Claiming a proposed constitutional amendment that would deregulate the energy industry in Florida violates the state’s single-subject rule, the Florida Chamber of Commerce on Thursday filed a legal brief opposing the measure.
Citizens for Energy Choices is proposing the deregulation amendment that the group says will end the current monopolies enjoyed by Florida power companies.
But the Florida Chamber of Commerce contends the proposal would actually make the state less competitive in the area of energy and would drive up electricity costs.
“We cannot secure Florida’s future with regulatory policies that will make Florida less competitive and electricity more expensive,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “Voters deserve to know the facts – this price-hiking electricity related amendment is a drastic and costly proposal that will drive up costs on Florida’s families, consumers and local businesses.”
The Chamber says it agrees with the state’s top legal officer in opposing the proposal.
Attorney General Ashley Moody announced her opposition to the amendment last month in a letter to the Florida Supreme Court. Citizens for Energy Choices submitted enough petitions to trigger a review of the ballot summary by the state’s high court to make sure the summary meets the state’s single subject rule for constitutional amendments.
“While phrased both in its title and in its summary as a purportedly pro-consumer choice measure, the proposed amendment does the opposite,” Moody wrote in a letter to Florida Supreme Court justices.
The Chamber’s legal brief charges that the amendment has two subjects and, therefore, violates the single-subject provision. It claims the initiative requires a competitive energy market, while excluding established market participants from competing in the energy market. The business organization calls is a case of “classic logrolling.”
“The ballot initiative would force voters who may favor competition, but not want to put their current energy provider out of business to vote either yes or not to both,” the Chamber said in a news release.
The Florida Chamber was joined in the legal brief by the Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC).
“For over 50 years, the Florida Economic Development Council has promoted economic development throughout the state,” said FEDC Executive Director Beth Cicchetti. “Not only does the ballot initiative violate a number of laws, it could cause great harm to our more than half-century of work to build Florida’s economy and attract new businesses to our state.”
The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), joined by the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) and the Florida Hospital Association (FHA), today also filed a brief with the Florida Supreme Court in opposition to the constitutional amendment.
AIF’s brief states, “Affordable and reliable electricity is critical to Florida’s economy. For large commercial and industrial consumers of energy, reliability of electricity supply is not just expected—it is an absolute necessity.”
“AIF, along with the FHCA and FHA, is deeply concerned about this proposed ballot initiative,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney. “It not only violates Florida law and should be rejected by the Supreme Court, it is a drastic and costly proposal that would hurt businesses and consumers, and threaten the reliability of our electricity supply.”
Citizens for Energy Choices insists the amendment would put an end to energy monopolies in Florida, while offering consumers the option to choose solar power and other energy choices. The group says Florida is the only one of the seven largest states in the nation that doesn’t allow consumer choice for their energy needs.
The Florida Chamber says the effects of the amendment would be far-reaching saying the “proposal substantially alters and performs the functions of multiple branches of government.”