Opinions – Page 7 – Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: FBI gets busy in Tallahassee

After a 2-year investigation in Tallahassee, the FBI is getting down to business.

At this point, no one has been proven guilty of anything. But that hasn’t stopped the circus. Step down! Guilty! Off with their heads! Schemer! Dilly Dilly to the Pit of Misery with you!

Points of order to consider. When on the front page for something devious, is it a media requirement to pick the most unflattering picture available? The ayes have it.

Also, buckle up, as this process will take a long, long time. In Pennsylvania, a city corruption case has been dragging on for years.

There will be plenty of time for snarky front pages; don’t come out of the gate too fast, folks. But this is the world we are in.

Is our Capital City full of corruption? Is this the tip of the iceberg? This week, WCTV asked me to weigh in on the story.

My first response — no, thank you.

But the reporter insisted her story was more about the tech side of the situation. OK, I’m on the bus; I’ll buy a ticket and take that ride.

She wanted to know if, during investigations, Apple and other cloud providers are cooperative.

Absolutely, they are. Dropbox.com — a common cloud storage company — offers a graph of government requests over a 5-year period. It’s slightly on the uptick.

Politicians aren’t the only ones who text things they shouldn’t be, so are everyday folks, as well drug dealers and cybercriminals.

While cloud providers have a responsibility to protect client data, they also have a responsibility to cooperate with law enforcement whenever requested.

During the battle between Apple and the FBI over the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, the landscape became unclear. It was a different situation. The FBI wanted Apple to hack into one individual device. Not access cloud files or info, but what was on his phone, which they could not get into. At least at first.

“No thanks,” the company said, as that meant developing a hack which — if misplaced — could potentially make every iPhone vulnerable. A battle waged.

Read more in The Washington Post.

With that, this case will go on for a long time. More names will be thrown out there. Hopefully, most will be vindicated.

However, if the FBI was undercover on the case for almost two years, someone was up to something.

I believe FBI policy dictates that every few months, agents must show evidence gathered. If there is something to it, the operation is funded for more time (allegedly).

So … as a rule of thumb: don’t text, email, photograph anything you wouldn’t want your kindergarten teacher to read. Don’t pose for pics with the “hang loose” hand symbol and be wary of small people in Las Vegas hotel rooms with paddles (and cameras).

The end.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Joe Henderson: April Griffin’s impact on Hillsborough schools has been immense

As she prepares to leave the Hillsborough County School Board after 12 often-tumultuous years when her term expires in November, April Griffin deserves to be remembered as one of the most impactful public servants ever in Hillsborough County.

That’s a bold statement, yes.

I stand by it though because it is true whether you liked her or not, and there are plenty of volunteers on sides. Most notably, she led the charge that ended with the ouster of rock star superintendent MaryEllen Elia a little more than three years ago.

It set off an emotional communitywide debate, and Griffin was the flashpoint for those who disagreed. Elia was the darling of civic, business and political leaders — including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. The vote to oust Elia was 4-3, but most of the opposition outrage was aimed at Griffin because she and Elia couldn’t get along.

Why? I think it’s because Griffin kept asking questions Elia didn’t believe she had to answer.

I was one of the few media members who supported Griffin and the school board insurgents against the popular Elia. I wrote numerous columns for the Tampa Tribune on the subject, sharing my opinion that Elia — a tremendously talented woman — had become autocratic and vindictive against those who dared oppose her.

For me, the crowning blow was the death of a special-needs child after an incident on a school bus. News of the death didn’t become public until several months later after the parents filed a lawsuit.

Elia said she didn’t release details of the death because there was no police report, but that sounded to me like an exercise in public relations. It doesn’t look good when children die. Among those speaking against Elia the night she was fired was the parent of another special-needs child. They never felt like Elia cared about them.

Elia supporters vowed revenge against Griffin at the ballot box, but they overlooked one thing.

Against a highly qualified opponent, Dipa Shah, Griffin was re-elected with 65 percent of the vote in a countywide election just two months before the action was taken against Elia — despite the fact the superintendent had a yard sign supporting Shah.

This result was after everyone knew she would try to get Elia fired. While she may not have been popular with the big-wigs, it looked like the regular folks had her back.

Griffin could be petty, like the time she let if slip over an open mic that Elia was full of cow droppings (figure it out). She could be cutting. Even now, she is accusing board member Melissa Snivley of being in cahoots with a Facebook page that has targeted her and board member Susan Valdes.

She wasn’t always the most diplomatic person either. That helped earn her and fellow board insurgents the nickname Mean Girls.

