Lawmakers Turn Up The Thermostat on PSC

Jan 8, 2015

Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater)
Credit Florida Senate

Lawmakers turned up the heat Thursday on the Public Service Commission. Senator Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, unveiled the latest proposal to put more distance between commissioners and the powerful utilities they are supposed to regulate.

On the same day two PSC members were sworn in, Latvala told reporters he was filing a bill that would require commissioners to undergo ethics training. Gov. Rick Scott recently appointed one of the commissioners, former Panama City lawmaker Jimmy Patronis, despite the fact that Patronis has no regulatory experience.

Latvala says he’s aware of the circumstances.

“I would not want to assume how Jimmy Patronis will act as a commissioner. I have told him, eyeball to eyeball, that I’m watching him.”

Latvala and other reformers want to impose a two-year cooling off period before lawmakers can be appointed to the $131,000 dollar-a -year job.

Patronis was a big Scott supporter during the campaign. The conservative Republican has been criticized for being sympathetic to industry.

Latvala’s bill also requires commissioners to hold meetings throughout the state.  He says it was sparked by complaints from his constituents about skyrocketing utility rates.