After attending many sessions of the Jacksonville City Council and Florida Legislature, I came to the conclusion that most legislation is totally unnecessary.
Exceptions are enacting a budget and repealing useless legislation previously enacted.
An example that is current might be a bill in the council that would limit public gatherings.
At best, it is “feel good” legislation. At worst, needlessly restrictive.
Like many things these days it is founded on the menace of the Red Chinese virus.
It defines large gatherings as 50 or more people, closer than six feet and outside of a structure, and requires the owner of the property to prohibit such gathering.
The first violation would subject the property owner to a warning from law enforcement and afterward to a fine up to $500.
Those in the gathering, after a warning, would face $25 fines.
There are exceptions for special events; individuals exercising First Amendment rights of the United States and the Florida Constitution, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right of assembly; and any bona fide athletic event, government-sanctioned activity or any other event where COVID-19 precautions are implemented and enforced.
The ordinance declares its purpose to be to reduce the spread of the virus.
It would self-destruct at the end of the year.
Blake Harper, a local conservative, is a critic of the bill, and has attacked it on social media. He believes it could prevent, for example, gatherings of bikers in a parking lot or people hanging out while going to concerts.
“Also, limiting gathering on public rights of way . . . how can that be done and not violate constitutional rights of individuals?” he asked.
“Here is the point. California is beating itself over the head with extreme COVID-19 measures that have done nothing to stop its spread in that state.”
The measure already has cleared two committees, so it seems to have momentum, although it got a thumbs down in the Finance Committee.
But Harper may be right when he says current trespassing laws could be used instead.
This bill does not seem to be a drastic threat to civil rights but more like “feel good” legislation that Jacksonville easily could live without.