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Something stupid this way comes



Ah, the smell of a new legislative session in Tallahassee: the spray starch, the cheap cologne, the musty stacks of statutes, the distinct odor of cash burning. While this year's session, which began March 3, is already doomed by headlines detailing billion-dollar budget shortfalls, that doesn't mean that the men and women you've elected will keep their well-coiffed heads strictly in the game, targeting taxation and budget loopholes. In state politics, an economic crisis can be the greatest of distractions — and an opportunity for them to sneak by the silliest of legislation. What follows are 10 bits of legislative inanity currently trudging their way through the legislative rigmarole. Most will never see the governor's signature. Still, we think you should know what Tallahassee's lesser lights are up to this year.

HB 273/SB 448: Sexual Activities Involving Animals

State Rep. William D. Snyder, R-Stuart, authored this year's bestiality bill — one that has passed through the Capitol doors before, only to be giggled out by lawmakers forced to utter the B-word. It forbids "any touching or foundling by a person, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs or anus of an animal or any other transfer or transmission of semen by the person upon any part of the animal for the purposes of sexual gratification or arousal of the person," and goes on to include the mouths, sex organs or anuses of people in the act of interspecies commingling. There's something about the fact that Florida still allows the old dog-and-peanut-butter trick to go unpunished that makes this bill worthy of approval, even if enforcement would be rather difficult. That's one third-degree felony you don't want to face the judge over.

SB 778: Paintball Guns and Markers

State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, never fails to impress with his astute grasp of all things statute-worthy, and this is no exception. Siplin would see to it that residents are forbidden from transporting paintball guns (and the painful pellets they shoot) in their vehicles. Of course, since Siplin's law allows for said transport if you're en route to a paintball emporium, couldn't you just say you're driving to Bithlo?

HB 671/SB 926: Cemeteries

University of Florida graduate state Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, is championing a bill that would allow schools — just UF for now — to erect columbaria to hold urns full of alumni ashes for all eternity.

HB 969/SB 2062: Unemployment Compensation Drug Testing

State Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, doesn't think times are tough enough for those living on the public dole. He'd like to randomly sample 10 percent of unemployment applicants and another 10 percent of those already receiving benefits to test for the usual round of party-helpers, including "designer drugs." The cost of the drug test will then be garnished from the beneficiary's check (even if he passes). The unemployed saps who fail get no money for up to a year. Instead, they get a pamphlet directing them to the nearest drug treatment facility.

HB 771/SB 546: Tanning Facilities

If state Rep. Yolly Roberson, D-Miami, has her way, dumb girls under the age of 18 won't be allowed to lie in tanning beds without their parents' consent. Those girls will get fat, hate their parents and cry at prom.

HB 417/SB 806: Novelty Lighters

State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, doesn't like cigarette lighters that don't look like lighters, as these apparently cause children to burn everything in sight. So he'd like to ban such lighters from head shops and truck stops everywhere.

HB 103, 1243/SB 1064: Voyeurism

State Rep. Clay Ford, R-Pensacola, wants to make sure that people aren't looking through glory holes or, even more shockingly, "for amusement, entertainment, or sexual arousal or gratification, secretly `viewing` either under or through the clothing being worn by another person without that person's knowledge or consent in order to view the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that person." So long, upskirt cameras.

HB 533/SB 1360: High School Events/Inspirational Message

State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, loves Jesus and thinks high school students should pray to him before football games.

HB 201/SB 802: Drug Paraphernalia Sales Surtax

Never mind that it's already illegal to own or buy drug paraphernalia. State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, would like to tax your gorgeous bong (or anything you buy in bong-and-pipe retailers, legal or not) to the tune of 25 percent. Drugs are bad, mm'kay?

House Memorial 1417: Ecumenical Patriarchate

For the record, state Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, does not appreciate Turkey's mistreatment of the Christian orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch — that's the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church — something Turkey has done since the Lausanne Treaty of 1923. Sure, Tarpon Springs has a lot of Greeks. Turkey, however, is nowhere near Florida.

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