Dan Raulerson: No to State-Based Health Exchanges, Medicaid Expansion; Yes to New Poet Laureate
Around the State
Residence: Plant City
Education: Florida State University, Bachelor of Science, Accounting
Occupation: Certified public accountant
Previous Public Offices: City of Plant City - Mayor (2010-2012) and City Commissioner (2007-2012)
Family: Wife, two children
Did you know? Has been writing poetry for over two decades; daughter Jaclyn is Miss Florida 2010 ("Yes, there have been requests for a DNA test."); a 22-year member of the Plant City Gourmet and Veniculture Society, eight men who take turns cooking each other five-course meals ("When we first got together we didn’t know how to burn bread.")
Dan Raulerson is an amateur poet, chef, and veniculturalist; the proud father of Miss Florida 2010; and the former mayor of Plant City. He’s also one of Hillsborough County’s new state representatives, and setting himself up to be one of the Legislature’s fiercest opponents of Obamacare.
“Have you read this thing; have you even tried to read it?” Raulerson asks Sunshine State News. “I sat down, as a [certified public accountant], to try to read through the 2,456 pages of this Act, and what I came away with is that it is so confusing, it’s going to take an incredible amount of resources to interpret and to implement.
“I don’t consider myself the sharpest tool in the shed,” he continues, with characteristic self-deprecating humor. “But I ain’t stupid.”
Raulerson distinguishes himself from other interviewees of this series – both Republican and Democratic – by his insistence that Florida should not even bother to set up its own state-based health insurance exchanges. His proposed alternative: Stop the unpopular health care law in its tracks by shifting as much of the burden of implementing it on an insolvent federal government.
“There are 30 other states taking the same position I am,” Raulerson tells the News. “If we can make a statement that we’re not going to do this, because we don’t think this is in the best interest of our citizens, and in the meantime put our heads together and try to come up with an alternative plan, that’s where I’m leaning right now.”
Raulerson’s no stranger to Tallahassee, having served in previous years as campaign treasurer for other legislators and lobbied on behalf of local chambers of commerce.
“So I have some familiarity with the process,” he says. “But this side of the aisle is a lot different; it’s really hit me, how serious of a job this is. As a freshman, walking into this is kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant, and the more senior members are telling me I ain't seen nothin' yet."
He’s already filed several bills, two of which have already been taken up by House committees. HB 183 (“Stormwater Management Permits”) would make it easier for local communities to develop and improve their stormwater drainage systems, making the permitting process more efficient. HB 191 (“Theft of Utility Services”) would stiffen penalties for the theft of utility services, making that crime a felony instead of a misdemeanor and imposing a fine of $3,000 or the cost of stolen utilities, whichever is greater.
A third filing, HB 495 (“Certified Audit Program”), hasn’t been taken up by a committee yet. Raulerson’s proposal would expand a state program that allows businesses audited by the Florida Department of Revenue for sales taxes to opt for a private evaluation by a certified public accountant (CPA) instead, in return for which the business would receive various waivers of interest and penalties.
“It’s a great way for private enterprise and government to partner and make compliance with the tax code easier,” Raulerson tells the News. Of course, the fact that a business would even opt into this program speaks to the complexity of the state tax code, one whose intricacies Raulerson admits most businesses cannot navigate through without hiring compliance experts.
“Compliance is just one piece of this puzzle,” he says. “I’m going to be reviewing the actual tax statutes to see what we can do to simplify it.”
Raulerson gave the News a sneak-peek of two more bills he will be filing in the coming weeks. One would tackle anew the problem of ticket-scalping, which he says is hurting nonprofit organizations that end up performing for half-empty halls because their target audiences are unable to afford the prices imposed by resellers.
And speaking of performances, Raulerson will also be presenting a bill that would set in motion selection of the Sunshine State’s next poet laureate.
He has been writing poetry – hundreds of which he has dedicated to his wife, Shirley – for over two decades. It's a hobby he says has sustained both his sanity and his marriage.
Florida’s third official state poet, Edmund Skellings, passed away last August, having held the title since 1980. Raulerson’s bill would establish procedures for selecting the next laureate and those who would succeed him. The appointment is an honorary one and lasts for the poet’s lifetime.
Raulerson is confident the measure will be taken up by a committee – and when it is, he will personally present it before the appropriate panel in the format he thinks most appropriate: a poem.
“You’ve got to have a little bit of fun with this job,” he says.
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (954) 235-9116.