The 2021 Florida Legislative session was an unparalleled disaster. Given the sordid history of the State of Florida Legislature, the depths of terribleness sunk to a new low this year. A perfect storm brought us to this point – Democrats controlling the federal government in spite of wretched losses by the party in the state, COVID protocols in Tallahassee and an unwelcome new resident in Palm Beach County. The Republicans acted viciously and without regard for what matters to Floridians. There’s a ton of refuse to parse and too much for one post.
Certain Bills Not Passing Counts as Wins?
Finding the good in this session stretches the definition of that word. A union-busting bill that careened from most unions, then pivoted to excluding public safety unions ultimately failed. A detrimental bill to the Florida pension system that would have forced a healthy, robust system into a 401K scenario.
A Couple of OK Bills.
Minor reforms to police use of force and training on proper use of force were included in H7051, and protections granted to children under 7 from arrest for delinquency unless they were committing a felony. The bill doesn’t go far enough but in session where the butcher’s bill was high, it makes it into the win column. MCORES received a substantial revision, killing two of three proposed roads and revising the third.
The Grand Old Party has decided they don’t particularly like home rule when their buddies in Corporate America have an issue with a county or city ordinance. The legislature passed a slew of premempton laws, including prohibiting local occupational licensing, and regulation of home based businesses. Municipalities and other political subdivision are also prohibited from moving away from legacy fuel services like oil and gas, in a clear to nod to Duke Energy and others. Local control over growth management and impact fees also were meddled with during this session.
Dumb Economic Decisions
Perhaps the staffers were overwhelmed and didn’t communicate well, but in a broadly bipartisan fashion the Legislature passed a bill removing PIP from car insurance. Sounds great but when the insurance actuaries find out, expect car insurance rates to go up. Similarly, we have a new internet sales tax law, that had the funding been used for new programs or to shore up existing ones, but instead the bill is ultimately a gift to big business.
Thanks to our new Mar-a-lago resident, we have a new law that punishes social media for banning politicians. Nevermind that the GOP claims to be the party of “Freedom” and non-business interference. The gun lobby used their influence to remove the exclusion to existing CCP law that prohibited concealed carry at religious institutions with schools. In a gift to major DeSantis donor, Publix, the Legislature passed a civil liability for damages related to COVID deaths and injury.
The 9th hour addition of an attack on transgender kids to a charter school bill, a malicious parental “rights” bill and an assault on voting rights are all vying to be the most grotesque bill of the session.
The anti-protest bill takes the crown for most obscene. Why? For the stifling affect it has on the fundamental right to protest. The expansion of voting and civil rights in this country has often begun as a protest – that Good Trouble that has the force to move mountains.