Hillsborough County legislative delegation OKs predatory towing bill

12/02/08 Seán Kinane
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The 12 state representatives and four state senators who represent parts of Hillsborough County agreed today to support a bill to curb the practice of predatory towing. Democratic Rep. Michael Scionti sponsored the bill that now heads to Tallahassee for consideration by the House and the Senate.

In their meeting at the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College, the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation unanimously supported the bill. If passed, it would give the county’s Public Transportation Commission (PTC) the authority to regulate and investigate the companies that tow cars without the consent of the property owner. Currently that is the responsibility of law enforcement, Scionti said.

Several members of the public, including owners of towing companies, said that they support this version of the bill.

Ginger Darling, with Nationwide Towing in Clearwater, said she and other towers outside Hillsborough now support this version of the bill.

Republican Sen. Ronda Storms said she would not block moving the bill forward, but she had concerns about additional regulation and called for the PTC to be abolished.

Victor DiMaio, an attorney representing the PTC, said that if the bill is passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, the public will benefit.

The delegation also unanimously supported a bill that would modify the pension plans for some employees of the city of Tampa to comply with federal regulations. It passed before members of the public were given the chance to speak, so a motion to reconsider the issue was made. Several members of the ATU union expressed concerns about the bill. But its co-sponsor, Democratic Sen. Arthenia Joyner, said those items had been taken into consideration, and it would not alter employee benefits.

The delegation also heard from elected officials from around the county in “roundtable discussions” and from members of the public. Like other officials, Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober pleaded for fewer budget cuts because his prosecutors were already overburdened with 120,000 cases last year. His defense counterpart, Public Defender Julianne Holt made a similar case. "That's too many cases for an attorney to do, and to do properly."

Republican Rep. Will Weatherford was unanimously selected as the delegation’s new chair and Republican Sen. Victor Crist was unanimously re-elected co-chair. Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson placed his name into consideration for chair because, he said, there ought to be choice. The nomination was not seconded.

Photo by: Seán Kinane/WMNF

Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation

Towing bill

Pension bill

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