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What’s a telegraph? Doesn’t matter, it won’t be regulated in Florida law anymore

No word yet whether dissenters will be lining up to argue Florida is erasing history.

Monday was an eventful day in Tallahassee. Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a record smashing $1.66 billion from the proposed budget in a year that left policy makers smarting from an unprecedented economic crisis.

He also signed a whopping 28 bills into law.

But nothing was perhaps as important as this:

DeSantis signed HB 6055 into law late Monday, erasing an entire chapter of state law providing penalties to telegraph companies for not promptly delivering messages.

Western Union completed its first telegraph line in 1861, prompting Florida lawmakers to regulate the industry, including $50 penalties, a lot of money at the time, for companies without the appropriate pep in their step to ensure the messages were delivered in a timely fashion. Nothing in the law has changed much since 1913 and courts haven’t weighed in on the issue since 1945, according to bill analysis.

Yet there it sat in Florida law, an untimely regulation in an era where iPhones zip messages across entire continents in mere seconds.

No more, says the Governor.

The bill has become something of a comedy routine, prompting teasing comments during committee hearings earlier this year.

“There are a number of school-age children in the West Gallery, so if Senator (Ben) Albritton in his close can address what telegraphs are,” said Sen. Jason Pizzo.

“There are also middle-aged people in the entire Capitol. Can you also explain to us what a telegraph is?” Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez quipped back.

Albritton, amused, suggested those unfamiliar with relics of the past Google it.

The reference disappears from state law July 1.

As of press time there was no word on whether dissenters were lining up to argue history was being erased.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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