Florida Legislature

Ron DeSantis gets a surprise, NRA is unhappy, and locals win one over Tallahassee

Episode 10 of High Tops and Politics is a fun one. A mix of humor and serious discussion. 

Thank you for all the positive feedback. 

Please enjoy and share it with your friends.

 


This week co-hosts Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso chat about:

Who stole the Plastic Cow?

Florida binges.

Florida Legislature plants corn?

Charlie Crist get 15 minutes.

This week's High Tops Award, and much more. 

Thank you for joining us.

 


High Tops and Politics - Mister Geppetto did what?

In Florida politics you can run but you can't hide.

High Tops and Politics chases it all from Tallahassee to Mar-a-Lago as only veteran political journalist Brian Crowley and political strategist Mary Anna Mancuso can do.

Join us for our often amusing run through the Sunshine State.

Episode 6 - A problem with Starbucks and cellphone? Will Florida drones be wearing badges? Are Florida elections safe? Is the GOP undermining local government? This week's High Tops Award, and much more.

 


High Tops and Politics - The Mystery of the Double Knot

In Florida politics you can run but you can't hide.

High Tops and Politics chases it all from Tallahassee to Mar-a-Lago as only veteran political journalist Brian Crowley and political strategist Mary Anna Mancuso can do.

Join us for our often amusing run through the Sunshine State.

Episode 5 - Should Florida take on Alexa? Donald Trump's favorite Bush. Do Florida voters matter? Roxie gets moxie. The mystery of the Double Knot. This week's High Tops Award, and much more.

 


It is time to stop blaming Big Sugar

It Is Time To Stop Blaming Big Sugar

By Brian E. Crowley

UPDATE:  This was first written in July 2016. Much of it remains true today. Let me add something.  One rarely hears environmentalists complaining about growth. Palm Beach County, to use but one example, has added hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses that creep into the edge of what was once part of the Everglades ecosystem.

Every mile of asphalt and concrete is less ground to absorb rain, filter it, and feed our aquifers. It is no longer as simple as blaming Big Sugar. Still, as we approach another election, with algae blooms, red tide, fish kills, and a level of toxins that threaten human health, maybe we can dream about the day both environmentalists and agriculture interests not only agree on the problem but also the solution.

 

SHAKING MONEY TREE   It is time to stop blaming Big Sugar.

Yes, Big Sugar is winning. It owns the governor’s office, the cabinet, and the Florida Legislature. It has power over much of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Formidable Tallahassee reporter Mary Ellen Klas did a masterful job this week with an in-depth storyin the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times about the power of Big Sugar.

Between 1994 and 2016, a review of state Division of Elections records by The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau shows, the sugar industry — led by United States Sugar and Florida Crystals — has steered a whopping $57.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions to state and local political campaigns.

Indeed.

The Sugar industry has been masterful. No matter what successes the environmental community has had – passage of the 1994 Everglades Forever Act, the 1996 Polluter Pays Amendment to the Florida Constitution, the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (sign by President Bill Clinton with then Gov. Jeb Bush by his side), or the 2014 Water and Land Conservation Act – the Sugar industry has been able to either slow down implementation or thwart the intent.

How?

By owning a stable of elected officials. By hiring top teams of lobbyists. By having connections in critical government agencies.

And, nothing they do is illegal. Sugar simply plays the game of politics better than their opponents.

As Klas reported:

“I can tell you, first hand, that the industry is directly involved with every decision this Legislature makes,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation which for decades has fought the sugar industry over the causes and solutions of the Everglades and was a chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist. (Note: I previously was a media consultant for the Foundation.)

Eikenberg works hard to make sure the Foundation’s voice is heard in Tallahassee but it is an often frustrating experience.

Eikenberg was part of the Crist team that put together the deal to buy U.S. Sugar land. At the time, the company applauded the deal and was eager to get out of the sugar business. But when U.S. Sugar wanted out of the contract it fought hard. And they found a willing ally in the newly elected governor, Rick Scott (to whom they contributed handsomely) who said hell no about buying the land.

