Legislative fiscal responsibility need not apply to the Book family.
It pays to be the daughter of a super lobbyist, but things can get complicated.
In the final days of the legislative session, lawmakers amended a bill to protect children from sexual abuse that gave $1.5 million to Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit run by the daughter of Ron Book, the Tallahassee uber-lobbyist from Miami.
The problem is, according to all accounts, neither of the Books asked for the money. The bill, HB 215, says the money must be used to finance a 24-hour abuse hotline and pay for sexual abuse prevention education in schools — programs already offered by Lauren's Kids without state funding.
The money the Books did ask for but did not receive: $3 million to finance the cost of relocating victims of sexual assault who are too threatened to remain at home. Instead, the late-session allocation was tacked onto a bill victim advocates had worked on all year. Among other things, the bill limits a defendant's access to child pornography evidence, allows the admission of prior sexual crimes as evidence and ensures the HIV testing of sex offenders.
If anyone knows who came up with the idea of steering the money to Book's hotline and community awareness program in a year when $3.8 billion was being slashed from the budget, they are not saying. Nor is anyone claiming credit.