Joe Henderson: A proper goodbye to 2018 Legislative Session - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: A proper goodbye to 2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 Florida Legislative Session is over and all that messy lawmaking stuff is complete, so our representatives now can focus on their real jobs — raising money and plotting their next elected gig.

Um, not you Jack Latvala. Sorry.

For everyone else though, there are ELECTIONS coming SOON!!!

But hey, we can’t just say Sine Die without a proper goodbye.

Fair warning: This won’t be an exhaustive, comprehensive, encyclopedic look at What. Just. Happened.

I mean, that’s Peter Schorsch’s job, and he does it extremely well. But if Ronda Storms can take another stab at elected office, I can step into the box and take a few swings at What. Just. Happened.

To wit:

WHO IS THAT IMPOSTER THAT LOOKS LIKE RICK SCOTT, AND WHAT HAS HE DONE WITH THE REAL THING? Gov. Scott broke with the National Rifle Association and pushed for legislation that Madame NRA herself, Marion Hammer, labeled as an attack on the Second Amendment. I want anyone who can provide proof that they predicted that before the Session to fill out my NCAA Tournament bracket because they must be a prophet.

NOSTRADAMUS PART II: Oh sure, you predicted in January that the state of Florida would be defending a federal lawsuit from the NRA over the modest gun restrictions it just passed. Yeah, right.

TONE DEAF PART I: State Rep. Elizabeth Porter of Lake City brought national mockery to the 2018 Florida Legislative Session when she dismissed demands by Parkland high school students for stricter gun laws with this pithy statement on the House floor: “We’ve been told we need to listen to the children and do what the children ask. Are there any children on this floor? Are there any children making laws? Do we allow the children to tell us that we should pass a law that says, ‘No homework’? Or ‘You finish high school at the age of 12’ just because they want it so? No. The adults make the laws because we have the age. We have the wisdom. And we have the experience.”

When 17 of their friends and teachers were murdered, that gave those children Porter blithely dismissed access to the floor and the “adults” in the room.

Wisdom? Don’t use big words you don’t understand, lady.

TONE DEAF PART II: No, Kelli Stargel, I didn’t forget you. During a debate about gun control on the Senate floor, the pride of Polk County noted, “When we say ‘thoughts and prayers,’ it’s frowned upon. And I take real offense at that because thoughts and prayers are really the only things that’s gonna stop the evil from within the individual who is taking up their arms to do this kind of a massacre.”

She later complained she was catching tons of grief for that remark.

Ya think?

I’ll use small words to explain why her remarks were so offensive. People in her position often offer “thoughts and prayers” when they want to avoid doing tangible things like, oh, passing laws. As a Christian, I believe in prayer. But I also believe it must be accompanied by action when possible.

So, here’s a thought (and a prayer) for you, Ms. Stargel. From the book of James, Ch. 1, Verse 22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Translation: You’re a lawmaker. You can make a difference. You can take a stand, cast a vote. Thoughts and prayers alone won’t stop school massacres. Sheesh. What part of that is confusing?

TONE DEAF PART III: You know that sweeping reform that was promised after sexual harassment charges flew all over Tallahassee at the start of the Session (see Latvala, Jack)? #nevermind

OMG! There is overwhelming evidence that distracted driving is dangerous. There also is overwhelming evidence that the Legislature doesn’t care. Once again, it failed to pass stronger restrictions against texting while driving. Freedom baby!

ON THE OTHER HAND …: The Legislature did pass the Sunshine Protection Act that would make Daylight Saving Time year-round in Florida. Gov. Scott is considering it, and Congress would have to approve. I hope it becomes law. Although I don’t have strong feelings either way about standard time or daylight savings, springing forward and falling back is a pain. Choose one. Stick with it.

NOW WE AWAIT …: The formal declaration by Richard Corcoran that he is running for something: governor, attorney general, whatever. His PAC keeps running commercials about doing away with sanctuary cities, but given recent events, that doesn’t seem like an issue that can propel him to the top of a crowded Republican field for governor. But the dude is going to run for something. Oh, and Gov. Scott is now free to officially announce he wants to be a U.S. senator.

And Tom Lee? If he really is going to run for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, now is the time to say so.


Game on.

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  1. “Wsdom? Don’t use big words you don’t understand, lady.”

    Yeah….. When you try to make a slight at someone for their intelligence, make sure you get your spelling right you joke.

  2. Yes, Faith without works is dead, and we should be doers of the work and not hearers only, but how is saying that prayer is going to change the heart of an evil person, WHILE IN THE MIDDLE OF DEBATING LEGISLATION, not doing something? Is it only considered “doing something” if you agree 100% with what is being done? I personally do not agree with the legislation passed. I think taking guns from law abiding 18-21 year olds is an unfair knee jerk reaction. But I do not have a level of hubris that allows me to suggest that the whole world revolves around my belief and desires. We elect officials that are supposed to do the best they can for ALL of the people of our country. No two people are going to agree on exactly what that is, but I earnestly believe MOST of them are doing their best. So to imply that someone is “only hearing” the word because they are not bow to your desires, is what is really tone deaf. Stargel did vote to pass legislation, and something WAS done, against a good portion of her base and the NRA. What action would have been sufficient for you?People of the world: When someone offers you thoughts and prayers, it is an act of kindness. Not agression. But the fact that someone cannot offer thoughts and kindness without people taking offense and thinking ill of them is the real problem with the world, and why no matter what legislation is passed there will still be shootings, bombings, and murder. As Sen. Stargel was trying to saying- it is not a law problem, it is a heart problem and the attacks on her for simply defending praying for those who do evil, and those who have evil done against them, only proves this even more.

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