The next three days will be a telling time for the Florida Legislature.
Will lawmakers be able to neatly tie-up loose ends that remained when the regular session ended earlier this month, or will the House and Senate find themselves on different tracks heading in different directions?
When Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced on Friday they had reached a deal to call lawmakers back to Tallahassee this week for a three day special session everything seemed to be in place for a resolution.
“The people of Florida should be proud today that you can have leaders with competing opinions and still compromise to meet common goals–government in Florida is working and the biggest winners are all Floridians,” said Corcoran said on Friday.
The agreement announced last week would restore budget cuts to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing board. It also creates a grant fund intended to promote the state’s infrastructure and job training to replace money cut from Enterprise Florida, which promotes the state’s economic development. Both agencies are priorities for Scott.
The deal is also supposed to include more money for public schools.
Now there is talk about adding more items to the Legislature’s plate during this special session which is scheduled to run through Friday.
“As I have discussed with many Senators over the past few days, I have made no agreement that would dictate an outcome for this Special Session,” Sen. Negron wrote in a memo he sent to Senate members on Tuesday. “Nor have I made any agreement to limit the subject matter to the issues listed in the proclamation.”
In his memo, Negron is suggesting lawmakers also address the issue of restoring funding for hospitals and overriding some of the governor’s vetoes pertaining to universities and higher education.
The House speaker doesn’t appear to have any interest in adding those extra items to the agenda for this special session.
There’s another item that isn’t on the agenda that could be instrumental in the outcome of this session–that’s HB 7069. The sweeping education policy bill would make it easier for charter schools to expand in Florida and would provide them with more taxpayer dollars.
The bill, which is a priority for Corcoran, has come under heavy criticism from public school advocates.
Gov. Scott hasn’t indicated if he intends to allow the bill to become law, but it’s believed he will sign it in order to get the support from the House for the economic development funding that lawmakers will consider in this session.
That could pose problems in the Senate where HB 7069 passed by a 20-18 margin and where some GOP members were expecting the governor to veto the legislation.
Hold on. This special session journey has the potential to get a little bumpy.