PSC reform bill passes Florida House, goes back to Senate

The House on Monday passed an amended version of Senate bill reforming the Public Service Commission. But Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey and sponsor of SB 1034, said he is concerned about some parts of the bill as amended by the House.

SB 1034 would define prohibited “ex parte” communications and extend a ban on lobbying by commissioners and their top aides. Fasano said Monday that the House version of the bill was troubling because it requires PSC members to have bachelor’s degrees. That requirement, Fasano said, is a “slap in the face” to PSC Chairman Nancy Argenziano, who doesn’t have a degree.

The House also amended the bill to remove a provision for fines against outside parties who communicate with commissioners on docketed issues. “It sounds like the utility companies convinced the House it’s OK to fine the Public Service Commission — but don’t fine us,” Fasano said.

Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando and chairman of the House Energy & Utilities Policy Committee, noted the House version with the degree requirement also counts experience “of a quality and duration substantial enough” to prepare someone for the PSC. And Precourt said the House didn’t want to adopt the fines on ex parte communications by outside parties because it would be difficult to implement or “onerous.”

Precourt said he hopes the Senate will accept the bill as amended by the House, noting that the House had dropped its proposal to removing the regulatory staff from the PSC. “I have no intention of further negotiating this,” Precourt said.

(Story content provided by the Current, produced by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)