This is the last regularly scheduled week of Florida’s Legislative Session. What issues are still outstanding and when will they be resolved?
by Boardroom Brief Staff on May 03, 2011
On Monday, the Florida Legislature entered the final scheduled week of the 60-day legislative session. Often in this flurry of final week activity, many issues are still unresolved and become part of the last minute negotiations in order to reach compromise between the two chambers. In an unprecedented move late last week, House and Senate negotiators agreed to insert the House version of the Growth Management bill (HB 7129) with some amendments into the conforming bill for the state budget, which will force an up-or-down vote on the matter along with other budget issues. The Senate’s lead negotiator on Growth Management matters stated late yesterday that he wants to have an open discussion on the reforms, however, and prefers an up-or-down vote of the bill on its own so stay tuned to see how the Senate handles this important reform package. Two other key items remain under debate, including the state budget and an immigration bill.
State Budget: The only action the House and Senate are mandated to accomplish during the Legislative Session is to pass the state budget for the upcoming year–expected to total about $68 billion for fiscal year 2011-2012. The state constitution requires budgets to be on members’ desks for 72 hours before a final vote in the House and Senate. That means a compromise must be reached Tuesday if the session is to end on Friday. If negotiations are not completed on time, the session would expire, and legislators would return to Tallahassee in the coming weeks to case a vote on the final budget proposal. All signs point to budget negotiations wrapping up for a timely end to session.
Immigration Bill: The Senate is scheduled to take up a controversial immigration bill (SB 2040), the intention of which would require the use of the federal E-Verify system for checking the backgrounds of those who seek employment assistance at state workforce offices, apply for public assistance or are taken into custody in police investigations. The Senate bill is different from the House version (HB 7089), which would allow police to check immigration status of anyone they encounter if they have “reasonable” suspicion that the person is not in the country legally. Pressure has grown for the bills to be taken up as they have been calendared for weeks in both chambers and brought hundreds of protestors to the capitol.