No matter the setback, the sugar industry always comes out ahead.

But it is time to stop blaming them. Perhaps it is time to blame the environmentalists.

No dear God – not the “good” guys!

Yup.

The sugar industry is united. Its goal is simple – keep farming, no government intrusion, protect profits.

Environmentalists often are not united. While they may all talk about stopping algae blooms, saving America’s Everglades, rivers and springs, there is a tendency to go their separate regional ways. Each part of the state has its own environmental concerns. Each fights to get money from the same state pot of dough. Each jealously guards its own circle of influence.

It is the kind of division that an opponent loves.

Money from sugar goes to candidates who will support them.

While there are billionaires and millionaires in the environmental community who give generously, there is rarely an effort to identify environmentally friendly candidates and support them. Perhaps even more important, there is little effort to make a concerted effort to defeat incumbents who opposed the environmental agenda.

There is no price for most incumbents who defy the environmentalists. There is a huge price in opposing sugar. Nothing illustrates that better than passage of the Water and Land Conservation Act. Seventy-five percent of Florida voters supported the Amendment.

75 percent.

This may have annoyed the sugar industry but it is used to it. So Sugar did what it does best – it worked with the Legislature to ensure that the amendment would do them little harm.

Look there is nothing wrong with that. It is politics. And the environmental community could learn a great deal from how the sugar industry operates in Tallahassee.

Until environmentalists win legislative races with candidates who strongly support them and, put those who oppose them in fear of losing – or at the very least force costly, tough races, Sugar will continue to win. Because that’s what they do.

It is time to stop blaming Sugar.


Florida Democrats decide to use Frank Artiles resignation to raise money

Old skits

 

Tasteless? Perhaps. A little too quick on the draw? Possibly. But none of that is stopping Florida Democrats from turning the resignation of Florida Sen. Frank Artiles into a fundraising opportunity - just a couple of hours after he resigns.

Will it work?

Here's the pitch:

BREAKING NEWS (via FlaDems.com)<[email protected]>

Developing: state Senator Frank Artiles resigns over racist attacks.

Friend: Moments ago, racist state Senator Frank Artiles resigned from his seat, setting up a HIGHLY competitive special election.

Here’s the thing: Nationwide, we’ve seen Democrats make BIG gains in ruby-red districts during special elections. If we want to flip this seat, we have to bring that same enthusiasm to this special election.

HERE IS WHAT WE NEED: We need to raise another $10,000 into our Special Election Rapid Response Fund before midnight tonight. Can you click here and donate $2 now?

Donate $2 now

Donate $25 now

Donate $50 now

Donate $100 now

 OTHER AMOUNT

This race will be the first major election that Floridians face since November’s disastrous results.

If we’re able to deliver a big win and take this seat back, it will send a crystal clear message that Floridians aren’t going to stand for Donald Trump and Frank Artiles’s extreme, racist right-wing agenda.

Chip in now: http://act.floridadems.org/special-election

Thanks for all you do,

FlaDems.com

 


Florida Senator Frank Artiles resigns following offensive remarks

Senator Frank Artiles, whose use of hateful, offensive language toward fellow lawmakers, gave up the fight to keep his Miami-Dade seat and resigned effective immediately.

Below is the Republican's letter of resignation to Senate President Joe Negron.

April 21, 2017

Dear President Negron,

Seven years ago, I began my public service with one goal in mind, and that was to serve a cause greater than my own.

Serving my constituents and improving their lives is why I serve. On many important issues, caring for the elderly, education and job creation, I have made it my personal mission to put others first. It’s the way I was raised, and the way I still choose to live my life today.

As a Marine, this attitude was embodied in our motto: Semper Fidelis, or “Always Faithful.” Be faithful to God, to country and to our fellow soldiers.

As a father and husband, despite the daily demands of elected office, I always keep the promises that I make to my two beautiful daughters, Bella and Giavanna, and my loving wife Aimee. I’m a fulfilled man, because of their unconditional love and support.

