Panhandle GOP lawmaker calls Marion Hammer a liarby Dara Kam | May 20th, 2009
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is meeting with Gov. Charlie Crist this afternoon to ask him to veto a $6 million raid on the trust fund that pays for processing of concealed weapons permits.
Hammer said she requested the visit with the governor as soon as the legislation, included in the budget awaiting Crist’s signature, passed.
Hammer, a former president of the NRA, sent out an alert to NRA supporters and members of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, which she also represents, asking them to contact Crist about the veto.
Hammer is demanding the veto because the trust fund raid, part of nearly $600 million lawmakers took from trust funds to help plug a $6 billion budget hole, comes from fees paid by permit seekers.
At least one GOP lawmaker is taking the politically dangerous tack of alienating Hammer and powerful NRA.
Rep. Dave Murzin, a Pensacola Republican running for the state Senate, refuted Hammer’s position about the trust fund raid in a constituent newsletter sent voters in Senate District 2 where he is running.
“I have heard about during my visits throughout the district is the purported ‘sneak attack’ on gun owners by taking funds from the concealed weapons permit trust fund. Unfortunately, the complete story was not told,” Murzin wrote.
Lawmakers included a 40 percent increase in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ funding to process the permits, Murzin wrote.
“None of the transfers will negatively impact the concealed weapons permit licensing program, and if the program for some reason needs more resources than the current $18 million appropriation, then requests for additional funding will be considered and appropriated if needed. Please share this with your neighbors and friends,” Murzin wrote.
But Hammer said that’s not true. She said all of the money appropriated for the program comes from fees paid for by gun owners seeking the permits.
“Not one dime of general revenue money or monies from any state revenue source have ever been used in this program that was initiated 1987,” she said. “I doubt there is any other program in state government that can say they’ve been totally self-sufficient for 22 or more years.”
And, she said, taking money out of the trust fund will have a negative impact on permits because the department has a backlog of applications it is unable to process without the money to hire more staff.