Behind the News, Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: Law would give campus police more power to arrest off-campus

First off, I want to make this clear: I am in no way demeaning campus police officers. God knows we could’ve used more of them at Virginia Tech. And I’m also not insinuating that campus cops are somehow less worthy than regular police officers. They just have different jobs and jurisdictions.

That said, SB 554 is completely out-of-bounds.

This bill, proposed by Republican Charlie Dean (who has some other questionable ideas this session), would give special powers to state university police officers to make arrests off-campus. And I’m not just talking about arresting some guy with a gun across the street from the school — which we could all agree makes sense — but also more simple offenses like traffic violations.

Already, some city and county law enforcement agencies have “mutual aid agreements” with campus police that give them some authority outside of campus. For example, I’ve seen USF police at DUI checkpoints along Fowler Avenue working alongside the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Tampa Police Department.

But this law would allow campus police to conduct speed trap operations by themselves off campus. The law would also give them the authority to, say, raid a party at an apartment complex near the campus. Critics of this law should ask: what happens when campus police are spread thin around a neighborhood and not patrolling the university?

Rating: 3 bong hits bongbongbong

(Read about my rating system here.)

Behind the News, Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: More bad drug laws

Remember George Orwell’s 1984? Great book with a grave message: Watch out for the thought police.

“Thoughtcrime” comes to mind when I read SB 236.

deanProposed by Democrat Dave Aronberg and Republicans Charles Dean and Carey Baker, this law would increase the penalties of stealing from utilities if the stolen power is used to grow marijuana. (Marijuana is specifically mentioned in the bill, though the proposed law could be used for other controlled substances.) Currently, anyone who steals from the utilities is guilty of a misdemeanor (depending on the amount stolen) and must pay back the power company. But if this bill passes, the intent to grow weed would increase punishment to a third-degree felony, a possible five-year prison sentence.

This bill comes as Florida deals with an ever-growing (ha!) amount of grow houses. In fact, as I’ve reported before, Florida is ranked No. 2 in the U.S. for marijuana cultivation, right behind California.

Without even getting into the debate over our wacked-out drug laws, and without pointing out that other states are loosening drug laws as Florida cracks down, I don’t see how stealing electricity for growing marijuana is any worse than, say, stealing electricity to create fake money, or stealing natural gas so you can cook the materials needed for explosives. Should we have subsets of the utility theft code for every stinkin’ intent for stealing power? Ridiculous.

Even if you don’t have the libertarian view on marijuana, why not up the utility theft penalties for everyone?

Accordingly, I give this bill a rating of 3 bong hits.

bongbongbong

(Read about my rating system here.)