It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness.

It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness.

Continue reading "Florida Senator Frank Artiles resigns following offensive remarks" »


Floridians should be ashamed at what happened in the state Senate today

GETTING FIRED
Senate President Joe Negron failed. The Florida Senate failed. Florida Republicans failed. With a silly slap on the wrist, they are simply tolerating a member of the senate using the harshest of racist words - nigger.  

Republican Senator Frank Artiles stood on the Senate floor Wednesday and read a scripted apology. Negron removed him as committee chairman and considers that punishment enough.

Artiles blew it by not resigning.

Negron blew it by not moving to expel him.

Now, Artiles should not resign. He should face the humiliation of being tossed out of the Senate. 

Here is what happened according to the Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei:

Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles dropped the n-word to a pair of African-American colleagues in private conversation Monday night — after calling one of them a "f------ a------," a "b----" and a "girl," the two senators said.

Over drinks after 10 p.m. at the members-only Governors Club just steps from the state Capitol, Artiles told Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale that Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart had risen to his powerful GOP leadership role because "six n-----rs" in the Republican caucus had elected him.

Artiles later told Gibson and Thurston that he'd used the word "n----as," suggesting the slang term was not meant to be insulting, Gibson and Thurston said. It's unclear whom Artiles was referring to, since the only black senators in the state Senate are all Democrats — and none of them backed Negron's bid to lead the chamber.

Artiles apologized to Gibson late Tuesday afternoon, after he'd been reported to Republican leaders and reporters started asking questions.

It is important to note that Artiles did not attempt to apologize until he was caught.

He even told the Herald he has no intention of resigning and plans to run for reelection in 2018.

Basically, Artiles was offering a FU to the Senate and his constituents.

The members of the Black Caucus are calling for Artiles to be ousted.

Negron should move quickly to do so.

This is not the first time that Artiles has acted like a bully. This is not the first time that he has harmed the reputation of the Senate. This is not first time that he has insulted others.

Peter Schorsch - in a must read column about Artiles - reports:

A lobbyist, who shall remain unnamed, said it was reported to him after he left the Governors Club that same night that Artiles called him and another person who works in the Capitol “faggots.”

That’s according to two friends of the lobbyist, who told him of the exchange later in the evening. The lobbyist then told me.

This issue is no longer about Artiles. This issues falls squarely in the lap of the Senate President and the entire Senate. 

And frankly, perhaps it is time for Gov. Rick Scott to stand up and speak out. 

Florida is better than this.

Or are we?

 


Joe Negron offers $2.4 billion plan to store water south of Lake Okeechobee

Soon-to-be state Senate President Joe Negron just announced a plan to help reduce discharges of Lake Okeechobee water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. One thing can be certain - the plan will be controversial.

Here's the news release:

President-Designate Negron Announces Plans for Major Water Storage Expansion

60,000 acres of land to provide 120 billion gallons of new water storage south of Lake Okeechobee

Stuart–Florida Senate President-Designate Joe Negron (R-Stuart) today announced plans to pursue funding to add ‎120 billion gallons of new water storage south of Lake Okeechobee.

“For too long, our community has been plagued by tremendous environmental and economic impacts as hundreds of millions of gallons of water are released from Lake Okeechobee each year,” said President-Designate Negron. “Permanent storage South of Lake Okeechobee is unquestionably needed as part of the overall plan to solve this catastrophic problem, particularly given the very devastating effects the current toxic algal blooms are causing in both our estuaries and the Everglades.” 

Over the last several months, President-Designate Negron has been meeting with the agricultural community, Florida’s best scientists, community advocates, and others with relevant backgrounds and knowledge, regarding strategies to reduce and eventually eliminate harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Continue reading "Joe Negron offers $2.4 billion plan to store water south of Lake Okeechobee" »


It is time to stop blaming Big Sugar

 

By Brian E. Crowley

SHAKING MONEY TREEIt is time to stop blaming Big Sugar.

