As lawmakers plan to reset, Dr. Ed Moore, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, and Florida historian shares insight on the intricacies of the current legislative debate and special sessions.
A special session means legislators will be called back to handle the $4.2 billion budget difference.
According to Florida’s legislative history, special sessions are not uncommon. According to Dr. Moore, in 2009 the Florida Legislature extended for a week, in 2003 there were five special sessions that ran into the first week of August and in 1987 there were seven special sessions.
“The only thing unique about this week is that every session is unique and every one ends differently,” says Dr. Moore. “Some of them end with a ‘Kumbaya‘ and everybody loves each other and some of them end where the two sergeants go out and drop the hankies to signify sine die and nobody else is there— we’ve seen those as well. Back when Mike Haridopolos was Senate President and Dean Cannon was Speaker, the House went home and left the Senate there to do whatever they wanted to do because it didn’t matter anymore. So you see all kinds of endings here.”
But among issues like a deeply divided budget, there’s an additional player on the scene: the federal government.
“I think the federal government kind of overplayed their hand,” says Dr. Moore. “The House’s main concern throughout all this is that the feds are beginning to have too much influence. Federal money is about one-third of the budget and they [the feds] were going to be more pushy about how they spend that federal money. So what’s the first thing the federal government does? They get very pushy about the federal money and they say, ‘no we want you do this, in order to fund that.’ That kind of played into the argument where they [the House] go, ‘see this is where we are going to be if we don’t get this resolved now.’”