Joe Henderson – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Joe Henderson

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.

Joe Henderson: Marco Rubio should let it loose on Trump

I wish Marco Rubio would just let it go and tell everyone how he really feels about President Donald Trump.

I think Florida’s junior U.S. Senator, like many Republicans, really wants to do that.

He tiptoes up the edge but can’t quite go there. He doesn’t unleash oratory of fire and fury the likes of which we have never seen on a president whose administration is built on mockery and intimidation.

Rubio did that again Sunday with his appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.

The first question he was asked by moderator Chuck Todd was about the way now-former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired last week 48 hours before he was due to retire, jeopardizing the federal pension he earned during 20 years of service.

“I don’t like the way it happened. He should have been allowed to finish through the weekend. That said, there is an inspector general report that is due and work that is being done,” Rubio said. “After he had retired if that report indicated wrongdoing or something that was actionable, there are things that could have been done after the fact.

“But with 48 hours to go before retirement, I certainly would have done it differently.”

I think anyone with a dram of decency would agree that, yeah, it should have been done differently. And I guess Rubio figured he was showing such decency by his measured, gentlemanly response to the question.

But don’t you wish Rubio would have called the action technically taken by Attorney General Jeff “Whew, It Wasn’t Me This Time” Sessions but likely orchestrated by the president for the craven political retaliation that it was?

I think something like “the president obviously is out to squash the Russia investigation and anyone associated with it, and that makes me think he is guilty as sin” would have been what politicians call a “proportional response” in this matter.

As Rubio later noted in that interview, “I don’t like the way it went down. I would have done it differently. But I’m not the president.”

Part of the reason Rubio isn’t president is that he got bullied in during the 2016 campaign. Who can forget Trump hanging the “Little Marco” insult on him? Rubio never recovered and was embarrassed by Trump during the Florida Republican primary.

Given that, what does Rubio owe to a president who demands unflinching loyalty but gives none himself, even to those closest to him?

In other words, let it loose man!

Trump has rewritten the rules – temporarily at last – about governance, and the only way to deal with a bully is to put it right back in his face.

So, when Rubio says, as he did Sunday, “I don’t like the whole tone” of this issue, well … OK.

That’s telling him off!

Come on, Senator Rubio.

Someone has to emerge as the Republican face of “enough is enough” when it comes to this president. Rubio could be that guy.

All he has to do is say what I believe is really on his mind about our country and the man at the top.

Look at the polls. To use the president’s own words, what have you got to lose?

Joe Henderson: Leave Tobacco Free Florida funding alone

Tobacco Free Florida is working.

The number of Floridians using tobacco has declined dramatically. As Jim Rosica reported for Florida Politics, former state Attorney General Bob Butterworth said the number of high school students using tobacco has dropped to 4.2 percent.

It was at more than 27 percent two decades ago when Tobacco Free Florida began an aggressive campaign to help people stop smoking or never start in the first place.

So, naturally, when you have something that works this well, lawmakers can’t resist the urge to mess with success. Hence, there is a movement afoot in the Constitutional Revision Commission to divert money from the prevention program and give it to, well … no one is sure.

Proposal 94, filed by CRC member and House Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez originally proposed re-directing the money to cancer research, but dropped that idea on Wednesday without explanation.

That doesn’t mean Tobacco Free Florida is in the clear though because the current proposal still restricts its funding source, subject to commission approval.

That explains why Butterworth, public relations man Ron Sachs and others are on guard.

Currently, law mandates 15 percent of the money from the $11 billion settlement Florida made with big tobacco companies in 1997 be used for all the anti-smoking pitches you see from Tobacco Free Florida. It also joins with health-care leaders to help Floridians addicted to tobacco break the habit. It offers educational tools about the harm tobacco can cause.

Like I said, it’s working.

So, what’s behind this sudden urge to mess with success?

Butterworth said he wouldn’t be surprised to find Big Tobacco is in the mix somewhere behind the scenes. The secrecy of how this whole thing got rolling in the first place certainly opens up a lot of conspiracy theories.

I mean, you know how Tallahassee lawmakers are when they think they can get their mitts on a pot of money.

The alarm has been sounded on this though, and even if the CRC approves the measure it would still have to go before voters in November.

One can only hope it would get smoked.

Joe Henderson: Timing may never be right again for David Jolly

Because it’s best to never rule out anything in politics, I offer this qualifier: Perhaps the time will come again for David Jolly to make another run for public office.

Having said that, I honestly doubt it.

In a tweet late Tuesday night, Jolly said he won’t try to regain his seat in Congress by challenging U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in November.

As he noted, “politics is about timing” and given what could be a Democrat tsunami in the November mid-terms, Jolly said he will dedicate his efforts toward being part of a primary challenge in 2020 to Donald Trump.

I like David Jolly and his maverick ways, but the political reality is that he is a man without a party right now. Even as a Congressman from Pinellas County, he angered Republican Party bosses by going rogue on “60 Minutes” with his disgust at how much of his day was spent fund-raising.

After losing his re-election bid in 2016 to Crist, Jolly has made bridge-burning a daily habit – not that he is wrong. He has become a national go-to quote when someone needs a Republican to rip Trump.

He shows up frequently on panels at MSNBC and doesn’t hold back at how he feels Trump is ruining the cause of conservatism and the country.

It makes for compelling theater, and Jolly does make a reasoned argument that the Trump presidency is a disaster and our political system is broken.

But speaking the truth can have consequences, and Jolly would surely face them if he ever tried to run for national office again. Democrats wouldn’t support him over one of their own, and Republicans would shun him like he had typhoid.

Maybe he could run for state office, but he likely still would face those same obstacles. Even if he were elected, he would likely be a pariah in his own party once he reported to work.

He could follow the Crist model and change parties, but that doesn’t seem to be his style. What Jolly seems to want is for the Republican Party to come to its senses and reject the kind of extremism that has been the Trump brand.

Good luck with that.

It likely will take a ballot-box slaughter in November and maybe one in 2020 as well for any sort of reasoned moderation to take hold in the GOP. By that time, Democrats could be back in control while Republicans search for a new identity that doesn’t scare the crap out of voters and our allies.

Where does that leave David Jolly?

For at least the time being, it leaves him right where he is – on the front line of visible opposition to his own party. It leaves him to fight an uphill battle to restore some conservative sanity to the GOP message.

And it leaves him as a politician without an election.

Like I said, we learned in 2016 that anything can happen in politics, so never say never. Right now though, Jolly will have to be content to call it like he sees it from the sidelines. He can only hope someone is paying attention.

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.

Joe Henderson: Ronda Storms is back; don’t underestimate her

The last time I saw Ronda Storms was more than five years ago. I was interviewing her about her campaign for Property Appraiser in Hillsborough County.

She won the Republican primary but thumped by nine points in the general election by Bob Henriquez.

We met at Starbucks in Valrico, about 15 miles east of downtown Tampa. I wrote that day, “Hillsborough County has had its share of flamboyant politicians, but few have been in the class of Ronda Storms.”

I remember her saying that day that if she lost, she would likely return to private life and stay there. She seemed to be doing a pretty good job of that.

But then, and Storms announced she is baaaaaaack!

She announced on her Facebook page she is running for HD 59, the seat Ross Spano currently holds.

Spano is running for Attorney General.

Storms gained her deserved reputation for flamboyancy during her two terms on the Hillsborough County Commission.

She authored an ordinance (since overturned) to prohibit the commission from participating or even acknowledging Gay Pride events. She even punctuated that by decreeing the ordinance would be written with lower case “g” and “p.”

She successfully fought to stop county funding for Planned Parenthood. As a state Senator, she pushed for intelligent design to be taught in public schools.

She is unabashed about her faith, her values, and what she wants to accomplish. She can be loud, abrasive, insulting, but mostly she is unafraid of consequences – political or otherwise.

The district she hopes to represent covers much of eastern and southern Hillsborough County and has a lot of rock-ribbed conservatives who basically think the way she does. Her name recognition with those folks alone is enough to make her formidable.

In making her announcement on Facebook, Storms referred to people who “stopped me on my way about my business, stopped me in stores, contacted my family, called us on the phone, all encouraging me to run for public office.”

I can absolutely believe that.

Here is what I’m not so sure about, though.

While Storms was a headline waiting to happen in the Commission, she last held a county office 12 years ago and the image she had then may not be the same one she has on this campaign trail. The part of the county she represented then is a lot different today.

The population has grown substantially, along with modern suburban problems of traffic congestion and overcrowding. Many of the newcomers won’t know who she is.

And while no one will call this part of the state liberal, a Republican is not an automatic winner – especially if the Democratic blue wave backlash against President Trump reaches this far inland.