Yes, Big Sugar is winning. It owns the governor’s office, the cabinet, and the Florida Legislature. It has power over much of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Formidable Tallahassee reporter Mary Ellen Klas did a masterful job this week with an in-depth story in the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times about the power of Big Sugar.

Between 1994 and 2016, a review of state Division of Elections records by The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau shows, the sugar industry — led by United States Sugar and Florida Crystals — has steered a whopping $57.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions to state and local political campaigns.

Indeed.

The Sugar industry has been masterful. No matter what successes the environmental community has had – passage of the 1994 Everglades Forever Act, the 1996 Polluter Pays Amendment to the Florida Constitution, the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (sign by President Bill Clinton with then Gov. Jeb Bush by his side), or the 2014 Water and Land Conservation Act – the Sugar industry has been able to either slow down implementation or thwart the intent.

How?

By owning a stable of elected officials. By hiring top teams of lobbyists. By having connections in critical government agencies.

And, nothing they do is illegal. Sugar simply plays the game of politics better than their opponents.

As Klas reported:

“I can tell you, first hand, that the industry is directly involved with every decision this Legislature makes,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation which for decades has fought the sugar industry over the causes and solutions of the Everglades and was a chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist. (Note: I previously was a media consultant for the Foundation.)

Eikenberg works hard to make sure the Foundation’s voice is heard in Tallahassee but it is an often frustrating experience.

Eikenberg was part of the Crist team that put together the deal to buy U.S. Sugar land. At the time, the company applauded the deal and was eager to get out of the sugar business. But when U.S. Sugar wanted out of the contract it fought hard. And they found a willing ally in the newly elected governor, Rick Scott (to whom they contributed handsomely) who said hell no about buying the land.

No matter the setback, the sugar industry always comes out ahead.

But it is time to stop blaming them. Perhaps it is time to blame the environmentalists.

Continue reading "It is time to stop blaming Big Sugar" »


Florida Senate goes Back to the Future

In Tallahassee, some things never change. The current struggle for power in the Florida Senate, the driving undercurrent of redistricting, is all too familiar.

Consider this Associated Press report: The squabbling Florida Senate is finally getting down to the serious business of reapportionment with the disquieting realization this normally bloody process will be immeasureably complicated by the Senate’s internal power struggle.

Griff-tannen-back-to-the-future-ii
That was 1982.

Much of what was happening then, is happening now. A battle over the Senate presidency.  A possible coalition of Democrats and Republicans. A fight over Senate terms.  Much of the work done in secret. Egos replacing public policy.

In 1982, the Senate President, Pensacola’s W.D. Childers was under siege. His former roommate, Panama City’s Dempsey Barron was at war with him. Their battle between the two Democrats was so ugly, two nearly came to blows on the Senate floor. The physically imposing Edgar Dunn got between them.

Barron had effectively taken control of the Senate away from Childers. There were 27 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Barron formed a coalition with the 13 Republicans and 9 Democrats – they became known as the Dempseycrats.

They could not take the presidency away from Childers but the Dempseycrats were determined to control redistricting and ensure that Childers could not be elected for an unprecedented second term – something Childers dearly wanted.

Childers, joined by House leaders, pushed for all Senators to face election after redistricting. He was convinced Barron would lose key members of his coalition. Barron insisted that senators already having two more years in their terms did not have to face reelection.

The case went before the Florida Supreme Court in April 1982. Attorney General Jim Smith, then a Democrat, argued in a 50-page brief, “it seems clear that (the state Constitution) requires four year terms for senators unless it is necessary to truncate a term in order to maintain staggered terms. That is not the case in 1982.  Generally neither the equal protection clause nor the right to vote are violated by incumbent senators being permitted (to complete their terms).”

Continue reading "Florida Senate goes Back to the Future" »


Richard Corcoran gets a beating on Fox News

Ouch! Good golly, Florida House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran got a whoopin' on Fox News as a panel of conservative commentators ridiculed Corcoran for his spending of $238,000 on "expensive dinners, cigars, wine, fancy hotels, cufflinks for $1,000....this is crazy stuff."

At one point, Florida Republicans are urged not to let Corcoran, who has vowed to rein in special interests, become Speaker.

Hat tip to Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times for spotting the video below.

 


Perhaps Jeb Bush forgot Tallahassee

During his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was asked about the nastiness of political campaigns and governing.

"I'm going to say something that is heretic I guess, I don't think Barack Obama has bad motives. I just think he is wrong on a lot of issues," Bush said. 

Bush goes on to say that "if you start with the premise that people have good motives you can find common ground."

Then Bush adds, "in state Capitols all across the country....this doesn't happen to the same extent it does in Washington."

Pause.

Really?

You mean, like Tallahassee? The Florida Legislature?

Here's the video. 

 


Florida Senate should dump Latvala and Negron

GETTING FIREDFlorida's legislature often embarrasses itself. Petty fights. Petty egos. Petty thoughts. It has been going on for decades.

Part of the problem is that the state Capitol is in Tallahassee. It is so isolated from the rest of the state that when lawmakers arrive it is their parties sent them away to an overindulgent summer camp. These kids are never under control - except by lobbyists.

Now, we have the continuing saga of two grown men battling unmercifully over who gets to be the next Senate president. Republican Joe Negron claim he has the vote and therefore he has won. As reported by Politico's Marc Caputo - Jack Latvala says Negron is full of it.

Let's put this gently - the Senate is full of it.

Negron biggest defender is former Senate President Don Gaetz. 

Don Gaetz?

Really?

You mean the guy who lied to the public when he said redistricting would be "the most transparent" in Florida history?

Continue reading "Florida Senate should dump Latvala and Negron" »


Florida congressional delegation about to panic

GETTING FIRED
Well what a mess created by Florida Republican leaders in the state House and Senate. Their grim determination to draw congressional districts to best suit the needs of the GOP - and to do much of it in secret - showed a particular disdain for Florida voters.

As the Florida Supreme Court noted today: Our citizens declared that the Legislature must “redistrict in a manner that prohibits favoritism or discrimination.”

Then Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Dean Cannon, cheerfully ignored Florida's constitution both for redistricting and the public's right to know. The trial court witnessed arrogant testimony and deliberate efforts to mislead the courts and voters about the role of GOP lobbyists in the redistricting process.

In the court's 5-2 decision, the court noted: The Legislature’s failure to preserve redistricting records and its decision to make important changes to the map during non-public meetings are factors that caused the trial court, and cause this Court, great concern as to whether the Legislature has complied with the constitutional provision to outlaw partisan political gerrymandering.

Now, eight members of Florida's congressional delegation have been told they occupy unconstitutional districts. They will have to be redrawn. Other members of the delegation may also have their districts altered to accommodate the changes.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, (District 21, Dem. Boca Raton), has already sent out an email declaring an "emergency" as he faces redrawn district. 

Continue reading "Florida congressional delegation about to panic" »


Senate Democrats go tp Florida Supreme Court to force House back in session

Justiceswing112

Florida Democratic Senators are asking the Florida Supreme Court to force House Speaker Steve Crisafulli to finish the 60-day legislative session.  Here is what was filed with the court

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA

 

 Case No. SC 15- _________

 

ARTHENIA JOYNER, OSCAR BRAYNON, JOSEPH ABRUZZO, MARIA SACHS, DARREN SOTO, CHRISTOPHER SMITH, GERALDINE THOMPSON, JEFF CLEMENS, DWIGHT BULLARD, ELEANOR SOBEL, BILL MONTFORD, AUDREY GIBSON, and JEREMY RING in their capacity as a members of the Florida Senate,

 

Petitioners,

 

vs.

THE FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESTATIVES and STEVE CRISAFULLI, in his capacity as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives,

 

 Respondents.

