Pointing to the chaotic end of the 2011 legislative session, Senate Transportation Chairman Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, warned Friday against putting substantive legal changes into budget “conforming” bills. Latvala made the comments as House and Senate negotiators continued trying to resolve differences in the transportation and economic development portion of the budget. Latvala said five issues from a transportation-policy bill have been proposed to go into a budget conforming bill. As an example, House negotiators Friday proposed including a program aimed at improving transportation facilities to help increase shipping through ports. Conforming bills are supposed to be related to budget issues and offer lawmakers little opportunity for amendments when they go to the House and Senate floors. An attempt to place substantive legal changes in conforming bills last year helped lead to a last-night revolt among some senators, including Latvala. He said Friday he will “very strenuously object” again on the Senate floor if issues such as the transportation proposals end up in a conforming bill. Rep. Mike Horner, a Kissimmee Republican who is the House’s lead negotiator on transportation and economic development budget issues, said the five proposals all have connections to the budget. Also, he said including them in a conforming bill would help ensure they would pass if a transportation-policy bill fails.
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.