Consumer advocates make sure ticket-sale regulation stays dead in 2014

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As the 2014 session of the Florida Legislature winds down to its May 2 conclusion, lawmakers expect some bills will die a quiet death.

A group of consumer advocates hopes to establish a similar end for two bills — HB1003 and SB1136 — that try to change rules on ticket sales, which could have unintended consequences on business.

Originally written to protect Floridians from ticket scalpers and corrupt deals in entertainment venues, the group says the two proposals actually close the market, and prevent competition in the entertainment industry.

In a letter sent to Senate President Don Gaetz on Wednesday, a consortium of four consumer groups — Floridians for Government Accountability, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection and the Florida Motorcoach Association — want to make sure those bills do not make it to either the Senate or House floor.

The coalition takes issue with the bills, saying that if passed, they would create a “state-created” Florida monopoly for California-based ticket marketplace Ticketmaster. Changes in the regulation would result in many secondary ticket sellers going out of business.

“This legislation blatantly disregards consumer rights and plays favorites with the entertainment industry,” the letter goes, “and it closes the market so that businesses cannot compete with each other.”

Although at this stage of the session, both bills are effectively dead in committee, the group is concerned lawmakers will try to add language to other proposals, in a last-minute effort to get it passed. They are asking Gaetz to make a distinct effort to keep that from happening.

“The damage it would cause to our economy and to consumer confidence is great,” the letter concludes.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.