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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Word for word: Sen. Larcenia Bullard

As lawmakers wrapped up nonbudget legislation last week, one of the biggest issues of debate was a doomed deal between the state and CSX to create SunRail near Orlando, and a Senate amendment to create a dedicated funding source for Tri-Rail, the 20-year-old South Florida commuter rail. During debate on the amendment, Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, commanded the Senate floor for nearly seven minutes. (At right, Times file photo by Scott Keeler.) Here is what she said:

President Jeff Atwater: We are on debate, Sen. Bullard, you are recognized in debate.

Bullard Sen. Larcenia Bullard: Thank you, Mr. President and members. We have taken on an issue that for two years, or two years now, had driven both houses in the Legislature. I believe that when that happens, you must understand that there’s a process and in this process, there are times when things happen that we may not understand on the front end, but sometimes down the road, you’ll sit back and say, “Well, why didn’t I?”

The Wright Brothers. I remember my grandmother telling me that they did not know, they had no CLUE that those airplanes were going to fly. But they did. Today we’re living in an economically, I would say, very rich society because at that time we were not economically stable, because people were doing things differently.

So, as I asked in a question form yesterday, tourism is the engine that drives the communities of the state of Florida. There was a time when agriculture would drive the communities of Florida, and was the most economically feasible component of our society. However, today, it is tourism.

When I think of Orlando, I think of Disney World. Everyone wants to go to Disney World. When I leave here, I may go, because it’s time out, it’s time out.

Often, I have seen times on this floor when people have passed legislation that I did not agree with, but I would vote with them for one reason or another. There were times when I would vote yes when I knew I didn’t agree with everything and I’d have to go home and explain, “Why did you vote this way?”

Well, publicly, I tell you, yesterday I had my bill in the bill that was before us yesterday. And I said to myself, I’ve got to vote for this, because my bill, my ONLY bill that has, that has been passing because no one knows how I’m gonna vote. My only bill was passed out yesterday and for that, Sen. Constantine I want to thank you because you made a promise. You promised that you would clean that up and pick up something else. (Clears throat)

President Atwater: Senator, could you hold for just a moment. Senator, just pause. Senator, from the 38th, senator from the 38th, you’re recognized for a motion.

Sen. Alex Villalobos: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I move that we extend session until the time of 8 p.m. tonight.

President Atwater: Without objection, without objection, show that motion adopted. (Audible reaction from senators) Senators, we have bills that are back here, we have your bills that you have worked on for months back here, so as long as we go that’s what’s riding on every conversation. Senator, you’re recognized to continue debate.

Sen. Bullard: Thank you Mr. President. Sen. Constantine, I know this is a big issue for you, but today it’s become a bigger issue because South Florida, three of the counties that I represent now is attached TO the bill. So, I stand here and I ask the question, how can I vote against three of my own counties? It is a very difficult position to be in.

We speak of accountability but the accountability we must have today is to the people of the state of Florida. There are adversities all around us always. But we’ve got to understand that I had an amendment yesterday that was objected to by the majority of the Senate that would do exactly what you, the unions asked for (inaudible) qualified people and the majority of the state we hired on these jobs. They stood in the Democratic office and explained that. I wrote the language out and I filed the amendment.

Fifteen of you or more came to me and asked me to withdraw because the unions no longer wanted that bill and I said, HOW COULD THAT BE? How could it be that the unions no longer want the same thing they asked me to draw up? I can’t understand that. But that happened. That happened to me, yesterday. Seventy-five percent was a big number. So I said, what I will do is I’ll change the number from 75 percent and reduce the number that they’d be Florida employees. But I was told to withdraw that bill.

We seem to always concentrate on the negative. I say to you today that I’m, you know that old saying, I won’t say the word, you’re darned if you do, and you’re darned if you don’t. So that’s where we stand today on this floor.

Many of us, I’m not the only one that’s going to be impacted by this Central Florida and South Florida bill. Because it’s a Central Florida/South Florida/Florida bill now. It’s not just one, and I would hope that all of you understand that we do things every year that don’t make sense that cost a whole lot more than this bill today. Thank you.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:58pm]


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