The picture to the right is of the dock in front of the beach house where the Griswolds, er, the Schorsches are vacationing this week. This was supposed to be a recuperative, post-session retreat, and although it has been an enjoyable time here in St. Augustine, it feels like just a break before the next wave crashes.
Here are my Takeaways from Tallahassee, err, St. Augustine.
•If I had to revise my list of Winners and Losers emerging from the 2015 Regular Legislative Session, I would put at the top of the list Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, and Adam Putnam, as well as regulators Drew Brakespear and Kevin McCarty. It was only three months ago that the Florida Cabinet held an awkward meeting at the Florida State Fairgrounds to hash out the mess created by the resignation of FDLE Chief Gerald Bailey. Brakespear and McCarty were also reportedly on the chopping block. But one sine die later and NO ONE is talking about Rick Scott‘s firing of Bailey or the Cabinet’s capitulation to the governor or getting rid of Brakespear and/or McCarty.
•In the Israeli-Palestinian-like setting that parallels the acrimony between the Florida House and Senate, a lot of people on the inside want to talk about the “progress” that was made when Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner agreed to the dates of a Special Session. But Crisafulli and Gardiner are not the roadblocks to, um peace. Pax Republicana goes through Reps. Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva. And look at what they’ve done this week: Corcoran has launched an online advertising campaign (rightly) criticizing the profit motives of some Florida hospitals, while Oliva took to Twitter to say, “The answer to every ‘crisis’ isn’t to further burden the public but to resolve what CAUSED the ‘crisis.’ We need COSTFix not FHIX.” In other words, Corcoran and Oliva are not ready to lay down their arms.
•There’s a scene in the TV show The West Wing where Leo McGarry instructs the three tribes of Democrats warring for the party’s presidential nomination for “someone to talk to somebody” so that peace can be made and a nominee can be selected. That’s really what needs to happen in the Legislature. Someone needs to talk to somebody. It’s not going to be the House speaker or the Senate president, because they have to be preserved for the big decisions. It probably can’t be Corcoran or Sen. Tom Lee because both have been so belligerent to the other chamber. So who will be blessed to be the peacemaker? I previously predicted it would be Jack Latvala, a perennial dealmaker, who might play against type and serve as an honest broker. Too many smart people disagree with that prediction, so let me try another: How about the affable Garrett Richter or future Senate President Bill Galvano? Wouldn’t they just be perfect to run a little shuttle diplomacy between the two camps? As for who their partner will be on the House side, I’m still not so sure.
•The Florida Senate, especially one controlled by Republicans, doesn’t have many tools at its disposal to jam up Gov. Scott. But it did employ one of the few it does have by dumping the remainder of its 68 bills on his desk for him review and sign or veto by May 22. That’s a break from tradition in which the Governor’s Office quietly requests bills to be sent over in bite-sized batches. And it’s real middle finger from the Senate to the governor.
•The House, meanwhile, says it will send its bills in batches so as to, according to spox Michael Williams, allow Scott “to have time to thoroughly review them. This has been the common practice in the past. We do not see any value to drop all the bills at once.”
•So the Special Session begins June 1 in Tallahassee, while Gov. Scott’s Economic Growth Summit kicks off June 2 in Orlando. Talk about a tale of two cities. Perhaps Scott will accomplish his goal of looking maybe not presidential, but at least senatorial, by hosting several Republican presidential candidates at his forum. He’d be wise to not be photographed in front of any more Ferris wheels as he was the last time his Republican colleagues were melting down.