The Florida legislature arrived in Tallahassee with a historic batch of problems to solve: soaring unemployment, an unstable real estate market, crumbling infrastructure and failing schools. The 2013 session could have been a legendary breath of fresh political initiative.
Instead, the Leg punted on medical marijuana, didn't bother to consider gay marriage rights, and spent months cranking out dozens of inane, useless or counterproductive bills. Today, 150 of those new rules become law. Here are the four dumbest:
Bogus Bong Ban
As more progressive states like Colorado and Washington have eased prohibitions on medical marijuana, Florida legislators instead wasted taxpayers' time by crafting a new ban on bongs and weed pipes. Luckily for potheads, the lawmakers were incompetent enough -- and head shop lobbyists savvy enough -- that the new law is basically toothless. "It doesn't change a thing in the way we do business," Jay Work, owner of Grateful J's, told Riptide last month; as long as customers don't outright ask for a bong to smoke drugs, it's still perfectly legal to sell it to them. Great use of legislative time, Tally.
Police Drone Restrictions
The issue with this legislation -- which limits the use of drones by police to a few specific cases, like "imminent danger to life" or a pending terrorist attack -- isn't that putting the kibosh on cop drones is a bad idea. It's that police are already so hamstrung by FAA rules that the Miami Dade Police Department, which has owned a drone since 2010, still hasn't used the $50,000 toy a single time. The FAA has given cops clearance only to fly the drone below 300 feet in the daytime within sight of its operator; police say they'll only use it in a very specific situation, essentially when a gunman is holed up somewhere police can't see into otherwise.
In other words, the law is prime example of Tally fixing a problem that doesn't exist when there is no shortage of actually concerns across the state.
Just what Florida's notoriously boneheaded court system needs: A way to more efficiently execute prisoners on Death Row! The Timely Justice Act of 2013 requires more efficient appeals processes. Gov. Rick Scott has heartily denied that the bill will in fact lead to speedier executions -- despite the bill's title and its sponsor's claims on the House floor -- while Mark Schlakman of FSU's Center for Advancement of Human Rights argues to the AP that many of the measures in the law will get tossed in court. A dumb bill that won't do what it promises and will probably get axed in court? Nicely done, Tally.
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"Low Speed Vehicles As Golf Carts"
Just what the unemployed, underinsured masses struggling with Florida's terrible education system and lack of reliable public transit need: A new law allowing low-speed, street legal vehicles to officially be classified as golf carts. Its sponsor says it will reduce registration and insurance costs. We say it will make us all wish we lived in Belgium.