A Times Editorial

Silly season at Capitol

State lawmakers have a full plate this year balancing the budget and righting Florida's economy. They should not be wasting their time on silly legislation or secondary matters not thought through. That's why it was good to see several bills dismissed so early this session that were either premature or outright ridiculous.

One was a proposal to unreasonably increase the tolls on the Pinellas Bayway. The change would have raised the cost of going to Fort De Soto Park to $2.50 from 35 cents. Travel to St. Pete Beach would have jumped to $1.25 from 50 cents. While a toll increase might be necessary to help rebuild the Bayway's aging bridges, these increases were too much, too soon.

Another flawed bill would have cleared the way for the University of South Florida medical school to build its own hospital. A teaching hospital at USF could raise the bar on academic medicine, benefitting the state as much as our community. But this bill was written broadly enough to threaten a duplication of medical services. This is a bad time, with a down economy, to find the millions needed to build and operate such a facility. It is better to wait, distill the plan and come back once the economy recovers.

Lawmakers are also backing away from two bills that were downright goofy. One would have forced public schools to suspend students who wear their pants too low, which Gov. Charlie Crist correctly dismissed as unnecessary. Another would have required restaurants to keep toilet paper in restrooms, which was flushed down the drain by a legislative committee.

Every session has its lemons, and these were never going to make lemonade.

Silly season at Capitol 03/21/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 22, 2008 5:11pm]

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