Extremism is the new norm in Tallahassee
By Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel
It's not that he and I saw eye to eye on everything.
But back then, Tallahassee conservatives acted ... well ... sane.
Jeb Bush actually knew policy and, for the most part, respected the role of government and its elected officials.
Compare that to our current crop of legislative lackeys — a group of special-interest-coddling, talk-radio-obsessed, constitutionally dismissive hypocrites who lack creativity, critical thinking and the general ability to solve much of anything.
In case that sounds harsh, come see for yourself as we tour some of the bizarre bills making their way through the Legislature this year.
You'll see that, while most Americans crave a push back to the center for moderate politics, Tallahassee's making extremism the new norm.
We'll start with term limits, because this one's rich. State legislators want stricter term limits … except not for themselves. Just for local elected officials.
That's right, state legislators want to tell local cities and counties how long they can keep their mayors and city council members.
Yes, the same crowd that claims the federal government shouldn't interfere with them is trying to meddle in local affairs. (Maybe that's why they scream "states rights" so often … they think it means the state should have the right to legislate everyone else.)
But here's the real kicker: Senate Resolution 598 calls for new limits on local officials — while actually allowing state legislators to stay in office … wait for it … longer.
Then there's the gun-adoption bill — which would make it easier to put kids near unsecured firearms.
Of course, that doesn't make any sense — which is why child-placement agencies have traditionally asked prospective parents whether they had guns. This wasn't to deny adoptions (countless gun owners have adopted), but simply so agencies could give first-time parents tips for keeping guns safe from the new children they will have in their house.
Obviously this safety precaution had to be stopped. So along came House Bill 315, sponsored by Osceola Rep. Mike Horner, to prohibit agencies from asking about guns.
Keep in mind: The state still allows agencies to inquire about your religion before granting you a child … perhaps because the free-speech lobbyists don't cut campaign checks as generously as the NRA.
The list goes on.
There's a bill to crack down on illegal immigration, except not really on private employers the way true reformers want. No, that would take spine. Instead, these bills go after public employers and … wait again … lottery winners. Because that's the real problem in America: too many illegal immigrants cashing in scratch-offs. (SB 856, local sponsor Carey Baker, and HB 421, local co-sponsor Chris Dorworth).
Then there's the abortion bill — one that "prohibits operation of facility for purpose of providing abortion services." There's no denying that abortion is a complex and controversial issue with thoughtful people on both sides. But anyone who thinks the state Legislature can blithely overrule the U.S. Supreme Court needs to go back to civics class … unless legislators cut that from the school budget, too. (HB 1097 — again Dorworth, but this time with help from Horner and Scott Plakon.)
These guys have even found creative new ways to demagogue, such as when Orlando's Steve Precourt tried to prohibit movies that might feature gay characters from getting certain film incentives. Precourt had to abandon that one after Hollywood (the very industry he was wooing in HB 697) essentially told him he could take his discriminatory version of economic development and shove it.