That is unfortunate. No one worked harder than Griffin and maybe part of the problem is that she didn’t take things at face value.

She asked hard questions. She didn’t play along to get along. She believed her job was to ensure all students got the best education possible, not just those ultrahigh achievers in advanced placement programs.

Something must be working.

Hillsborough’s graduation rate for 2017 set a county record at 82.9 percent — up nearly 10 percentage points from when Elia was forced out.

The change was even more dramatic at one-time problem high schools like Armwood (13 percent jump) and Chamberlain (12 percent).

That deserves to be part of April Griffin’s legacy as well. She is not solely responsible for that, of course, but she had a hand in crafting policies that made the improvement possible.

That’s what I mean about impact.

That’s also why I can this: Despite all the controversy, April Griffin will leave the board better than she found it.

Brewster Bevis: Affordable housing good for Florida business, economy

Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) was created to foster an economic climate in Florida conducive to the growth, development and welfare of industry, business and the people of the state, which is why we are proud to be one of the 30 statewide organizations that make up the Sadowski Coalition.

Fully funding our affordable housing programs is good for all Florida businesses and our economy. Affordable housing generates jobs in home construction, which is a major economic driver in the state. This industry also fosters growth in local businesses when they draw upon and use local resources.

Florida’s housing market and available affordable housing stock are key factors in attracting new businesses to the state. Fully funding affordable housing goes a long way toward enhancing our workforce and business climate.

If we can ensure Florida’s employees at all income levels can find a safe, reliable and affordable home near their job, our state can continue to be one of the best places to do business in the nation.

Recently, the state Senate and House released their respective budget proposals. We truly appreciate the Senate and Senate leadership, including Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley of Fleming Island and President Joe Negron of Stuart, for their commitment to affordable housing.

The Senate continues to be a strong advocate for affordable housing in Florida, and we ask they remain resolute in their recommendation of fully allocating these funds as they move through budget negotiations.

On the other hand, the House’s funding proposal only appropriates affordable housing money for areas impacted by the hurricane, which means the bulk of the state will not receive any affordable housing funding with this proposal.

We hope they will move to the Senate’s funding position. We ask they remember just how important affordable housing is to our economy, Floridians and our entire State of Florida.

If lawmakers fully fund affordable housing programs during Fiscal Year 2018-19, we can generate more than 30,000 Florida jobs and have a positive economic impact of $4 billion in the State of Florida.

We ask lawmakers to keep this in mind as their focus shifts to finalizing the FY 2018-19 budget.


Brewster Bevis is the senior vice president of state and federal affairs for AIF, which is a member of the Sadowski Coalition.

Joe Henderson: Jeff Sessions’ joke was lame but issue is not

If that was Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ idea of a joke, we can safely say he is no threat to take over for Jimmy Fallon as a late-night comedy star.

Sessions was widely mocked for suggesting Wednesday in Tampa that people in need of pain relief might want to “switch to aspirin” instead of using prescribed opioids, adding they should consider trying to “tough it out.”

But I did not come to condemn Sessions this morning. Although his attempt at humor was lame, his premise that too many powerful opioids are routinely prescribed has merit and needs to be addressed.

I have twice been prescribed opioids for pain relief – a 30-day supply of OxyContin after an appendectomy, and a bottle of 20 Hydrocodone tablets after dental surgery. I never came close to using all the pills either time.

It’s not because they don’t work; oh, they work all right. They work too well, and that, weirdly, is the problem. People hurt, they take a pill that makes the pain go away, and they keep taking pills because they like feeling better.

These drugs are basically synthesized heroin. People who abuse the pills get addicted.

Then, along comes a drug like Fentanyl, which Sessions declared to be “the number one killer drug in America,” and it becomes a field day for drug traffickers preying on addicted people looking for pain relief.

No one is immune. Addicts can be everyday people struggling with a wrenched neck or back, maybe the result of a car wreck or work injury. They can be star athletes. Former NFL star guard Conrad Dobler once told me he took between three and four thousand Vicodin tablets in a year’s time in a futile attempt to get relief from pain left over from his playing days.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 64,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. More than 1,000 people require emergency care each day for not using the prescription drugs properly.

More people now die from opioid abuse than from breast cancer or guns.

As these drugs have grown more powerful, state and national lawmakers have tried to combat the problem with political solutions. For instance, Fort Myers state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto has filed SB 8, which would limit most prescriptions to a 3-day supply.

