In the news business, you have what is called the silly season. At one time, that was the summer: School was out; snowbirds left; people vacationed; things generally slowed down.
In Florida, state government is changing things. The Legislature is officially moving silly season to January and February. You can tell because the Legislature is in session now.
I suppose at one time the Legislature might have been considered a place of serious business. That time is long gone; with one-party government, you get a fresh silly season with each legislative session.
The main change from year to year is the particular names on the bills. You also get a variety of “state-thing bills.” We now have an official state beverage, airfare, citrus archive, moving-image center and heritage cattle breed.
Sometimes, the official things get confused. For instance, the official state tree is not in fact a real tree. I never said they were bright, or careful, in Tallahassee. There is a reason for this omission.
It should surprise no one, then, that the agenda is just jammed with stupid stuff again this year. Of course, legislators will criminalize more stuff, and of course they want to increase penalties all around.
One goof suggests increasing the penalties if the crime is done by an undocumented person.
I cannot imagine how that will help: I am just as robbed or beaten if the felon is a state senator. Wait, I forgot, this lets someone act out his anti-immigrant bias even as it accomplishes nothing.
Another goof wants to exempt religious organizations from emergency orders. You will not have to evacuate from the bar during the next hurricane, so long as you say a prayer over your beer. Or mumble a bit; the state is without the power to decide the relative virtues of Mohammedism and Flying-Spaghetti-Monsterism.
There being no shortage of goofs, we have one offering us a Texas-style abortion bill. Sure, it is mostly red meat, but the litigation will be long and expensive. I would not miss the opportunity to let Texas pay for it.
The problem is that these are just a few bills in just one column of newspaper. There are hundreds of these things flying about, leaving no doubt as to what legislators are thinking — January is too cold to go outside and do anything useful.
— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.