View From the Editor’s Desk: What Do Florida Republicans Have in Common with Russia’s Putin?

It was a beautiful spring day here in western Virginia where the jonquils are in full bloom as well as many blossoming trees. My yard is bursting out in spring colors. I’ve missed not having snow this past winter – and there’s still a chance because March can produce some wicked storms – but we’re getting late in the season.

Here’s some of what is crossing my desk….

Happy 15th anniversary to Ballotpedia where our own Norman Leahy now resides. If you’ve missed his Washington Post columns here at Bearing Drift, that’s why. He’s doing important work in these polarizing political times. Ballotpedia has a daily newsletter with voter updates called the Daily Brew. If you’d like to be added to the email list, hop on over and sign up! While there, you can check out their top 15 most interesting and consequential political stories of 2023.

General Assembly retirements: Did you see Friday’s post from Bearing Drift content partner Chris Saxman about how many senators and delegates are retiring from the Virginia General Assembly? If you missed it, here it is: 21 Retirements, 363 Years of Combined Service, and the Really Big Challenge of Our Time. As Chris points out, by last Friday there had been 21 announced retirements which translates into 363 years of combined service.

That is a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge leaving the GA and, by all accounts from those who are in the know, this isn’t the end of it. We are told to expect a number of additional announcements before it’s all said and done. Some reps are just ready to step back and enjoy life. Others face insurmountable odds. Some delegates are running for senate seats. However it all shakes out, next year’s General Assembly will usher in a sea of new faces. Stay tuned for more announcements.

Speaking of the General Assembly … political reporter Bob Lewis over at The Mercury had a good piece that suggested Virginia is outdated in its part-time legislature: Another session with vital work left undone: Virginia outgrows its part-time legislature. Bob writes that the 140 members of the General Assembly are “painted into a corner in which they’ve finished their work within the short time prescribed just eight times in the past 24 years. Since 2000, they’ve required at least one special session to complete their essential work in 16 of those years. Four of those years — 2021, 2018, 2008 and 2004 — required more than one extra session.” Give it a read … he makes good points especially from someone who has been observing the process for years and knows a thing or two about the sausage-making process.

Did you hear the one about the Florida Republican legislator who proposed that bloggers must register with the state if they intend to write about Governor DeSantis or other government officials or face a fine? Senate Bill 1316, submitted by Florida Sen. Jason Brodeur, is titled “Information Dissemination.”

SB 1316 – Information Dissemination: Deleting a provision requiring a judicial notice of sale to be published for a specified timeframe on a publicly accessible website; specifying that a governmental agency may use the public website of a county to publish legally required advertisements and public notices if the cost for such publication is not paid by or recovered from a person; requiring bloggers to register with the Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics, as applicable, within a specified timeframe; authorizing a magistrate to enter a final order determining the reasonableness of circumstances for an untimely filing or a fine amount, etc.

The proposed law would have bloggers register with the Florida Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics. The blogger would be required to submit monthly reports by the 10th of each month.

Remember when Republicans touted that they were for limited government? What about free speech? Freedom of the press? All those freedoms Republicans cared about in the past? While researching this issue I came across a link to a 2014 New York Times article: Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web With ‘Bloggers Law.’  Russia has its own “bloggers law” that was enacted in 2014 that added to his internet oversight. Never forget: Russia is our enemy.

For those who hadn’t yet heard, former Rep. Liz Cheney is joining the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Closer to home, my delegate, John Avoli, is one of the group retiring from the General Assembly. And amongst our latest posts, D.J. McGuire asks, Has DeSantis Already Peaked?

As a close out, all of us here at Bearing Drift want to wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bearing Drift senior contributor Andrea Epps!

Be well….


Photo: My peaceful place along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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