New leaders are promising a kinder, gentler process, but as a host of challenging issues are waiting for action, 22 newly elected legislators took their oath along with returning veterans.
Outside the chambers the fourth row rotunda resembled a cocktail party without the alcohol. The special interest lobbyists were sent a message by the new Senate president.
Tom Lee, (D) Brandon, said, “At this point I would like to ask the following lobbyists to stand and be recognized. Just kidding.”
Tom Lee of Brandon has never been a fan of special interest lobbyists. He urged his colleagues to shun their influence.
Tom says, “If I’ve been impatient about the shallowness of politics, I make no apologies because I want my public service to be an honor.”
And while this was a time to celebrate, lawmakers will come back in a month to turmoil as they try to create a voter mandated pre-k program and deal with hurricane insurance problems. The industry is already conceding that double deductibles will be a thing of the past.
Sam Miller of the Florida Insurance Institute says, “We don’t really oppose them doing it but we appreciate an opportunity to work with them on the details. I mean, where you’re going to find the money is very important.”
Beyond hurricanes and day care, limits on lawsuits, a change in the way the state taxes and budgets and constitutional amendment reform are all on the legislative plate in months ahead.
While kinder and gentler are the watch words of the day there have never been tougher challenges, and if history is any guide that will make for a bumpy legislative road ahead.
Lawmakers will return to the state Capitol on December 13 for a special session that’s expected to last one week. They’ll be dealing with hurricane recovery issues and creation of a statewide pre-kindergarten program.