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

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

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


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