4 min read

Week of February 26, 2023

A bird on a fishing wharf looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. A sailboat is in the background.
Not everything is bad in Florida.

The week Republicans in Florida proposed laws to ban the Democratic Party and force Bloggers to register with the government

I had nearly completed the post for this week when news broke of a proposed law that would require bloggers to file with the Florida state government every single post they make about the governor, the governor’s cabinet or state legislators or face a $2500 fine for each unreported post.

I do not receive money for this blog and now, I never will, because it exempts me from this law. But if the first time in Florida history Republican super majority in the state passes this law, they’ll surely find a way to come after little old me. It is worth noting that this law would require bloggers who do not live in Florida, such as Heather Cox Richardson, who lives in Maine, to file a report for every single time she mentions Florida’s government.

I have to admit, this took my breath away.

Florida is not a democracy, it is a competitive autocracy and it is sliding at an astonishing rate into full autocracy, a dictatorship. I won’t take the time to explain here and now how and why Florida is, in my opinion demographically, a purple state trending blue, but I will point out when the Midwest voted for President Obama in 2008 and turned on him in 2012, Florida voted for Obama both times. It is not as red as people think.

As I recover from the shock of the proposed law that would criminalize me writing about the government unless I explicitly tell the government about my posts, I will change the format here for the time being for the sake of brevity and note the stories that really jumped out to me. Ironically, I had initially included a section about what was going well in Florida. I’m no longer sure I have space for that.

The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times have stories on Florida’s insurance crisis, which is among the most complicated and expensive in the nation and note that there is an imperfect, but viable solution, that Tallahassee Republicans, too caught up on banning books about Black or gay people, using threats on Disney World’s sewers and roads to make sure they are sufficiently anti-LGBT or banning the Democratic Party altogether to consider. Or is it just that the culture wars are distracting them? From the Miami Herald:

The idea that might actually help Florida’s homeowners goes like this: The state should offer hurricane insurance, while private insurers cover the rest — fire, theft. To cover the costs, the state could use a combination of Citizens Property Insurance (the state-backed “insurer of last resort” that now has almost 1.2 million policies) and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Windstorm premiums from Floridians would go into a common fund, rather than toward profit. It’s neither a perfect idea nor a new one. It’s been brought up a bunch of times — in 2006, 2011, for starters, and even late last year in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times. It’s been pushed by Republicans in Florida — former lawmakers, in fact — and business people and lawyers who all have been trying to find ways to bring the market under control. There’s even a similar model in Republican-controlled Texas, called the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, to check out for lessons. Florida TaxWatch concluded that the idea, at least the version floated in 2011, was viable. But here’s the dirty little secret: The idea never goes anywhere because domestic insurers wouldn’t make as much money. That’s how beholden the Florida Legislature is to special interests.

That’s all I’ve got time for this week. Stay safe out there.

Bear the History Hound enjoyed his walk by the ocean on Thursday. He’s in a car in this photo, obviously. Photo by Philip Cardella