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Routine Legislative Bartering

Reports of success in the Florida Senate on a Lake Okeechobee Reservoir bill sponsored by the Senate President might be a little premature. SB 10 dealing with stopping the green slime from coming out of the mammoth source of water for Central and South Florida is sponsored by Senate President Joe Negron (R. Stuart) with a chilling price tag of $1.5 Billion. The bill passed the upper chamber by a large margin suggesting easy passage into law.

The reason I say success might be premature is because there are two chambers through which the legislation must pass, in the exact same form. Exactly. Little serious interest in the legislation has come from the Speaker of the Florida House of Representations, Richard Corcoran (R., Pasco) and his leadership team, although some have expressed lip service. That lack of interest may have nothing to do the content of the legislation, but it is deliberate.

One of the first tactics I learned as a member of both chambers is to seek " legislative hostages" from the two leaders in the House and Senate. Conversely, a good strategy is to hide legislation that you do not want held hostage. The President's Lake Okeechobee bill is really too big to hide, so he apparently has decided to gut it out in negotiations with the House. The Senate has probably searched for legislation favored by the Speaker, but may have been out negotiated in this case. The 'hostages' become the currency for bartering between the two Chambers, and that is how laws are made.

Speaker Corcoran has been feuding with Governor Scott in the same way, except in the Governor's case it is Enterprise Florida, the honey pot for economic development. Scott does hold his own hammer in these negotiations and that is the line item veto. It can be over ridden, but it is not easy.

This intrigue is why so many junkies in the Capitol sense that the essence of the Regular Session is just now starting. Unfortunately, the public will not be able to watch the process from this point to Sine Die. In spite of the Sunshine Amendment, most of the bartering now will done in secret. But it will occur. It always has and probably always is routine.


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