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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The marathon session: Blow by blow



10:00 a.m.: Session begins

11:25 a.m.: Standoff begins. "The sergeant will secure the chamber. I also order the sergeant to find each member of the House and bring them into the chamber," House Speaker Marco Rubio says. "I think we'll make plans to be here quite awhile." Three minutes later, clerks begin reading an 86-page condo association measure.

11:55 a.m.: Rubio slams the gavel. "The clerk will stop reading until Rep. Sands takes his seat," he said, admonishing Franklin Sands, the incoming Democratic leader.

12:40 p.m.: Internet service has been disabled, including to BlackBerry devices.

1:10 p.m.: Rubio tells Jewish members they are free to leave. No one does.

1:30 p.m.: House clerks finish reading the first bill word-for-word. Now amendments are being read.

1:44 p.m.: The bill passes 110-0.

1:45 p.m.: Democrats ask that the next bill be read in full. HB 648 deals with insurance. It passes 112-0.

1:55 p.m.: Now on to the next bill, HB 435, read in full. It passes 108-0.

1:56 p.m.: Rubio allows people to go eat, leading to an exodus from the House floor. "We can't continue to starve people," he says.

2:06 p.m.: HB 219 is being read in full. It passes 112-0.

2:11 p.m.: Rubio arrives on House floor, appears to be eating some sort of candy, possibly M&Ms.

2:21 p.m.: An emergency meeting of the "Ron Caucus" breaks out on the House floor. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, and Ron Saunders, D-Key West, appear to be trying to broker an agreement. The meeting adjourns with no deal.

2:37 p.m: Democrats motion to read the next bill in full. In retaliation, Rep. David Rivera, the Rules chairman, pulls three Democratic bills off the special order calendar and sends them back to the Rules Committee. HB 989 is being read now.

2:54 p.m.: Rubio asks for the Internet service to be re-established after legislators complain they cannot read the bills being heard.

2:58 p.m.: Democrats again ask for a bill to be read in full. This one is CS/HB 685, puts restrictions on people who get medical training in Cuba. It passes 107-3.

3:02 p.m.: Democrats prevail again. CS/HB 985 is being read in full. It passes 111-0.

3:11 p.m.: CS/HB 337 is being read in full.

3:20 p.m.: CS/HB 1378 is being read in full. But Democratic are losing votes to keep up the stalemate. "They're slipping. They're slipping," Rubio said as the vote was recorded. His optimism is all for show. The impasse continues.

3:27 p.m.: Rivera calls a special meeting of the Rules Committee. The House stands in recess for a half hour. During the meeting Rivera offers a new special order calendar for next week that does not include any Democratic bills. Democrats sit silently furious.

4:02 p.m.: House members return to the floor. Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, carries a mug of Cuban coffee and hands out shots to others. Rubio belts one and flexes a biceps, laughing.

4:09 p.m.: CS/HB 333 is being read in full.

4:20 p.m.: CS/HB 1058 is being read in full.

4:27 p.m.: Rubio to Gelber: "We haven't heard from you in a while." Gelber, monotone, "We move we read the bill in full." Rubio: "Which bill?" Gelber: "Whatever the next bill is." Now up: CS/HB 1716.

4:56 p.m.: Rubio calls a half hour timeout to "reconfigure" the agenda.

5:34 p.m.: The session resumes. Democrats force a full reading of CS/HB 1203.

6:01 p.m.: Rubio calls a meeting of the Bald Caucus. They pose for photo, the full-haired Rubio gripping Evan Jenne's shaved head. The caucus includes (from left) Will Kendrick, Oscar Braynon, Jenne, Terry Fields and Charles Chestnut. (House photo / Mark Foley)


6:14 p.m.: Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, takes over reading the bill. Really fast, like an auctioneer. It eventually passes.

6:25 p.m.: HB 7067 is being read in full.

6:58 p.m.: CS/HB 7069 is being read in full. It passes 105-0.

