Banishing silly state laws becomes Florida lawmaker's goal

The Miami HeraldFebruary 15, 2011 

TALLAHASSEE — The boy couldn’t believe what his lawmaker dad said on the phone.

Was it really illegal in Florida to ride a bike with no hands?

Bailey, 9, had a confession: “Daddy, I break the law every day I go to school. It’s just for a second! Is that illegal?”

It is, said Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, and it’s ridiculous.

Workman is on a mission to obliterate such illegalities buried in state law — like smoking clove cigarettes, coasting down hills in neutral, and unmarried couples living in cohabitation or “open adultery” — even if he doesn’t believe in them.

What’s most important, he said, is restoring personal liberties chipped away by government.

“Now, I don’t advocate cohabitation, I will kill either of my kids if they try that. I also don’t advocate adultery, my wife would kill me if I advocated for that,” he said. “But it still shouldn’t be a law.”

It also helps to please your boss.

The second-term legislator’s repeal run started in November when House Speaker Dean Cannon told him he wanted to leave office with fewer laws on the books than when he started. Then Gov. Rick Scott made reducing state regulations a top priority.

Workman, a 37-year-old mortgage broker, took the hints. He asked the local Republican Liberty Caucus to mine the Florida Statutes — five books and an index — for targets. He whittled down the group’s suggestions to seven bills and also gave away a few to colleagues.

Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, is trying to repeal a law requiring diners to order a salad or vegetable, entree, bread, and beverage to take home resealed wine. And Longwood Rep. Scott Plakon, a libertarian-leaning Republican like Workman, is proposing several of his own, including one that would repeal the unlawful roaming of sheep-killing dogs.

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