GOP leaders send warning to GOP Govby John Kennedy | March 14th, 2011
House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos sent memos Monday to lawmakers, noting they could still consider a number of overrides to vetoes made last spring by former Gov. Charlie Crist.
But is the real target here new Gov. Rick Scott?
The memos warning that the Republican-led Legislature is ready to exert its muscle, follows Scott’s decision Friday to freeze at least until July $235 million in contracts for SunRail, the Central Florida commuter rail hailed by Cannon, Haridopolos and most other Orlando-area lawmakers.
The delay threatens the $1.2 billion rail project. And it comes just weeks after the Republican governor antagonized many lawmakers — and was unsuccessfully sued by two of them — after refusing the federal government’s offer of $2.4 billion for high-speed rail linking Tampa to Orlando.
The two leaders’ notes are worded cautiously. But the intent is clear: Scott can mess with lawmakers, but they can mess right back.
” I am directing the committee chairs to evaluate potential veto overrides in their area and, should they find a candidate for an override, to conduct a public hearing on the bill,” Cannon wrote. ” The House will take up any override formally recommended by a committee.”
Haridopolos wrote, “Over the past few weeks, several members of the Senate have also expressed an interest in considering some of the remaining vetoed bills, and it is my desire to be open and inclusive in considering these requests.”
Budget vetoes and slightly more than a dozen bills are eligible for override, the leaders wrote. Included are one measure that would shift the state’s Department of Management Services away from sole oversight by Scott and put it under the authority of the governor and the three independently elected Cabinet officers.
Another would create so-called leadership funds. These accounts would give legislative leaders total control of what typically is millions of dollars in campaign cash they raise but must deposit within the state’s political parties.