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Special Report

Grapevine: Company cold calls your lawmaker for you

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...

Patriot Games

Just days from the 4th of July, it is prime-time fireworks season. But for one state it is not officially about patriotism.

The Tampa Tribune explains what it calls Florida's weird fireworks law.

The devices are sold as pest control to scare birds away from farms and fisheries.

Technically, commercial fireworks are illegal in the Sunshine State, but lawmakers passed an exception some 60 years ago for fireworks purchases by farms and fish hatcheries.

Consumers must sign forms saying they are buying fireworks under the exemption but sellers are not required to make sure that they are actually used for the chasing off of birds.

Bills to legalize fireworks and those to ban them have died in committee, meaning, as one lawmaker said -- quote -- "we force Floridians to commit fraud to buy anything other than a sparkler."

Transparency Issue

Up North in Massachusetts, a matter of transparency, or lack thereof.

The Washington Post reports that SWAT teams in the Bay State have incorporated as so-called law enforcement councils.

And some of them have also incorporated under 501c3 status as tax-exempt non-profit organizations.

The ACLU was brushed off when requesting open records because as part of a private 501c3 the SWAT teams claim that they are immune from open records laws.

The ACLU sees the SWAT teams as public institutions, working with public money, and is suing one of the state's largest law enforcement councils.

Five for Fighting

Finally, if you have an extra five spot burning a hole in your pocket you can pay a company to nag your lawmaker.

A new entity called Amplified will make a cold call for you and advocate for your position.

Worth noting -- signing an old-fashioned petition is absolutely free as you well know. But the group claims calling is much more effective.