UPDATE: Senate prez Haridopolos gives prison privatization bill another committee stopby Dara Kam | January 20th, 2012
UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ spokeswoman Lyndsey Cruley issued a correction to the privatization bill committee stops. Haridopolos is giving the bill (SB 2038) reviving last year’s privatization of more than two dozen prisons another hearing in the budget committee – NOT the bill that would allow lawmakers to privatize state functions without public input until after contracts are signed.
Bowing to pressure from prison privatization critics including Sen. Mike Fasano, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has put the brakes – sort of – on a fast-tracked bill that would outsource all prison operations in an 18-county region south of Polk County to the Florida Keys.
But a bill that would give lawmakers the ability to outsource state functions without any public input until after the deals are done is still slated to be heard only in the Rules Committee that gave the measure a preliminary nod earlier this week.
Originally slated to be heard only in the Senate Rules Committee before being sent to the floor for a chamber vote, Haridopolos is now asking the Budget Committee to sign off on the bill (SB 2038) as well.
Fasano, chairman of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, asked Haridopolos to give committees like his more up-to-speed on privatization the chance to scrutinize the proposal.
“These bills deal with potential changes to policy of such a magnitude that they should not have originated in a procedural committee such as the Rules Committee. However, they were and have now been referred back to that very same committee with no further referrals. Only your office would know why that decision was made.
In my opinion a subject as complex as prison privatization should have been referred to the substantive committees that oversee this subject matter (i.e. Criminal Justice, Governmental Oversight and Accountability and Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations). The Senate has a rich history as a deliberative body that examines and allows for full vetting of proposed policy changes both major and minor. I respectfully request that if these bills are acted upon favorably by the Rules Committee on January 23, 2012 that you pull them back into your office and refer them to at least the three substantive and appropriations committees I have suggested,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wrote to Haridopolos today.
Shortly after Fasano released his request, Haridopolos issued a memo defending the process in which the prison privatization was vetted last year and announcing additional committee stop for the privatization bill on Wednesday.
“After hearing questions and concerns from my fellow Senators in the Senate Committee on Rules regarding Senate Bill 2036, I have decided to proceed in an abundance of caution,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, wrote.
Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ruled lawmakers illegally included the privatization of the 18-country region of correctional operations in southern Florida in the budget instead of in a stand-alone bill. The privatization measure would take care of that problem, Rules Chairman John Thrasher said.
Haridopolos insists that although the prison outsourcing never was included in a bill, it was debated throughout the session at various committees and includes a timeline of the discussions in his memo.
“With that in mind, I believe that this additional committee reference will ensure a thoughtful debate on prison privatization, and I am hopeful that this will alleviate any concerns my fellow Senators may have,” he wrote.