Right now, the concealed weapons and firearms licensing program is backlogged and overloaded, due in part, to the refusal of budget officials and the Legislature to allow the Division of Licensing to use its own trust fund money to hire more employees and expand/upgrade equipment.
Crates of unopened mail containing license and license renewal applications sit in storage. The backlog of mail sitting unopened, at times, has extended beyond 90 days while existing licenses are expiring because renewal applications haven’t been opened and processed.
Currently (although the Division of Licensing has been working weekend shifts to clear the backlog), it is taking 13-14 weeks to process a “perfect” application once it has been opened. That is an unequivocal violation of the law that requires issuance or denial of a licence by a time certain –– a violation of law that legislative leaders are condoning by their actions.
THE LAW REQUIRES THE DIVISION OF LICENSING TO ISSUE A LICENSE WITHIN 90 DAYS OF RECEIPT OF THE APPLICATION — or deny the license “for cause”, based upon the criteria set forth in the law. Theft of operating funds by the Legislature is not “just cause” for failure to issue licenses or renewals within 90 days.
While applications sit gathering dust, legislative leaders took $6 Million of approximately $8 Million held in the trust fund. That $6 Million is supposed to be used to pay employees, buy upgraded equipment, upgrade or replace computers or software, and to otherwise administer the concealed weapons and firearms licensing program.
BUT, feigning a desperate need for funds for education and health care, legislative leaders recklessly and ruthlessly confiscated trust fund money. Why? Because they were building a so-called “working capital” fund for the 2010-12 legislative term, reported now to be in the neighborhood of $1.8 BILLION DOLLARS. This so-called “working capital fund” is for the use of future legislative leaders.
They didn’t take that money for education. They didn’t take that money for health care. They didn’t take that money to save jobs. They didn’t take that money to avoid pay cuts, or budget cuts — they took the money to help build their own fund.
While Senate leadership reportedly fought to stop the ruthless raids on trust funds, in the end, they simply caved and let the House of Representatives prevail.
The bad behavior doesn’t end there.
Obviously fearing the Governor would use his line-item veto to stop trust fund raids, proviso language was inserted in the bill in an clear attempt to intimidate the Governor.
The proviso language says that if any portion of the moneys swept from this and other trust funds does not become law (meaning it is vetoed), that portion of the money shall be deducted from the EDUCATION BUDGET. This is clearly designed to keep the Governor from vetoing trust fund sweeps, and prevent trust fund money from being taken back out the House leadership’s so-called “working capital” fund.
Money in the concealed weapons trust fund came from gun owners. No money to administer and run the concealed weapons and firearms licensing program has ever come from general revenue, or any other state fund or revenue source. The taking of these gun owner user fees is an unauthorized tax on the exercise of the Second Amendment.
Please Call, Fax, or Email Governor Crist IMMEDIATELY, and ask him to veto the $6 Million raid on the Concealed Weapons & Firearms Trust Fund!
Send your email to the Governor at this address: Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com