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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Senate supports starting 2018 legislative session in January



Florida senators voted Thursday to start the 2018 legislative session two months early -- in January, as they did this year.

Senators did not debate the measure prior to approving it by a 27-11 vote.

But they had a short discussion Wednesday when Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, questioned the cost of and need for having an earlier session.

"When you’re on spring break with your kids this year, you’ll understand the significance of it," Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said, cracking a smile.

Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, also noted another benefit of an earlier session. He jokingly inquired about the "average temperature during a regular session."

The House has yet to sign off on moving the start date for the 2018 session.

The Florida Constitution allows the Legislature to start session early in even-numbered years. Otherwise, session begins on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March.

Four Republicans and seven Democrats in the Senate opposed having an earlier start in 2018.

They were: Republicans Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers, Jeff Brandes of St. Betersburg, Denise Grimsley of Sebring, and Jack Latvala of Clearwater, and Democrats Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay, Jeremy Ring of Margate, Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood, Darren Soto of Orlando, and Clemens and Braynon.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2016 1:32pm]


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