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House speaker attempts to ram 911 bill through committee

House Speaker Larry Cretul is stacking the deck in the House Government Affairs Policy Committee on the eve before it considers the controversial bill to ban the release of 911 tapes to the public.

With a narrow vote expected, Cretul has employed a little-used rule to temporarily appoint his top lieutenant, Speaker Pro Tem Ron Reagan, to the committee to help guarantee passage, according to a memo obtained by the Times/Herald.

What's behind Cretul's intense interest in this bill? He's the author. Working at the behest of Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick -- whose organization sits in Cretul's district -- Cretul put the bill on the fast-track although largely hid his involvement. A week ago, the chairman of the House committee considering the measure, Rep. Robert Schenck, refused to disclose its origins.

But in an interview Tuesday, Cretul acknowledged Hoblick pushed the measure. "He came to me and explained his tragic situation — how every time the play-back occurred it was just a recycling of what that family went through," the Ocala Republican said. The behind-the-scenes maneuvers are generating even more criticism for a measure under scrutiny from a number of Democratic lawmakers and media organizations. Gov. Charlie Crist stands opposed. Read more about Hoblick's involvement and Cretul's push here.