That might work in some cases, but it’s only a tiny step in a crisis that can’t be solved without a wide-ranging approach.  Long-term pain doesn’t go away in three days, and aspirins don’t help. Tallahassee can’t pass a law and consider their

If someone is driven by pain most of us will never understand to get relief, they won’t care about laws or the potential harm to their bodies. And, sorry Jeff Sessions – they can’t, or won’t, “tough it out.”

So, while lawmakers debate which Band-Aid bill to pass, they might consider providing much better funding for drug treatment and education. Work with drug manufacturers to see if less-powerful medicines can be developed to provide relief without creating a generation of addicts.

It’s a problem that affects every city, in every state, and it won’t be solved overnight.

People are dying. It’s no laughing matter.

Joe Henderson: A more important debate for Richard Corcoran to have

As much as I’m anticipating the Great Debate next Tuesday between House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Tallahassee Mayor (and gubernatorial candidate) Andrew Gillum, there is another showdown I would like to see more.

A faceoff between Corcoran and Florida Education Association president Joanne McCall could be one of the great confrontations in state political history.

I’m serious.

And you know what? I’ll bet both of them would jump at the chance to go eyeball-to-eyeball and talking-point-to-talking-point over the future of public education in our state.

The public would be the clear winner – especially given the widespread expectation Corcoran will be a candidate for governor later this year.

I sat with Corcoran last November for a lengthy chat about his vision for Florida, and he got really worked up when the subject of education came up. He believes he is 100 percent correct to settle for nothing less than a major overhaul in the way our children – particularly the most vulnerable – are prepared for adulthood.

If I remember correctly, and I do, he also said flatly that he will be happy to debate anyone from the opposite side of the education fence anytime, anyplace, and anywhere.

OK then. How about we get this party started right after Gillum and Corcoran finish their showdown on immigration and sanctuary cities next Tuesday?

McCall certainly sounds like she would be up for the fight. Her organization represents teachers throughout the state and just opened a campaign demanding that Republican lawmakers stand up to Corcoran and his cherished HB 7055 – his latest move to change public education.

A mailer targeting select Republicans calls the bill a “monstrosity” and questions whether party members have the guts to stand up to Corcoran and vote against passage.

“Don’t be a coward,” the ad admonishes.

Of course, Corcoran has his own ad going these days – a TV spot where a hooded Latino man shoots a white woman to death. Corcoran says we have to confront sanctuary cities and illegal immigration. The ad has been denounced as racist and incendiary.

He and Gillum will settle that issue face to face.

But when that’s done, I have no doubt the Speaker will have enough gas left in the tank to confront his harshest critics on education and let the chips fall where they will.

Corcoran pushed changes to public education last year through the Legislature that left many teachers furious while public school money was diverted to charter schools. Now he is back for more, so it benefits everyone to air this matter thoroughly from the viewpoints of the people closest to it.

It’s just my opinion, but there is no greater issue in the state right now than these education reforms or attacks – depending on your point of view. Hundreds of thousands of people will be affected daily by what is decided, much more than the impact of the sanctuary city fright fest.

The lines are drawn. Corcoran has said he would willing to have this debate. People need the chance to hear both sides.

Let’s do it.

Sal Nuzzo: Companies in Florida are expanding with new tax law

FedEx recently announced that employees will be issued wage raises and bonuses due to its predicted increase in revenue from the President’s new tax law.

FedEx joins companies like BancorpSouth Bank, Spellex Corporation and RGF Environmental Group in Florida who have also made similar announcements.

The new tax law, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent; providing companies billions they can allocate toward employee salaries, job creation and research and development among other areas.

For more than 30 years, The James Madison Institute has advocated for limited government and economic prosperity. It’s fitting that the last time we had comprehensive tax reform, JMI was just being founded.

Over the course of the past 30 years, we have seen our tax code evolve into a monstrosity that only the most steeped tax attorney is able to navigate. One thing is certain, the code had become an obstacle to sustained economic growth for far too long.

FedEx’s announcement means that 12,815 number of employees right here in Florida will get raises. FedEx operates 234 facilities all across the Sunshine State and its growth continues with the opening of a new 237,000 sq. ft. FedEx Ground facility in Kendall that will produce approximately 170 FedEx Ground employees and around 140 contract service provider employees.

This is an economic boon to the Miami-Dade community and the entire state.

We are thankful FedEx invests in Florida and will continue to have a presence here.

We hope that other companies will follow suit by contributing their revenues from the tax law to the economic growth of the state and welfare of its employees.


