The Florida Legislature is kind of like that family friend who comes and crashes your pad for two weeks, rearranges everything in your cupboards, tells you exactly what kind of person you are, and then leaves so you can live in the mess they just created.
After two more quick months of politicking and haranguing, the Florida legislators have disappeared once more -- just like that -- into 10 more months of hibernation. Will we miss them? Likely not.
But do they deserve self-congratulation? Is there a profound sense of accomplishment? Are we, as a state, proud of the work done? Answer: This is the Florida Legislature.
For an institution more defined by dysfunciton and failure than by progress of thinking and success, here are the most profound screw ups served up by our boys and gals in Tallahassee.
5. Revenge Porn Earlier this year, state Rep. Tom Goodson proposed criminalizing revenge porn so Floridians couldn't smear their exes by posting naked videos and images of them on the Internet. It would have been a felony to post someone's personal information alongside photographs of them naked. Passing this one seems like common sense, right?
Not so for Florida's vaunted Legislature. Along came Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) who offered three amendments which would have made the bill ineffectual. He wanted to make the offense a misdemeanor, give offenders 48 hours to remove the photograph, or exclusively punish offenders who obtained the photograph's surreptitiously.
Ka-plow. Goodson (R-Titusville) rejected the amendments, and the bill stalled.
4. Medical Marijuana Here's a tough one to figure out. According to a Miami Herald poll, as many as seven out of 10 Florida legislators support legalizing medical marijuana, but the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act got lampooned in the Florida Legislature. In fact, it couldn't even get a hearing. Wasn't even close.
How was this so, you say? Political arithmetic. Even when everyone wants something, it still won't pass.
Instead -- because we have to protect freedom against those pot-smoking terrorists -- the Legislature instead passed a bill to ban bongs.
3. The Growler Bill Welcome to Florida, one of only three states in the Union where it's illegal to put beer inside a 64-ounce container known as a growler and sell it. You can post nuddie pics of your ex girlfriend all day, but selling beer in a growler?
Not in Florida, bub.
Even crazier: It's legal to have a 128-ounce container of beer. But we can't necessarily blame the legislators for this failure. The beer distributors vanquished this bill.
2. The Sun Life Stadium Bill Now here's a humdinger. The Florida Legislature killed direct democracy on this one. The Miami Dolphins wanted to put a vote before Miami-Dade -- which would have had sweeping effect in Broward, too -- to decide whether to increase the hotel tax and help fund renovating Sun Life Stadium.
But the Legislature never moved on the bill, taking that right away from local voters -- and stalled $400-million renovations that may have attracted multiple Super Bowls and created 4,000 local jobs.
1. In-State Tuition For Kids of Undocumented Workers This bill would have allowed American citizens who are residents of Florida -- but are children to undocumented workers -- to pay in-state tuition at Florida schools.
Right now, they have to pay out-of-state tuition because, Florida!
Even though House Speaker Will Weatherford expressed support for the bill, and it passed the House Higher Education Committee, the bill languished afterward. Though there's been some shift in political currents over immigration policy -- nationally and locally -- Florida is still far away from granting equity to U.S. citizens who happen to be the children of undocumented workers.
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