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In Tallahassee today, push to dismantle a state agency

TALLAHASSEE — As the 2010 legislative session enters its third week, the pace of lawmaking has begun to quicken and an array of issues is moving to the forefront.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee will consider two bills that would dismantle a major state agency, the Department of Management Services, and divide its duties among other agencies — including the elected post of chief financial officer.

The proposed breakup of DMS is being spearheaded by a powerful senator, budget-writing chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who has repeatedly expressed frustration with what he considers the agency's foot-dragging in response to requests for a complete inventory of all state-owned and state-managed real estate holdings.

DMS acts as the landlord for state government agencies, maintains the two state-owned airplanes and oversees state government information technology.

Both the House and Senate will be in session this afternoon to debate a variety of legislation.

The House will consider HB 105 that would require middle school students to pass a civics education course. Surveys have shown that many students lack an understanding of such basics as the three branches of government or the foundations of the American political system.

Another sign that the session's pace is quickening is the fact that each day, an array of interest groups are on display in the Capitol advocating their causes. Tuesday's exhibitors include the Florida National Guard; Florida Nurses Association; AFSCME, a major public employee union; and advocates for the developmentally disabled, who will urge legislators to avoid more budget cuts that could reduce services to some of the state's most vulnerable residents.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

In Tallahassee today, push to dismantle a state agency 03/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:33pm]
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