Sal Nuzzo is Vice President of Policy at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee.

Darryl Paulson: Five potential flips for 2018

Although re-election rates for the U.S. House exceed 90 percent, eight of Florida’s 27 House seats, or 30 percent, switched in 2016.

Will these high turnover rates continue in 2018?

Here are five Florida races to watch. Republicans hold the four most vulnerable seats. The fifth, and least likely flip, is held by a first-term Democrat.

District 27 is the most vulnerable House seat in Florida and the entire nation. After a quarter of a century, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement. Seven Democrats are already vying for this seat, and former Health and Human Services cabinet member Donna Shalala, may become the eighth.

Current Democratic front-runner Mary Barzee Flores has launched a peremptory challenge to the 76-year-old Shalala, stating that her values are “quite different [from] my values and I think out of touch with the values of the Democratic Party. . .”

District 27 is one of two Florida congressional districts with a Democratic majority, but a Republican member of Congress. The district is +5 Democratic, which is one reason that the rating for the district moved from “likely Republican” with Ros-Lehtinen’s  to “leans Democrat” after she announced her retirement.

Republican Carlos Curbelo in neighboring District 26 holds the second most vulnerable seat. Democrats have a +6 advantage and the rating has moved from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”

Curbelo has raised $2.25 million and has $1.7 million in the bank. His primary Democratic challenger, Debbie Murcasel-Powell, has raised $417,000.

The third district to watch is District 18 held by Republican Brian Mast. In the past four elections, the seat has rotated from Democrat to Republican to Democrat to Republican.

In recent months, the rating has moved from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican.” Mast has raised over $2 million while his likely Democratic opponent, Lauren Baer, has $414,000 in the bank.

District 6 is the fourth most likely to flip. The seat has been held by Republican Ron DeSantis who would have easily retained the seat, but he has announced his campaign for governor. The district does have a +7 Republican advantage, but there is no solid favorite.

An open seat puts District 6 in play, even though it leans Republican. Republican businessman John Ward has raised $644,000, but all but $110,000 of that total came from a personal loan from Ward. Democratic favorite Nancy Soderberg has raised $545,000.

The fifth seat to watch is held by first-term Democrat Stephanie Murphy in District 7. Murphy pulled a surprise upset of 12-term Republican John Mica and has raised $1.36 million so far to retain this seat. The district is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

Two Republicans are vying to oust Murphy. State Representative Mike Miller has only $185,000 on hand, while businessman Scott Sturgill has $265,674 cash on hand. Given these weak numbers, Republicans will have a tough time winning this seat back

Joe Henderson: Adam Putnam gun proposal rates “A” — for awful

Adam Putnam may well be Florida’s next Governor, that is unless voters decide his latest idea is straight out of looneyville and start asking serious questions about who he really is.

The latest ploy by this self-styled “proud NRA sellout” (his words) would be funny if it wasn’t so reckless. He championed a provision in SB 740 “revising required department handling of incomplete criminal history information in relation to licensure to carry concealed firearms.”

Translation: He wants an end run around those annoying safeguards in the law designed to keep someone with a criminal background from obtaining a concealed-weapons permit.

Under this proposal, if someone applies for a license the state would have 90 days to complete the criminal background check. If there are no red flags in that time, the state must issue the license — even if the search hasn’t been completed.

Oh, but if something bad eventually shows up, the state would revoke the license. Don’t we all feel much better about that?

I mean, what possibly could go wrong?

Tell you what, while we’re at it why don’t we start issuing driver’s licenses to people who haven’t completed all the tests. And let’s approv a certificate of occupancy for new buildings even if the inspections haven’t been completed. People can always move out later if inspectors find the skyscraper is held together with school paste.

These regulations exist to protect the public. No one is saying a law-abiding citizen can’t get concealed weapons permit, but there is a procedure that must be followed in the name of common sense.

“Obviously, we’re not trying to make an easier path for anyone who shouldn’t have a concealed-weapons permit,” state Sen. Kelli Stargel told the Tampa Bay Times. “Nobody wants anyone who shouldn’t have one to have one.”

Except, well, this bill would make it an easier path. That’s kind of the whole point.

Of course, we know why Putnam is doing this. After nearly two full terms as Florida’s agriculture secretary where he often came across as moderate and reasoned, Putnam has his sights set on a higher office.

To become the Republican nominee for governor, he has to first win the primary. He has two likely opponents — U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Jacksonville and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Neither one will be considered moderate.

DeSantis is running with the blessing and apparent endorsement of President Donald Trump and announced his candidacy on the “Fox & Friends” TV show. Corcoran, whose controversial (and racist) new TV ad depicting an illegal immigrant murdering a young woman, is pals with the Koch Brothers.

Where does that leave Putnam, who long has been considered the GOP front-runner in this race?

Well, for one thing, he is trying to shake off Trump’s support for DeSantis by calling his campaign “Florida First” (wonder where he got that idea) and speaking the president’s language with supportive tweets.

This latest maneuver could help assure Republican primary voters — often the most dedicated and conservative — that, doggone it, I’m one of you! See! I love the Second Amendment! Apparently, he does. Among other things, he is a big supporter of allowing guns to be carried on college campuses and gets an “A” rating from the NRA.

Maybe this is just politics, but primary candidate Adam Putnam is writing checks that general election candidate Adam Putnam could have to cash — starting with how to explain to a statewide electorate why he supports things like SB 740 to short-circuit measures designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

That gets an “A” rating too.

“A” for Awful.

Steve Schale: Thoughts on the Sarasota special election

In eight days, there will be a special election in Sarasota. It is a race that probably shouldn’t look interesting, but alas, it is turning into one heck of a fight.

For those of you not from Florida, the corners of this state take on the characteristics of the part of the country where people migrate from.

Sarasota, like much of Florida from Tampa south to Naples, has a Midwestern feel, a result of migration that came down from the parts of America accessed from I-75.

So, the voters here, in large part, have more in common with voters from the northern suburbs of Chicago (the district used to be spring training home to the real Chicago baseball team, the White Sox) than they do with voters who live just 20 miles to the east, in the more rural parts of Sarasota County.

The seat became open when the incumbent, Republican Alex Miller, resigned due to a change in her business. The Republicans have nominated James Buchanan, the son of the area’s incumbent Congressman, Vern Buchanan. The Democratic candidate is Margaret Good, a local attorney.

House District 72 is a lean-Republican district. Mitt Romney won it by 4, and Donald Trump won it by 5. Overall, Republicans have a ten-point advantage in voter registration.

However, despite these numbers, this is a place where Democrats have won:  from 2006-2010, this seat was held by a Democrat, Keith Fitzgerald. In 2014, Charlie Crist beat Rick Scott by about 1.5 percent, and in 2008, Barack Obama and John McCain played to a draw.

Nonetheless, conventional wisdom would say this seat should be a little more Republican in a special election, due to their super voter turnout advantage, but alas, this isn’t a conventional wisdom year.

With a week to go before the Election, Democrats are turning out their voters at a higher rate than Republicans, and the race appears to be headed to a very tight finish.

Just how close?

Well as of this morning, some 20,621 voters have cast a ballot either by returning an absentee ballot or by voting in person at an early voting site, with Republicans holding a 199-ballot advantage.

So far, just under 17 percent of District 72 voters have voted. Democratic voter turnout is at 22.5 percent, while 17.5 percent of the district’s GOP voters have cast a ballot.

So how does this district typically perform?

In the last three top of the ticket races:  the 2012 presidential, the 2014 governor’s race, and the 2016 presidentials, there is a distinct pattern: Democrats have won the votes cast before Election Day, and Republicans have won Election Day.

In 2012 and 2016, Obama and Hillary Clinton went into Election Day with a 3.5 and 5-point lead respectively. In 2012, Romney won Election Day by 15 percent, and in 2016, Trump won by 26 percent.

But 2014 looked a bit different, and in it, the path for how Democrats win here:  Crist went into Election Day with a 7-point lead, but this time, Republicans only won Election Day by 6, leading to the Crist win in the district.

But since 2016 was more recent, let’s take a closer look at that race.

Overall, Republicans had about an 11.5 percent advantage in the share of the electorate. The way this broke down:  Republicans held a 5.5 percent advantage in the share of voters who voted before Election Day, and about a 23 percent advantage on Election Day. Just as in this race, Democrats had a higher turnout rate before Election Day than Republicans, but on Election Day, Democratic turnout cratered and GOP turnout spiked.

This translated to Clinton 5-point advantage among the 68 percent of the HD 72 voters who voted before Election Day, and Trump winning the remaining voters on Election Day by 26, for an overall Trump 5 percent win.

If you compare where Good is today compared to Clinton, in terms of turnout, the district is definitely more Democratic than it was going into Election Day in 2016.

By any fair assumption, given the district’s current turnout, and historical performance, she should be ahead by at least as much as Clinton was going into Election Day.

