This is a reprint from the MiamiHerald
TALLAHASSEE — The final hours of Florida’s 2011 legislative session spiraled into chaos that stretched until 3:35 a.m. Saturday. Here’s what happened:
6:10 p.m. Friday
Republican Sens. Ronda Storms of Valrico and Paula Dockery of Lakeland complain about the overwhelming number of last-minute budget conforming bills. Rules chairman John Thrasher of St. Augustine rebukes them, saying they can complain about the process “all night” but it would be pointless. After the exchange, Dockery tweets: “In all my 15 yrs in the Legislature, I have never seen conforming bills handled like this. I can’t read fast enough.”
HB 5005, a controversial budget-conforming bill never vetted by senators that would deregulate interior designers and several other professions, comes up for consideration. Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, suggests the Senate oppose it.
“We need to send a message back to the House. Don’t send us bills we’ve had no chance to discuss,” he says. “Don’t come around the back door and expect us to swallow it.”
The bill fails by a vote of 32 to 6, with only Senate leaders voting for it.
“Leadership went down on that,” Senate President Mike Haridopolos says.
Senate votes 21 to 18 against HB 5007, another deregulation measure included in a conforming bill that, among other things, lessens educational requirements for mold assessors.
Senate tries to kill a third conforming bill, HB 5305, which would eliminate some jobs in state correctional institutions.
Seeing it about to fail, Haridopolos postpones the vote. It passes an hour later, 26 to 13.
Senate begins debating budget.
With House in recess, Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, plays the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and Help for Democrats in the back corner of the chamber.
Senate passes state budget, 31 to 8.
House starts rejecting Senate conforming bills. Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, tells representatives to vote down SB 2134, which sets procurement rules for the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
It fails by unanimous vote.
Chamber erupts into cheers and shouts of, “It’s us versus the Senate.” One House member yells: “Do it again to them, do it again!” during vote on SB 2100, requiring that state employees contribute 3 percent of pay to pensions. Bill passes by vote of 80 to 39.
Senate unanimously votes to extend the 60-day session until 6 p.m. Saturday.
House votes to extend session.
The session extension begins and rules allow lawmakers to consider only bills related to the budget. That means other measures still on hold are dead, including compensation packages for a man paralyzed when a sheriff’s deputy rammed into his car, and a man wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years.
With the House in recess, Europe’s The Final Countdown plays on the public address system.
Haridopolos sends senators home and says he will sleep in his office while he waits for the House to approve HB 143, which provides $126 million in tax cuts.
Eyes filled with tears, Haridopolos tells an office full of reporters: “I’ve done everything in my power to make sure we didn’t go in a ditch, even though people weren’t saying the nicest things about us.”
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/07/2206607/the-legislatures-final-chaotic.html#ixzz1LoL9Kjkm