In 2012, for instance, Spano defeated Democrat Gail Gottlieb by less than 1,100 votes out of more than 67,000 cast.

Storms will spice things up, though – count on that – with her populist ideas and the unpredictable things that can fly from her mouth.

She will do the work. She will be prepared. She will say that she is standing up for the little guy, and she may convince the little guy that she is right. The lady does tend to dominate a room.

She will have to first win the primary in August, and if that happens you can wager Democrats would see this as a great chance to pick off a reliably Republican seat. It could become one of the more entertaining races in the state.

Then again, if Ronda Storms is involved, it’s never dull.

Ronda Storms announces HD 59 bid

Republican Ronda Storms, whose controversial career has included two terms each in the Florida Senate and Hillsborough County Commission, has decided to attempt a political comeback.

Storms announced Friday on her Facebook page that she will run for HD 59, a seat currently held by Ross Spano, who is running for the Republican nomination for Attorney General.

“After much prayerful consideration, my family and I have decided to step forward and make the personal sacrifice necessary to run for public office, this time for State House, District 59, Republican,” she said.

She dropped out of public life after losing a race for Hillsborough Property Appraiser 52-43 percent against Bob Henriquez in 2012.

In her Facebook announcement, she said those who “stopped me on my way about my business, stopped me in stores, contacted my family, called us on the phone, all encouraging me to run for public office.”

Storms frequently made headlines during her eight years on the County Commission. She advocated sterilization for men or women convicted of child abuse and led a movement to cut off county funding for Planned Parenthood.

Her most controversial moment came when she took the forefront of a commission decision to abstain from any involvement with Gay Pride parades or celebrations. She even stipulated the ordinance would be labeled “little g, little p.”

When Commissioner Kevin Beckner years later led a charge to overturn that decision, he declared the ordinance would be written “capital G, capital P.”

So far, Republican Joe Wicker is the only other candidate to file.

The Brandon businessman and veteran filed for the seat a day after Spano announced his Attorney General bid, and was able to seal an endorsement from Spano in the first few days of his campaign.

HD 59 covers most of Brandon, as well as Valrico, Dover, Seffner, Riverview, Palm River and Clair-Mel City. The district has more registered Democrats than Republicans, though Spano had no problem holding on to the seat after the one-point victory that put him into office in 2012.

Joe Henderson: A little gun sanity finally comes to Florida

There are two reasons to feel at least a little bit good about what the Florida Legislature just did in the name of gun sanity.

First, families of the 17 victims in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland supported the compromise bill calling for age and other restrictions on gun sales in Florida.

And second, the National Rifle Association hates the bill. Despite efforts by no less than NRA Grand Dame Marion Hammer to scuttle it, the measure passed.

That’s good enough for me, even though I hate the idea of allowing so-called volunteer armed marshals in schools. But districts can follow the lead of Hillsborough County, eighth-largest in the country, and opt out.

In perhaps the strangest twist of all, Gov. Rick Scott is being coy about whether he will veto the measure because he, too, opposes the marshal plan. I’m thinking his A-plus rating from NRA might be in trouble as we cue music from Hamilton – the world turned upside down.

And to think it only took a high school slaughter on Valentine’s Day to get lawmakers to finally say hey, maybe we ought to do something to pump the brakes on NRA platform that seems to want a Glock in every hand and an AR-15 within easy reach.

By that standard, the House, in passing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act by a 67-50 margin after eight hours of contentious debate, practically threw a pie in the NRA’s face.

No one got everything they sought, which I suppose is the definition of compromise.

Gun opponents didn’t get the outright ban on assault weapon sales that they wanted or reductions in magazine sizes, but there is more money for mental health treatment, beefed up school security and the minimum age to buy such a gun was raised to 21 from its current 18 – assuming Scott signs the bill.

That might have kept the murder weapon out of the hands of confessed Parkland killer Nikolas Cruz, who is 19 and legally bought the gun used in the massacre. But it wouldn’t have stopped Pulse nightclub murderer Omar Mateen, who was 29 when he went on a rampage that left 49 people dead.

Baby steps, I guess.

The sale of bump stocks will be illegal under this bill. The bill also imposes a 3-day waiting period for someone to buy a gun. In an absurd gambit, the NRA called this punishment on “law-abiding citizens for the actions of a mentally deranged criminal.”

