Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 5 of 76 - Florida Politics

Legislature adjourns sometimes-bumpy Special Session in a burst of amity

The Legislature concluded its special session with about an hour and 20 minutes to spare Friday, after voting to improve funding for public schools, colleges, and universities, and revamping the way the state encourages economic growth.

While they were at it, the lawmakers passed an implementing bill for the medical marijuana constitutional amendment the voters approved last year.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron gaveled their chambers into adjournment at around 4:40 p.m. — well in advance of their 6 p.m. deadline. Clashing priorities at times had seemed to threaten a timely sine die.

“This is a very good day for Florida families,” Gov. Rick Scott said during a joint post-adjournment news conference with Corcoran and Negron in the Fourth Floor rotunda.

Scott had called the special session because he was unhappy with the state budget for schools and economic development the Legislature sent him last month.

On Friday, he credited Corcoran for coming up with the idea of helping to finance repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, around Lake Okeechobee, and Negron for pressing for the boost to higher education.

“I’m excited to travel the state and brag about what got accomplished in the special session,” Scott said.

Negron viewed the dike project as in keeping with SB 10, his big Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration project, approved during the regular session. He promised additional attention to the matter during the next regular session.

As for higher education, “our universities and our state colleges are an integral part of economic development and vitality in the state of Florida,” Negron said.

“If you put them all together — the special session and the regular session — it’s a landmark year,” Corcoran said.

He welcomed the increased investment in schools and the new economic development model that stresses broad infrastructure and training investments rather than grants to particular businesses.

“It looks like one of the first infrastructure projects might be repairing the dike at Lake O. So that’s an exciting thing, too, that happened today,” Corcoran said.

In subsequent remarks to reporters, Scott zeroed in on the schools right off the bat.

“We had to put more money into K-12 education, and I want to thank the House and Senate for making that happen,” he said.

He and Corcoran had bickered over the future of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida during the regular session. On Friday, he allowed that the speaker “made us think about how we can do economic development better.”

Scott wants the dike project completed by 2022, he said — and thanked President Donald Trump for promising federal money for the project. He said the state money would allow the work to get started.

Does Scott plan to sign the medical marijuana implementing bill?

“Absolutely,” he said. He raised no objection to language reserving treatment center licenses for defunct citrus processing businesses.

He’s still reviewing HB 7069, the House’s Schools of Hope charter initiative from the regular session. Asked whether there was a deal linking that bill to his priorities during the special session, Scott said: “I’m still reviewing the bills.”

Of the higher ed projects the Senate held out for, Scott said: “I have reviewed those projects and I plan on approving them.”

Rick Scott proclaims June 12 ‘Pulse Remembrance Day’

Gov. Rick Scott has proclaimed next Monday, June 12, to be “Pulse Remembrance Day” in Florida, calling for flags to fly at half staff and for a moment of silence at 9 a.m.

In doing so, Scott also acknowledged the blows to the Hispanic and LGBTQ communities,  and does not explicitly describe the attack, which killed 49 and wounded 53, as a radical Islamic terrorist attack. That is characterization he has not always used, and for which he has received stern criticism from critics, most recently earlier this week from state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat.

“I encourage all Floridians to pause this Monday at 9 a.m. to share in a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Pulse terror attic,” Scott said in a release announcing the proclamation. “This was an attack on Orlando, our state, the Hispanic Community and on the LGBTQ community. It left a solemn impact on our state that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.”

The proclamation begins by stating that on “June 12, 2016, a terrorist inspired by ISIS targeted the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and took 49 innocent lives.”

It then states that “the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities were viciously attacked during this senseless tragedy.”

It goes on to praise the responses, bravery, heroism, care, compassion and love from law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel, volunteer and charitable organizations.

It also commends groups for coming together “to restore hope and pecs during Orlando’s darkest time of need,” and acknowledges the “lives of survivors, families and loved ones forever changed by this senseless and hateful act.”

“The horrific terror attack at Pulse attempted to rip at the seams of our society, strike fear in our hearts and divide us,” Scott stated in the news release. “Yet, in the face of extreme adversity and loss, Floridians showed resiliency, bravery and love. Over the past year, our state, the city of Orlando and the many Floridians affected by this tragedy have shown incredible resolve as we continue to mourn the loved and lost. As we pause to honor the 49 victims of this tragic attack this Monday, my wife and I will say a prayer for each of them and their families. We will also be reminded of all the people who helped others in need. The law enforcement officers, first responders, medical personnel, faith and spiritual leaders and Central Florida families defined what Florida is all about. We care about each other and we came together when it was needed the most.”

