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Today on Context Florida: Voter laws, Florida State Parks, public service, Donald Trump and unintended consequences

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Today on Context Florida:

The 2016 presidential election is increasingly on the mind of voters as moments from the televised debates, and primary results reverberate through the media. Beverlye C. Neal says the fight to protect the right to vote has also received lots of media attention because Florida and other states have seen election laws passed that make it harder for many voters to participate in the process. When faced with laws erecting barriers to the ballot, the federal courts are often the last line of defense to ensure that minorities, the elderly, the disabled, and students are not pushed out of the electorate by discriminatory laws.

Leslie Kemp Poole wishes Florida State Parks a happy 100th birthday. This year we should be celebrating the state’s first park — Royal Palm State Park — created at the insistence of women’s club members who wanted it protected before it was consumed by development. Instead, the Florida Legislature is considering allowing some commercial activities, including logging, cattle ranching, and hunting, inside our award-winning park system. Such activities are sure to despoil these lands and significantly reduce aesthetic or recreational pleasure for the millions of people who visit them annually. To do so, Poole says, would dishonor the people who fought so hard to create them.

Manny Cid has been fortunate during his years in public service to see how government works from the bottom up, and from the top down. Seven years as a legislative aide in the Florida House of Representatives gave Cid great insight into the way statewide policy is developed. Service, as a member of the Miami Lakes Town Council has proved to him that the best government is the one closest to the people.

Based on the posts Ed Moore sees daily on social media, he wonders who in the world is voting for Donald Trump. Moore rarely sees anyone openly advocating for him. He feels he has done a wise job gathering a collection of friends, people with distinct and well-developed tastes, wise minds and political acumen. However, no matter how much Moore rails against the Trump locomotive, it keeps barreling full speed ahead.

Each Legislative Session brings a cadre of bills, which Paul Sanford says is usually touted as consumer-friendly measures, and sound like good-government laws — on the surface. In reality, Sanford believes such bills often have unintended consequences that should be exposed for consumer protection reasons. Companions House Bill 1041 and Senate Bill 966, related to unclaimed property, form one such example of state government making a money grab under the guise of reuniting life insurance dollars with their beneficiaries.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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