Gambling over rules and rules over gambling in overtime
After midnight and all the troubles started coming out. Senate President Mike Haridopolos said he'll sleep in his office and called members to return at 10 a.m.. House members, looking aimless, chatted and took turns posing for pictures on the floor. By 1:33 a.m., House Speaker Dean Cannon was clearly entertained, as he returned to the podium with a smile.
By contrast, Haridopolos wasn't smiling. "I've done everything in my power to make sure we didn't go in a ditch, even though ppl weren't saying the nicest things about us,'' he told reporters.
The House hadn't planned it this way. House leaders thought they had figured out a way to outsmart the Senate Rules chairman by refusing to accept a giant economic development conforming bill and strip it of everything but Sen. John Thrasher's proposal to allow parimutuels to install slot-like coin operated machines. They would then take the bulk of that bill and attach it to HB 143, a bill related to tax credit.
But the Senate got suspicious. Thrasher filed a resolution to extend the session into overtime but would only allow the budget and budget conforming bills to be taken up past midnight. That wouldn't work for the House because HB 143 wasn't a conforming bill. So the House was stuck. The clock struck midnight and the only way to get back was to return and pass HB 7203 unaltered.
Undaunted, the House waived the rules, took up HB 143, amended it with the HB 7203 minus the coin-operated games. The amendment passed 79-39. The bill passed 118-0. Time to sine die.