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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Overriding Scott vetoes would be historic -- and so would venue

A preliminary rendering of what the new Florida Senate chamber will look like.

Florida Senate

A preliminary rendering of what the new Florida Senate chamber will look like.



If Gov. Rick Scott vetoes large chunks of the Legislature's new budget, some lawmakers say overriding his vetoes is a definite possibility.

If that happens, it would be historic, and it would fittingly take place in the historic setting of Florida's Old Capitol, which is now a museum.

The 2016 regular session is scheduled to end Friday, March 11, and construction crews will begin tearing down the 1970's-era chamber on Saturday to begin construction on a $6 million replacement, which includes new paneling, carpeting, desks, chairs and visitors' galleries. The outdated photo above, provided by the Senate, is a preliminary rendering of what the new Senate will look like. The new chamber should be ready by the time of the next organizational session following the general election in November.

The Senate chamber in the Old Capitol no longer has the spittoons and floor-mounted ash trays that it had decades ago. But it has been recreated and restored to its old luster and is used for historic and community events, such as a recent annual gala hosted by the League of Women Voters of Florida. The Senate has held discussions with the Florida Channel about the logistical changes needed to provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of a special session in the Old Capitol.

If a special session is held, the House will stay put. But the temporary relocation of senators to the Old Capitol would revive another grand Tallahassee tradition: Back in the day, reporters who covered the Senate sat in the chamber, a few feet behind the senators themselves -- not in a glass-enclosed gallery overlooking the chamber.

In a memorandum to senators, Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, wrote: "The egg and dart molding and the Ionic columns were modeled after the Historic Capitol as well as the 1947 chamber which was demolished in the late 1970s. Both styles have a long history in public and government buildings dating back to ancient times, which will fit the historical and traditional style of the new chamber. Additionally, the white dome is connected to the style of the 1947 chamber, which was almost entirely white."

[Last modified: Monday, March 7, 2016 5:55pm]


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