 

EMERGENCY PETITION INVOKING JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT FOR A WRIT OF MANDAMUS TO REQUIRE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF ARTICLE III, SECTION 3(e), FLORIDA CONSTITUTION

 

MESSER CAPARELLO, P.A. MARK HERRON Florida Bar No.: 0199737 ROBERT J. TELFER, III Florida Bar No.: 128694 J. BRENNAN DONNELLY Florida Bar No.: 268895 P.O. Box 15579 Tallahassee, Florida 32317 Telephone: (850) 222-0720 Facsimile: (850) 224-4359 Attorneys for Petitioners

 

Pursuant to Rule 9.100, Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Petitioners, Arthenia Joyner, Oscar Braynon, Joseph Abruzzo, Maria Sachs, Darren Soto, Christopher Smith, Geraldine Thompson, Jeff Clemens, Dwight Bullard, Eleanor Sobel, Bill Montford, Audrey Gibson, and Jeremy Ring, respectfully petition this Court for a writ of mandamus compelling the Florida House of Representatives to comply with the requirements of Article III, Section 3(e) of the Florida Constitution, which provides that “[n]either house shall adjourn for more than seventy-two consecutive hours except pursuant to concurrent resolution.”

 

 I. BASIS FOR INVOKING JURISDICTION

 

This Court has jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus under Article V, Section 3(b)(8) of the Florida Constitution and Rule 9.030(b)(3) of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Mandamus is the proper legal remedy to compel a state officer or a state agency to perform a legal duty required by the Florida Constitution. Dade County Classroom Teachers Ass’n. V. Legislature, 269 So. 2d 684 (Fla. 1972). The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked on an emergency basis due to the fact that the action of the House of Representatives was taken in the final days of the 2015 legislative session and relief is required prior to the conclusion of the session in order for the Legislature to complete its duties and responsibilities under the Florida Constitution.

 

Continue reading "Senate Democrats go tp Florida Supreme Court to force House back in session" »


Andy Gardiner sends Steve Crisafulli a letter calling for special session in June

Question-mark
One of the tough things for a House Speaker is holding together 120 members who may have families that thought they were going on vacation in June. Don't pack yet kids.

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli has declared himself the guardian of all things good and while he gave his members an extended holiday, he now must decide whether to accept Senate President Andy Gardiner's request for a special session to run from June 1, to June 20.

Here's the letter:

The Honorable Steve Crisafulli, Speaker

Florida House of Representatives

420 The Capitol

402 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

 Mr. Speaker:

Thank you for your prompt response to the Senate’s request that the House of Representatives reconvene to continue the exchange of legislative work product contemplated by our constitution. 

While the Senate maintains its belief that the House’s adjournment sine die clearly violates both the spirit and letter of our constitutional principles, the House has clearly indicated it has no intention of reconvening prior to the scheduled expiration of the 2015 Regular Session at 11:59 p.m. on May 1. For this reason, I have enclosed a draft call for a special session of the Florida Legislature to begin on June 1, 2015, and to conclude on June 20, 2015. 

The Senate hopes to complete our budget work as soon as possible. Given the stark differences between the House and Senate approaches to health care funding and coverage, we believe clear guidance from the federal government is crucial regarding funding for services to the uninsured which hospitals across our state are legally required to provide regardless of compensation. Beginning our special session on June 1 will provide additional time to receive a response from the federal government and we can conclude with ample time for Governor Scott to review the budget prior to June 30. 

While a federal response would clearly be most beneficial to the furtherance of negotiations, I believe it is prudent to continue to account for the potential of a complete elimination of Low Income Pool funding. In fact, the Senate Budget, unanimously passed nearly a month ago, left unallocated sufficient recurring general revenue dedicated to health care contingencies.

For the last three years our chambers have had, and continue to maintain, significant policy differences relating to health care coverage for uninsured Floridians. Last Friday, the House indicated a willingness to move from your initial offer of $200 million closer to the Senate position. As indicated in our response to House Offer #2 last Friday, the Senate remains open to reviewing a spreadsheet offer that reflects this position at your earliest convenience. 

