Budget conference: Senate looks to carve out Supreme Court from expanded Capitol Police patrols
Beautiful photo Supreme Court of Florida USA shot at twilight

Beautiful photo Supreme Court of Florida USA shot at twilight
'I’m confident we’ll come to a conclusion.'

The House and Senate are still at odds over just how far to expand the responsibility of the Capitol Police to patrol the area near the Capitol building.

The Senate offered a compromise, accepting the House plan to expand the Capitol Police’s patrol to the R.A. Gray Building, which houses the Department of State a block away from the Capitol. But the Senate exempts the Florida Supreme Court building, which stands between the two structures.

Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, a Coral Gables Republican who chairs the House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, said the House is reviewing the offer but acknowledged the chambers are working toward a solution.

“We’ll get there and we’ll come to an agreement but we’re still working through it,” Busatta Cabrera said. “I’m confident we’ll come to a conclusion”

The issue is included in a budget conforming bill (SB 2506, HB 5201) that would also place a series of memorials approved by the Legislature but which haven’t been placed on the Capitol Complex grounds across Monroe Street from the Capitol in a new “Memorial Park.”

The Senate is also sticking to its position of including $25 million in the budget for Capitol Complex renovations and repairs, while the House is staying at its preference for $7.5 million.

The chambers are also at odds over where to put a $40 million cybersecurity grant program for local governments. The Senate prefers to put it in the Department of Financial Services, while the House wants to put it under the Department of Management Services.

Another difference in the budget plans is over a grant program to replace drones used by police departments across the state. The Senate wants $25 million for the program while the House prefers $5 million, and the Senate’s offer Wednesday morning included a provision that would allow local police to use drones bought before Jan. 1. Gov. Ron DeSantis has sought to phase out drones manufactured in China for security reasons.

Budget conference subcommittees will meet throughout the week to resolve differences in each area. When remaining issues reach an impasse, they will be “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

Lawmakers must reach an agreement on a final spending plan by May 2 to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget to avoid pushing the Regular Session past its scheduled May 5 end date.

Gray Rohrer


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