 

We have a deal: Rick Scott expands scope of special session

Gov. Rick Scott expanded the call of the Legislature’s special session Friday to include money he wants to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike and higher education investments important to the Senate.

And here are the details that got us here:

The Senate will relent on trying to appropriate more money for hospitals; there will be nothing that looks like a tax increase; Scott will allow restoration of $60 million in preferred Senate projects; there will be no changes in the ‘required local effort’ part of public schools funding.

These widgets will be in the House’s bill on the Florida Education Finance Program, sources said.

Scott will get $50 million to repair the dike. House Speaker Richard Corcoran had proposed the changes in a letter to Scott earlier in the day.

The Senate earlier was in recess pending what President Joe Negron referred to as “an amendment being prepared based on current developments.”

Corcoran put forward the dam project as economic development spending, fully compatible with the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund created in legislation that cleared the House floor earlier Friday.

The deal lacks $100 million the Senate sought to ameliorate Medicaid reimbursement cuts to Florida hospitals. It wouldn’t increase taxes or change local schools property taxes. It would include $60 million for Senate higher education projects, and $50 million for the dike.

“This disaster has all the characteristics and consequences that the (fund) is designed to address,” Corcoran wrote — specifically, “the devastating economic impact resulting from the blue-green algae bloom in South Florida” last summer.

“The House believes infrastructure projects, such as the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike, can assist economic recovery and support the area’s workforce,” he wrote.

Corcoran noted that “your friendship with President Trump” has resulted a promise for federal matching money for the $200 million project, which Scott urged the Legislature to support during the regular session.

Negron on Thursday evening demanded respect for the Senate’s higher education priorities — he wants Florida’s colleges and universities to rank among the nation’s best. The upper chamber has voted to override Scott’s vetoes of $75 million in higher ed projects.

Corcoran found a way to qualify those projects as economic incentives. “These institutions can and ahould provide ongoing research, training, and support for local economic recovery,” he wrote.

“As I have publicly stated, the House will not participate in any legislative action to override your higher education project vetoes,” Corcoran stressed.

“However, with your agreement, we can support more conservative appropriations to provide funding for higher education projects that will contribute to the broader goal of strong public infrastructure and a skilled workforce.”

Scott confirmed in a written statement that Trump has promised money to fix the dike, which surrounds Lake Okeechobee.

“Along with SB 10, a major priority for Senate President Joe Negron, that I signed into law last month, repairing the Herbert Hoover Dike will ensure that future generations of Floridians will not be plagued with safety concerns during flooding events and problems with algae. I urge the Legislature to take up this call and fund these critical repairs,” Scott said.

“Also, today, I updated the call to include higher education funding. Last week, I signed a historic $4.9 billion budget for Florida’s universities, which is a $174 million increase over last year,” Scott continued.

“By adding higher education to the topics that can be considered during the ongoing special session, the Legislature will have the opportunity to modify these issues for my consideration.”

Joe Negron doubles down: He was not party to any special session deal

Senate President Joe Negron insisted Thursday, for the second time in as many days, that he emphatically was not party to any deal between Gov. Rick Scott and the House over public education spending and economic incentives.

Any suggestion otherwise, Negron told reporters following the day’s Senate session, is a “false narrative.”

There is evidence, he said — absence of reference to him in the governor’s special session proclamation, and of any quote from a press release announcing the session.

He said early drafts of those documents would back him up, but his office hadn’t produced them Thursday evening.

He’d asked not to be included, lest it be mistaken as an endorsement, although he did attend a June 2 news conference announcing the special session call.

“I hear this false narrative by some that, somehow, the Senate is not keeping its end of the deal,” Negron said.

“We all care about our reputation. Our word is our bond. I think the evidence is indisputable — and it makes perfect sense — that the governor and the speaker have resolved a conflict. But they can’t resolve that conflict by using the Senate priorities to make that happen.”

Negron stressed that the major disagreements during the regular session were between Scott and the House. The Senate sided with Scott on funding for Enterprise Florida Inc. and Visit Florida, over determined opposition in the House.

