It’s feeling normal again — the ambience on Longboat Key. It feels like some of the “Seasons” from the past.
Traffic is frequently backed up on Gulf of Mexico Drive from the New Pass Bridge north and from the Longboat Pass Bridge south.
If you’re heading to Bradenton or Sarasota, you have to add 15 to 30 minutes to your time, accounting for the traffic tie-ups through Bradenton Beach and St. Armands Circle.
Restaurants are crowded. Call early for reservations.
Publix is crowded and hopping, too — no matter what time of day.
And, lo and behold, we witnessed this week the announcement of a new luxury condominium to be developed on Longboat Key.
Called the Infinity and located at 4765 Gulf of Mexico Drive, the four-story, 11-unit building is to be developed on the site of what was to be called the Bleu Claire.
If constructed, this would be the first new Gulf-front condominium on the Key in about seven years.
The only thing that didn’t feel normal last week was the best news of all — that Murf Klauber and the Colony Beach & Tennis Association conducted friendly, non-confrontational settlement talks.
There’s nothing better than the height of “Season” on Longboat Key.
+ Limited government?
These are dangerous times: The Legislature is back in session.
And that means we are all at risk. There’s no telling what our lawmakers will do to us each spring when they meet for 60 days.
Count on this: There’s a high probability they’ll pass a law or two or three or four that will reduce your freedom and expand government’s intervention into your life.
It happens every year. Lawmakers just can’t help themselves. They cannot resist succumbing to the political aphrodisiac that overwhelms them — power.
As always, they just feel compelled to do something ... to make more laws and dole out whatever favors are required to get re-elected.
But too often, they want to do too much. For instance, in the 2012 legislative session, lawmakers introduced and filed 2,052 bills. (Both houses approved only 292 bills last year.) For 2013, as of Sunday, lawmakers had filed 1,635 bills.
No wonder we all need lobbyists. It’s humanly impossible for any of us to track all of the potential mischief and damage lawmakers can wreak on us. They can’t help but meddle in our affairs; they can’t help but shape the laws to fit the way they think we should live.
Take a look at some of the goofy bills lawmakers have filed for this session (see box). It’s amazing how they want to “intervene” in our lives.
Take the sure-to-pass ban on texting while driving. Sure, it’s not a good idea at all to text while driving. But it also not a good idea to put on mascara while driving. Why aren’t we banning that? It’s not a good idea to plug in GPS coordinates while driving, either. We’re not banning that, either.
All of this reminds of Milton Friedman’s rule of lawmaking. It’s going to be never ending. And here’s why, as Friedman explained it:
A law is born when some aggrieved party seeks to solve an alleged problem in a way that benefits him. But once the law goes into effect, unintended consequences occur. This causes lawmakers to come back and address the unintended consequences with more laws. Which, of course, beget more laws and more laws.
There is no way to end this.
But maybe there’s a way to truly “limit” government. Go back to the old model of allowing the Legislature to meet every other year, require it to pass a balanced budget and get it accomplished in 30, not 60 days.
That certainly would limit the amount of meddling and damage lawmakers could do.
+ The next Marco Rubio?
Here’s the next rising political star to watch in Florida: 33-year-old House Speaker Will Weatherford.
From Wesley Chapley, north of Tampa, Weatherford is the older brother of Drew Weatherford, former quarterback for the Florida State University Seminoles.
It was refreshing to hear Speaker Weatherford in his speech at the start of the legislative session. He outlined a tightly focused agenda of three priorities:
• Restoring trust in government — with ethics changes and campaign financing transparency, including eliminating those nasty “CCEs,” slush funds for lawmakers.
• He said, “Protect our fiscal future” — and that means changing the state-employee pension system to one that is sustainable, i.e. more rational benefits for state employees, a system that resembles private-sector defined contribution plans.
• And third: “Foster upward mobility through education reform.” For Weatherford that means establishing an affordable, branded, accredited, “singularly focused” online university.
If you look at his latter two goals, they are freedom oriented. When you send less money to the government to pay for pensions, you have more freedom. If you can get a great college education at less cost than the cost today, that’s greater freedom.
At the end of his speech, Weatherford showed he understands what the Legislature’s role should be:
“As your Speaker,” he said, “I would ask that we consider the following questions as we approach our work for the next 60 days:
“Will we leave the people of our state more free, or more dependent?
“Will we give them more opportunities to shape their own destiny, or will we narrow their options?”
We’ll see over the next 60 days and next two years whether he walks the talk of the freedom agenda. We hope so.
+ Bring back ‘Silent Cal’
Oh for the leadership of someone like President Calvin Coolidge.
President from 1923 to 1929, Coolidge is the only president from the 20th and 21st centuries who left office with a smaller federal budget than when he became president.
How did he do it? He said “no.”
“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” Coolidge once said. Indeed, he vetoed 50 bills, including bills for farm subsidies and veterans’ pensions.
WE NEED LAWS FOR THIS?
Here’s a sampling of some of the wackadoo bills lawmakers have filed for the 2013 legislative session:
• Ban plastic grocery bags.
• Require all Florida gun buyers to take at least two hours of online or face-to-face instruction in anger-management techniques.
• Require all service stations to provide an attendant to fill the gas tanks of disabled drivers. The bill also would require service stations to post a blue sign of at least 15 square inches with the telephone number of the attendant who will be required by law to answer the phone and come out of the station and pump the gas.
• Removes provision in law that limits height of motorcycle handlebars or handgrips. (Why is this a law to begin with?)
• Repeals authority of the governor to appoint a private secretary.
• Requires hospitals to establish policies concerning safe lifting and handling of patients; requires committee to develop and evaluate the policies.
• Specifies that local authorities may regulate time, place and manner automobile sound devices may be used within their respective jurisdictions.
• Provides that a student’s parent has the right to request that student be exempted from instruction in English language proficiency; requires school district to exempt student from participating in instruction in English language proficiency if student’s parent requests exemption in writing.