SEBRING — Highlands County’s top two tea partiers were partly pleased, partly unhappy with the legislative session that ended Friday.
“I was disappointed in some of the gun legislation,” said Highlands County tea party chair Jack Nelson, “and they were hell bent to vote for Common Core in this state.”
“I’d give them about a 50-50,” said John Drozinski, vice chair. “I think my biggest one was pushing through Common Core. You can change the name of the pig but it still stinks.”
SB 1642 ended the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and tests students according to Common Core standards.
“I don’t know if it’s the money or Jeb Bush,” Nelson said. “Bill Gates is making a lot of money out of this, too.”
The Washington Post reported in March that the Gates Foundation has spent more than $170 million to develop and promote Common Core standards. Nelson suggested Gates and Microsoft would make millions more on computers and software needed for Common Core. Forty-five states have fully adopted the standards, which change the way math and reading are taught from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The Republican-dominated Legislature passed a series of bills backed by gun-rights advocates, including a bill that would allow people to threaten to use force, brandish a gun, or a fire a warning shot in self defense.
“I was in favor of that,” Nelson said. “If you don’t want to shoot someone, if you’re just going to run them off, you should be able to fire a warning shot. Even the police did that at one time.”
Both criticized “anti-gun legislation” though. HB 209 would have allowed evacuees without gun permits to carry firearms in an emergency did not pass.
“They misrepresented that as taking guns to a riot,” Drozinski said. “No one wants anyone to take a gun to a riot, and you have firearms, you don’t want to leave those firearms in your home for people to take them.”
“They buckled under to the sheriffs instead in listening to the Second Amendment,” Nelson said. The Florida Sheriff’s Association opposed the bill.
SB 1030, an issue that quickly gained support during the session, allowed epileptic children with a prescription to use a strain of marijuana that would help with severe seizures. “Charlotte’s Web” is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol. Without THC, users don’t get high.
Nelson supported the bill. “It doesn’t produce hallucinogenic effects.”
Drozinski was opposed to pot for tots because THC levels can vary. “I think it’s a bad move.”
Both were opposed to HB 755, which allowed Jose Godinez-Samperio, the son of an undocumented immigrant, to be admitted to the Florida Bar and to practice law. Next, Nelson said, “the illegal Saudi Arabian, he will be able to practice law here... It’s a magnet to draws kids to this country.” Nelson cited Border Patrol statistics.
“Every day, 80 to 120 children cross the Texas border illegally, and alone,” the Pew Center’s pewstates.org reported. “The Border Patrol apprehended 24,481 unaccompanied children in 2012, more than three times than in 2008.”
“No parents, just kids,” Nelson said. “And they are predicting 60,000 this year. It’s because we’re offering all of this free, to kids.”
Allowing the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition is not fair to other American students, Drozinski said.
“All that individual was to be here before age 15,” Drozinski said. “They could be 35 years old.”
What didn’t pass was the anti-red light camera bill. Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, made a splash early this year when they tried to repeal or substantially change local programs.
Motorists can’t faced their accuser by questioning cameras in court, Drozinski pointed out.
Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law also wasn’t changed.
“I didn’t want to see anything change,” Nelson said.
He favored the bill that limited zero tolerance in schools. One school disciplined a child who bit his Pop Tart in the shape of a gun, other children were suspended if they wore T-shirts with gun logos. “That was getting out of hand,” Nelson said.