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After midnight: How the Legislature’s wheels came off

by John Kennedy | May 7th, 2011

The tax provision that caused the Legislature to unravel and miss its scheduled Friday midnight close first emerged last weekend — and was ushered into a conforming bill by House and Senate budget-writers, said House Appropriations Chair Denise Grimsley.

“It’s been a very tough year, we had a lot of conforming bills,” Grimsley said shortly after the House adjourned and ended the 2011 session at 2:07 a.m., Saturday. “We just had some members who had some issues with it.”

Grimsley acknowledged she failed to fully gauge how a provision cutting the tax rate on coin-operated arcade machines would be seen as a major expansion of gambling by many in the conservative House.

The Senate, especially Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, wanted the measure to help dog tracks with card rooms.

But by then, the House had little love for the Senate — which Friday night had an uprising of its own over two other conforming bills that would have deregulated a dozen professions, but had never gotten a hearing in the Senate.

The Senate refused to go along with what the House wanted, killing the biggest of the two bills on a 32-6 vote. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and his leadership team were on the losing side.

Sifting through the still smoking wreckage of the last night, House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, declined to question whether the 45 conforming bills lawmakers were asked to vote on, may have caused the upheaval.

The bills, containing vast policy changes, some of which were being aired for the first time, had been agreed-upon only by a handful of leaders before being foisted on the full chambers for a final vote.

“A conference committee is an effort where people agree to things that they might not have otherwise have done in their chamber because it’s important to the other chamber,” Cannon said. “That’s what conference is all about. And that’s why conference is sort of an implied agreement between the two chambers.”

Was there a lesson learned? Maybe 45 conforming bills settled by a narrow group of lawmakers isn’t so hot?

Cannon disagreed. But his explanation may have reflected the early a.m. hour.

“Every session is different. And every Legislature is different. And because legislators are made of people, they’re subject to different personalities and different challenges,” Cannon said.

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9 Responses to “After midnight: How the Legislature’s wheels came off”

  1. Bill Neubauer Says:

    Indeed legislators are subject to different personalities. The trouble is that they never get better. Their eyes focus more on the next election than the benefit of their state. Instead of facing up to realistic budget matters on the first day, they keep shying away from tough decisions until time runs out and they HAVE TO do something. Ugh!

  2. OBIWAN Says:

    Every bill in the House and Senate must finally ‘conform’ ie, be a single compromise final bill to be signed into law by the GOVERNOR.

    Florida has twice the work to do this year after four tough years working on balancing a sticky budget…
    … ballooned from reality by Federal SPENDuLUST funds aimed to bailout abjectly failed bankrupt Dumbocrap states.

    Not a single Florida Legislator will suffer permanent damage from spending a couple more days in Tallahassee finishing the people’s work.

    YES, some that did not do the job they bragged on when elected again last fall will pay the piper… Mike Haridopolis, William Snyder, etc. BOLD was within your grasp… you chose mush!!

    Why this Marxist pulpwad would dare trample the transparent, accountable and responsible FL Legislature when the Pelosi/Reid gang of five did all their dirty work in secret for four years is not a mystery… without a single real ‘journalist’ the DNC party line is spewed daily to their ‘folowers’ who haven’t have a coherent thought of their own for decades now!!

  3. Oleg Daguganow Says:

    @Obiwan, do you mean Dumbocrat states like CAL.? Do you mean Dumbocrat states like FL.? Do you know how much money the farm industry gave the Gov. TO “DANCE AROUND” Immigration? How about the insurance industry? Wait till you see your utility bills. Do you know about de-regulating almost anything? Hey how is that blueberry farmer? I am not a Rep, or Dem., but know about getting screwed. I am compiling phone records, and data. It will be available.

  4. OBIWAN Says:


    My usual list of ‘abjectly failed bankrupt Dumbocrap states’ includes Kaleefornya, Illunoise, Meehegun, New Joisey, Wussconson… even those that have put the GOP in to clean up the mess (& will then be upset at what cutting out the crapola spending really means?)!

    My companion disgust with Mike Harodopolis and William Snyder is they turned victory within grasp to mushy failure on Immigration, Employment, NannyState Welfare, Education, Medicaid… by simply not having the cajones to stand up to Illegal Aliens ‘protesting’ in their chambers?

    Demand FDLE take into custody under their 287(g) authority and demand ICE pick up for deportation as current Federal Law requires!!

  5. Termack Says:

    Twelve years of repuplicant majority in Floriduh,and the blowhard OBIWAN blames Democrats. Such a jackcass.

  6. sue Says:

    Right on Termack….Obiwan is such an ahole it is incredible. Next election hopefully people will remember all this bullcrap the repubs/teaassholes have done and we will toss them out on their asses….where are all the jobs these bullsxxxxxx promised…it’s time to clean house.. and then maybe morons like Obiwan will dry up and shut up.

  7. disgusted Says:

    After all the political games, Florida legislators should be embarassed that they only reduced the total budget for this year ($69.7B) by $700K (last year was $70.4B).

    In 2004, the budget was about $15B less than now — and the State of Florida was prospering.

    So it is absolutely pathetic how no one in Tallahassee can make some decisions! It’s all a shell game, with only their re-elections on their minds.

  8. alg Says:

    congrats to Florida legistlator you wasted all our money debationg and enacting Abortion! Yay good for you! In the mean time our roads are crumbling, our police are undefunded and act more like the criminal they are supposed to protect us from, our ports are insecure, our water managment is spilling half of our water supply. On behalf of all the nonfetus Floridians a golf clap! Heck of a job brownie.

  9. Disappointed Says:

    To put it in layman’s terms you have to see if your legislators passed the litmus test. While they might have made cuts in the state budget the overwhelming decisions that affect the household budget such as insurance, taxes and energy costs will be going up thanks to this session’s leadership. The lobbyists won big time and Floridians lost. Oh and the illegals won big time.

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