House Republican Leader Dane Eagle says a Special Session remains a possibility. But he says it’s too early now to reconvene the Legislature.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about,” the Cape Coral Republican said. “I know the Speaker talks to the Governor frequently. I talk to the Speaker weekly to try to get an update and just to have discussions of what we think is going to happen. And it is too soon to tell.”
Eagle spoke to Florida Politics moments after a press conference where Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested there was no need to call lawmakers to Tallahassee.
“I don’t think we’re going to need to do a Special Session for the rest of this fiscal year,” DeSantis said. “But I think obviously looking at next year’s budget is really going to be determined on what we’re looking at in terms of economic recovery and what type of federal assistance we get.”
Eagle said data would ultimately determine when legislators must take another look at the budget.
“I haven’t even seen yet the April numbers, and they might be out, but it’s still early May,” Eagle said. “So I need to dive into that. And then we’re also going to need to see the May numbers in early June.”
A decision must be made before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.
“By June, we’ll know a little bit more,” Eagle said.
Democrats in the House and Senate pushed to have a Special Session convene already, but they failed to garner a required 60% of votes in each chamber to force that to happen. Eagle was one of the votes against convening. That’s no huge shock from a Majority Leader considering Republican Speaker José Oliva also voted against the move.
Oliva has also made his own thoughts known about the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, sending out newsletters with links to punditry questioning the wisdom and the legality of shutting much of Florida’s economy by state decree.
There, Eagle defended Oliva for posing the argument against heavy government intervention.
“I fully support the Speaker,” Eagle said. “We need to have both eyes on this, from both points of view. You had a lot of people calling for lockdowns, and I think the President and the Governor have done an amazing job in responding to that.”
He also suggested Oliva hasn’t tried to undermine DeSantis’ statewide lockdown orders as much as headlines suggest.
“Even the Speaker in his conversation with the Governor says, ‘Look, this is not me coming out against you, this is holding everybody accountable and having another point of view of what are the unintended consequences of this lockdown,’” Eagle said.
“There is a social and economic toil or toll that we have yet to see. We’ve seen some of it, but I think that’s going to be long lasting. So I fully appreciate the Speaker’s point of view on that and being that advocate on the other side of: How do we get reopened? How do we get the economy going? And how do we pull back this heavy hand of government?”
Eagle also strongly defended the Governor for taking the actions he has.
“In Florida we’ve done a very measured job in doing stuff,” Eagle said. “Look, I’d love to see restaurants start to open up. I’d love to see gyms start to open up. We have restaurants at 25% and I’d love to see more. But I wouldn’t get too extreme.”