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Viewpoints
Tom Germond
Common sense lacking in capital
Article published on Tuesday, April 15, 2014
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C. Fred Jones was always good for a great quote. I remember talking to the former Auburndale state legislator in the 1980s about the possibility of the Legislature’s session having to be extended for a month.

The shorter, the better, he said, “because anytime the Legislature meets, your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are in danger.”

Still holds true. And when the Legislature meets, common sense goes on sabbatical. For instance, why are some of our state leaders hell bent on making voting more difficult and killing people easier?

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would allow people to conceal firearms without a permit during emergencies, including riots. Who came up with this idea? Yosemite Sam?

We also checked in on Gov. Rick Scott to see what he’s been up to lately.

“Did I tell you we’re going to lower auto registration fees about $25?” Scott said.

“Yes, sir. Many times.”

You have to be careful while you’re walking in Tallahassee; it’s easy to trip on the puppet strings extending from special interests to lawmakers.

Wouldn’t be surprised if Senate President Don Gaetz will soon do a commercial for Budweiser based on his conversation recently with the Associated Press.

The craft beer industry is trying to get the Legislature to approve the use of half-gallon growlers, but Gaetz told AP that he supports his friend, an Anheuser-Busch distributor in his district.

We checked in with Gaetz.

“Mr. Gaetz, why are you opposed to loosening up regulations for the craft beer industry? Doesn’t that go against the grain, so to speak, of the Republicans distaste for overregulation?

“This is the famous Budweiser beer,” Gaetz said. “We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood aging produces a taste, a smoothness and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price.”

Time shall tell whether Gaetz will fall off his high Clydesdale while tripping over puppet strings. Surprised that the craft beer bars haven’t put his face on their dartboards. They probably don’t realize how easy it is to find his face. It can be downloaded at www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s1.

Oh-oh. Gov. Scott is calling again.

“Did I tell you we’re going to lower auto registration fees about $25?” he said.

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

The governor these days has been busy announcing new major road construction projects such as building an elevated expressway linking Interstate 275 and U.S. 19 in our area and widening the last four-lane section of Interstate 95.

I didn’t bother to ask him if he has given any further thought to funding high-speed rail or similar mass transit projects. If he ever got on board mass transit, to quote C. Fred Jones, “I’ll eat my hat at high noon in front of the county courthouse.”

And the county courthouse may be the only place we’re going to be able to drop off election ballots if some lawmakers keep toying with voting laws.

Meanwhile, Gaetz is on the line again.

“Hello, senator.”

“This Bud’s for you, Tom.”

“Sir?”

Click.

At the time of this writing, yet to be determined is whether the cowboys in the Legislature will pistol whip their colleagues in line to support the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later-in-a-riot legislation.

Summarizing what Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in the Tampa Bay Times, it’s the “definition of insanity.”

Thank you, sheriff. You’re the canary in the coal mine.

I long to see the day when Florida legislators put the interests of their constituents ahead of special interests, Yosemite Sam, Budweiser or whatever. But I’m an ironclad doubting Thomas.

If common sense ever takes precedence over special interests in Tallahassee, I’ll eat my Florida Gator visor at high noon in front of a sellout FSU crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium and wash it down with a growler full of brew.

Preferably, craft beer.

Tom Germond is executive editor at Tampa Bay Newspapers. Email him at tgermond@TBNweekly.com.
Article published on Tuesday, April 15, 2014
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