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Session Ends But Not For Long, Shifting Focus To Redistricting

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Florida Legislature. (Source: AP)

Florida Legislature. (Source: AP)

Legislative Session Coverage

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Florida legislators will return to the Capitol on Wednesday, less than a week after the final day of the regular session.

While lawmakers wrapped up some of their business on Friday’s last scheduled day of the regular session, they must return to the Capitol on Wednesday to start work on a new Senate redistricting map.

The Florida Supreme Court said eight of 40 Senate districts failed to meet standards and that the initial plan favored incumbents and the Republican majority — both no-no’s.

After the Florida Supreme Court struck down the Senate maps, Gov. Rick Scott’s legal team had spent at least part of the day trying to decipher a vague part of the Florida Constitution that could be read either to say Scott had to issue a proclamation within five days or that lawmakers actually had to return within five days; the governor eventually went with the latter.

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said his committee would meet Wednesday to begin reviewing the decision.

The Legislature hopes to pass a bill the week of March 19, but have until 11:59 p.m. on March 28 under Scott’s proclamation.

So what did the legislature accomplish before the session ended?

Florida lawmakers passed a $70 billion budget and narrowly passed legislation to reform the state’s mandatory no-fault automobile insurance law that has been plagued by rampant fraud.

The Personal Injury Protection bill has been one of Gov. Scott’s top priorities. Scott lobbied skeptical lawmakers feverishly during the last days of the session.

Another hot-button bill cleared the Senate and went to Scott, who is certain to sign it. The measure (HB 1205) would let state agencies randomly drug-test their employees. It would put into law what Scott tried to do through an executive order that’s on hold because it’s being challenged in federal court.

Lawmakers also passed a budget conforming bill (HB 1994) that would turn the University of South Florida’s Polytechnic branch in Lakeland into the state’s 12th public university.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

 

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