SD 22 Democratic candidate Judithanne McLauchlan today said that the first bill she would sponsor if she defeats Jeff Brandes in November would be to end the nuclear cost recovery fee that electric utilities like Duke Energy have been able to charge their customers since 2006. In addition, McLauchlan's bill would provide a refund to consumers for those fees since they were enacted eight years ago.
“Duke Energy has been fleecing consumers for the last eight years, with a monthly tax for nuclear plants that will never be built," McLauchlan said in a press release. And she said that Senator Brandes has "accepted thousands of dollars from Duke’s political committees over the last several years."
Anger about those nuclear cost recovery fees was exacerbated in the past year after Duke Energy announced that they would scuttle construction on two nuclear reactors planned for Levy County after their estimated date of completion had stretched into 2024 at a projected cost of some $24 billion.
Florida Democrats Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, Mark Danish and Dwight Dudley in recent years have proposed legislation to repeal that tax, but the bill has gone nowhere in the Legislature.
"It’s no surprise he has done nothing to end this tax," McLauchlan says of Brandes' refusal to support that legislation. "In fact, he pushed for and passed a bill last year, which allows Duke Energy to continue this tax. It’s time we had legislators in Tallahassee who look out for families and small businesses back home, not the special interest donors who fund their campaigns." She's also calling on him to return all of his contributions from Duke's PACS, "to show that he is truly on the side of the people of Pinellas County and Florida."
CL reached out to Senator Brandes for comment, but have not heard back from him at the time of this posting.
McLauchlan is currently a professor of political science at USFSP, and has been steeped in politics her entire career, having worked on the campaigns of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and served in the Clinton White House. She's been campaigning hard to defeat Brandes, who was elected to the Senate seat that encompasses both St. Petersburg and South Tampa in 2012, after being elected to the House in 2010, beating Democratic incumbent Bill Heller.
The SD22 seat has been in GOP hands since Jack Latvala defeated Nina Hayden back in 2010. Prior to that, Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice held the seat.
Although McLauchlan knows she will be severely outspent in the contest, she's keeping the focus on Brandes' mostly conservative record in what is considered something of a swing district.
“Whether it is utilities, flood insurance, property insurance, you name it — my opponent always puts special interests ahead of middle class families back home," she says."This is how things work in Tallahassee, and it’s the reason people are so disgusted with and have a complete lack of trust in our Legislature. I’m running to put the middle class first in every decision I make.”