Roll call of all 41 legislative session no-shows
The Florida House released a list of 36 members -- nearly one-third of the total membership -- who have excused absences for one or more days from the week-long special session on transportation that will get underway Thursday. With five excused senators, it means fully one-fourth of the 160 members of the Legislature will miss part of the session that leaders say is urgently needed to help Florida qualify for federal high-speed rail money.
The House absentees include 13 Republicans and 23 Democrats, 17 of whom are African-Americans and who presumably will attend the National Black Caucus of State Legislators annual conference in Fort Lauderdale. Notable no-shows on Dec. 3 and 4 include House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, D-Weston; Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West; and the newest House member, Rep. Mack Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, whose own swearing-in has been delayed until next Monday.
House Republicans who won't arrive until next week include Reps. Ed Homan, R-Temple Terrace; Doug Holder, R-Sarasota; Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda; and Ron Schultz, R-Brooksville. Some lawmakers cited personal, family or business conflicts; the full list of reasons was not immediately available.
Five senators also were allowed to skip Thursday's largely-ceremonial opening of the session to attend the NBCSL conference. They are Sens. Tony Hill, Arthenia Joyner, Gary Siplin, Chris Smith and Frederica Wilson.