Marion Hammer locked and loaded over drivers license handbookby Dara Kam | March 23rd, 2010
NRA lobbyist and political heavyweight Marion Hammer’s targeting a bill that ostensibly has nothing to do with weapons except that the bill’s Senate sponsor Carey Baker owns a gun shop.
A controversy over the state’s drivers license handbook has the former president of the National Rifle Association loaded for bear.
Baker, R-Eustis, is backing a bill (SB 2342) that would force the state to extend a contentious agreement with Ken Underwood, the Ponte Vedra Beach owner of a driver ed school, in which he prints the drivers license handbook for the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for free.
In return, Underwood gets to advertise his businesses in the handbook.
The bill’s up in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee this afternoon.
Other driver education school owners fought for years to get Underwood and his National Safety Commission school out of the handbook business, which the state used to pay him to print.
DHSMV’s new chief Julie Jones decided to end Underwood’s contract at the end of the year.
Enter Baker, who sponsored a bill that would allow him to rebid on the handbook and possibly make it easier for him to remain the only driver education school to advertise in it.
That’s got Hammer hopping mad.
She says Underwood’s ads targeting teenage boys like her grandson are “sleazy” and offensive.
Hammer ran into trouble last year trying to download an online version of the handbook. She said that she couldn’t download the handbook without giving up her e-mail address and was hit with a solicitation ten minutes after doing so.
Hammer filed a complaint over the handbook with DHSMV last summer but it went nowhere.
“If the state wants to make multimillionaires of vendors, why don’t they open it up and find one with a little more class and decorum?” Hammer wrote in an e-mail.