Will Weatherford brings back the “Florida Handbook”

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For the first time since 2012, state leaders, politicos and the public will have a comprehensive guidebook to the Florida political landscape.

House Speaker Will Weatherford announced the release of the 34th edition of The Florida Handbook, a guidebook to state government and history, which since 1947 had been a labor of love for a highly respected Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Although publication of the private venture ceased in 2012, a new reference guide is available starting today online and free for all users.

“The Florida House has always been the ‘chamber of ideas,’ which is why we are proud to bring back the most well-known chronicle of trends, history and facts in the Sunshine State,” Weatherford said in a statement.  “Our all-new 2014 edition of ‘The Florida Handbook’ picks up where the Morris Family left off and is available for everyone to access online.”

The Florida Handbook is a sort of political “owner’s manual” that provide users with valuable information on Florida’s politics, people and history. Started by Allen Morris, who served as the Clerk of the Florida House from 1966 to 1986, the manual became well known as the unofficial guide to the state’s history, government and statistics. Morris was also responsible for the official Florida state Clerk’s Manual.

After Morris’ death in 2002, his wife Joan continued publishing the Handbook for a decade.

Weatherford directed the Office of the Clerk to bring the book back for the 2013-14 edition.

“For decades, ‘The Florida Handbook’ has been the textbook on Florida politics and history,” said Joan Morris, former editor of the Florida Handbook.  “I’m delighted to see the handbook will continue to be available for future generations of Floridians to enjoy.

Chapters include examinations of the three branches of Florida’s government, as well as ones titled “The People’s Business,” “Nature,” “Economy” and “People.”

The directory for 2013-14 is available in both a CD and an electronic version, which offers a number of convenient features:

  • Easy to use table of contents with navigation to each of the handbook’s chapters
  • Links to relevant websites outside of the document included in the text
  • Search functionality (Command+F) throughout the entire handbook

The House is also considering a hardcover edition, which could become available after a sufficient number of preorders, and expected to cost around $50. A CD of the Florida Handbook is available now for $3. Requests for the CD or pre-orders of the printed version can be made by calling the Office of the Clerk at (850) 717-5400.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.