Post # 301, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary
" The first thing I do when introducing a bill is find and secure a Republican Co-Sponsor."
Rep. Elaine Bloom (D., Miami Beach) 1975.
As a former member of both the Senate and House of Representatives in the Florida Legislature, I find myself paying particular attention to the rules in both chambers. I remember then Senate Dean Dempsey Barron telling me once, "Study the rules, Senator. Nothing else is important in lawmaking." He was so right.
With the breakdown between the two parties in the Legislature and the dominant control by the Republicans, I can think of a change that might make sense today. The concept of an effective bi-cameral legislative body that requires all parties to be heard. Since recent elections have left us with disproportionate representation among Republicans and Democrats, there is little if any consideration of the other side's opinion. Minority members can speak, debate, and vote, but their participation is essentially meaningless and both sides know it. We have lost the benefit of serious bi-partisan consideration of legislation.
The public would be well served if both sides were given equal and detailed consideration, which the Committee Staff normally provides. Those staff today are largely hired based upon their allegiance to their parties.
I propose the Senate President and Speaker of the House declare Bi-Partisan Law Making be a goal for the next session. They should maintain a Special Order that first takes up bills introduced with both parties' sponsors. Single-sponsor bills could still be considered, but they would follow the Special Order Bills in floor consideration. This recognition of both sides of any issue would improve the lawmaking process and return some degree of civility to the legislature.