The work of the people ended with a whimper Friday, as lawmakers agreed to extend the 2017 Legislative Session to complete the budget, killing a host of other legislation.
As the Legislature turned out the lights around 9:30 p.m., high-profile dead bills included efforts to overhaul workers’ compensation and assignment of benefits, and to implement the state’s medical cannabis constitutional amendment.
The House and Senate agreed to a concurrent resolution extending session to 11:59 p.m. Monday to pass the 2017-18 state budget and several other measures, including the annual tax cut package.
The General Appropriations Act wasn’t delivered until 2:43 p.m. Friday. With the state constitution’s required 72-hour “cooling off” period, Monday afternoon is the earliest that the budget can be voted on.
Now it remains to be seen, with a budget that includes drastic cuts to Gov. Rick Scott‘s tourism marketing and economic development priorities, whether Scott will veto part or all of the spending plan.
“On the Senate side, we tried to work with our friends in the House and the governor to be able to obtain more of the governor’s priorities, but ultimately that wasn’t successful,” Senate President Joe Negron told reporters Friday night.
Negron, a Stuart Republican, also said he wanted an approach to workers’ compensation that was fair both to workers and businesses.
“Businesses don’t care whether attorney fees are paid to plaintiffs’ attorneys, whether they’re paid to defense attorneys. They care what the premiums are,” he said. “Whether it’s something we can look at when we reconvene (in January), we’ll have to see.”
Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, expressed similar sentiments about the effort to implement medical marijuana.
“If we’ve learned anything about these constitutional amendments, whether the Legislature acts or not is irrelevant,” he said. “There will be court challenges, because people will not like what we did when we act, and they won’t like our inaction either. So I would expect court challenges no matter what we did.”
Jim Rosica and Michael Moline contributed to this post.