Don Gaetz is the new Republican Florida Senate president and seems committed to righting the wrongs of the Florida legislature over the last few years. Yesterday Gaetz put his weight in support of Senate Bill 846 which is an ethics reform bill stating, "Last year we passed the most sweeping ethics reform in 38 years and took a great step towards improving public confidence in our state officials. Senate Bill 846 takes the next step by encouraging ethical and open decision making and conduct within governmental and quasi-governmental entities across the state. I’m proud to serve in the Florida Senate during a time when the Legislature has made it a priority to raise the standard of public conduct across the board and look forward to voting for this bill when it reaches the Senate floor.”
Last week he came out in support of what is commonly being referred to as a statewide ban on red light cameras in Florida. The red light camera bills before the Florida legislature are not outright bans, however would take the financial incentive out of red light programs throughout the state. The bills would have the effect of exposing which municipalities and counties are in it for the money or for safety. Gaetz said last week, “I voted against red light cameras when they came up the first time. I’d vote for repeal today."
Gaetz also has come out in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in Florida - a first for a Republican in his powerful position. His position on the issue has many Floridians hoping he and the Florida legislature does the right thing so patients can stop being forced to go to jail just for taking their medicine. The Republican controlled Florida legislature made a strategic mistake last year when they rejected legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and now that there is definitive proof Floridians are strongly backing its legalization, Republicans like Rick Scott are behind the proverbial black ball on this and other issues. Gaetz's leadership could help save the Florida GOP from an embarrassing election season this year.
When elected officials come into office, they are required to take an Oath of Office which states "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the State, and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of _____." His commitment to his word and Oath is going against the grain of some of his colleagues who are more committed to lobbyists and getting re-elected. Gaetz seems to be on the right side of the fence with Floridians which could help Republicans this November.
For the first time in a number of years, Gaetz may be a Senate president Florida Libertarians could come to love. Libertarians thought 2010-2012 Florida Senate president Mike Haridopolos was going to be their savior in getting more libertarian-minded legislation passed, however Haridopolos caved to political pressures and showed he was no friend to the freedom movement.