“Now the House has decided to give the governor every single dollar he has demanded for EFI, every single dollar for Visit Florida. And they’ve decided we’ll go ahead and do the $215 more for FEFP (public schools) — which is less than what the Senate had agreed to do in our budget,” Negron said.

“That’s the conflict. That’s why we’re here. We’re not here because of the Senate.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is on record to the effect that Negron “did not stick to the plan.”

Negron objected that Scott’s line item vetoes favored House projects over the Senate’s by a 2-1 margin.

Among the first things the Senate did upon convening Wednesday morning was to override Scott’s veto of the schools budget and $75 million in higher education projects. Boosting higher education has been a key Senate priority.

Additionally, the Senate is bent on reducing cuts to Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals by $100 million.

“We’re not just going to rubberstamp an agreement the two parties made without our priorities being taken into account,” Negron said.

“The good news is, we can be out of here by 2:30 or 3 o’clock tomorrow. It’s real simple. We fund the Senate priorities in higher education. We make sure the Senate’s views are respected as part of the negotiation. We look at hospital funding, which is important to the Senate. I’m open to discussing how we get there. And we still have reserves that exceed the current reserves that we have now,” he said.

“That’s what it’s going to take. But the Senate is united on not simply ratify an agreement that we weren’t part of.”

Negron spokeswoman Katie Betta said a Scott aide had shown her drafts of the proclamation and press release on a tablet computer. The proclaimation lacked Negron’s name, and she asked the aide to remove references to the president.

As Special session opens, the Florida Senate asserts its prerogatives

That deal everyone assumed Gov. Rick Scott struck with legislative leaders to ensure a smooth special session?

It didn’t exist. At least, it didn’t include Senate President Joe Negron.

Scott invited him to Friday’s press conference held to announce that he was calling a three-day special session on education, Visit Florida, and Enterprise Florida, Negron said Wednesday. He went out of respect for the governor, but there was no meeting of minds.

“It was very clear to the governor, in my communications with him, also through our staff, that any particular details of how the special session would unfold were not agreed to by the Senate. In fact, we were never even approached about those particular details,” Negron told reporters.

“Some falsely interpreted the events as a narrative involving the House, the Senate, and the governor,” he said.

“The Senate’s been very clear that we’re here to do the people’s work.” Just as Scott and the House have their priorities, “the Florida Senate has its own ideas and its own ways that we think the budget can be improved,” Negron said.

For his part, Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala bristled at suggestions the Senate was bound to any deal.

“The mood of the chamber is, we want to do what’s right for the people we represent. And we’re not going to told what to by somebody else,” he said.

The Senate began bucking as soon as it left the gate. It voted to override Scott’s vetoes of various public schools and higher education projects — as an “insurance policy” against House high-handedness regarding the plan to boost spending by $215 million, Latvala told the senators.

The Senate also asserted its prerogatives on the economic development package, and will debate reinstating $100 million in Medicaid reimbursement cuts to charity hospitals.

Sen. David Simmons plans to offer an amendment to divert $389 million pledged to HB 7069 — the Schools of Hope Bill — for the public schools.

Some $100 million of that would provide wrap-around services to kids in underperforming schools — meaning “intensive assistance to children in low-performing schools,” Simmons said — the very ones targeted by Schools of Hope charters.

Simmons argued to reporters that there’s no way the program can get off the ground during the new budget year. In the meantime, it makes sense to spend the “fallow” money on pressing needs, he said.

Latvala saw irony in the House’s cooperation with Scott on the incentives package in light of criticism of the Legislature over behind-closed-doors deal on the Appropriations Act. The governor was among the critics.

“When you give the Senate a bill that you have written between the governor’s office and the House of Representatives and say, ‘This is what we want,’ what’s different about that? Out of the three, it’s just a different two of the three making the decision,” he said.

Sen. Anatere Flores is carrying legislation that would restore $100 million of the $200 million in cuts to hospitals that treat Medicaid patients under the Appropriations Act. That would draw an additional $160 million in federal funds.

She would get the money from the state’s rainy day fund, which, fed by Scott’s line item vetoes would still total around $3 billion, Flores said. There’d be $1.3 billion in the working capital fund, enough to preserve the state’s bond rating.

“We would be somewhat derelict in our duties if we didn’t go back and say, there are some other issues that we could take a stab at,” Flores said.

“These are pregnant mothers. These are children. This is their safety net,” she said.

Is she talking to House leaders?

“I think that we’re all just talking right now. Soon, maybe, we’ll be talking to each other. I hope.”

