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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Some committees not meeting while Legislature is in Tallahassee



Just because the Legislature has been in town doesn't mean they're getting much done.

With the annual legislative session set to begin in early January, state lawmakers have spent four of the last seven weeks in Tallahassee for committee hearings, the first critical step in passing legislation and writing a state budget.

Yet in that time, more than a third of the 62 committees and subcommittees in the House and Senate have not considered any legislation.

Six have not met at all.

Among them are panels tasked with big jobs, like the House Appropriations Committee, responsible for the almost $80 billion state budget, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which considers proposed laws about the courts, privacy and human rights, among other topics.

Such meetings are critical to the lawmaking process. Bills cannot be passed unless they have cleared at least one committee. Often, they face votes in as many as four committees in both the House and the Senate.

No committee meetings means no votes, which could mean fewer proposals on the House and Senate floor in the upcoming session.

Instead, the Legislature has spent its time on other tasks. The first committee week in September was dominated by the election of Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, as the next speaker of the House. The last three weeks, both chambers focused on what turned into a failed attempt to remake state Senate districts.

"It's really weird," said Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville. "I literally have not voted on a bill since I've been in committees."

Read the full story here.

[Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2015 4:56pm]


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