2016 Agenda

iStock_000011537220LargeDrunk Driving

While significant progress has been made around the country to decrease drunk driving, there is more to do. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the average drunk driver has driven under the influence 80 times before his first arrest. Every two minutes in the United States, a person is injured in a drunk driving accident. This is unacceptable anywhere, but with our multiple high-population metropolitan areas, Floridians are at an even greater risk on the road. We want to build on the success of MADD and other groups to highlight the dangers of drunk driving as well as support policies to make it even tougher for those who foolishly choose to jeopardize their safety and the safety of others by getting behind the wheel while drunk.

Gangs

Gangs are a serious problem throughout Florida, often cultivating their loose structures and identities in jail or prisons when malefactors drift together based on shared geographic backgrounds or other unifying characteristics. The gangs in Florida may imitate larger, national groups that are known for violence. Most of the street gangs in some way sell or traffic drugs and can get caught up in war-like conflict with each other, causing disturbances throughout our communities. Better tools for law enforcement and community engagement can help reduce gang activity.

Regulation of Alcohol
Much attention has been paid in recent years to industry infighting over how alcohol is bought and sold. Alcohol is a unique product that can be responsibly enjoyed, though it is one of the most abused substances in our society. Over half of all fatal traffic accidents involve alcohol. Relationships and families often suffer from abuse connected to excessive alcohol consumption. Secondary costs show up in such social maladies as absenteeism on the job or violent behavior from otherwise peaceful individuals. The regulatory structure in place today arose after the end of Prohibition, when reasonable standards were erected to keep this unique substance in check. Any changes to the structure must be considered thoughtfully.

Bullying
Bullying has become a serious problem throughout the country and with today’s environment of students being always connected through mobile devices and social media, it is leading to deaths and tragedies. Many in Florida have rightly made ending bullying a priority. There is much left to be done. Bullying can be an indicator of behavior that turns into dangerous or learning to ridecriminal behavior later in life, so cracking down now will lead to safe communities down the road.

Identity Theft
Florida is especially vulnerable to identity theft. Our large tourism economy provides a high volume of credit card transactions for bad operators to sift through. Our retiree population sometimes lacks technological acumen, which can be exploited by too-good-to-be-true online offerings or other complicated transactions. Where we once focused on neighborhood safety, we now have to consider that the bad guys can come into our homes through the Internet and steal enough information about one’s identity to ruin someone. We hope to encourage safe online communities in the same way that we want to have safe neighborhoods.

Sexual Predators
One of the most disturbing criminal activities we face as a society are sexual predators who prey on children. We have done much to raise awareness on this issue, though it remains one of the most difficult to ferret out, as the bad actors are skilled and use the internet to mask Welcome home!their identities while trying to lure their victims out of safety. One of the most important defenses is to build awareness with parents, so that they are monitoring their children’s online activity and maintaining safe boundaries in their social lives.

Human Trafficking
We are unfortunately seeing an increase in human trafficking: 27 million people are enslaved around the world, with victims subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labor. While many associate trafficking with underdeveloped nations, Floridians can fall victim to this horrific crime. Our children may be kidnapped. Online stalkers might lure unsuspecting victims into compromising situations. One of our charges is to help build awareness, with parents, teachers, emergency medicine personnel, employers, and any others who might witness the signs of human trafficking. The more we build our knowledge of this crime, the better we will be able to stop it.

Medical Marijuana

While we are certainly compassionate toward those suffering from debilitating and painful diseases, we oppose the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. The risks posed to public safety are too great. Marijuana has been proven to be a gateway drug, eventually leading to the use of harder, more lethal substances. Even if it were not, marijuana use itself constitutes a great risk as it leads to impaired driving and loss of productivity on the job and motivation in school. Legalizing it for medical purposes opens the door to legal recreational use, which we believe would be a tragedy for Florida.