Count Saunders out of special this week: He's with black caucus
And so the game of chicken/who flinches first continues between House leadership and black legislators and House Dems...
Rep. Ron Saunders, Key West Democrat, just requested an excused absence from House Speaker Larry Cretul for the first two days of the special session on rail that starts tomorrow, Thursday.
Saunders says he has 6,000 black constituents in his district, so he needs to be in Fort Lauderdale at the end of this week for the national conference of black lawmakers that was organized and lured here by members of Florida's black legislative caucus.
Here's his letter:
To: Larry Cretul, Speaker
From: Ron Saunders, Representative, District 120
Date: December 2, 2009
Re: Special Session Attendance
My legislative district has over 6,000 black constituents. Therefore, I am today joining the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and will be attending the National Black Caucus of State Legislators annual conference on December 3 and 4 in Fort Lauderdale to learn more about important issues affecting my constituents.
Your memorandum to members dated December 1, 2009, states: “Members of that organization who are involved in that meeting will be excused from Session on Thursday and Friday upon request.” Since I will be a member of “that organization” who will be “involved in that meeting”, I formally request an excused absence from the Special Session activities scheduled for Thursday, December 3, and Friday, December 4, 2009.
I would like to point out that despite its significant fiscal impact the proposed legislation (PCB EDCA 09B-01) was not referred to the Appropriations Council on which I serve. The bill is also not scheduled to be heard on Thursday or Friday this week in any substantive committees or councils on which I am a member. I do not plan on sponsoring any amendments. Therefore, my presence in floor sessions planned for Thursday and Friday will be unnecessary. I will be fully prepared to speak on legislation during the scheduled Monday session.
My absence on December 3 and 4 will save taxpayers unnecessary expense incurred if I attended. In light of the state’s current $2.6 billion budget deficit, perhaps you should encourage other members whose committees are not meeting to seek excused absences and save taxpayers even more money.
Although I am requesting an excused absence, I join many other House members in urging you to delay the start of Special Session until Monday, December 7. I believe that it is unfair to force members to choose between attending a session that could be delayed until Monday or attending an important long-scheduled national meeting.
In any event, my request for an excused absence is in accordance with the explicit items of your memorandum. I therefore expect to receive confirmation of an excuse from you by 3:00 p.m. today pursuant to the memorandum.
I appreciate your expressed willingness to grant excused absences, ask you to consider delaying the start of Special Session, and look forward to seeing you in Tallahassee on Monday.