An old saying goes, “There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.”
Jason Fischer didn’t go to the Florida Legislature to sit and watch.
Since being elected to the Florida House, Fischer has been busy.
He got special mention from Florida Politics for this year’s session: “Jason Fischer — The Jacksonville Republican was the point man for several issues, and he was able to get most of them across the finish line — he went seven out of nine, in fact. The biggest of them all was the autonomous vehicle bill. Before this session, Florida required autonomous vehicles to have a licensed human driver in the driver seat. Not anymore. Fischer also made strides in other major policy areas, such as long term care and the rollout of 5G technology.”
Fischer also has riled people, which is what active legislators do.
Among other things, Fischer – a former School Board member — has proposed making the local school superintendent an elected position.
He also has supported school choice and opposed gun-grabbing, neither of which made him popular with Florida’s liberal media. But it got him re-elected for a second term.
One of his rare losses was an attempt to get an affordable housing project in Jacksonville – one that made Florida Tax Watch’s “turkey list.” It got approved by the legislature, but was vetoed by the governor.
In addition, he sponsored HB 7103, which he said sought to encourage affordable housing statewide. His 27-page bill, however, became a Christmas tree and was 43 pages when enacted.
Greens and tree-huggers went ballistic, claiming it is an affront to “smart growth” efforts. They are trying to overturn the new law in the courts.
“What I was trying to do was prevent local governments from creating rent control policies in their communities,” Fischer told Eye on Jacksonville.
When local governments demand that developers build “affordable houses,” the price is just shifted to other buyers. “They are squeezing the middle class,” he said.
The bill also deals with slow process. Bureaucrats tend to hold a project until it falls apart. “We put deadlines for decisions in the bill,” Fischer said.
Other games local governments play include charging people double for using private building inspectors. The bill stopped that, and limited audits on a project to four a year.
What really drove environmental wackos bonkers, however, was a provision requiring the loser in a court case to pay the legal bill. Tying up a project in the courts at no cost to themselves is a favorite tactic of fringe elements in Big Environment.
As for the local bill, Fischer didn’t agree with Tax Watch’s description of the project as a turkey because it did not go through the Florida Housing Finance Corp. “Local projects don’t do well in the bureaucracy”, he said. “The Florida Housing Finance Corp is a broken process.”
Although the appropriation was killed, Fischer will file it again.
He doesn’t accept defeat gracefully.
Last year, he proposed to cut the communications tax that hits everyone who uses a cell phone or other device. It didn’t get out of the House, but he plans to try again.
It is not uncommon for proposals that change the status quo to take several years to gain acceptance.
Fischer is the chairman of the Duval Legislative Delegation, which, meets Nov. 1 and will vote then on J-1, his local bill to have voters decide if they want an elected superintendent. The vote would be in 2020 and if approved would take effect in 2022. Fischer plans to file the bill whether approved by the delegation or not.
A recommendation by the Charter Revision Commission to appoint members of the School Board had been in a local bill but it was substituted with a bill to hold a referendum on electing the superintendent. Most Florida counties have an elected superintendent.
“If we want to make big changes in our school system it has to start at the top,” Fischer said.
Clearly, Fischer is not a passive representative. He is out to make changes.