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The day that was in Florida politics — March 3

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida House and Senate have a joint work plan but when Senate President Andy Gardiner recapped day one of the 2015 legislative session the conversation shed light on the issues separating the chambers.

The different priorities will be the bargaining chips lawmakers will exchange over the next 10 weeks of policymaking and budget writing.

The Senate sits with a greyhound injury reporting bill already passed, prison reform and a desire to reduce the number of uninsured Floridians. Across the rotunda, the House agenda includes a gambling initiative, a commitment to a water policy and reform of the Florida Retirement System.

When asked if the Senate would be willing to meet the House on FRS if the House moved on Medicaid expansion Gardiner said that is not how he wants to govern.

“It is not my style to sit around and horse-trade. I believe you just do what you think is the right thing to do. That’s kind of how I look at the world,” said Gardiner. “I don’t think we’re going to live in that world but we’ll see, we’ll see.”

Gardiner is not a fan of gambling but his calm demeanor suggests he would be able to put on and hold a poker face for however long it may take to negotiate the handful of policy issues dividing the House and Senate.

“I feel very comfortable about where the Senate, especially where these senators are going with all of those issues. I think they are on the right track,” Gardiner said.

The conversation was punctuated with we’ll sees, it’s the first day, we have a few weeks. Gardiner says those kind of words with an earnest expression suggesting that he is not dodging a question but giving an honest assessment. And by the time he got around to saying “we’ve got a long way to go,” you could imagine him going about his work humming Miles from Nowhere with the confidence of a Cat Steven’s performance.

Earlier, the 2015 legislative session began with Gov. Rick Scott urging lawmakers to embrace Florida Exceptionalism.

“It is a call to the Legislature to continue to enact conservative policy that has been the norm since Republicans took control of state government in the late 1990s,” said UCF political science professor Aubrey Jewett.

Scott touted a policy of low taxes and fewer regulations as making Florida a place where people can pursue their dreams. He called for record spending on education, increased spending on the environment and tax cuts.

Gray Rohrer points out some of things Scott did not talk about. And you can read the speech here.

Tallahassee progressives countered Scott’s agenda with their own 5-point plan.

“We’re here to unveil a bold, progressive agenda that works for all Floridians, not just the wealthy and well connected,” said Barbara DeVane of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

The first bill passed by the Senate this year was a greyhound injury-reporting bill. The measure is named in honor of Victoria Q. Gaetz for her work on behalf of animal protection. Ms. Gaetz’s husband is former Senate President Don Gaetz.

“It’s time we have injury reporting in Florida, one of two states that doesn’t have injury reporting and it will save these precious dogs’ lives,” said state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, who sponsored the measure.

Sobel said more than 3,000 greyhound racers have suffered broken legs in the pass six years.

The measure, identical to the bill that made it through the committee process last year, requires injuries to be reported to the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering in the Department of Business and Professional Regulation within one week of it occurring.

There’s more here.

They may have been in town for only a day but lawmakers are making news away from the Capitol. There was some sort of encounter between a Connecticut spring breaker and Miami state Rep. Frank Artiles.

The student said Artiles hit him and Artiles denies the allegation.

As Gardiner said, it’s day one and we have a long way to go.

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