Regarding the outlook for a timely adjournment on Friday, Negron was conciliatory after the Senate concluded business for the evening.

“The Senate’s relationship with the governor has been very productive,” he said.

“I don’t take it as an offense when the governor exercises his constitutional right to get a final review of the budget and to veto certain items,” he said. “Under our constitutional system, the Legislature gets to also make a review.”

And he welcomed the House’s movement toward positions Scott and the Senate have embraced all along.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. We certainly understand where the House is on their priorities. I hopeful over the next two days we can continue the dialog,” Negron said.

Carlos Smith: Since Pulse, Rick Scott has done nothing for LGBTQ community

While expressing curiosity at a forum held in Washington Wednesday over whether Gov. Rick Scott might attend next Monday’s Pulse memorial services, Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith slammed the governor, saying “he has done nothing” for the gay community since the June 12, 2016, massacre at Orlando’s popular gay nightclub.

Smith was speaking at a forum sponsored by the progressive groups Center for American Progress and the PRIDE Fund to look at the Pulse tragedy and how it affected Orlando, Florida, and state and national politics involving both LGBTQ issues and gun issues.

The openly-gay Orlando representative wondered whether Scott would, and whether he should, attend next Monday’s memorial ceremonies in Orlando for the 49 people who were murdered and 53 people who were wounded that night when madman Omar Mateen entered the club and sprayed bullets.

“He’s done nothing. And he should be held accountable,” Smith said of the governor.

On a panel Wednesday with Siclaly “Laly” Santiago-Leon, the cousin of a Pulse murder victim; Joanna Cifredo, a transgender activist from Orlando; and others, Smith said he believes the governor has changed twice since Pulse in his views of the LGBTQ community. Smith said he was convinced that Scott arrived in Orlando on June 12, 2016, unfamiliar with LGBTQ interests, and so did not acknowledge the community or its loss during the first day, which Smith said was understandable, given Scott’s background.

But Smith said he watched Scott evolve with exposure to Pulse families and survivors and become more understanding and sensitive – but then, devolve over ensuing months, to the point that Scott once again did not acknowledge the gay community when he talked about Pulse in his opening address to the Florida Legislature.

Smith said Scott now is in an awkward position regarding Pulse, the same position he was in a year ago. Smith said the governor had appeared at the massive Pulse vigil held at Lake Eola Park on June 19, 2016, asked if he should speak, was advised that he might be booed, and so did not speak.

“Why would he be booed? Because the LGBTQ community knows that he’s done nothing for us,” Smith said. “So look, Monday is the one year mark of the tragedy of Pulse. I don’t know if the governor is coming to Orlando. I don’t know if he’s going to participate. But what has he done for us? What has he done to send a message that Florida is a place that does not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ people? We know the answer.”

The two-hour forum, “One Year After Pulse Nightclub Shooting,” also featured a tearful keynote address from Pulse survivor Jeff Rodriguez, who was shot four times that night, very nearly died, and is still recovering. Rodriguez declared that he is and always has been pro-gun, and wished he had a handgun that night. But he joined the agenda pushed by PRIDE Fund for universal background checks, preventing people convicted of hate crimes or once watched by the FBI from obtaining weapons, federal research into gun violence, and restrictions on semi-automatic weapons, and high-capacity magazines.

“I am one of those 53; a year later, Pulse has not ended for us,” Rodriguez said. “I really believe that we need to get out there and make a diference and change some of these laws.”

The forum also was to include a congressional discussion featuring Democratic U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and Val Demings of Orlando, together with Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut. Murphy and Demings skipped out, citing congressional committees they had to attend. Esty, whose district includes Newtown, Ct., site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, came and talked about gun legislation and anti-discrimination legislation.

So did Smith, who skipped out on the opening day of the Florida Legislature Special Session to be there. His criticisms of Scott emerged from a discussion in which he and Cifredo decried what she called “toxic masculinity.” She said it formed the cultural backdrop for the Pulse massacre, and much of the hatred and homophobia that gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender people endure. And she said it was evidenced by politicians who entirely characterized Mateen as as a radical Islamic terrorist who had pledged to ISIS, while refusing to acknowledge his professed hatred of gays that had led him to attack Pulse specifically. Refusal to denounce that hatred perpetuates it, she said.