The unknown question, can she hold on — and just how much of a lead does she need to pull off the upset?

Eight days out, there are two big questions.

Republicans have more outstanding vote-by-mail ballots, so they see their numbers improve — though, over the last week, the delta between the two parties hasn’t changed much (remember Democrats in 2016 statewide left a lot more ballots on kitchen tables than did Republicans).

Right now, Democrats have returned 68 percent of their ballots, and Republicans have returned 65 percent, so I will be curious over the next week if the GOP can close that gap. What the final margin going into Election Day looks like will say a lot about the next point.

How much can Good lose Election Day by and still win?

If Election Day looks like Crist ‘14, she wins. If it looks like Trump ‘16, she loses.

Almost surely, it will land somewhere between the two.

Turnout can be hard to predict in these races. With more than a week to go, the turnout rate is already higher than the entire state Senate special election in Miami last fall.

In the recent St. Petersburg mayor’s race, 37 percent of the total vote came on Election Day. In the Miami State Senate race, it was around 27 percent. By the end of the week, this picture will be much more clear.

But one thing is for certain, this race is headed to the wire. Again, in a conventional special election, in a conventional year, this is a race we would not be talking about. But it isn’t, thus we are.

And at this point, a Democratic win here is far from improbable.

Joe Henderson: Lawmakers want to guide us to healthy marriage? No thanks

The irony of the Legislature even considering a pair of bills requiring happy couples to read a yet-to-be-written Guide to a Healthy Marriage before they can wed is … is … (looking for the right word here) … laughable.

Unless the guide is titled “Do As We Say, Not As We Do” can these people not realize how ridiculous it looks to even think about telling others how to achieve wedded bliss after turning the capitol into Caligula’s playpen?

But, this is the Legislature, and so we ponder SB 1580, filed by Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel, and HB 1323 by Jacksonville Republican Clay Yarborough that would create, no kidding, a Marriage Education Committee.

What could go wrong with a group like that?

The bills basically would require happy couples to get a copy of the guide and read it before they could get a marriage license – or, I guess, a healthy marriage license.

Would there be a test later?

Sample question: Your spouse likes the Patriots. You like the Eagles. The bet was that the loser cleans the bathroom, but the losing spouse is too distraught to complete the task. Do you: A): Say that’s all right honey, but you should know better than to bet against Nick Foles. B): Shame them on social media for backing out of the bet, along with a photo-shopped image of the losing spouse in an Eagles jersey?

But, OK, I’ll play along.

I do have some modest experience in the marriage arena, having been united with my one and only wife for going on 37 years now. We had counseling with our pastor before we said our vows. As I recall, it basically was, “Treat each other nice and with respect.”

But no, the Legislature thinks it can do this better. The plan would have a six-person committee do the work. Two representatives each would be appointed by the governor, House Speaker, and Senate President. That’s five too many. Actually, it’s six too many – but I digress. Maybe if this inane proposal ever becomes law, I can save the group that would be assembled to write the guide some time.

I imagine the committee would discuss ideas on conflict resolution, money, sex (Tallahassee has a lot of experts in that area), and who gets control of the TV remote.

Here are some ideas about that:

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Most of the time, I have found conflict goes away when I say the magic words: “Yes, dear.” I might give occasional mild pushback in the form of “can this wait a minute?” if my beloved chooses the final seconds of a tie game to complain about work or decide the pool needs draining, but the “pause” button on the remote is a lifesaver in those situations where she won’t be denied.

Or couples could always follow the Tallahassee model, which says Republicans are in charge of the House, Senate and Governor’s mansion, so Democrats can lump it – also known as the Archie Bunker strategy. 

MONEY: This one is kind of serious. If you marry young, remember that with any luck you will be old one day and need money, so it’s a good idea to save some now.

WHICH FAMILY GETS PRIORITY ON HOLIDAYS: Another tricky landmine, but you can tip-toe through it. For instance, go to one set of in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner, then the other for dessert. Try to plan so you’re at the house with the better TV later in the day because that’s when the best football games are on. If that in-law doesn’t like football, feign illness and let them think it was the fault of the other in-laws.

CHILDREN: It took two of you to make them, and it will take two of you to raise them.

SEX: Tallahassee loves to crawl into your bed and tell you how to do things. No shortage of advice here. Just Google “sex” and “Florida Legislature” for additional guidance.

Get real. Lawmakers want to advise couples in Florida on how to have successful marriages? They want to make people read a guide with the Legislature’s pawing prints all over it before they can wed?

Tell you what: you first.

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