Florida: "A Tea Party Train Wreck"

The end of the current Florida legislative session should leave most Floridians heaving a sigh of relief that they won't be around to do more damage in the days to come. One Democratic legislator's description of it as a "tea party train wreck" is more apt than he would have liked, given that 15 states and Amtrak are the happy recipients of $2 billion in federal funds that Florida could have had for high speed rail, had Governor Rick Scott not refused them.

Instead, in the high tradition of the 2010 GOP, Republican supermajorities in Florida passed laws banning abortion coverage in private health insurance plans, baggy pants, bath salts, bestiality, and firearm regulation by local governments. They also tried to pass a measure requiring the Division of Recreation and Parks to hire Jack Nicklaus Design to build golf courses in every state park in Florida and create the Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail. Fortunately, that one failed, but the voter suppression bill passed, ensuring that working voters, students and those voters most likely to vote Democrat won't have as much of an opportunity to do so. The Reid Report has the full list.

Despite end-of-session wrangling over an Arizona-style illegal immigration measure (opposed by corporate interests), and internecine fighting over who owns the power base and how much should be done behind the scenes, Scott and his merry band of Republicans still did plenty of damage. They cut school funding by $542 per student, changed how teachers are compensated, and yet still managed to create a statewide boarding school to be run by a private non-profit for at-risk students.

Oh, and how could I forget this bill to deregulate the interior design industry?

A House-backed bill (HB 5005) to deregulate several professions, including interior designers, was overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate late Friday night in a dramatic 6-32 vote, reports the News Service of Florida. Senators complained that the bill had not been properly vetted and harmed too many professions. Interior designers showed up in droves when the bill was considered by budget committees earlier in the session, with hours of tearful testimony about the harm deregulation would cause their industry.

The infighting stopped Governor Scott's efforts to expand the state Supreme Court so he could pack it, however. I'm sure it will come back in the next session, especially now that Florida allows for unlimited contributions to state lawmakers with absolutely no accountability or disclosure.

Amid surveys of the carnage, one state Senator admits that after that flurry of activity, they not only didn't create any jobs, they probably killed some, too.

Of course, it was never, ever about jobs. This is Republican shangri-la. They despise government so they take as many steps as they possibly can to kill it, while abusing government power to discriminate against women, minorities, the poor, and children. With Rick Scott at the helm, Florida is managing to destroy itself, one teabag at a time.

Progress Florida:

"If making it harder to vote, gutting public schools, salary cuts for first responders and paving paradise were what Floridians wanted, Gov. Scott and this legislature deserve a standing ovation."


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