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Weatherford and Gaetz: 'dance partners' of the session

Published Apr. 29, 2013

Senate President Don Gaetz often introduces House Speaker Will Weatherford, as the "taller, smarter, better-looking version of the Weatherford-Gaetz" duo. Weatherford, who at 33 is young enough to be Gaetz's son, calls the 65-year-old "a wonderful partner and, more important, a friend."

The state's two most powerful legislators are adversaries in theory, but they have acted more like partners in practice as they set a conciliatory tone for the legislative session that ends this week.

Their unusual camaraderie has led to early passage of three of their four priorities and the resolution of issues that for years had been mired in special interest turf battles.

"After Monday, we will have gone through most of the major pieces of legislation that members filed,'' said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, Senate Rules Committee chairman, who, a decade ago, served as House speaker.

In the last three weeks, legislators agreed on allowing physicians to package drugs, optometrists to prescribe medications, high schools to offer varied graduation standards and the sugar industry to continue taxing itself for Everglades cleanup. Each had been bitterly fought for years and all but the education bill was fueled by campaign contributions from dueling sides. More here.