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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senators like earlier start dates in even-numbered years



State senators voiced support Monday for changing the starting date of legislative sessions in even-numbered years from March to January. The bill (SB 1356) is sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who said it's a good idea to advance the starting date so that Easter and Passover don't fall in the middle of a session, and that building a state budget sooner in the year is better for cities and counties.

Tallahassee is often a lot colder in January than it is in March, a fact not lost on some lawmakers.

"It's a choice of coming up here and freezing or coming up here and watching the azaleas bloom," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee.

If Flores' bill becomes law, next year's session would begin on Jan. 14, 2014.

Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, cast the lone objection, saying the start of a session so soon after the holidays leaves little time for committee meetings to seriously consider legislation. Nine-week sessions in odd-numbered years would still begin in early March. Flores' bill has no House companion at the moment.

[Last modified: Monday, April 1, 2013 2:19pm]


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