Hannah Montana bill killed by GOP

Mar 19, 2008

Laura Figueroa

Miami Herald

Sorry teary-eyed tweens and frustrated parents -- scoring hard-to-get concert tickets for shows like Hannah Montana might still cost you loads of money and hours of hitting the redial button to get through to ticket sellers.

A bill attempting to crack down on ticket sellers who use automated technology to snatch up event tickets and scalp them for exorbitant prices was killed along a party-line vote in the House Agribusiness committee Tuesday morning.

Democrats backed the measure as a pro-consumer issue. Republicans, whose majority leader called members to see if they opposed it, rejected the measure as anti-business.

The unofficially dubbed 'Hannah Montana Bill' was proposed by Democratic leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, and was sparked by the scores of disappointed children and disgruntled parents, who nationwide were unable to land tickets to the teen idol's popular concert.

Among them: Gelber himself, who failed to score a ticket for one of his two daughters for one of the arena-sized concerts. They often sell out in a matter of minutes, leaving buyers to wade through internet resale offers of up to $2,500 per ticket.

'It's not just about teens,' Gelber said. ``This was about consumers versus people who make money by artificially increasing the price of tickets to many events, not just Hannah Montana.'

Though the bill had the backing of the Florida Association of Ticket Brokers, it met resistance from the Republican legislators on the committee who said the bill did not encourage a free market and enterprise economy.

'I think this bill is from those on the unhappy side of a free market,' said Rep. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, one of the five no votes that overpowered the three Democrats.

'This was a hard line party vote,' Gelber said after the meeting. ``Every Republican voted with the predatory practices that are going on in the market place and every Democrat voted to stop those unsavory practices.'

Republican House leader Adam Hasner acknowledged he polled a few members about their views, and made the calls on behalf of 'someone,' he wouldn't name. Asked why he would lobby against it, he called the question 'insulting' because the bill was 'dumb' and ``laughable.'

Rep. Ralph Poppell, a Titusville Republican, voted against the bill and joked that it should have been referred to a health committee instead because: ``This is more of a mental health issue. You have to be crazy to pay these prices.'Miami Herald staff writer Marc Caputo contributed to this report

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