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Final Days of Session Closing In

April 22nd, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida lawmakers are heading into the final stretch of their annual session with most major legislation unfinished.

Just 9 days remain unless overtime is needed to finish the budget and lawmakers are showing no sense of urgency as the clock is ticking.

In seven weeks, Just 26 bills have been sent to the Governor.

Most are inconsequential, but the final nine days are likely to see marathon sessions.

“The most dangerous days in all the Florida calendar, the last few weeks of the legislative session. A lot of things can happen, probably will happen very quickly in the next few weeks,” said Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Time frames for filing amendments are greatly compressed.

Committee hearings can be called in two hours.

In the 1990s, the legislation that ultimately led to Florida winning billions from tobacco companies was described as a technical change in the late hours of the final day.

There’s an old adage that no one’s life, liberty or property are safe when the legislature is in session.

That’s even more true in the final days.

This is a time when bills come back to life says author, lawyer and lobbyist, Pete Dunbar.

“A bill dealing with the lottery, where we have some advertising disclosures being required. Apparently very important to the Speaker, never heard in the Senate, but all of a sudden it has popped up and moved very quickly,” said Dunbar.

We asked State Senator Aaron Bean if he was worried about nefarious lawmaking over the final days.

“One man’s nefarious is another person’s this is the greatest thing ever, so it’s session,” said Bean.

The crush has already started.

Last week, a Senate committee passed five bills, each averaging a hundred pages, in five minutes.

Lawmakers are on pace to pass fewer bills than in any other session since the legislature began meeting every year in 1968.

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