7:24 p.m.: CS/HB 745 is being read in full.

7:54 p.m.: Rep. Will Kendrick, R-Carrabelle, takes over for Rubio. He bangs the gavel and asks members to take their seats and listen up. Boos fill the chamber.

8:25 p.m.: Still debating CS/HB 745. Rubio downs another cup of Cuban coffee. He leaves the small white cup on the rostrum.

8:36 p.m.: Rubio: "This place is starting to feel like the Superdome. They are running out of water. They are running out of food. The restrooms are backed up." He calls for a 15 minute break.

8:59 p.m.: Rubio jokes that Gelber wants to read the next bill "backwards, word for word." CS/HB 1313 is read in full, frontwards, word for word.

9:25 p.m.: CS/HB 105 --- "An act related to secondary metals recyclers" -- is being read in full. A taste: Regulated metals property" means any item composed primarily of any nonferrous metals, but shall not include aluminum beverage containers, used beverage containers, or similar beverage containers. The term shall include stainless steel beer kegs.

10:01 p.m.: Beer keg bill passes 108-0.

10:02 p.m.: "Read the next bill." CS/HB 1105. In full. It passes 106-0.

10:18 p.m.: Rubio informs the House that "the pen napper" has taken Rep. Adam Hasner's pen. Hasner has been busy playing speaker, nodding to his wife and in-laws watching from the gallery. They have the place to themselves. The pen napper has his BlackBerry, too, and unless Republicans add the Democratic bills back on the agenda, it too will be destroyed. The threat properly read into the record, Rubio announces the House will break for 15 minutes.


11:08 p.m.: The break is over. Rubio is laughing hysterically. He can't contain himself, literally having to step away from the microphone, as he accuses Rep. Hugh Gibson, R-The Villages, of being the "pen napper." More laughter. Then a clerk begins reading CS/HB 1271. It passes unanimously.

11:20 p.m.: Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, is giving the clerk's job a try. He doesn't last long.

11:27 p.m.: Rubio's back on the floor, eating candy.

11:28 p.m.: "Read the bill in full," Rep. Sandra Adam drones. Rep. Rivera is playing clerk, reading CS/HB 7083. The man has a future in politics.

11:55 p.m.: Rep. Faye Culp, R-Tampa, earns the Rodney Dangerfield award of the day. She's reading CS/HB 7083 like a champ. But no one is paying attention. Not even Susan Bucher, D-West Palm Beach.

12:03 a.m.: Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, steps up to the mic. This is a monster bill. Breathe, man. He's chugging, going too fast. "Phew," he gasps, taking a break. The bill passes 107-0.

12:09 a.m.: Gelber: "Read the bill in full." HB 7075. They are digging deep now, council director Eric Thorne, is reading. It passes 109-0.

12:15 a.m.: Hasner is handing out tissues infused with Vicks. Members press them to their noses, a vain attempt to stay alert. They drink from red Community Coffee cups. We trust that's coffee inside.

12:32 a.m.: CS/SB 686, read in full.

12:57 a.m.: The bill passes 109-0. Rubio calls a 5-10 minute recess. One bill remains: CS/CS/SB 2534, the hotly contested health care package.

1:04 a.m.: Rep. "Sugar" Ray Sansom jabs the Democrats in their own game. He offers a motion to read the bill in full. Suddenly, a computerized voice fills the chamber -- a very, very fast reading of the bill, thanks to text recognition software. It takes 10 minutes, compared with at least an hour by a regular person.

(The program is a Microsoft product but was customized by Nick Carson, a 31-year-old House staffer. Carson had been experimenting with the software and gave it an unexpected debut, said Rubio spokeswoman Jill Chamberlin.)

2:14 a.m.: No one is laughing any more. After a tense, bitter debate over health care, the vote is called on the final bill of the session. It passes on party lines.

2:17 a.m.: The session ends.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:52am]


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