Speaker’s priority – 911 call exemption bill – lacks Senate sponsorby Dara Kam | March 10th, 2010
A bill that’s one of House Speaker Larry Cretul’s priorities that would make 911 call tapes secret is on the fast-track in his chamber but lacks a Senate sponsor.
Cretul is pushing the measure on behalf of Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick, whose 16-year-old son died from a lethal combination of alcohol and illegal prescription drugs. Hoblick, out of town when his son Jake died, heard his older son John’s 911 call on the news.
House staff and the bill sponsor Rep. Rob Schenk, R-Spring Hill, kept the Speaker’s blessing of the bill hush-hush until this week when Cretul told a St. Petersburg Times reporter that Hoblick asked him to do something about the 911 calls.
Cretul used a seldom-used procedural maneuver today to guarantee that the measure (PCB GAP 10-03) passed. He temporarily assigned one of his lieutenants, House Speaker Pro Tem Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, to the committee. Cretul didn’t need the insurance, however; the Government Policy Accountability Council approved it with an 8-5 vote.
Despite the Speaker’s clout in the House, the bill lacks a Senate sponsor.
Sen. Garrett Richter had originally agreed to run a companion for Schenk. But an open government shell bill he had sponsored that could have been used for Schenk’s bill was designated to be heard in the Banking and Insurance Committee, which has nothing to do with the 911 calls, he said. Richter backed off the bill even before controversy surrounding it – some victims and First Amendment lawyers staunchly oppose it – began this week. The Naples Republican said he won’t sponsor the measure.