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Darryl Rouson’s anti-bong bill moves forward

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“There are many hypocrisies in our society. Most we won’t do anything about in our lifetime,” said Florida Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. “But some we can chip away at incrementally.”

The bill (which I track with LobbyTools), cosponsored by Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, would forbid Florida retailers from selling a list of pipes — including any made of metal, wood, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic — unless 75 percent of their sales are tobacco.

State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, suggested a business could skirt the proposed law by marking up cigarettes to $30 per pack and offering a “free” bong with each sale. But Rouson said most head shops sell other items, such as clothing, and would have a difficult time reaching the 75 percent threshold.

Republican Rep. William Snyder, a former major in the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, said the bill could ensnare an unknowing owner of a local convenience store.

“As I look at this list, I don’t really understand what some of these are,” Snyder said. “I want to make sure I’m comfortable that we don’t slam the mom-and-pop grocery store that sells whatever an electric carburetor pipe is, or a chillum. I mean, I know what a bong is.”

Rouson, however, described the pipes as “destructive utensils” that “destroy communities.”

“I’d love to ban them,” he said. “At some point, it will be a seminal moment in the history of Florida.”

The bill (which I track with LobbyTools) has two more committee hearing before it can be debated on the House floor. The Senate version (SB 366) was approved in its first committee stop last week. Full story here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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