The Florida Legislature ended another session doing what their campaign contributors hired them to do. They passed 196 bills during the 62 day session, the fewest in decades.
They avoided dealing with many of the issues that really required action on their part and had the support of the majority of Florida residents. The failure to make texting while driving a primary offense is hard to comprehend, because it should not be a partisan issue.
When thousands of fatalities have occurred nationwide because of texting while driving, it shows total disregard for the safety of every driver on the road. The failure has some ideological basis behind it, in that it intrudes on an individual’s freedom to do whatever they please. The same argument was used for years to pass any law that stopped people from smoking wherever they wanted to. It probably will require a citizens initiative to be placed on the ballot to correct this dangerous practice. Can anyone justify this practice?
They did take some baby steps with gun control, but failed to address the elephant in the room on the issue of banning the sale of military-grade weapons to civilians. It is very clear they represent their campaign contributors, in this case the NRA, not their constituents. There is no sensible reason civilians can purchase a military grade weapon.
Worst yet they failed to place it on the ballot for the voters to decide, all because so many are owned by the NRA.
Sen. Dennis Baxley voted against the school safety bill, because it included raising the age to buy an assault weapon in defiance of the wishes of the NRA. It clearly shows that his loyalty is to the NRA, not the school children.
They also failed to ban fracking in the state, because the groups wanting fracking have deep pockets for campaign contributions. Environmental groups opposing fracking have little money to buy their own legislators.
Probably nothing better captures the inability of the Florida Legislature to correct a problem than their failure to fix the practice of write-in candidates disenfranchising a majority of voters in many elections. In 2000 Katherine Harris issued an advisory opinion that write ins constituted opposition in elections in which only one party had candidates. The law says if only one party has candidates in a primary race, and no opposition in the general election, the election is open to all voters.
A write-in candidate can file to run as a write in, without paying any entry fee, collecting any petitions or even going to the Supervisors of Elections office. It is a total sham and in some races the write in has failed to get a single vote. In many Lake County races a majority of the voters have been disenfranchised by the actions of a single write-in candidate. In Lake County if only Republicans file run for a county office, the election should be open to everyone, by law. If a write-in files, they are considered opposition in the general election, even though their name does not even appear on the ballot. They are usually recruited by the party wanting to disenfranchise voters not of their party.
Florida has a Jim Crow-era system for the restoration on voting rights for individuals convicted of a felony. We have a constitutional amendment we vote on in 2018 to correct this flaw.
The legislature continues to make it more difficult to pass citizens initiatives by raising the percentage needed for approval. All of the good changes to our Constitution have come from citizen initiatives in recent years.
It will require a major change in the membership of the Florida Legislature for it to become a viable body that is responsive to the needs of ordinary people. We can elect candidates that are interested in doing what is for the greater good of all.

Marvin (Jake) Jacobson