“In the wake of the Pulse shooting there was this narrative by state politicians, or just Florida politicians, trying to use the shooter’s [Islamic] background as a scapegoat, and to absolve themselves simultaneously from any culpability,” Cifredo said. “And so the whole narrative was on his background and ethnicity, without actually focusing on the culture that actually bred him and brought him into existence.”

Smith cited the culture Cifredo spoke of for what he said was Scott’s move back away from sensitivity to the LGBTQ community, and for the death in this year’s Legislative Session of the Florida Workplace Competitive Act, which would have extended anti-discrimination laws to gay employees.

“I’m frustrated with the political situation in Florida, post-Pulse,” Smith said. “At minimum, at minimum, one would think, after the worst hate crime against LGBTQ people in our country’s history, at Pulse, that Republican leaders in Tallahassee in the very least would send a message that discrimination against LGBTQ people in Florida will not be tolerated.”

Personnel note: Stephen Lawson moves to VISIT FLORIDA

Stephen Lawson has left the post of communications director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to become Vice President of Government Relations for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

Lawson

He announced the job change in an email Wednesday.

Lawson has been making the rounds of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, previously serving as communications director for Enterprise Florida, the public-private economic development organization.

Before that, he was director of research and writing in the Executive Office of the Governor and “rapid response director” for Scott’s 2014 campaign.

Lawson got his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, where he was a Florida Blue Key member, and received a graduate degree from Florida State University’s Master’s in Applied American Politics and Policy program.

Andrew Gillum ‘slams’ Special Session

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, issued a brief statement Tuesday calling this week’s Special Session “a complete embarrassment to our state.”

Gillum also took a swipe at a education policy bill (HB 7069) Gov. Rick Scott is considering that, among other things, could funnel more money to privately-managed charter schools.

The session “was called with a total lack of transparency, and thanks to HB 7069, Floridians’ tax dollars are almost certainly about to enrich for-profit charter school executives,” Gillum said in the statement.

“I’d urge Governor Scott to veto this bill—if only he and Speaker (Richard) Corcoran would come out from their smoke-filled room. This session is a case study on why Florida needs new leadership.”

After a seemingly rule-less meeting, constitution panel adopts rules

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission now has a set of rules for how it might go about writing major changes to Florida’s Constitution.

Those rules — addressing such matters as who will appoint committees, how proposals will move through committees, whether Florida’s Sunshine laws will cover everything — emerged from a sometimes chaotic debate in Orlando Tuesday morning at a meeting that Chair Carlos Beruff adjourned suddenly after he got what he apparently wanted.

By a 20-11 vote, the commission adopted a proposal from Gov. Rick Scott-appointee Brecht Heuchan that largely adopts, as a base, the rules used by the previous state Constitution Revision Commission in 1997-98, with a few changes Heuchan said were the desires of a rules work group that had met.

With that, Beruff closed down discussion or consideration of dozens of other proposals, including some amendments, and then adjourned the meeting. He promised that the other suggestions would be taken up at later meetings, but made contradictory statements about whether they would be considered by the full commission, or by a rules committee, which he would be able to appoint and control.

But the rules package adopted Tuesday didn’t address everything that everyone wanted, and opponents mounted challenges. Particular among them were assertions that the package did not create a “clawback” promise that Heuchan and others promised, which would allow committee majorities to force proposals to be considered. Nor did it offer explicit language to open meetings enough to satisfy the strongest proponents of open meetings for the commission’s business.

The victory came on the strength of Scott’s appointees: among them, including his hand-picked chairman Beruff, the package won 13-0, while the non-gubernatorial appointees, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, added seven yes votes and 11 no votes.

Left on the outside, state Sen. Tom Lee had been waiting for discussion and consideration of his own proposal, also based on the 1997-’98 rules, plus several proposed amendments waiting to be offered. He, and former state Sens. Don Gaetz and Arthenia Joyner among others had argued strenuously against Heuchan’s plan.

Their arguments included Gaetz point-of-order call early on, in which he charged that Heuchan’s proposal had been offered and submitted improperly, and couldn’t even be considered by the commission the way it was being handled.

Beruff struck down Gaetz’ objection as the kind of procedural question he was trying to avoid, and with a statement about rules that cut to the heart of concerns about a commission operating before it had adopted its own rules.

“There are no rules here. It is my understanding that without rules, there is no Germanic standard,” Beruff said. “And of course there always is: if you don’t like the amendment, you don’t have to vote for it.”

