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OPINION STATE LEGISLATURE SELLS OUT ... AGAIN EDITORIAL (Hack!) (Cough!) (Wheeze!) There will be a lot more of that happening on Siesta Beach in the coming year, and it will have nothing to do with an outbreak of red tide. Instead, innocent beachgoers will be gagging on the filthy effluent emanating from the purulent pleura of tobacco addicts. Thanks to the Florida Legislature, these diseased nicotine junkies may burn dried leaves in their mouths to their hearts' content, with nary a concern for the choking hordes surrounding them. You see, the Legislature, in its customary ineptitude, passed a law several years ago banning smoking in most public places, but it did not give local governments any authority to extend the healthful effects of that ban on their own property. This detail was not prominent at the time. Instead, it was discovered in December when a 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge in Sarasota ruled the City of Sarasota could not restrict smoking in public parks because the state statute did not confer that authority. And with a single stroke of the judicial pen, public smoking bans in cities and counties around the state were struck down. The Legislature, which was about to convene its annual session, was urgently requested to remedy this oversight by amending the law to allow local governments the ability to continue regulating smoking in other public locations. The bill actually made some progress in the Senate, but the House of Representatives, that great bastion of term-limited opportunists seeking to enrich themselves during their short tenure at big business' teat, deemed that extending such authority to local governments would be "overreaching." It simply would not

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