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This is part of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, that seeks to protect the names, addresses and other information about state legislators such as herself. The bill says that legislators "may" receive threats and should be protected.
This is part of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, that seeks to protect the names, addresses and other information about state legislators such as herself. The bill says that legislators "may" receive threats and should be protected. (Lauren Ritchie / Orlando Sentinel)

There is a reason that Lake County schools rank No. 61 of 67 in getting funding from the state.

It’s because the county’s legislative delegation of five are focused mostly on pandering to extreme right-wing causes they know will never be adopted — the more outrageous, the prouder they are. The others are dedicated do-littles with their heads tucked under their wings.

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Worst of all, they all claim to be Republican but sponsor bill after bill that seeks to control the private lives of the people who voted for them. It’s shameful.

The worst is state Sen. Dennis Baxley, north Lake’s Republican senator from Ocala, whose sole goal seems to be push religion on his constituents. His religion, of course. This makes him a laughingstock of the Legislature.

Here’s a sample of the senator’s bills for the session that is underway.

First, he wants the state to develop a marriage guide to tell people how to stay married. Senate Bill 682 would create a committee to write a guide covering conflict management, communication skills, family expectations, parental responsibilities, etc.

It would require those applying for a marriage license to swear that they have read the guide or something like it.

Then there’s Baxley’s bill to require religion be taught in schools. S.B. 746 states that the course to be offered to all students in grades 9 to 12 should maintain “religious neutrality” and not “endorse, favor or promote or disfavor or show hostility” toward any particular religion.

Riiiight. Except that in the first few sentences of the bill, it declares that the course should include “the Hebrew Scriptures” along with the old and new testaments of the Bible. Whoops! Where did that neutrality go?

One has to wonder whether the senator’s head would explode when someone introduces the Muslim Quran, the Buddhist Tipitaka, the Vedas of Hinduism or the Kojiki of Shintosim.

There’s more hypocritical nonsense from Baxley.

State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, speaks about a bill to allow teachers to be armed during a legislative session Wednesday April 17, 2019, in Tallahassee.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, speaks about a bill to allow teachers to be armed during a legislative session Wednesday April 17, 2019, in Tallahassee. (Steve Cannon/AP)

Because local schools are so well-funded, roads are never overcrowded and a quarter of children don’t live in poverty, the senator wants to require students to have a “moment of silence” in school.

It has to be at least a minute, but not more than two minutes. Students can’t interfere with the participation of other students, and a teacher “may not make suggestions as to the nature of any reflection” a student might have.

Columnists are not so constrained. This one suggests that students contemplate the best way to replace out-of-touch, useless legislators with ones that will fight to actually improve their lives.

Baxley’s colleague Kelli Stargel, the Republican senator who represents the south half of Lake County, is just the female version of the senator to the north. She doesn’t live in Lake, either, and that give this county far less influence in the Senate than it should have with a population of 357,000.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, shown in the Legislature.
State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, shown in the Legislature. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

The only reason this column can tell you that Stargel lives in Lakeland in Polk County is because her ridiculous bill that would exempt elected legislators from being in public records like anyone else hasn’t passed.

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Stargel is so terrified of the people who elected her that she wants to make sure they can’t get her home address, telephone numbers, date of birth, places where her husband and children work and the names and locations of the schools or daycares her children attend.

This is because legislators “may receive threats” for “carrying out their official duties” and because such threats “may discourage residents of this state from seeking elected office.” The bill claims that keeping the information secret “outweighs any public benefit that may be derived from the disclosure of the information."

Hahaha. Ghost legislators! What fun! This snowflake needs to get out of politics if she can’t live with public scrutiny. The idea that publicly elected officials get to hide is flatly un-American.

Stargel also has introduced a bill that would force pregnant teens to get a parent’s consent before terminating a pregnancy. Here we are again, in the realm where government wants to dictate how people should live their lives.

This bill is similar to the one state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, sponsored early in her career. It passed and of course was shot down in the courts, but not before expensive and time-consuming challenges sucked up space on busy court dockets.

File photo of the late Lake County Circuit Judge Jerry Lockett.
File photo of the late Lake County Circuit Judge Jerry Lockett. (Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel)

Lake County’s own late Circuit Judge Jerry “Lock ’em up” Lockett, an advocate for children, ruled in 1989 that Florida’s law preventing teen abortion without parental or judicial consent was unconstitutional, establishing the right of all women to abortion. That case law never has been overturned despite a number of attempts over the years.

And finally comes Stargel’s worst bill, a nightmare of unintended consequences called the “Parental Rights” bill. It declares that parents have the right to raise their children — as if someone is trying to take that away. This bill, however, goes much further.

For example, it states that parents have the right to review what their child will be taught in school and to object to specific materials, including taking their children out of health classes which inform them about AIDS. Yeah, because what we need are fewer people informed about a disease that could kill them.

The bill would give parents the right not to immunize children as a condition of attending school. Next thing, she’ll want them to sacrifice chickens to keep the diseases away.

Feel good about your state senators? Then hang on for a review later in the week of what your state representatives are up to in the legislature.

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