SPEAKING POINTS AGAINST INTRUSIVE PROPOSED FLORIDA LEGISLATION
The 2008 Legislative Session in Tallahassee has ended. Many proposals have died but, make no mistake about it, they will rise again like the mythical phoenix next year. Many of these proposals share the characteristic of being unnecessarily intrusive upon the lives of Floridians. Others have the potential of violating provisions of the Constitution of the State of Florida. Those people who represent themselves as advocates of small govenment, resent governmental intrusion upon the lives of citizens, seek de-regualtion of businesses and industry and advertise their desire to have judges who are "oringinalists" (looking to support the "original intent" of those who wrote the Consitution), are often the same individuals who have advocated for legislative action which clearly violate their own political philosophy.
The Florida Constitution is often far more specific in its general orientations than is the United States Consitution. Here are some highly significant quotes from our constitution which present those orientations and which should be used to examine the proposals.
ARTICLE ONE, DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
1. SECTION 1 POLITICAL POWER
"All political power is inherent in the people, the enunciation herein of certain rights shall not be construed to deny others retained by the people."
2. SECTION 2 BASIC RIGHTS
"All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness, .... No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, or physical disability."
3. SECTION 3 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
"There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion, of prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any other political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."
4. SECTION 23 RIGHT OF PRIVACY
"Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public's right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law."
ARTICLE IX, EDUCATION
1. SECTION 1 PUBLIC EDUCATION
(a) "The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provisions for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provisions shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allow students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance and operation of insitutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require... (the rest of this section defines the classsize amendment conditions).
2. SECTION 4 SCHOOL DISTRICTS; SCHOOL BOARDS
(B) "The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. ...."
With the above statements taken directly from the Florida Constitution let's look at proposals, both alive and dead (for this Nov.,but subject to "re-encarnation" in the future);
1. CORPORATE VOUCHERS : Expands maximum tax credit for companies that pay for poor kid's school vouchers to be used to secure private or parochial education. Bill sent to governor for signature. Bill violates Article 1, Section 3 and Article ix, Section 1 (a) which mandates the state to provide a uniform and free public school system. Using tax money, even if indirectly, to provide two more levels of education, private and parochial, clearily is not uniform, especially when the publically provided schools are subject to audit in the form of FCAT and other means of accountability while the private and the parochial have virtually no state oversight.
2. SCHOOL SPENDING: 65% of a district's spending must be in the classroom. This is a violation of Article IX, Section 1 which stipulates that the school board, not the state, shall operate and control the public schools within the district. In addition, this proposal is "married" to the corporate voucher proposal so that consideration of the two very different issues is not possible.
B. HEALTH CARE/SOCIAL SERVICES
1. ABORTION : This bill would have required women requesting an abortion during the first trimester to have an ultrasound test, at their own expense. They would be allowed to sign a statement absolving them of the need to view that ultrasound picture, verifying that the procedure is not of medical use. This bill would have violated Article 1, section 23 and would have been intrusive into the private life of citizens by mandating a medical procedure not desired by the patient nor requested by the doctor working with the patient plus mandating the expendure of money by the patient and taxing the abiltiy of medical facilities to provide for the increased use of the required technology. Although this bill is dead for this year, it will arise again.
C. PUBLIC SAFETY
1. GUNS TO WORK; People who hold concealed weapons permits can lock weapons in their cars. This bill is said by opponents to violate private property rights of businesses and will lead to an increase in gun-related violence at the work place and suits of businesses for such violence. In addition, opponents state that the existance of guns in cars, will result in an increase in auto break-ins.
D. THE MARRIAGE AMENDMENT
1. This proposed amendment to the Constitution would define marriage as the union of one man with one woman. Since the intent is to prevent same-sex marriage it should be noted that Florida law already prohibits same sex couples from being married. That law also prohibits recognition of such unions when performed in other states which might allow such unions. Therefore, an amendment is redundant and unnecessary. Such an amendment would, however, be intrusive on the lives of people in as the state would be authorized to regulate personal relationships in violation of Article one, Secton 2 and Section 23 of the Florida Constitution. In addition, such an amendment would impact seniors who wish to cohabitate but not marry in order to save their pension, social security or other legal/financial rights. The institution of marriage has legal and financial implications which should be left to consenting adults resolve. One of the side effects of this amendment would be the inability of caring and loving adult partners to assist with medical decision-making when their partner is in need of such' The traditional conservative preference for small, non-intrusive government would be best realized if the state government stayed out of the business of regulating this aspect of the lives of adult Floridians.
Other issues, as they arise, should be examined in light of their necessity, their impact and their compliance with the Florida Consitution.
by Geoff Kashdan