Five Republican senators who voted to defeat the so-called parent trigger bill said Gov. Rick Scott did not lobby them to oppose the controversial legislation. There has been much speculation in the Capitol and an unsourced story on one news website that said Scott was instrumental in the bill's failure on a dramatic 20-20 vote Tuesday.
Not true, Republican senators said.
"I wouldn't say there was any direct contact from his office on his opinion on this," said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, leader of the anti-trigger forces in the Senate. "There were rumors that he'd just as soon not have it on his desk (but) it really doesn't make any difference, because this was going to be the outcome whether he wanted it or not."
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said he discussed the bill with the governor, but that Scott "wasn't putting any pressure on me." He said his main reason for opposing the bill (SB 862) was that Detert was "persuasive."
Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, cited as a factor in his no vote his frustration that the budget did not include a line-item appropriation that he considered a priority: $250,000 for a public awareness campaign for a ABATE, a statewide motorcycle organization. He said he had no contact with Scott's office on the issue.
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said he spoke to no one from the governor's office on the parent trigger bill and said he opposed it bcause he "had more time to think about it and more information." Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said he hadn't spoken to the governor or any of his staff on the issue and had been promised nothing for his vote against the bill.
Scott was widely assumed to be opposed to the bill because it would undercut his efforts to be viewed as a champion of public schools. Scott repeated Wednesday he "had concerns" about the bill, which he did not specify, but he never declared his opposition to it.
A day after the bill's defeat, Detert said she was getting a lot of congratulatory calls and emails. "I think it's probably one of the worst bills I've ever seen, and I hope I never see it again."
-- With reporting by Kathleen McGrory, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau