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Dereg debacle nets lobbyist lineup

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Just two days before the legislative session was supposed to end, the two professions at the center of a deregulation bill started girding up for what ultimately proved to be a sine die train wreck.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association, already represented by Nick Iarossi – a rising star on the Tallahassee lobbying scene – and his associate Chris Schoonover, added seven more prominent lobbyists to its team: Sarah Bascom (already doing PR for the group), Louis Betz, Michael Corcoran, Chris Floyd, Yolanda Jackson, Ron LaFace Jr. and Gerald Wester.

On the opposite side: interior designers, the profession the Florida House wanted to deregulate to the chagrin of thousands of interior designers and universities with specialty graduate programs. Tallahassee powerhouse Ron Book and his entourage began representing the Interior Designs Association Foundation back in February. But on May 5, the foundation also enlisted the aid of some of the Capitol’s most influential lobbyists: former RPOF lobbyist Rich Heffley, Brecht Heuchan, Guy Spearman, Sean Pittman and Missy Timmins.

In the end, those latest to the game won out.

In a stunning rebuke to GOP leadership, the Senate killed the dereg bill – keeping regulation of interior designers – late Friday afternoon on what was supposed to be the session’s last day, setting off the vendetta-laden denouement to what might have otherwise been a collegial hanky drop but devolved into public remonstrations from House Speaker Dean Cannon and a bleary-eyed Senate President Mike Haridopolos in the wee hours of the morning Saturday.

Go Gators: Athletic agents stay in regulatory picture after call from UF

Saturday, April 30th, 2011 by John Kennedy

House negotiators bowed to resistence from the Senate — and the University of Florida — and agreed Saturday to keep sports agents among the professions regulated by the state.

House budget chief Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, went along with Senate counterpart, J.D. Alexander’s request earlier Saturday that sports agents not be included in more than a dozen professions the state is looking to deregulate.

Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said he’d gotten a call Friday from University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, urging that the state maintain oversight of agents.

The House agreed. In the deal, Alexander went along with a House pitch to deregulate interior designers. But both sides agreed to maintain state oversight of health and dance studios, and travel sellers, other professions the Senate balked at freeing.

Cutting state regulations have been a central theme for Gov. Rick Scott. But the consensus package coming together in the Legislature is a scaled-back version of a more sweeping plan that advanced by the House.

UF’s interest in athletic agents stems, in part, from its recent history. Several former Gator football players including Ike Hilliard, Fred Taylor and Jacquez Green were duped by sports agent William “Tank” Black, who in 2003 was sentenced to five years in prison.

Alexander, is a 1981 Florida graduate and a grandson of Ben Hill Griffin, after whom the school’s football stadium is named. (more…)

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