Ten Things We Want to See Happen in Florida in 2016

Maybe 2015 was awesome for you. Maybe it wasn't. Whatever the case may be, it was relatively fine for Florida, as a whole. Aside from the whole reelecting Rick Scott as governor and probably being responsible for Donald Trump's candidacy for president. There were a few other bumps in the road. But it was fine. Oh, who are we kidding. 2015 was a damned dumpster fire.

But, alas, a new year is nearly upon us. That means a chance to start anew. New goals. New resolutions. A new chapter.

It also means hope.

So as we countdown to midnight this New Year's Eve, let us raise a Champagne glass in hopes that 2016 will be way, way better for our state.

Below are the ten things we want to see happen in 2016. Some of them are probably impossible, but some of them are really doable. Let's go!

10. Stop Introducing Ridiculous Gun Bills
Every year, the Florida Legislature gets together to vote on bills to add to state laws and make things the way they are in Florida. Some are good, some are bad, but most are harmless. Then there's the lawmaker who always has to pop up and introduce yet another law to show just how much he loves guns. Florida is already a gun-friendly state. Enough already with the bills that will only turn the Sunshine State into the Old West. In fact, there's a bill out there right now that would allow someone to carry a gun in the open, like Wyatt Earp. The beginning of 2015 gave us a bill from Rep. Greg Steube that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on Florida's college campuses.

9. Rick Scott to Actually Give a Crap About the Environment
The Miami Herald recently published a story how Gov. Rick Scott has basically not kept his word on protecting the state's environment. But we here at New Times have been calling Scott out on his shenanigans with his environmental record ever since he reared his lizard-faced noggin as our governor. Overall, Scott's administration has screwed up the state's waters and seriously hamstrung the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Scott even appointed a man who was responsible for screwing up the Everglades to protect... the Everglades. Most recently, Scott has used a bizarre "I'm no scientist" defense whenever he's asked about climate change being man-made. And then there was the whole fiasco of ordering his people not to use the term "climate change." Look, we know we're reaching on this one. But a new year means a chance to hope. So... let's hope...

8. A Good Football Team

7. Fewer Flakka Arrests
2015 was apparently the Year of Flakka. It seems like every day, another crazy story would pop up about someone running around naked in the streets or someone jumping through a plate-glass window, naked. Or someone babbling incoherently to themselves, naked. Or someone threatening to jump off a bridge, naked. Flakka is a cheap drug, it's easy to get, and it apparently gets you naked. But it's bad news. Like, really bad. Here's to hoping that this crazy drug was just a fad and that the only news involving naked people involves them not being baked on the ol' A-PVP.

6. Progress on Schlitterbahn
Over the summer, it was announced that America's biggest water park company is going to open a water park right in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. This news was received with much glee. Water parks are awesome. But Rapids is hella far, and South Florida really should be the mecca of water parks. The company, Schlitterbahn, announced that it has every intention of breaking ground and building its water slides in Fort Lauderdale. Of course, opposition has reared its head with a lawsuit. While a lawsuit won't stop Schlitterbahn, it can certainly slow things down. Let's hope 2015 is free of red tape and litigation and we start seeing this thing coming to fruition.

5. Not Be the Reason the 2016 Election Gets Screwed Up
The 2016 presidential election promises to be the craziest election in, well, probably ever. If the polls are correct, it's going to come down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and possibly a third person throwing their hat into the ring. With Clinton's drama and Trump's xenophobia, 2016 is going to be bananas. So of course it has the potential to be a disaster thanks to us. So let's make a pledge, Florida. Let's not be the reason the 2016 election gets fucked up more than it already is. Please. Let's get all our machines in order and all our polling areas moving. No more hanging chads and, for the love of God, please make the language on the ballot not read like the instructions on the Apple customer's agreement. We can do this, Florida. Let's not be the reason a reality-show host with the world's worst combover becomes president of the United States. LET'S NOT BLOW IT.

4. Keep the No-Hurricanes Streak Going
It's been a while since a major hurricane made landfall in South Florida. Let's hope that trend continues, because one these years, the streak will end, and it's going to be disaster of biblical proportions. So let's root for El Niño to keep batting away those systems. Hooray, climate change!?

3. Keep Passing LGBT-Friendly Ordinances
2015 began with Florida legalizing gay marriage, and it was awesome. But things still aren't completely copacetic with the LGBT community in Florida. We've made some strides, with certain cities and municipalities passing gay-friendly ordinances that ban discrimination in the workplace. But this is still Florida, where transgenders are still being marginalized in things as simple as being able to go to a public restroom at their job or office. Enough, already. 

2. Gun-Incident Free
In the land of George Zimmerman, it would be nice for 2016 to be gun-incident free. But this is more wishful thinking. This year alone, we saw a local black musician shot and killed by an overzealous cop, allegedly without cause. Another case of a black man being shot by police is so murky and mysterious, the officer who pulled the trigger has been indicted. Yes, this is the state where Trayvon Martin happened, and we've seen more and more of these kinds of stories spread across the United States like a cancer since. But Florida is a hotbed for this kind of thing. It's the place where Stand Your Ground became a household term. It's also a place that loves the shit out of its guns. Let's hope...

1. Finally Legalize Weed
The amendment to legalize medical marijuana fell 2 percentage points short of passing last November. Yet in that same voting day, more people voted for the legalization of medical marijuana than for Rick Scott's reelection. So close. The 2016 election in Florida is going to be about two things: the president of the United States and medical marijuana. Those who opposed the legalization of medicinal weed in 2013 and 2014 have thus far shown that they won't be putting up as big a fight this time around. But you never know. Politicians have a knack for ruining everything. So far, everything seems to be moving in the direction of the initiative being on the 2016 ballot. But that won't be enough. The initiative can't be watered down. It has to be clear in that marijuana will be accessible to those who need it. Yes, there should be regulations, but not to the point where the initiative is cut off at the knees. Then Florida simply has to show up and vote YES. 
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph