Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The House proposes, the Senate disposes

Some people say Florida should switch to a one-chamber Legislature, like Nebraska. The theory seems to be the fewer politicians, the better.

Not me, Jack.

Can't tell you how many times over the years I've muttered to myself: "Thank God for the Senate." (I say this about the House once in a while, but not as often.)

This time of year, when the Legislature is down to its final major decisions, there are only two parties in Tallahassee — House and Senate.

Human nature is for them to chafe at each other, to take a whack at each other's ideas.

Especially the Senate, where the members tend to be older, more experienced, more independent.

More stubborn, too.

This year the House speaker, Dean Cannon, was dead set on splitting the Florida Supreme Court in half, mostly because he didn't like some of its rulings.

Two state Supreme Courts! The Senate killed this goofy scheme. (Cannon did get some other court stuff that still might be bad ideas — a topic for another day.)

The House tried to deregulate 30 professions altogether. This was ideological and wacky. Do we really want to legalize fake charities and unscrupulous car mechanics in Florida? The Senate cut that list down to 10 professions, and a couple of those left are obsolete, anyway.

Gov. Rick Scott wanted a big tax cut for Florida corporations, on top of the deep budget cuts that have to be made this year. The Senate instead gave him a small cut in terms of dollars, but a savvy one — it eliminated taxes on thousands of small businesses. The governor had no choice but to take it and declare victory.

The House voted to cut the length of unemployment benefits in Florida. At the Senate's insistence, that length will stay the same, as long as unemployment is above a certain level.

The Senate killed one of the most heavily lobbied bills of the session, the push for electric companies to be able to raise rates to pay for renewable and alternative energy. ("Renewable energy" might sound like good-guy stuff, but it was really of a big cash grab by Florida Power & Light.)

The Senate killed a 25 percent increase in the premiums of Citizens Property Insurance Co. — a popular idea in the short run, although it only puts off some hard decisions.

The House got its way on at least one high-profile issue: The Senate tried to give Florida insurance companies a huge break by saying they no longer have to cover sinkholes. The House has decided they'll still have to, and the House will probably prevail.

Make no mistake: The Legislature overwhelmingly agrees on the big picture of big budget cuts and no new taxes of any kind. The two sides agreed on a repeal of teacher tenure, expanding charter schools and the odious "leadership funds" they legalized for fundraising.

But in general, the independent senators serve as a check and balance on the House, on the governor — and even on the Senate itself.

The other day, veteran Sen. Jack Latvala, a Republican from St. Petersburg, got up and blasted the way the Senate leadership was handling an issue — while Senate President Mike Haridopolos, presiding, stood tight-lipped, arms crossed in disapproval.

It'll be a cold day when an obedient young sheep in the other chamber stands up to chew out the speaker of the House in live session.

Until then, viva the Senate.

The House proposes, the Senate disposes 05/04/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 8:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  2. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  3. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000


    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. What you might have missed from the third episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for a third edition of the Annotated Hard Knocks, trying each week to freeze frames and find the tiny nuances of Bucs training camp you might have missed out on. If you see something we missed, hit …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans wears one of teammate Kwon Alexander's red "LI-TI-RILLA" T-shirts, which refer to Alexander being part lion, part tiger and part gorilla, of course. [HBO/NFL FILMS]