State House, Senate line up bills to promote unity
In a move aimed partly at promoting unity in the Florida Legislature, the Senate easily passed legislation on Wednesday that ranked as a top priority of the Florida House.
By a 37-0 vote, the Senate on Wednesday approved a new water policy bill that is being pitched as a plan to control pollution, restore natural water flows in springs and rivers and develop alternative waters supplies.
It was no accident that the bill (SB 552) – a top priority of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island - passed the House shortly after Senate President Andy Gardiner’s top priority passed and was sent to the House for its approval. The Senate, by a 39-0 vote earlier, approved legislation to expand education options for special needs students in Florida.
On Friday, the House will be in a position to pass top priorities for both legislative leaders.
That puts the chamber in a far different posture than in 2015, when both issues died bitterly at the end of the Legislative session while lawmakers battled over health care policy issues and the state budget. The session ended when Crisafulli adjourned the House in April, days earlier than it was scheduled to end. That required lawmakers to hold a special session in June to pass a state budget before the July 1 deadline.
Gardiner acknowledge the water bill was a top priority for Crisafulli, who he called a friend. He said too much has been made of the acrimony from last year’s session. He said he and Crisafulli have a good relationship and are working well together.
“We’re off to a good start,” Gardiner said.