What Tallahassee Lawmakers Failed To Do in 2013
Editor's Note: Be sure to check out an interactive bill tracker of this year's session from the Miami Herald.
It's curtains for Session 2013 in Tallahassee but a feeling persists that not much was accomplished during the last two months.
Here in South Florida, the clock ran out on the Miami Dolphins' 2-minute drill for state help on renovations to Sun Life Stadium.
And the House never considered a bill passed by the Senate that would have given the team tax rebates and allow Miami-Dade County to raise its mainland hotel tax.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic Senator Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens (where the stadium is located), wasn’t sure what was “working against” him in the House, but had a pretty good idea.
“It’s really only one person that controls whether things are put on the floor” Braynon said, referring to House Speaker Will Weatherford. “The rumor I heard was we had the votes.”
What had the support of the Florida Senate, but didn't have the votes in the House, was a proposal to use more than $50B in federal money for Medicaid to help cover the state's one million plus uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.
Fellow Democrat Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale was part of our WLRN-Miami Herald Town Hall meeting in February and said healthcare expansion was easily the biggest issue that didn't get resolved.
“We lost an opportunity to expand Medicaid or do something to get back funds from the federal government,” he said.
Stand Your Ground
Smith lamented the fact that state legislators failed at every attempt to change the state's controversial self-defense law.
“Stand Your Ground was a big disappointment,” Smith said.
The Florida Legislature failed to consider any changes to the 2005 law, even after two separate task forces—one chaired by Smith—toured the state last year to discuss tweaks to it following the 2012 shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford.
There was, however, a different view on the other side of the aisle, where Republican State Senator Jack Latvala of Clearwater said it was a productive two months.
“It was a great session. I thought everything went very smoothly. The Senate operated very nicely. We got a lot of things done in a cordial fashion.”