Across the nation there is a growing sentiment that our elected officials are largely ignoring the will and best interest of their constituents—We the People. A recurring theme in this election cycle has been the corruptive influence that corporate lobby money and campaign finance have had on the legislative and election process.
Make no mistake, this is no proverbial bogeyman—over the past few decades corporate interests have flat out hi-jacked our democratic process. Many politicians have become more accountable to their donors and cronies than they are to their constituents.
There could not be a better example of this than the recent passing of SB1010 (as amended) in the Florida State Senate. This law includes an amendment filed by Senator Alan Hays of District 11, which prevents local governments (city or county) from passing any new legislation banning or regulating polystyrene products.
This law will not repeal any laws in place prior to January 2016, so there are no changes to the bans or limitations already in place in Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, North Bay Village, and Surfside.
This is known as a “preemption law”, which in this context refers to the state removing regulatory power for local governments and delegating that power to a state regulatory agency—in this case the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
This tactic of preemption of local regulatory authority is downright insidious—the word preempt derives from a Greek word that means “to buy before”. Need I say more?
What is troubling is that there was a ‘no foam’ movement in Orlando that was picking up steam (for obvious reasons) literally in the few months leading to the introduction of this amendment. Troubling, because Orlando is in Orange County, which is within Senator Hays’ District.
What’s further disconcerting is that this measure passed unanimously and unopposed despite calls from constituents expressing opposition—apparently the lobbying efforts of Publix (who also made a max donation to Senator Hays’ 2014 campaign) were more influential to their positions than the pleas of their constituents and efforts of various environmental organizations.
The fact that, even with people raising our voices in opposition, our politicians can unanimously pass measure that would prevent Floridians from deciding to keep a polluting and carcinogenic product like Styrofoam out of our communities can be discouraging and disappointing.
That said, there’s one ultimate way that We the People can force politicians to be accountable to us—former President Andrew Jackson said it best…
“The great constitutional corrective in the hands of the people against usurpation of power, or corruption by their agents is the right of suffrage; and this when used with calmness and deliberation will prove strong enough.”
Well folks, thanks to re-districting, all Florida Senate seats are up for vote during this 2016 election cycle. So, the answer is simple…VOTE THEM OUT!
In case you missed it, there was a similar preemptive measure on the table regarding the local regulation of Fracking in Florida that was voted down 10-9 last week. This was an instance where the will of the people was heard by ENOUGH politicians that the greater good prevailed…PROOF that with a focused collective effort of citizens to raise our voices, we CAN be heard.
As you may notice from the vote tally there were 9 Senators who were on the wrong side of the Fracking vote as well as the unopposed Styrofoam vote. With “calmness and deliberation” I have compiled a list of those Senators who chose corporations over their constituents on two key environmental issues.
This is a call to action! Call them and let them know how you feel about the way they voted. Register to vote if you’ve not already, and follow your district’s Senate race—make your vote count! Virtually every Senator on this list has with won 2 to 1 or run unopposed at some point in their Senate tenure. Let your politicians know that you’re paying attention and that you will not stand for the blatant disregard of our interests and our rights to protect our communities.
This is a rare opportunity to clean house. If none of them step foot in the Capitol in 2017, we all win. Spread the word, make it happen. #CleanHouseFlorida
|Senator Name||Senator District||Contact||Sitting since…|
|Thad Altman (R)||16||(850) 487-5016||2008|
|Don Gaetz (R)||1||(850) 487-5001||2006|
|Bill Galvano (R)||26||(850) 487-5026||2012|
|Rene Garcia (R)||38||(850) 487-5038||2010|
|Denise Grimsley (R)||21||(850) 487-5021||2012|
|Alan Hays (R)||11||(850) 487-5011||2010|
|Garrett Richter (R)||23||(850) 487-5023||2008|
|Tom Lee (R)||24||(850) 487-5024||2012|
|David Simmons (R)||10||(850) 487-5010||2010|