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Session ends with hard feelings after major meltdown

by Dara Kam | May 7th, 2011

Lawmakers approved a $69.7 billion spending plan and quietly ended the 2011 legislative session at 3:35 a.m. without any pomp and circumstance.

Instead, the 60-day session ended with Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon publicly rebuking each other over with Haridopolos accusing Cannon of playing “silly games” and Cannon claiming to “take the high road” by rejecting a controversial Senate tax break.

Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, called his members back after 2 a.m. this morning to take up a tax-break proposal that includes a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers after the House stripped out a tax break for at least one greyhound dog track in Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher’s district.

Haridopolos apologized for asking them to return about an hour after he sent them home and instructed them the session would reconvene at 10 a.m.

Shortly before Haridopolos recalled the Senate, Cannon gaveled down the House without passing two claims bills that were Haridopolos priorities. Eric Brody was set to get $12 million from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for an accident more than a decade ago that left him severely disabled, and William Dillon was slated to get less than $1 million after being wrongfully imprisoned for nearly three decades for a crime he didn’t commit.

“They should have been served today by this legislature. Politics got in the way today and I’m embarrassed,” he said.
Gov. Rick Scott left the building around midnight as the legislative session devolved into chaos. Scott had been scheduled to participate in the ceremonial white hanky drop but instead went home to bed because he had a busy schedule this weekend, his spokesman Brian Burgess said.

The House approved the budget shortly before 2 a.m., about two-and-a-half hours after the Senate and following some very hard feelings between the two chambers.

The House then took up the disputed tax break bill (CS/SB 7203).

But the House remained angered by the Senate’s killing a pair of professional deregulation bills earlier in the night — with House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, saying that move broke an agreement between the two chambers.

“In light of the Senate’s inability to meet that obligation, I’ve decided that our chamber would take the high road…and send it all to the Senate tonight, and leave no ambiguity,” Cannon said.

The House took up the tax-break bill, voted to remove the Jacksonville track provision, repackaged the measure as HB 143 and sent it back to the Senate. With the budget behind them, and the tax-break package structured to their liking, Cannon and House members adjourned at 2:07 a.m., Saturday.

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 received a Senate hearing.

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

Sifting through the still smoking wreckage of the last night, 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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23 Responses to “Session ends with hard feelings after major meltdown”

  1. Doug Says:

    So now it is up to the electorate, yup, the voters, to look at the wreckage of this legislative session, and grade the service of our respective legislators. It appears at first blush, that many should hang their heads in shame because they did not represent us well. Instead, they played their little games to take care of their own personal needs and the needs of their cronies back home. Now is the time for the local media to step up to the plate and start to take the wreckage apart. Give the electorate the truth rather than being the shill of some unworthy politician!

  2. Thomas Says:

    It’s very hard to pass laws when he you have to consider how every decision may effect the amount of money which will be put into your campaign funds, and that my friends is what every vote hinges on with this legislative body. Right and wring, ethics and morals, these factors are no longer cost effective, and have been replaced by me and me, the only two factors that matter any more. When is the next election.

  3. UGLE TRUTH Says:

    The truth is no one really represents the people, the politicians and media are all self serving. As was admitted in the article above their all just people with their own adjenda to fulfill and not the best interest of the public at large.

  4. Try again Says:

    The lesson learned? Haridolopos got whipped hard by both his chief of staff and the rules chairman Thrasher… and thought he could trust both. As the wheels came off, he jumped out of the car instead of bringing it to a safe stop. And he wants to go to the U.S. Senate????

  5. jefflawyer Says:

    Republican Gov, Republican House AND Republican Senate, and they STILL can’t get it right. Wake up and see they really don’t care about you. It’s time for pink slips for the whole gang.

  6. Rules are for the little people. Says:

    Both houses disrespected their own rules by adding unrelated provisions to the budget conference. By that precedent, they might as well dispense with most committees and only have a one week session.

  7. Rich Says:

    Everyone above is right. Hari drop all us is not a leader. If we don’t reform the lobbying laws or get people with integrity we are headed for worse times.

  8. Huh?! Says:

    So racetracks need tax breaks now? These people are falling all over themselves to give away the farm to their business buddies. I suppose this is going to create more jobbs, right? Just like all the other tax braks were supposed to, right? What ever happened to all those jobs anyway?

  9. Fed Up Says:

    This a a Republican majority and they can’t work together? I hope the voters are taking notice.

  10. Tim Says:

    What can I say; I never vote for a republican after the primary election is over!

    It seems to me the repugnants wanted to hold the three day ‘back to school’ sales tax hostage, to ram through some grafty cuts for the gaming industry.

    Why doesn’t this surprise me?

    All in all, this legislative session has been extremely harmful to the poor, the elderly, those on disability, and those whose voice has been silenced by big money lobbyists and corporate interests.

    Give your self a pat on the back teabaggers, your politicians put the skrews to the disenfranchised this year.

    They will be after programs, and policies close to your heart next year.

    You see Mr. Teabagger, the azzholes that just tore up our backyard this session, is coming to your door next.

  11. Koch Brother Says:

    what a bunch of Republican losers..pork barrel legislation,farmers not outlawing illegal immigration…welcome to Florida, home of the most ignorant white people in the world!!

  12. hank shaw Says:

    so why the picture of our governor in a negative article about the legislature?? duh

  13. nemo Says:

    Because, hank shaw, the article is in the palm beach post. The pbp is so in the tank for the left, they don’t know any other way.

