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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.

Dolphins Stadium

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.

Credit Florida House
State Representative Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens)

“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.”

Medicaid Expansion

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.

chris smith.jpg
Credit Florida Senate
State Senator Minority Leader Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale)

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.

Credit flsenate.gov
State Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater)

“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.”

Listen to radio segment above, or on a special edition of The Florida Roundup "Town Hall Revisited" this Friday at noon on WLRN 91.3 FM, with a live chat at WLRN.org.