In the next 30 days, Florida lawmakers are poised to make it easier for insurance companies to raise rates, make it more difficult for women to receive an abortion and hand over control of prisons to private companies.
These are just a few of the proposals the Republican-led Legislature is pushing in the final weeks of their 60-day session. Others include dramatically changing the way the state handles Medicaid, state pensions, courts, growth and the environment.
The proposals are detailed, sweeping, and encompass many conservative issues that legislators have resisted enacting in the past. And they are moving forward for one reason: They have the votes. With a veto-proof majority, a hard-right conservative governor, and a determination to seize the moment in a non-election year, legislative leaders have packed the agenda — and Democrats are powerless to stop them.
Powerless. Florida Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature. They were given it by Florida voters who said "Boy, Democrats suck. They didn't fix the economy in Florida at all. I'm going to sit this one out."
So Gov. Rick Scott and his buddies have free reign to do whatever they want now. And it gets worse, much worse.
“You’ve got a very conservative governor, president, and speaker, so they’ve gone down some roads that people have kind of been afraid to go down before,’’ said Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.
The governor has already signed major legislation to change the way teachers are paid and to reduce compensation for the unemployed, and the Legislature has overridden seven vetoes of former Gov. Charlie Crist.
Next up are dozens of bills that remove government oversight, dismantle regulations, and shift state jobs to the private sector. Also on the docket are plans to ask voters to amend the state constitution to remove the ban on providing tax dollars to religious organizations, to make it easier for the Legislature to overturn rules imposed by the state Supreme Court, to ban public funding of abortions and to prohibit any laws requiring a person to buy health insurance.
Unstoppable, wingnut theocracy. Corporate rule run amok. Republicans looting the state and making it possible for them to loot the state for the foreseeable future.
Florida's reality now is what America will face very soon unless the Republicans are reined in. Democrats in Florida sat out 2010. Now they will pay for decades. National Republicans want to go even further than where Florida is now to the right. If given the kind of unchecked power they have in Florida, the country will be unrecognizable in a matter of months.
And all that had to happen was enough people saying "My vote doesn't matter. Both sides are the the same. Why should I bother?"
The lesson of Florida, 2011. Even if you choose not to vote, you still have made a choice.