EDITORIAL: Too much preach Too much reach

Every year about the time lawmakers are busy coming up with new bills, knowing that less than 10 percent will ever make it to a vote. But it’s what you do early on because, some would argue, they don’t do much other than argue when the session opens next month.


Proposed bills fall into different categories. This time around it looks like the year where “payback” or “revenge bills” will get the spotlight. But every year we get bills that fall into the categories of “preaching” and “overreaching” bills.

An example of “preaching” is HB337, which is questionably called the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” And wouldn’t we all like to end that practice? The bill, however requires makers and sellers of any device that accesses the Internet to include a filter that blocks “obscene material” (as judged by whom?) The bill defines obscene material as having “prurient interest” and without “serious artistic, political or scientific value.” That ‘s a pretty wide swath. While we applaud the intent, as always the devil is in the details and, in this instance, he has the Constitution in his hands.

Overreaching bills by the legislature nearly always give additional power to the legislature. And too often, this is at the expense of another political entity.

House Bill 17 is a fine example of this type of legislation. This one would bar local governments — our county commission, our two city commissions and the Hastings town commission — from passing any new regulations on “businesses, occupations and professions in the future. As if that’s not a sufficiently silly thing to do, it also makes any regulation passed by a local government after Jan. 1 of 2017 null and void — retroactively.

Rep. Randy Fine, the bill’s sponsor, told the Orlando Sentinel that the bill is aimed at easing regulator burdens on small businesses.

Fine explained to the Sentinel that the bill isn’t as bad as it sounds… local government are free to pass all the local regulations they want, the regulations need only be “expressly authorized” by the state.

Talk about a morass of problems. We’d certainly then need to empower and employ a new state “Department of Interlocal Spat Determinations.”

Tallahassee could decide how our re-enactors should dress or when they switch to overtime. They could oversee the hours of our art galleries or sanitation regulations for horse and carriages.

And they would certainly oversee the regulation of digital billboards on county highways.

It’s a bad bill that will only give Tallahassee more rules to screw up.

Let’s hope it becomes one of the 90 percent of bills that go nowhere. That’s exactly where it belongs.