Decoupling surfaces again in legislature, then tanks

 For a minute there, it looked as though decoupling might still make it.

 Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, attempted to amend her greyhound injury reporting bill Tuesday afternoon, suggesting that decoupling be added. That's the idea that card rooms and racinos shouldn't be required to offer dog racing in order to keep the other stuff. The injury-reporting bill had advanced from Gaming to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

 But in stepped Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. He was burned earlier in the day when he proposed an in-state tuition amendment only to have it killed because it was ruled not germane to the original bill.

 So he played tit for tat.


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 He pointed out that Sobel's decoupling amendment was not germane to her original bill. To his credit, he had warned that he would do so, in a fair and logical commentary he made when his amendment died.

 "The amendment to the amendment is not germane and Sen. Sobel’s amendment dramatically expands the subject matter," he said, noting that it included charity events, changing the law of a jai-alai permit, reducing tax on handle for greyhound racing and a litany of other details.

 Rules chair John Thrasher agreed, saying it "unreasonably expands the purpose of the bill" -- the same language he used when asked for his opinion on whether Latvala's amendment was too far off course.

So that was that for decoupling.

Sobel did get to present her argument beforehand, though, addressing some concerns that surfaced when she brought up decoupling in the Senate Gaming Committee and it crashed and burned: "We all know the predominant feeling in this body is that at the current time many people are concerned about the expansion of gaming and there were concerns about an amendment that was offered. To my best of my knowledge this doesn’t expand gaming in any way. I’ve been working with staff and getting input and that’s where we are today."

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami Beach: "I’m tremendously concerned about the expansion of gambling. I represent the entire coast of Miami-Dade. Believe me, everybody wants to be there, and I don’t want them there. It’s as simple as that.

 "I have a concern that some of the amendments might do just that. That’s what happened the last time."

Sobel did get in some final words, even though decoupling was dead. Her main point that she's acting on humanitarian grounds, and if the dog business owners are happy, that's just a side effect.

 "I think it’s ludicrous and ridiculous to race dogs," she said. "The first time I saw it, I thought it was a joke."