Again, given the severity of these issues, I believe an agreement to begin a special session on June 1 will provide the Legislature the maximum flexibility to complete our work on the 2015-16 General Appropriations Act in an efficient and transparent manner. With an initial agreement on a call for special session, we can then begin to discuss a specific schedule that would allow us to inform our respective chambers of when their presence in Tallahassee will be required. I look forward to your response to this important and time sensitive matter.

 

Respectfully, 

Andy Gardiner

President  

Cc: The Honorable Rick Scott, Governor

 


Steve Crisafulli responds to Andy Gardiner letter

Eler

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli ignores Senate President Andy Gardiner's suggestion that Crisafulli violated the Florida Constitution by sending the House home three days before the end of the 60-day session. 

Here is his response to Gardiner:

April 29, 2015

Mr. President:

As you are well aware, our Founders created two chambers in the legislative branch to ensure that the people of Florida were protected by checks and balances. No one chamber, even the House, can dictate an outcome to the other. We can have disagreements on policy issues, each year the House and Senate have plenty. At the cnd of the day, if the two sides don't agree, bills die. That is how the process works.

Please understand, I stand ready to begin discussion on allocations as soon as possible. It has been the Florida Senate who has refused to allocate funds to our schools, our environment, and our justice system, based on a view of health care policy that is predicated on borrowing against the future of our children and grandchildren.

I understand that you are angry that the House concluded our business. You know that the things that have been said about our work together are untrue. I know you know that in your heart.

I remain willing to be your partner. I told you that the House could not pass ObamaCare expansion. It's not something that I can force them to pass. Its not about a single member. This is a matter of the House exercising its constitutional duty to represent those who have elected us.

I am sorry that you could not respect that; even Senate President Gaetz understood how hard it is to force one Chamber to take positions that the others cannot.

If you felt so strongly about expansion, why did not ask a House member to file a hill? Why did you not send us your bill so that we had something to consider? Why did you not ask it to be a part of the Joint Work Plan?

We have always said, that LIP is not predicated on Florida passing a Medicaid Expansion bill. Today, CMS has clearcd up that matter and I hope that you will now be in a better position to work together to untie the issues and have separate discussions. 

We stand willing and able to do so in a Special Session.

 

Cordially yours,

 

Steve


Women over the years on opening day of the Florida Legislature

 As ceremonies begin today for the opening of the 60-day session of the Florida Legislature, with the help of the Florida Memory Project, let's take a look back at what women did on opening day.

Let's slip back to the early 1960s where wives of Florida lawmakers wore hats and white gloves as they sat on metal chairs inside the chamber. On the tote board are  names of lawmakers who would later hold statewide office, become prominent lobbyists, or, as many of them did, fade from public life. This is time when legislators could hold their seats for decades. Women in the House and Senate were scarce.

That was about to change.

 

  Legislative wives 1960s

 

 In 1982, Florida lawmakers were confronted on opening day by a huge crowd of Equal Rights Amendment supporters and opponents. Congress had set a June 30, 1982 deadline for states to ratify the amendment. Thirty-five state had done so. Only three more were needed and there was enormous pressure on Florida to pass the amendment.

Over the years, the Florida House approved the amendment several times. The Senate always balked.

 Florida was considered critical to final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Once again, the House narrowly approved the amendment 60-58.  Pressure built in the Senate, and members could not walk across the Capitol without being confronted by both sides.

In the end, the Senate once again rejected ratification voting 22-16 against. 

 

1982 opening day

 

Less than 10 years later, the Florida Senate would choose the first woman to become Senate President, Miami Democrat Gwen Margolis. She was president from 1990 to 1992. She would be followed by Orlando Republican Toni Jennings who held the gavel from 1996 to 2000, being the only Senate president to serve two consecutive terms.

Ironically, despite voting  a number of times for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, the Florida House has yet to elect a woman Speaker.

  President_of_the_Florida_Senate_Gwen_Margolis

 

 

And now Opening Day trivia - can you name the gentlemen below?

Speaker and prez