Note to NRA: Until he marched into Douglas High School and started shooting his legally purchased weapon, Cruz was a law-abiding citizen .

Like I said, there are some things to like about this bill and more than a little not to like. That’s why some, including the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, are calling on Scott to veto the measure, and then bring lawmakers back in special session and craft something meatier.

There is some merit to that idea and imagine what kind of juice it would give to Scott’s presumed run for the U.S. Senate. Scott could frame himself as willing to stand up to the NRA and besides, what are you gun lovers gonna do? Vote for Bill Nelson?

But I go back to where this column started with the debate on gun sanity.

Families of the Parkland victims support this bill.

The NRA hates it.

To me, that says lawmakers finally did the right thing.

Joe Henderson: Hillsborough school board made right call on guns

The Hillsborough County School Board deserves a tip of the hat for its wise and unanimous decision to oppose arming select employees under the guise of security.

The vote was a pre-emptive stand against the movement in the Florida House to allow willing schools to authorize select individuals to carry firearms.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported, board member Cindy Stuart, who introduced the motion, said it best: “It is wrong, arming anyone other than law enforcement on our campus.”

Absolutely correct.

Former Florida Education Commissioner and University of South Florida President Betty Castor told WFLA-TV in Tampa, “It is shocking that you have a tragedy and there are obviously some things that can be done. But to suddenly say, ‘we want to transform our teaching and our administrative staffs at schools and arm them to take care of snipers or unsettled students or anybody else that might come in with a firearm.’ It just makes no sense at all.”

The debate about to best secure public schools has the hottest issue in the state since the Valentine’s Day slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

When educators and law enforcement officials throughout the state lampooned a proposal in the Legislature to allow schools to designate certain teachers to be armed, lawmakers backed off a bit.

However, the House is still debating the notion of allowing designated noninstructional personnel to be armed as part of a general beefed up security plan. It’s the ol’ “good guy with a gun” theory.

At least the Legislature, for now, appears willing to leave it up to local school districts and law enforcement whether they want to let employees carry guns. Hillsborough, the nation’s eighth-largest school district, has already decided.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister has agreed with the board’s decision.

What part of this condemnation escapes lawmakers?

What happened in Parkland made it clear that schools need better security but putting weapons in the hands of employees — even if they have been trained — could make a bad situation worse.

I do not doubt that many of those who support the idea of arming employees believe it’s the right thing to do. I’m not questioning their motives or sincerity, since Parkland was a blow to Florida’s psyche the likes of which we have never seen.

But sincere or not, the idea to be shouted down.

Reports out of Parkland showed a scene of chaos and carnage. Introducing more weapons for people other than professional law enforcement is inviting catastrophe.

The Legislature plans to spend millions on things that could make schools more secure. It is an unfortunate reality that all schools should have professional, armed security people on site at all times.

It’s the world we live in.

It stops there though.

Introducing more guns onto school campuses is asking for trouble, no matter the motive.

As we saw at Parkland, even trained law enforcement officers failed to intervene and possibly save lives. If they couldn’t do the job, what makes anyone believe an armed administrator would?

It’s crazy talk, and Hillsborough was right to take the stand it did.

Joe Henderson: Florida public education takes another hit

If you look closely, there actually are a couple of decent things in the just-passed Florida public education bill that is headed to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature – basically scraps offered to schools as balm for their tattered remains.

But let’s call HB 7055 for what it is.

It’s a victory lap for lawmakers who decided long ago that Florida public education is falling way short and needs to be blown up and rebuilt, charter by charter.

We aren’t there yet, but that seems to be the goal of many Republicans, most notably House Speaker Richard Corcoran. They will take pleasure from the fact they just uncorked another haymaker on the teachers union. Democrats couldn’t do anything about it besides vote no and send out tweets like this one from state Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee.

I do wish the Speaker would admit he despises the union and that rendering it useless would be a major part of his legacy that he will look back upon with pride, but I guess the passage of this legislation makes it clear enough.

Under the bill that the governor is expected to sign, a union can be decertified if it fails to sign up 50 percent of those eligible to join. No other public-sector union in the state faces this requirement, and this legislation is the thinnest veil yet to make life as difficult as possible for teachers and those who represent them.

Instead of concentrating on policy other functions, union reps will have to spend more time recruiting members.

