On vehicle tag fee cut, special interest beats little guy

May 11, 2013 

So much for the roll-back on onerous motor vehicle registration fees -- which almost doubled in 2009 as lawmakers preyed on the average citizen to raise cash and fill a huge budget shortfall. Hope expired at the last second of the Legislature' session -- at 7:16 p.m. Friday, the exact time of adjournment.

Senate passage was unanimous, and the bill would have saved motorists $12 a year on the annual tag fee. But SB 1832 linked the lost revenue -- some $225 million -- to the elimination of a tax break for insurance companies.

The House objected and preserved the insurance industry tax credit when the bill reached the lower chamber. Needless to say, the influential insurers and their lobbyists were pleased. Since the 1987 tax credit went into effect, the industry has saved $3.3 billion.

And no surprise, insurers are one of the top campaign contributors. Last year, one company alone handed $275,000 to House Speaker Will Weatherford's Committee for a Conservative House.

The little guy had a white knight in Senate President Don Gaetz, who made the vehicle fee roll-back one of his priorities. But the big guns shot it down.

Tallahassee's pay-to-play reputation is well earned.

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