In the eyes of Bill Day, the 2015 Legislative Session has been … interesting … so far for Republican Rep. Frank Artiles.
Only hours before the fall of the opening gavel, the Miami-area Republican was having pre-session drinks at Clydes & Costello’s, a popular Tallahassee bar. About 1:30 a.m., Artiles, a former Marine Corps sergeant, is reported to have punched a 21-year-old college student.
The student — identified as Peter Alberti — says he was only trying to get drinks at the bar when the incident happened.
Artiles represents House District 118, which includes parts of Miami-Dade County. As an ex-Marine, he is apparently someone who can throw a serious punch.
If he did hit anyone, Artiles told reporters that person would “be in the hospital.” Indeed.
Of course, the lawmaker denies the incident happened, claiming the reports are politically motivated.
Nevertheless, a bar fight would provide enough bad press for any Florida politician. But with Artiles, it is only the beginning.
He is also the mind behind one of the most controversial bills facing the Legislature.
Artiles is sponsor of House Bill 583, which seeks to restrict single-sex public restrooms — restaurants, theaters, workplaces, schools, and the like — only to individuals of the corresponding “biological sex, either male or female, at birth.” The bill has had its first hearing with the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Artiles says he filed the bill to prevent men, disguised as women, from using the “cover of law” to gain entry into bathrooms and locker rooms to assault women. If passed, businesses would face civil liabilities if they fail to restrict people from using incorrect restrooms and changing rooms.
Opponents of the bill — including Equality Florida and other LGBT advocates — say the bill discriminates against transgender individuals, who would apparently be forced to provide identification (as proof of gender identity) before using the bathroom.
In Day’s latest piece, both outrage and injury are following Artiles in 2015 — and it is only the first week.