Friday, May 13, 2011

A Tale of One Session: No More Business Oversight, No More Growth Management, Massive Cuts to Education

When the state legislative session finally ended, I realized something. I don't know exactly what we have here in Florida, but it is definitely not a Democracy. Floridians were shocked by the wacky laws that passed which stripped our rights and protections... each one worse than the previous. The right-wing, conservative republicans who represent a VERY small minority of teabaggers call all the shots. The few Democrats in the legislature could do nothing, not even debate!

The super-majority Florida rethuglicans, in their cozy, custom-drawn districts, were busy marginalizing the judiciary, ignoring amendments they don't like in our Constitution, and stripping power away from the citizens. The uneducated morons even outlawed sex. (No, sadly, I am not kidding.) The people are outraged, but helpless. I thought that this is what it must feel like to be in a dictatorship.

But then I thought I was giving into hyperbole. Of course we don't have a dictatorship--that would be an improvement. We get none of the advantages. (More efficiency? Less corruption? Florida? riiight). Cripes, we don't even get the damn charismatic overlord. Just a sickly-looking buffoon.

With absolute power, our republican legislators showed everyone what they are REALLY about. The middle-class, unemployed, homeless, veterans, mentally ill, seniors and disabled children all got punched in the gut with massive cuts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Big corporations of course got a hefty tax break, which was stupid and pointless since the rethughlicans also left all the corporate tax loopholes in anyway. (Less than 2% of corporations bother to pay any taxes in Florida. So suck on that.) Tax breaks for things only the wealthy can enjoy, such as yachts and skyboxes, stayed put. So did the sweet, sweet government-run healthcare all republican lawmakers enjoy in Tallahassee. (At $2 a week for a few weeks "work", its the most generous in the nation.)

The bastards gutted education by over $1.1 billion. They cut almost all business oversight regulations: Movers can now change their prices mid-move, mechanics don't have to give written estimates, dozens of professions (like mold inspectors) no longer need a license, and the protections in place against our longtime problem with shady timeshare companies have vanished. I suppose we are so desperate for jobs we are begging all the shady and even criminal enterprises who fled the state to come back and set up shop so they can hire again. (Yeah, much better than those tens of thousands of jobs we would have gotten for high-speed rail, I guess.) There is also no more growth managment in this state. Developers can now build with impunity and no longer worry about building schools or roads to handle their new sprawl.

There was also time to add amendments to ensure teabag conservative turnout for the national election. There are many pointless, partisan amendments such as one overturning abortion, one loosening the separation between church and state, and another overturning the new health care law in Florida. (What health-care crisis? Don't you know it only costs two bucks a week?)

Simultaneously, the sickening voter suppression law returns Jim Crow to Florida by blatantly suppressing minorities, college students,and women from voting. It passed on a party-line vote. They also criminalized 3rd party voter registration. The League of Women Voters announced they will leave the state if Gov. Rich Snott signs it into law. Teabag Lawmaker Mike Bennett sees nothing wrong with making people "fight" to vote or even walk 200 miles to vote. (Republicans, however, can still vote absentee.)

Again. This was just. one. session.

Even worse, the supporters of the few bad laws that did fail have vowed to bring them up again next session. Look for the return of court packing, another try at the AZ anti-brown people law, and the promised new try of turning our parks into golf courses.

I am up to already up to #26 in my series.

I'm sick and tired of complaining. I cannot handle 3 1/2 more years of this crap. Do me a favor:

1. Register to vote. Stop what you are doing. Do it now. Make sure everything is squared away before the next election.

2. Get involved. Talk to people. Write your paper and your legislators. Volunteer-anywhere (candidate, party, outside group, etc.) Contribute. Risk criminal prosecution and register peeps to vote anyway (screw 'em!).

3. Vote. In the name of all that is holy, VOTE. Don't stay home to "make a point". Real people suffer. Besides, the dems here and in DC would just interpret your apathy as the result of not compromising enough. (Our party really is that lame.)

If you have a moment, take a moment right now:

1. Contact the DOJ. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires states with a history of voting discrimination, such as Florida, to submit any changes to voting laws to the DOJ for review. Florida is blatantly suppressing voting rights. Our Senator has asked them for this... take a moment and ask them as well. (What the hell is it you do anyway, Holder?)

2. Fight for fair districts. The rethuglicans are actually using taxpayer money to fight this. Fair elections are our best chance to end their complete and utter domination.

3. Support citizen-led intiatives. Sign the petitions. Ask your friends to sign them. Vote for them. Citizen-led initiatives have been made difficult with shorter timelines and a supermajority. Yet they remain our only check and balance left in this state... and the people have finally awoken. Support amendments allowing recall of our elected officials. Support the amendment initiative that gaurantees funding of our independent courts. Support the amendment initiative to repeal the voter suppression law... if all else fails.

It sux right now, folks. But it is not hopeless. Not by any means. Democrats CAN win in this state... hell, Alan Grayson is as liberal as they come and won in a GOP-drawn district. The red wave election last year STILL somehow garnered a super-majority for fair districts. Movements like Awake the State have spread and put the teabaggers to shame. Fight as hard as you can... and enjoy the spectacle while it lasts.

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