The upcoming session of the Florida Legislature is already shaping up to be a session full of culture-war hot topics. If we’re lucky, they might also get to something substantive.
Our legislators owe it to Florida’s taxpayers — their constituency — to make better use of their time than regurgitating bad-faith arguments that hold little value for most Floridians.
Take House Bill 57, filed by Brevard County Rep. Randy Fine.
The bill takes aim at “divisive concepts” supposedly being taught in Florida classrooms. Examples of these divisive concepts as described in the bill include, “The United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.”
The bill doesn’t mention the boogeyman “critical race theory,” but Fine brags that it would ban this teaching, which, in short, is the idea that racism continues to shape our country in many ways.
Fine and others see ideas they disagree with as threats to the very fabric of society. It doesn’t matter whether the United States is “fundamentally racist or sexist,” merely having the conversation is too dangerous or divisive, so the Legislature thinks you shouldn’t.
End of story.
Another great example is House Bill 75, filed by Lake County Rep. Anthony Sabatini. HB 75 would codify Gov. Ron DeSantis’ restrictions on doing just about anything to combat the continued spread of COVID-19 in Florida.
Vaccine passports, no mask mandates, etc., etc. It’s a song we’ve already heard.
How long until a bill is filed to curb cancel culture? It’s only a matter of time.
I can only hope our legislators do not intend to use their incredibly limited time in Tallahassee focusing only on bills that tackle the outrage-of-the-week rather than serious structural problems we face in our state.
Because outrage makes headlines and grabs attention.
My attention sure was captured when, during a recent session for members of the public to address Volusia County’s state legislators, one member of the public suggested teachers wear always-on microphones so parents could tune in and make sure their kids weren’t being taught the wrong things about capitalism or about the LGBTQ+ community, or something. This was met with no reaction by the assembled legislators.
During the same hearing, newly elected Speaker-designate of the Florida House of Representatives and Volusia County Rep. Paul Renner falsely insinuated that COVID-19 vaccines present an outsize risk to pregnant women.
The COVID-19 pandemic is going to be over eventually, one hopes. So when will this kind of energy be poured into problems that we don’t have a highly effective vaccine for?
When will Florida’s infrastructure, for example, get the same kind of attention now paid to trumped-up fears about vaccine passports and spurious claims of forced vaccination?
In the 2021 legislative session, our representatives spent an unusually large amount of time — our time — arguing about whether elementary-school students’ genitals affected how good they are at kickball. Please, we don’t need a repeat. I’ve seen this episode, and it’s a waste of time.
It won’t land you a prime-time spot on cable TV to take a stand on road improvement, overdevelopment or environmental regulations. But our representatives’ time in Tallahassee is limited, and Floridians have much bigger fish to fry than dredging up whatever topic we’re supposed to be fired up about this week.