laws or changes in existing ones. The bottom line is that time constraints on the number of actual bills that get drafted, then get sponsors by both the Senate and the House, then pass successfully through committees, and finally get to the governor’s desk are a tiny fraction of the number that are needed and requested.

So, which bills never even get drafted, or never get a sponsor by both the House and Senate, or get knocked down or delayed by committees, and or lastly don’t get signed by the Governor? The answer is those bills that don’t have the financial support of strong lobbying groups. The sad fact is that very good causes can fall by the wayside year after year because of the cold hard reality of Florida politics.

But there is a big difference between those of us who intensely believe that that the dealer fee should be made illegal and those who intensely believe that bestiality should be made illegal. Of course, the obvious reason is that animals cannot make their voices heard in Tallahassee [Although, Frank Cerabino did suggest that we round up the sheep for a march on the capital]. The car buyers can make themselves heard. In the short run, the powerful lobbying organization, the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, can cause delays as they did this year and last. Write your local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. Call your legislators. Call my “No Dealer Fee Hotline”, 800 909-9879. I will email your recorded voice mail to Tallahassee. The voice of the people cannot be ignored over the long run and we must never give up. In the long run we will prevail.

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