A statement on the Florida Education Association website called on Scott to veto the bill and read: “This was never about what is best for our students, never about what is best for teachers, never about the value of our public schools to the families that they serve. It is only about a corrupt and arrogant legislature. It will do even more damage to our students’ learning environments than last year’s HB 7069.”

That led to this quote in the Miami Herald from the Senate floor by Republican state Sen. Tom Lee, who, from recent events, appears to have stopped caring what anyone in his party thinks of him.

“We do a lousy job of representing working class people and we should be ashamed of ourselves,” Lee said. “We have to accept this poison pill and slap the teachers of Florida in the face.”

Oh, the good stuff.

It’s in there, somewhere, in the sweeping bill.

The requirement passed last year that districts share their property tax funding for infrastructure with charters has been eliminated. For cash-strapped districts like Hillsborough struggling to keep up the demand of an ever-growing student body, that’s good news.

It also waived standardized testing and other requirements for Marjory Stoneman Douglas students after the horror they endured.

That was good.

The ballyhooed Hope Scholarship funded in this bill allows bullied students from public school to receive money to attend a private school. The actual wording is a little vague on how to prove bullying actually took place. But, OK, the spirit behind that push is reasonable and I doubt it will have any significant impact on public school budgets.

Besides, the real bullies are the ones in the Legislature who decided they know more about to run a school system than the professionals and teachers who actually do so.

Instead of partnering with schools, lawmakers have become dictators determined to push through dramatic change at all cost – often to the benefit of their charter school buddies.

They got what they wanted, again, and soon enough we’ll find out just what that cost to Florida public education will be.

Joe Henderson: Joe Negron just forgot who is in charge

Senate President Joe Negron was either confused Saturday or had a temporary case of amnesia, but whatever the problem one thing was immediately clear.

Negron simply forgot who really controls that chamber of the Florida Legislature.

Guess what? It ain’t him.

And it’s sure not the Republican Party.

Nope. After the vote to quickly reverse a measure that would have installed modest limits on the purchase of AR-15 assault-style rifles, we were reminded again that the National Rifle Association is in charge of any public policy concerning firearms.

On that issue, Negron is basically the titular head of the NRA-controlled Senate.

You can bet your last nickel he quickly figured that out after he declared an amendment to establish a two-year moratorium on the sale of those weapons had passed on a voice vote.

Tweets went out announcing the news. Those who favor gun control were overjoyed. Those who embrace the no-limits version of the Second Amendment were stunned.

But wait!

Was Negron actually going to risk the wrath of the NRA by believing his lying ears? Of course not. There is a reasonable explanation though.

Perhaps he mistook the increasing volume of voices demanding sensible changes to the gun laws in this state for the drone of those who parrot the NRA mantra of more guns, more guns, more guns and more guns.

Ah, the crisis was averted when Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley jumped in with a motion to say hey, let’s rethink that vote, OK? A bit later, the ban was defeated.

Whew! That was close!

This would actually be funny if the stakes weren’t so high. Floridians will never look at guns the same after the slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The GOP response has basically been to argue schools would be safer if teachers had guns in the classroom as the first line of defense.

In the face of such poisoned logic, opponents have no hope of winning the argument for sensible limits on gun ownership.

If 17 murder victims at a state high school doesn’t convince Republicans that maybe they need to look at this issue from another angle, nothing will. The only hope opponents have for changing the rules is to change the lawmakers.

The only way to do that is at the ballot box. Democrat Gwen Graham, who is running for governor, was quick to pounce with a tweet promising if she wins to veto any bill that puts more guns in schools.

For Democrats, the ballot box has proven to be an elusive challenge. Except for a brief period in 2010 when then-Gov. Charlie Crist left the GOP to become an independent, Republicans have controlled both houses and the governor’s mansion since 1999.

With no political balance in Tallahassee, Republicans have boldly moved to approve many NRA-backed provisions to expand gun availability and the rights of users.

The NRA has adamantly opposed most attempts to restrict sales and availability, even a recent proposal by Gov. Rick Scott to raise the minimum age to buy an assault-style weapon to 21 from its current 18.

NRA Grand Dame Marion Hammer has called that an attack on the Second Amendment.

So really, the surprise Saturday was that Negron apparently forgot to check with her before declaring that amendment on assault weapons had passed.

Anyway, all is back in order now in Tallahassee and the NRA-controlled Senate of the Gunshine State.

The threatened breach of sanity has been averted.

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