New Speaker Cannon rips feds, Fla. Supremes in call for limited governmentby George Bennett | November 16th, 2010
TALLAHASSEE — New House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, used his opening address this morning to call for limited government, criticizing Washington for the health care overhaul and other legislation and also blasting the Florida Supreme Court for striking down three proposed constitutional amendments that had been approved by the legislature.
Cannon pledged bipartisanship and fairness in a chamber where Republicans now hold an 81-to-39 seat advantage.
“The most meaningful bipartisanship is unforced, voluntary bipartisanship, and I hope that we in the majority party will work with those in the minority party to collaborate for the good of the people we serve. And so, I extend a pledge of fairness to members of both parties, but please remember that obstructionism is not the same as dissent and personal attacks are not the same as meaningful debate,” Cannon said.
Cannon criticized “government run amok” in Washington, then added: “The threats to our liberties come not only from the federal government, but can also be seen much closer to home.”
He singled out the Florida Supreme Court for striking down questions dealing with property tax limits, redistricting and the federal health care law.
“Is it the role of judicial branch to decide political questions, and endanger its reputation for impartiality, by depriving the voters of the right to vote on important questions put forth by their elected representatives?” Cannon said.
Read his entire speech after the jump….
Remarks by new Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon (as prepared for delivery):
I want to begin my remarks by thanking God, who has been so gracious and merciful to me and given me life and eternal life, and to especially thank him for allowing all of us to be here today.
I want to next recognize and thank my family. The first and highest thanks go to my beautiful wife, Ellen. I wouldn’t be here today or be who I am without you, and you have sacrificed more and worked harder to bring me here than I have. I love you very much.
To Dean, my wonderful son, Katherine, my first daughter, and Sarah, my baby girl, you three have brought more joy to your mother and me than you will ever know, I love you, and thank you for allowing Daddy to serve in the house and to become Speaker.
I want to say a special word of thanks to my mother and father who are here today, Ginger and Roy Cannon, to my grandmother, Althea Cannon, and a long distance hello to my grandparents in North Carolina, Grace and Walter Harrell, who could not be here in person.
A tremendous thanks go to my brother, Dr. Sterling Cannon and his wife Heather for being here today.
And to my many, many other family members, friends and colleagues, as I look around this room there are so many of you. Thank you for helping me throughout my life and for helping me to arrive here today.
Members, I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the incredible honor and privilege you have entrusted to me to be your speaker. I promise you I will hold myself accountable, and ask that we all hold each other accountable, to the high standards of this institution and the people we represent.
I have sought the counsel of many of the former speakers for advice over the years, and especially Speaker Cretul. And, I intend to do so again gentlemen. And, they cautioned me that each speaker must confront the issues at hand, not the issues they wished were at hand when they were first elected. I’ll tell you that’s true.
Together we all share a responsibility to address the tough issues facing our state now. I know we will not always agree on the difficult choices ahead, but regardless of the circumstances, we are privileged to hold in this chamber the trust of the people of Florida and with that trust comes a responsibility to do our very best for them.
We find ourselves today with a large majority caucus. This means the majority has the responsibility lead, the minority has the opportunity to participate and the public has the right to watch. As your speaker, my goal is to ensure that all of that happens fairly and orderly.
The most meaningful bipartisanship is unforced, voluntary bipartisanship, and I hope that we in the majority party will work with those in the minority party to collaborate for the good of the people we serve. And so, I extend a pledge of fairness to members of both parties, but please remember that obstructionism is not the same as dissent and personal attacks are not the same as meaningful debate.
We come together today as the 85th Florida house since statehood in 1845. Each of you holds 1/120th of the sovereignty of the Florida house. Each bears the same burden and each holds the same opportunity that comes with the constitutional responsibilities we have sworn to uphold.
Since statehood, only 3,477 people have had the privilege to sit in the seats you currently occupy, less than 3,500 people out of tens of millions who have called our state home.
Members, as my gift to you, in each of your desks you will find a lapel pin with a seal of the Florida House of Representatives which symbolizes, in a small way, your place in the history of the Florida house and our great state. It signifies your responsibility to your constituents, to our state, and to this great institution.
When you wear this pin remember that you are part of something bigger than yourself. It’s something much bigger than the promises you made on the campaign trail and it’s different from making a living in your private life, never forget that. When you wear this pin remember that you are a public servant, you are a part of the government of this state and you are a part of the history of Florida.
It is unfortunate, but true, that a terrible temptation when you are part of government is to succumb to the notion that we in Tallahassee can make all things better through government. It’s so easy to see people facing challenges and think, “if we just had more government revenue, we could create a program to fix that,” or “if the government would just impose more regulations these bad things would never happen to good people.”
My friends, those sentiments may be well intended, but they are dangerous. Government cannot give everything to everybody and it cannot prevent every calamity. The notion that government can somehow make everyone happy and healthy has led our federal government into the terrible experiment in government run amok that the voters of our state and our nation overwhelmingly rejected two weeks ago.
So, during the next two years I am going to challenge you to ask a much harder question. Instead of asking what government can do to fix a problem or prevent a potential wrong, when confronting the challenges facing our state, I challenge you to ask whether or not government should be involved at all. Or, better yet, what can government stop doing that will allow greater freedom to our citizens?
If someone had told those of us who were first elected in 2004 that by 2010 the federal government would be not only advocating but implementing the greatest expansion of government power since the New Deal, I would not have believed it.
And yet, that is exactly what we have seen.
Government taking over banks and financial institutions, government taking over auto manufacturers and the production of durable goods, government socializing medicine and government trampling the property rights of citizens and the sovereignty of states.
Should it really be the role of government to require people to purchase a health insurance product they don’t want, raise taxes to give that same product to others who can’t afford it, and commandeer our state government and its resources to carry it out?
Or, should we work to limit government and empower the private sector by developing a clearly-defined framework for providers in Florida to compete to meet the needs of our citizens and then hold them accountable for their performance?
Can it really be the proper role of the federal government to arbitrarily come in to a single state and unilaterally tell us that Florida must adhere to arbitrary, unscientific and unachievable EPA standards?
Or, should we raise our voices in protest and defend our citizens’ property rights and our state’s sovereignty against this assault by the federal government?
The threats to our liberties come not only from the federal government, but can also be seen much closer to home.
As an attorney and an officer of the court, I believe fervently in a judicial branch that is strong and independent and fully empowered and equipped to fulfill its constitutional duties.
But for the judiciary to be independent, it must also be impartial and apolitical. It must respect the co-equal executive and legislative branches, and protect their unambiguous constitutional powers, and it must practice the restraint that is built into our federal and state constitutions.
Yet, over the past year three times we saw the work of a three-fifths super majority of this legislative branch, the elected representatives of over 18 million Floridians, demolished by five unelected Justices on the Supreme Court. This was done notwithstanding the fact that there is no express authority in the Florida constitution for doing so.
So I ask you, is it the role of judicial branch to decide political questions, and endanger its reputation for impartiality, by depriving the voters of the right to vote on important questions put forth by their elected representatives?
Or should we make good on the oath we took to protect and defend Florida’s constitution, which expressly grants the legislature the unlimited right to place questions before the voters so that they, the people, may exercise their highest political right by voting to choose whether or not to amend their constitution?
These are just a few examples of threats to freedom and the cost that the loss of liberty has occasioned, but there are many others.
It’s worth asking of all of those examples I just cited, how and why did government expand so much and try to control so much economic activity or exercise those powers? While there is no one single answer, I believe much of it stems from an arguably well-intentioned but fatally flawed assumption that government can and should protect people from themselves, and that government can and should help people more than they can help themselves.
Ladies and gentlemen, when government takes over private sector assets and controls private sector activity, or denies people the right to vote because the government decides they might be confused, even if it does so–perhaps especially if it does so–in the name of protecting them, that my friends is a destruction of freedom and is the road to serfdom and economic bondage not only for us but for our children and their children after them. It is the road to ruin of a healthy economy and the foreclosure of a bright future for our state and our nation.
Real freedom seeks equality in opportunity, not equality in outcome.
To question the size and scope of government at every level could truly produce a new birth of freedom. Economic freedom, based on the principle that people — not the government — can and should best determine how the fruits of their labor will be used; and making people, not the government, responsible for determining their own destinies, for better or for worse.
We shouldn’t seek freedom merely for its own sake, although that is reason enough. We should seek freedom because it is the path to human industry, to returning strength to Florida’s economy, to people achieving their highest potential.
Floridians want jobs. Jobs create opportunity and self respect. Jobs provide people a stake in their future.
In order to get our economy moving again, we need to liberate capital, we need to inspire entrepreneurs, we need to give people the opportunity to create jobs.
Our mission over the next two years is to foster an economy that will allow the men and women of Florida to prosper. Our mission over the next two years is to bring sanity to the government’s role in the private sector. Our mission is to ask ourselves whether every action we take will promote freedom and empower businesses to create jobs.
You cannot regulate your way to prosperity. You cannot tax your way to wealth, and you cannot borrow your way out of debt. We cannot pass a bill to end this recession. But, we can create the freedom for the private sector to build a healthy and dynamic economy.
Members, this is not a theoretical classroom discussion. Floridians need a new birth of freedom now. This new birth of freedom will help encourage entrepreneurship, it will help create jobs, and it will help get Floridians back to work. And it is economic freedom that will unshackle our economy and once again paint a brighter picture for the Florida of tomorrow.
The road will not be easy, but our families and our children, and our children’s children, will thank us.
May God bless each of you, may God bless this House, and may God bless the great state of Florida.