Mark Pafford calls Tallahassee ‘corrosive,’ ‘corrupted’

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford played the role of the not-so-loyal opposition Wednesday, floating ideas that are heretical to the controlling Republican caucus, including extending legislative term limits and prohibiting fundraising during committee weeks. 

“Boy, that would be charming,” he said with a grin. “That would change things.”

Pafford, a Palm Beach County state representative, appeared before a group of reporters and editors from around the state at the Associated Press legislative planning session held at the Capitol.

But the grind of the last year also appeared to be getting to the House’s top Democrat; Pafford noted that lawmakers will have been in Tallahassee for 25 weeks this year.

A third Special Session is set to begin Monday to fix the state Senate district boundary lines that were the subject of yet another lawsuit alleging gerrymandering, which the Senate admitted in a settlement of the suit.

“This can be a corrosive process, and it takes a lot out of you,” Pafford said. 

He used the example of a failed attempt to get Medicaid expansion passed in the House this past session, where the GOP majority allowed it to be debated for seven hours before driving a stake through it.

Pafford also called out the GOP leadership for continuing to rely on attorneys “who keep giving unconstitutional advice” on proposed maps for the Legislature’s redistricting efforts.

He was asked whether the Democrats will have a healthcare proposal of their own this year.

“I hope to put something out there,” he said, but soon apologized for “getting emotional” when talking about the 600,000 Floridians “exposed to a high-priced (healthcare) system that doesn’t provide them access or quality of care.”

“It’s so corrupted at this point,” Pafford said, referring to the Tallahassee governing process. “How dare we say we’re doing anything for the people of Florida when we fail every time?”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.