America usually laughs at Florida. To the rest of the country, Florida means hanging chads, snowbirds in flip-flops, and wacky stories of men throwing alligators into fast food drive-thru windows.
But who’s laughing now?
Forget the skeptics. Florida has shown the country how to properly manage the COVID-19 pandemic, how to build a pro-jobs economy around a pro-family culture, and how to approach elections with common sense in a time of madness.
Unlike California, Florida doesn’t just rely on its good weather. And it just doesn’t stop beating expectations.
More and more every year, Florida means freedom. And this year has been no different. As other states endure year-round rhetorical civil wars in which reason never seems to win, Florida’s short legislative session was long on accomplishments.
Perhaps most important—because fair elections are the key to everything else—Florida passed dozens of election reforms in two separate packages. Together, the reforms make Florida the clear national leader in free and fair elections.
The legislation bans private funding for election administration, a.k.a. Zuckerbucks, to safeguard impartial public officials. It mandates thorough cross-checking of voter registrations to ensure accurate rolls. And it blocks ballot harvesting and secures drop-boxes to prevent fraud.
But that’s not all.
The legislation also protects the rights of poll watchers and observers of ballot counting to encourage transparency. It caps financial contributions to ballot initiatives to stop out-of-state interests from swamping the state in radical leftist policies like Medicaid expansion. And it requires post-election audits to guarantee even more improvement in the future.
Unlike other states responding to a crisis of confidence, Florida is simply building on previous success. The state already had strong signature verification measures, public voter rolls, and transparent and sensible deadlines for registering to vote, returning absentee ballots, and curing ballots.
Florida passed many of these significant reforms in the wake of its embarrassing presidential election debacle in 2000. Since then, the state has quietly administered effective elections for two decades.
The work paid off. The public knew Florida’s results in the 2020 election early in the evening. And we’ve never had reason to doubt those results.
But Florida isn’t just running better elections. After those elections are over, the leaders who are winning them have arguably run a better state than anyone else.
Florida has spent 2021 increasing its already sharp pro-business edge. Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation to speed up the local permitting process by reducing fees if permits aren’t granted within certain timeframes.
Taking the burden off the job-creators and putting it on the bureaucrats standing in the way—what a concept.
Like the character in a Zac Brown Band song, for Florida entrepreneurs, the “only worry in the world—is the tide gonna reach my chair?”
And continuing its long tradition of competitive education policies, Florida doubled down on education reform again. After decades of leading the country in public school choice, DeSantis recently signed legislation to break up the black box of higher education.
Among other things, Florida will now empower students with more information about tuition for various college programs, average debt loads for different areas of study, average salary levels for occupations, and the most in-demand jobs across the state.
DeSantis, who’s gearing up for re-election in 2022 and a possible presidential bid two years after that, must be smiling.
That’s all that taxpayers, students, and anyone interested in a working democracy can do too.
And for those of us lucky enough to live in the free state of Florida, maybe its inaccurate reputation for craziness is a good thing.
If more Americans heard about Florida’s real oddity—consistent competence—the U-haul rates would go through the roof.
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