Unfortunately, Gov.-elect Charlie Crist is already making mistakes. Fortunately, however, Florida can chalk up the mistakes to the incoming governor’s gubernatorial naivety – for now.
When Crist was on the campaign trail, he promised he wouldn’t sign any bill until after he has successfully passed his “anti-murder” bill into law. The first failed version of the anti-murder bill proposed in 2005 “came with a $68 million price tag and an estimated need for more than 7,000 new prison beds,” according to Florida Today.
That promise from Crist was good, up until he learned just how strongly Florida residents feel about the homeowner’s insurance crisis Florida faces. The howls of the electorate in response to their hefty insurance premiums are drowning out calls for legislation about crime. In today’s column, Aaron Hill mentions that a special session of the Legislature will be held on Jan. 16 to deal with the insurance problem.
Crist wanted to deal with his anti-murder bill in that special session, but it won’t happen. The demand by House Democrats to fix the shortage of beds for mentally ill inmates, who are currently – and illegally – being housed in county jails, won’t be addressed during the special session either. House Majority Leader Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) told Florida Today, “Once you start going down that road, you can find crisis after crisis.” He is right.
It’s not that it’s bad that Florida’s state government is so eager to tackle the many issues facing the state. The problem is more a matter of priorities.
Vivian Myrtetus, a spokeswoman for the governor-elect, said while the insurance bill was the No. 1 priority on the campaign trail, “that doesn’t mean the other bill isn’t important, too.”
Of course it doesn’t mean the crime bill isn’t also important. Frankly, that’s fairly obvious. One would assume that everything the Florida state legislature does is important.
But Crist almost caused a legislative snowball effect. His anti-murder bill is important, as is the homeowner’s insurance issue, so he thought both should be addressed during the special session. Other state legislators saw this move and tried to introduce important legislation of their own. With that strategy, any semblance of a legislative calendar will dissolve, and chaos will prevail.
Crist did introduce the legislation in order to keep a campaign promise, so his naivety can be forgiven for now. But such foolish political steps need to be avoided in the future, or there will be no order in the state’s agenda.