Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Florida’s 2018 Legislature was the least productive in two decades

At least, if you count by the number of bills passed.
[LANGSTON TAYLOR | ]
Published Mar. 14, 2018
Updated Aug. 27

After 62 days in Tallahassee during the 2018 session, Florida’s Legislature passed 196 bills. That’s the fewest number in at least 21 years, according to state records.

The Senate passed just 85 of its bills, 10 fewer than it did in 2017 and hundreds less than it regularly passed in the early 2000s. The House passed 286, an above-average number for sessions during Gov. Rick Scott’s tenure that reflects the relatively more activist nature of House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

But getting bills through both houses proved difficult. Forty-six percent of bills that passed one house (excluding one-house resolutions) failed to get out of the other. That’s the highest failure rate since 1998, the earliest year for which records were available.

Count includes concurrent resolutions but excludes one-chamber resolutions. Data available at flsen.gov.

The low numbers come after a steady decline in that time span. The trend is going clearly toward fewer bills sent to the governor’s desk. Whether a session is in an election year or not makes little difference in the total number.

In the late 1990s, legislators passed as many as 500 bills in a session. That reflected a waning era where the Legislature was led by mostly Democratic leaders, said Darryl Paulson, USF St. Petersburg professor emeritus.

But since the Republican takeover in 1998, legislatures are increasingly uninterested in passing bills.

“Every piece of legislation is looked at as something that impinges on individual freedoms,” Paulson said.

“Oftentimes, they judge themselves by, ‘The less we do, the better off Floridians are.’”

Republicans, he said, want to pass the budget, the relatively few priorities set by leadership and ... not much more.

This 20-year-trend deepened even though 2018 was a session that demanded action.

RELATED COVERAGE: Florida Legislature 2018 -- What passed and what failed

After the Parkland shooting on Valentine’s Day, survivors, law enforcement officers and gun-control advocates forced lawmakers to pass measures addressing gun violence and school safety. They had no choice but to pass something on the issue. And they did.

But it sacrificed precious time.

“I’m sure at least 10 percent of the session—10 percent of their time—was consumed by that one major issue that nobody could anticipate,” Paulson said.

Lawmakers planned to spend 2018 on education reform and hurricane preparation and had directions to tackle opioids, wildfires and sexual harassment. All of those issues took a backseat to the unforeseen gun debate.

Or at least, that’s what Republican leaders said when much of what they had said they had planned to pass didn’t.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. President Donald Trump speaking during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    And few people are on the fence.
  2. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.
  3. Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooter killed 17 people in 2018, push petitions for 2020 ban on assault weapons in Florida. (Miami Herald) MIAMI HERALD  |
    After months of glitches, the Department of State is resorting to a paper workaround while ballot initiatives face higher costs.
  4. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.
    The Naples Republican recently refused to rule out a vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
  5. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  6. Nearly two dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein voiced their outrage at a hearing in Manhattan on Aug. 27, 2019. EMILY MICHOT | Miami Herald
    In the wake of several nationwide cases dealing with sexual assault and abuse, advocates are pushing Florida to ease its statutes of limitations
  7. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Davie, Fla. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Because Israel is a constitutional officer elected by voters, state law requires that the Senate approve or reject the governor’s decision to remove him from office and gives Israel the opportunity to...
  8. El gobernador de Florida, Ron DeSantis, hace una declaración sobre el hecho de responsabilizar a los funcionarios del gobierno en Fort Lauderdale en el Complejo de Seguridad Pública Ron Cochran el 11 de enero, luego de que nombró al ex sargento de la policía de Coral Springs. Gregory Tony reemplazará a Scott Israel como sheriff del condado de Broward. (Al Díaz / Miami Herald / TNS)
    Several Senate leaders told the Times/Herald they are prepared to accept new evidence during a daylong hearing scheduled for today. They could decide against DeSantis when they vote Wednesday.
  9. District 3 City Council candidates Orlando Acosta, left, and Ed Montanari. Scott Keeler, Chris Urso
    The St. Petersburg City Council races are supposed to be nonpartisan. Partisan politics are leaking into the campaign anyway.
  10. Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. LAWRENCE MOWER  |  Lawrence Mower
    It’s unclear how state and county officials plan on complying with the judge’s order, however. The “poll tax” issued wasn’t addressed, either.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement