Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The good bills they passed (no, really)

Let us now praise the Florida Legislature.

No, really.

What, did you think every bill that passed this year was a bad idea? Impossible. Even if legislators tried, they would do some good, if only accidentally. But they did even better than that.

The rules for this list are simple: It's not enough that the Legislature merely refrained from doing something bad. No, we're talking about an actual, constructive act of do-gooding.

Heck, you can find a couple of dozen things off the bat. For example:

• A firefighter in Volusia County was killed during training in 2007 and his family was denied death benefits. The Legislature made sure training is covered, too.

• The Legislature passed tougher penalties for con artists who sell annuity scams to the elderly.

• It helped struggling Floridians by cracking down on abuses by debt collectors.

• It put $200,000 into the state budget for an "innocence commission" to investigate cases of possible wrongful conviction.

• It spared Florida employers who were going to be socked with a ridiculous increase in unemployment taxes. (We still have to pay for it later, but putting people out of business in a recession seemed like a bad idea.)

• The Legislature passed higher standards for high school graduation, especially in math and science, and also moved away from the reviled FCAT in favor of other end-of-course testing.

• It cracked down on "pill mill" prescribers and banned the sales of "reptiles of concern" (no jokes about me, please), in particular the invasive Burmese python.

• It gave the state more tools for investigating Medicaid fraud.

• It passed much-needed rules for shadowy political advertising groups after the state's old law was thrown out.

• The Legislature voted to require its own members, along with 27,000 other higher-level state employees, to start contributing toward the cost of their health insurance. It's not that much, but it was zero before.

• After two decades of failure and deadlock, the Legislature and governor finally approved a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The state gets $435 million now and $1 billion over five years.

Of course, the biggest "law" the Legislature passes each year is the state budget. This year's is $70.4 billion.

Nobody likes all of the budget, and you can argue that the state should be spending more on X or Y. But this budget avoids widespread, brutal cuts, and even actually chips in a little more for education.

The Legislature restored $21 million for public libraries originally targeted to be cut. It put $15 million back into the Florida Forever land-buying program, better than last year's zero. It set aside a state reserve fund of $1.4 billion.

I know, I know. They robbed trust funds and took a lot of federal stimulus money to pull it off. Next year's budget shortfall will be a disaster. And so forth. All I'm sayin' is, this could have been a lot worse this year.

Lastly, please turn your attention to Senate Bill 765, making it a third-degree felony with mandatory punishment for illegally transporting, distributing, buying or selling horse meat. In no way do I make light of that disquieting topic, nor abuse of the noble horse, by concluding: Given this list of bills, is the Legislature all bad, then? Nay.

The good bills they passed (no, really) 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 6:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  2. Motorcyclist in serious condition after crash in St. Petersburg

    Accidents

    A motorcyclist is in serious condition after he crashed into a car in St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon, according to St. Petersburg Police.

  3. 20 great images from around the globe for June 16 to June 23

    World

    Photos of the week for June 16 - June 23: A deadly collision at sea, a WWII vet turns 100, gorgeous images from Bermuda, Germany, Libya, Milan and Rio, Otto Warmbier's parents lay their son to rest, and more.

    A commercial airplane flies past the moon above Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, June 17, 2017. (Valentin Flauraud/Keystone via AP)
  4. William March: Capin and Cruz appear destined for District 1 race

    Local Government

    Tampa City Council member Yolie Capin and state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, appear headed for a primary in the District 1 County Commission race, which has Democrats worried they'll once again have strong candidates competing against each other in primaries, to the detriment of their chances against Republicans.

    Times Correspondent William March
  5. Watch: Gorilla dances like a 'maniac' in kiddie pool

    Blogs

    Zola, a gorilla who resides at the Dallas Zoo, has gone viral after showing off his dance moves.