Here's what the Florida legislature's nascent Bernie wing wants to do in Tallhassee

As you might imagine, they're not too keen on targeting immigrants for no good reason.

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click to enlarge Here's what the Florida legislature's nascent Bernie wing wants to do in Tallhassee
Flickr user DonkeyHotey

Caucus: even the word itself sounds like a massive yawn.

But when you're talking about mobilizing idealistic progressives into a unified front that fights monied interests and the lawmakers who love them in the Age of Trump, it makes the word a little more exciting.

On Thursday, a group of Democratic lawmakers in Tallahassee announced the launching of Florida's Legislative Progressive Caucus, which it modeled after a similar entity at the congressional level.

Also included was a list of proposed laws it supports — many of which, admittedly, don't have much of a shot at passing — as well as one law the caucus passionately opposes.

Here are some of the bills on the long list bills the lawmakers who constitute the caucus support:

HB 31, "ban the box" legislation for former felons who have served their sentences.

HB 167, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

HB 319, which promotes equal work for equal pay (in other words, no discrimination by gender).

HJR 391, which sets a minimum salary for public school teachers.

HB 451, a fracking ban.

HB 623, a law banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

HB 945, which sets the minimum wage at $15 an hour.

HB 1113, universal background checks for prospective gun buyers.

Again, few if any of the bills they back has a shot at passing, especially this year.

And although there are a ton of controversial, far-right bills still floating around in the 2017 legislative session's waning days, they only call one out by name: HB 697, which puts more pressure on local law enforcement to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

So, pretty progressive stuff that's in line with a certain U.S. Senator from Vermont everybody's still talking about. 

Here's what Florida LPC Chair Carlos Guillermo Smith said in about the it a written statement Thursday:

“The LPC is committed to fighting for working class Floridians who are tired of being ignored by Tallahassee. Our Progressive Plan for Florida is about ensuring a world class public education for every Floridian. It’s about being serious with a plan to protect the environment, reform a broken criminal justice system, and fight for social and economic justice. As a progressive voting bloc, we can be more effective at shaping policy and working together towards a common purpose moving forward.”

So, you know, pie-in-the-sky stuff that won't see the light of day until we get money out of elections, overturn Citizens United, etc.

In addition to Smith, Democrats who have signed onto the group include Representatives Joseph Abruzzo, Robert Asencio, Lori Berman, Daisy Baez, John Cortes, Nicholas Duran, Joseph Geller, Evan Jenne, Shevrin Jones, Amy Mercado, Barrington Russell, Sean Shaw, Emily Slosberg, Richard Stark and Clovis Watson.

Rep. Sean Shaw is currently the only representative on the list from the Tampa Bay area.

Lawmakers on the caucus would of course be kidding themselves if they thought Florida's staunch-conservative leadership — especially in the House — would actually listen to them on any issues over which there's a partisan divide. Everyone knows that. But hey, might as well make some noise about it while they're up there — they might even move the needle on some of this stuff.

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