Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
The Editorial Board
Published April 29, 2019
Time is running out on the Florida Legislature. One week
remains. Before that happens, we’ve made a little list of do’s and mostly
Arming teachers. Don’t do it. Teachers
don’t want this. Administrators don’t either. Practically no one does except
those who believe the answer to school shootings is flooding the zone with
guns. This is a misguided response to the tragedy in Parkland. Senators
narrowly approved Senate Bill 7030 Tuesday. Too bad. It’s up to the House to
make sure this dangerous, divisive idea doesn’t pass. If not, Gov. Ron
DeSantis needs to use his veto pen.
initiatives. Don’t do it. Senate Bill 7096 and CS/HB
7111 are designed to do one thing: Create bureaucratic
hurdles for constitutional amendments that get on the ballot
through the process of citizens gathering petitions. That’s
it. Arguments that these bills are designed to improve
transparency and accountability are smokescreens. If that
were the case then these bills would apply some of those
same provisions to amendments that get on the ballot through
a vote of the state Legislature. This isn’t complicated.
Lawmakers want a monopoly on changing the state
constitution. Hard stop.
Eliminating the Constitution Revision Commission.
Don’t do it. Further evidence lawmakers want sole control
over changing the state constitution. Senate Bill 362 gets
rid of the once-every-20-years panel that can put
constitutional amendments on the ballot. Last year’s
commission bundled some totally unrelated issues (vaping and
offshore drilling!) and deserved the derision it received.
So why not just prohibit bundling? Because that wouldn’t
consolidate the Legislature’s power, that’s why. If this
bill to eliminate the commission passes at least voters will
have to approve it in 2020.
State lawmakers say Airbnb's decision to withdraw
from the West Bank could have major consequences in Florida.
Ending amendment bundling. Do it. Senate
Bill 74 eliminates bundling amendments by the Constitution Revision
Commission. Voters would be happy to approve this perfectly reasonable
change to the constitution in 2020. See how easy it is to solve problems
without burning down the house?
Dishonoring Amendment 4. Don’t do it. Voters last year
overwhelmingly approved giving ex-felons the right to vote. Some lawmakers
either weren’t paying attention or don’t like the idea of letting more
people vote. The House bill, 7089, seems intent on the strictest possible
interpretation of the vote, while the Senate bill, 7086, shaves off some of
the rougher edges. Amendment 4’s sponsors didn’t think any law was needed to
implement this constitutional change, but if lawmakers insist on doing so,
they’ll honor the will of the voters by breaking down voting barriers, not
erecting new ones.
Robbing Sadowski. Don’t do it. The Sadowski Fund is supposed
to take a portion of the state fee for real estate transactions and use it
for affordable housing. But nearly every year it gets raided so lawmakers
can prop up their budget. Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged that wouldn’t happen
under his watch, but the state House budget pilfers $200 million of this
year’s $332 million fund. The rest of the money would go to the Panhandle
for Hurricane Michael housing, leaving the rest of the state with $0. Simple
solution: Instead of pilfering $200 million, spend that on affordable
housing for the rest of the state. This will be a test of the governor’s
mettle if the House defies his wishes.
Increasing sprawl. Don’t do it. Senate President Bill
Galvano’s signature initiative this year (SB 7068) is to build a trio of
highways through some of the last swaths of undeveloped Florida. We know
exactly what happens when new roads are built. Sprawling development
follows, and another piece of old Florida is lost. Sure, the bill creates
task forces to give the road ideas a once-over, but two of these three road
projects have been studied before and labeled duds. More studies seem like
an exercise in wearing down the opposition.
Backing sunshine. Do it. Cities are increasingly hauling
citizens into court for making public records requests. It’s a bullying
tactic supported by the Florida League of Cities. House Bill 407, which
passed unanimously, would prohibit such intimidation by local governments.
The Senate version, SB 602, just makes governments pay legal fees if they
lose. That’s not even close to good enough. Citizens shouldn’t worry about
getting taken to court for exercising their constitutional rights.
Attacking home rule. Don’t do it. House Bill 5 is another
Tallahassee attack on the power of local government. It dictates when cities
and counties can hold sales tax votes and — incredibly — requires a
two-thirds vote for approval. That’s an astonishingly high bar for anything
to pass. These sales tax questions have proved popular with voters who want
to better schools, fix roads and provide medical care for the poor.
Lawmakers want to deny them self-reliance. Fortunately, Senate bills on the
subject leave off the super-majority requirement while mandating the timing
of sales tax votes during general elections only.