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Pot, immigration and firings -- things that make you go 'Hmmm'

Unemployment BenefitsLaws and LegislationImmigrationBarack Obama

Today's Friday Files are psychedelic.

•Newsweek recently cited a study that said, of all the state capitals in America, Tallahassee ranks No. 1 when it comes to pot-smoking. That explains a lot about what happened in this past legislative session.

•Headline from a Palm Beach Post story this week: "Fla. lawmakers say business interests played major role in killing immigration control." Of course they did. I told you as much last week. You folks who love to rant about immigration issues can scream all you want about liberals and their so-called "amnesty" plans. But it's Big Business pulling the GOP politicians' strings on this one.

•The more I think about it, it wasn't really fair to blame this past session on drug use. Pot-smokers are more laid-back, friendly — and generally likable — than your average Florida legislator. Plus, there ain't a midnight toker on earth who would try to pass laws telling a pediatrician what she could talk about inside her own office. Talk about harshing a mellow.

•That reminds me: For guys who constantly yap about Big Government, Florida legislators sure spent a lot of time inviting it into your private life. First, state Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, wanted to imprison doctors for asking patients questions about gun safety (until the rotten U.S. Constitution got in the way). Then, GOP senators helped Orlando Democrat Gary Siplin pass his waste-of-time "Droopy Drawers" bill, telling kids how they must wear their pants. So, if I've got this right, government shouldn't regulate things like bad business practices and the environment … and should instead save its scrutiny for low-hanging trousers.

•The crackdown on your private life doesn't stop with your pants, though. Another new law could block you from getting unemployment benefits, based on how you act on your own free time. How? Well, let's say you're a proud conservative working for an Obama-loving boss who orders all his employees to refrain from criticizing the president, believing it would be bad for business. During the work week, you do what you're told. But on the weekend, you like to let your Tea flag fly. And one fine Saturday, the boss spots you innocently waving your favorite "DEATH TO OBAMACARE!" placard. So he fires you. He can do that anyway in our "right to work" state. But now, under the new law, he might be able to also stop you from getting unemployment benefits — benefits you'd accrued — as well. State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, described the new employment bill as "a great gift to the business industry."

•The pot study that Newsweek cited was actually conducted by The Daily Beast, which compiles its rankings based on things like marijuana arrests. Also general usage — some of which must be taking place at the Florida Democratic Party headquarters. How else to explain a story in the Tampa Tribune saying Democratic Party officials are considering bypassing next year's presidential primary? I don't care if Barack Obama's only opposition is so token that it's Cheech and Chong. People should get a chance to vote each and every time … regardless of what the party hacks have to say.

• So one of the billionaire Koch brothers (financiers of conservative politicians and the Tea Party movement) is donating $1.5 million to FSU — but only as long as the school hires the right kind of professors. This has many liberals upset. But come on! School funding is in rough enough shape that I'm just about willing to take money from Satan himself if he'd accept tax deductions rather than souls for his gift. Besides, I'm sure all the conservatives defending this deal would express the same vocal support for something like a George Soros Distinguished Professor of Economics or a Department of ACORN-Inspired Community Organizing … right?

•In House Speaker Dean Cannon's zeal to play hardball politics at the end of the session, a claims bill died — one that would've paid restitution to a man who spent 27 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who had been fighting for exoneree Bill Dillon, later said: "Politics got in the way today, and I'm embarrassed for it." You'll hear all sorts of excuses for this — everything from time crunches to tough decisions. Just remember this: While Cannon and Co. couldn't find time to repay this man for his stolen life, they did find time for "Droopy Drawers." They made their priorities crystal clear.

smaxwell@tribune.com or 407-420-6141

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Unemployment BenefitsLaws and LegislationImmigrationBarack Obama
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