  14. Bob Says:

    The Republicans are too busy worrying about abortion to pander to their white trash, ultra religious, bigoted old
    Tea Baggers to finish their session about the budget in a timely manner. I thought the Tea Bagers wanted less government interference in their lives—-are they for real? And Scott had to home to go to bed—says alot about him too! You all elected a primo governor folks—now live with him for 3 more years! Be careful what you wish for–this one certainly came back to bite you all right in the ass!

  15. Jim King Says:

    I am spinning in my grave.

  16. Oleg Daguganow Says:

    New scam, de-regulate licenses. For example no license needed for a barber, or mechanic. Thus Gov. Scott has created jobs. (for his statistics). Get the picture. What a scene Mr. Manny who lost his janitor job in the schhol now cuts hair.

  17. dick Says:

    Not acceptable for leadership. Get someone else.,

  18. Searcher Says:

    TOTAL CONTROL and they still can’t get it done. LOL!!!!!!

  19. Ms Vicky Says:

    If you have lived in Florida for any amount of time and watched the incredible, disgusting legislative deals continually perpetrated on our citizens, you now understand why the quality of life in Florida is rapidly diminishing. You MUST get out in 2012 and VOTE the scum out. Only 48% of Floridians voted last time, and look at what we got: A bunch of incompetent, greedy punks that made merry while hurting the neediest and punishing middle class workers in favor of tax cuts for their contributors, BIG BUSINESS. We are NOT gaining jobs, and we are losing safeguards to our health and welfare.Voters may not have loved Alex Sink, but compared to a know-nothing, sociopathic felon who defrauded the government and took the 5th 75 times…what was your choice? Pain is a great motivator,my friends, and I expect (unless you are a multi-million corporation), you are about to experience the kind of discomfort that may get you out and voting in 2012. Remember your lessons or prepare to re-live them!

  20. Bobo Says:

    @vicky
    “you are about to experience the kind of discomfort that may get you out and voting in 2012. Remember your lessons or prepare to re-live them!”

    Just curious as someone who works all the time and rarely if ever uses government services, how am i going to notice what the legislature has done?
    As a citizen who is not on aid of any kind how will it affect me? Arent my taxes going down?

  21. You will notice Says:

    Bobo— your property insurance rates will go up and you may find a Wal-Mart across the street from your home. Your opportunity to early vote is diminished and corporations get a tax break which you and your fellow citizens pay for.

    Since there were no Democrats to fight in the waning hours of the session, it was only inevitable that the rabid Republicans would turn on each other.

  22. STAN Says:

    @Bobo–You use government services every time you drive on a road that doesn’t have potholes, stop at a red light that works, turn on your tap and get drinkable water, put your trash out and have it hauled away to a dump that makes sure the fecal matter doesn’t leach back into your drinking water. Every time you get a package delivered by Fedex, they used government services (air traffic control, highway weigh stations, homeland security so no bombs blow up the plane with your documents, etc.) to fly it here and deliver it on time to your doorstep. Even your address and Zip-code is a function of government services assisting you in your business. I know you like to think of the recipients of “government services” as only being those people for whom a government run program pays their doctor for them or gives them food or other necessities through an official program. I know you only have an image of “welfare queens” who suck the “lifeblood” out of the Section 8 and AFDC programs as your guide to those whom receive direct assistance from the government in the form of “handouts”. However, the largest number of recipients of those “handouts” are single White mothers, not African Americans, not illegal immigrants, not lazy bums. Single white females whose babies need Enfamil and pediatric care are the most numerous recipients of “government handouts”. However, they are not the recipients of the largest amount of “government handouts”. That label would belong to every large corporation that recieves huge “government services” in the form of tax breaks, subsidies, tariffs, rebates, price controls, and guaranteed contracts. You yourself, as the entrepreneur I’m sure you envision yourself to be, are entitled to “government services” if you hire developmentally disabled Americans or elderly Americans at your small business; you are entitled to receive low interest loans designed to assist your small business grow into a larger one. The aid you receive from your government is so ingrained into your essence you don’t realize the benefit it is giving to you.

    So please shut your pie hole about your taxes needing to go down. You already live in the one place in the civilized world where the taxes are the lowest-ever. Your tax burden, as a Floridian, is lower than anyone else in this country, save for a few Pacific Islanders. If anything, you should be willing to pay a few more dollars so that we could attract a real industry to Florida. Right now-who would want to come to state that is 48th in education, has a Republican dominated government that does nothing but infight and has a former crook for a governor?

  23. Ms Vicky Says:

    You will notice and Stan did a wonderful job of responding to Bobo’s question, and I might add a point or two. I just returned from jury duty, which entailed my taking the day off from my fulltime job. I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s called “civic duty,” and I believe we, as Americans, are all in this together. I’m fortunate to have a great career, but I am not so naive or so ignorant to think that I am an island; thus, I really care about those many people who have suffered the loss of jobs and homes and the sense of safety and dignity in their lives, mostly as a consequence of being ripped off by Wall Street. I believe we should take care of the neediest, the children, and the elderly who can’t do it for themselves; and I still believe that most middle class working people (police, firefighters,teachers, healthcare workers etc.) are decent and would do the right thing if given the opportunity. That may be the difference between folks like Bobo (just a guess)and me. I consider the middle class the backbone of our society. They should be paid fairly and not ripped off again to lower the taxes for the very people whose greed has created most of our problems. I don’t demonize the corporations, either; however, they don’t need a hand up right now. They’ve been making gains for several decades. So it’s all about priorities and common sense. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” Most civilized people “get” it.

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