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On April 4th and 5th, Florida State Director John Hallman and Florida Field Director Tom Gaitens led a group of FreedomWorks activist from around the state to Tallahassee for the annual FreedomWorks Day at the Capitol. The purpose of the trip was to lobby for the 2006 Florida FreedomWorks freedom agenda of tax cuts, tort reform, insurance reform, telecom, stopping eminent domain abuse, school choice and TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights).
On Tuesday April 4th, FreedomWorks activists met with the leadership in both the House and the Senate, as well as the Governor’s office, including meeting with Janice Gilley, Policy Director for Governor Bush, Speaker of the House Alan Bense and Policy Director Ron Pierce from Senate President Tom Lee’s office. Later in the afternoon, FreedomWorks activists met with incoming Speaker of the House Representative Marco Rubio. That night Bob McClure, President of the free market think tank “James Madison Institute” briefed FreedomWorks members on Eminent Domain Abuse, TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) and School Choice. Also two speakers from State Farm gave a presentation on why No-Fault Insurance should be allowed to sunset and go away. No-Fault Insurance in Florida has become an easy way for Trial Attorney’s to get an easy payday and the system has become fraught with abuse. On Wednesday, FreedomWorks activists spent the day visiting key Legislators, activists went up and down the Capitol hallways meeting with as many Legislators as possible, even if it meant only meeting with staff. FreedomWorks activists made sure their voice was heard throughout the Capitol building.
This year’s agenda promised to be the most successful for FreedomWorks core values as Joint and Several Liability had been repealed the previous week. Still on the table was the repeal of the insidious and unfair Intangibles Tax and 1.5 billion dollars in various tax cuts, which would return much of the windfall surplus revenue back to the taxpayers. The good news was that the repeal of the Intangibles Tax seemed certain to be accomplished in this year’s session. Eminent Domain abuse was much of the talk around the Capitol that week and FreedomWorks activists let legislators know they wanted a stop to it. Legislators got the message as both the House and the Senate was preparing to pass legislation that would stop government from taking private property to give it to another private interest. Freedomworks encouraged legislators to support Governor Bush’s school choice initiatives, which had been struck down by the Florida Supreme Court recently. The legislature was seeking language that would keep school choice initiatives “Supreme Court Proof” and allow parents with children in chronically failing schools the opportunity to send them to a school of their choice. Also FreedomWorks activists encouraged Legislators to let the “No-Fault Insurance” law to sunset in 2007 and not extend it any longer without the major reforms needed to fix the broken system. Allowing competition in the cable industry was another priority for FreedomWorks activists as a House Bill was being debated that week that would ease restrictions and allow potential cable providers to compete with the current cable company that basically have a monopoly on cable service. Freedomorks activists also encouraged legislators to support TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) that would restrict the growth of the state budget to a combination of inflation and population growth. Although this initiative would not happen this year, we were encouraged at the support of this concept by many key legislators and the strong possibility that TABOR would happen in the near future.
Florida State Director John Hallman commented, “this was probably the most productive lobbying trip in recent years. Many crucial reforms will be passed this year and I want to thank all those who took time out from their busy lives to come here and be a force for freedom. We made a difference and this is what it is all about.”