The matter came up again as Lee challenged the vote Beruff called on the rules package, arguing that the vote was being called improperly. When Beruff dismissed that charge, Bob Solari spoke out.

“We have rules when some people like them, but we don’t have rules when some people don’t like them,” Solari declared. “If I was watching this, the public, I would be incredibly depressed and dismayed. Because seeing the game here is played, the rules of this game today changed five or six times.”

Heuchan, however, tried hard to defend his package of rules against its critics’ points of concern about the package itself, arguing that it was a compromise, that he recognized that it wouldn’t please everyone, but that it was good enough for a start. And if he turns out to be wrong in his reassurances that clawback and Sunshine law provisions were strong, those could be addressed later. He promised he would lead the charge to make those changes.

“The amendment that was adopted does address those,” he said later. “I realize it may not be in the way that everybody wanted them but there was obvious support for the broader compromise.”

He also took issue with Lee’s contention that the adoption of rules was the most important thing the commission would do, because it would go a long ways to deciding which constitutional amendments would get through the commission, and which ones don’t.

“I meant what I said: when the emotion and the anxiety of the moment passes, which it will, it always does, people will not remember this day as being the day of disagreement,” Heuchan said. “They will remember this day as a day that charted us on a course for planning for the next 20 years for the state and its future and how we can do better by people. I believe that.”

All of which was complicated when Beruff first said all such proposed changes would be taken up by the rules committee. That confirmed the fears that Joyner and others had raised. But then Beruff later said such changes would be taken up by the full commission. That confirmed what supporters such as Heuchan and Frank Kruppenbacher, said they wanted.

Kruppenbacher, who actually introduced Heuchan’s package in a resolution, insisted later that he would demand that proposed rules amendments that had been on the table Tuesday be heard by the full committee. That was what his resolution had called for, and he said he would make sure it was followed.

 

Split appeal court upholds Rick Scott’s 2015 veto of firefighters’ $2,000 raise

The governor’s constitutional authority to veto budget line items trumps a state law requiring him to bow to the Legislature when it resolves labor collective bargaining impasses, a divided 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The majority conceded that, under the state Labor Code, “any actions taken by the Legislature shall bind the parties” — meaning a public employee union and the governor.

“Based primarily on a statute, appellant asks us to recognize a limitation on the governor’s constitutional authority to review the (General Appropriations Act), even though the Constitution explicitly allows the governor to veto the GAA or ‘any specific appropriation in a general appropriation bill,’ ” Timothy Osterhaus wrote for the majority.

“We cannot accept appellant’s invitation. The Florida Constitution clearly articulates the governor’s authority to veto the GAA, or specific appropriations therein. It authorized him to veto the raise appropriation here,” the court said.

“That appellant’s members possess constitutional collective bargaining rights does not alter the governor’s constitutional authority with respect to the GAA. … The governor’s action in this case comported with his constitutional authority.”

Judge Harvey Jay also signed the majority opinion.

The dispute involved Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a $2,000 raise the Legislature OK’d for members of the International Association of Firefighters Local S-20 — representing the Florida Forest Service — for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015.

In a dissent, Judge Bradford Thomas noted that the Florida Constitution also enshrines public employees’ right to bargain collectively.

“Here, the public employees’ argument should prevail, which would not otherwise significantly impair the governor’s general veto authority and properly harmonizes conflicting provisions of organic law,” Thomas wrote.

He cited the principle that, “if possible, amendments to the Constitution should be construed so as to harmonize with other constitutional provisions, but if this cannot be done, the amendment being the last expression of the will of the people will prevail.”

Otherwise, he wrote, the right to collective bargaining is “eviscerated.” Persuading majorities in the House and Senate to approve a salary increase is “herculean,” but requiring the supermajorities necessary to override a veto “in essence holds that public employees have no effective constitutional right to collective bargaining.”

Thomas suggested vetoes of such line items might be justified by “a compelling public interest, such as a budgetary emergency.”

He cited precedents through which the Florida Supreme Court refused to allow the Legislature rescind a pay raise it had approved for university faculty, or to force a contract approved by a governor to bind the Legislature.

“The question at issue here is whether the governor, by using his veto power, may unilaterally vacate the Legislature’s decision to resolve a collective-bargaining impasse,” Thomas wrote. “Based on logic, precedent, and the constitutional basis of public employees’ collective bargaining rights, the correct answer is no.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons