Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November

    Blogs

    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  2. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  3. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system

    Testing

    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.

    Crime

    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
  5. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]