Reporting Tim Kephart
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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida House of Representatives adjourned for the day Thursday around 5:45 p.m. without taking up the Sun Life Stadium renovation bill.
Some late maneuvering in the Senate Thursday helped get the stadium bill closer to a vote in the House.
Senator Oscar Braynon, (D-Miami Gardens) amended HB 1828 that was previously approved by the House to include the Sun Life Stadium renovation plan. The Senate then approved the bill and sent it back to the Florida House for another vote for the bill as amended to include the Sun Life Stadium renovation plan.
Speaker of the House Will Weatherford told House members the lower chamber would take up more legislation on Friday, the final day of the session including more message bills. (Bills approved by the House then amended by the Senate and sent back to the House.
Still, Weatherford said the Dolphins have an “uphill battle” in the House.
All of the moves came after two days of stalling tactics by House Democrats protesting the lack of action on health care reform. Democrats relented on Thursday after forcing every bill to be read in its entirety for two days using a parliamentary procedural rule.
Democrats couldn’t block action Thursday on many forms of bills due to House rules. Click here for more on the rules that limited the Democrats’ ability to slow down business Thursday.
As Democrats and Republicans fought over health care reform and procedural issues, the bill to push ahead with the Sun Life Stadium renovation plan hangs in the balance.
Wednesday it looked like the Dolphins might have to forego some state money if the renovation and construction started this year. But, just before midnight an additional amendment was filed that would allow the Fins to collect the sales tax money, approximately $90 million over 30 years, even if construction starts this year.
Everything is riding on the House vote at this point. Without a vote, the Dolphins’ planned $350 million renovation to Sun Life including a canvas roof, HD screens, new seating, and updated lighting could be out the window.
In addition, Miami’s pursuit of Super Bowl L (50) and the millions of dollars it could bring to the area could be scuttled as well. Miami is currently up against Santa Clara, California and it’s billion dollar stadium for the right to host Super Bowl L. The Magic City was hoping to use the renovation plan to sell the NFL on sending the Super Bowl back to South Florida.
Here’s the path the stadium bill has to traverse by the end of the session Friday:
- House Speaker Will Weatherford has to allow the bill to come up for a vote
- Two-thirds of the House will have to suspend rules to debate the bill (Representatives told CBS4’s David Sutta that hasn’t happened in more than three years)
- Two-thirds of the House would have to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass (80 votes in favor)
“We are waiting and watching and we are going to see,” said Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami.
The House’s action will be just another step in the progression of the plan. If the plan is passed by the Legislature, it still has to be passed in a special election on May 14. The Dolphins have paid for the special election’s costs already and ads supporting the stadium plan are airing in Miami-Dade County.
But, without the House passing the legislation, the deal struck between the Miami Dolphins and Miami-Dade County to give tourist tax dollars to the team to help fund the renovation will be voided and all parties will be back at square one.