Ever wonder what a week in Tallahassee during Legislative Session looks like? The following review of the week of February 10-14, should give you an idea.
Last week actually began on Thursday of the previous week. It was on that day the Judiciary Committee posted its agenda for its Tuesday committee meeting. SB 410 was on it.
Friday, the next day, was spent refining the “talking points” – a one=pager describing the benefits of the bill. Then, emails were sent to each member of the Judiciary Committee requesting a Monday or Tuesday meeting with the Senator or staff to review the bill. Five meetings were confirmed between 11:30 am and 4:00 pm for Monday. A call was made to the committee staff person who would write an analysis of the bill for the senators. Opponents of the bill had influenced past analyses, giving it a negative perspective. A call was made and a follow-up email was sent to balance the perspective with truth regarding the bill’s application. A final call was made to make a reservation at a motel.
Monday began very early for the drive to Tallahassee – approximately four hours. Arriving 30 minutes before the first appointment, it was a pleasant surprise to find the parking garage was not yet full and there was a place to park. The next five hours were spent in the capitol meeting with senators or their staff to explain the bill, its benefits, its proponents, and its opponents. The workday concluded with visits to the offices of the Senate and House sponsors. Then it was off to the motel for check-in and dinner – a take-out salad from Publix.
Tuesday morning was spent refining comments I planned to make it the committee meeting about the bill. It also involved tracking the status of other bills being followed and supported by CPR. Other bills had to be read and studied, such as one of the water-quality bills – approximately 173 pages.
Then, it was off to the capitol for the 2 pm committee meeting itself. When you arrive at a committee meeting, a form must be filled out stating your intent to speak about a particular bill. Once the committee begins, you sit and wait until your bill has its turn to be heard. Because there are many Senators and many bills, it cannot be predicted when your bill will be called. So, vigilance is required. Fortunately, on this day, SB 410 was called early on the meeting. CPR made brief comments in the committee and, after brief debate, the committee members voted unanimously for the bill! Yea!
Another CPR-supported bill was on the agenda in a different committee which didn’t begin until 4 pm. Committees typically meet for two hours. CPR was there to support that bill but, unlike the previous committee, this bill was not introduced until later in the committee and the debate took more time. However, the bill passed favorably just before time ran out. Committees must end on time. Another long day but, a good one. And just before leaving the capitol, more good news – the House companion bill, HB 203, is on the agenda in Thursday’s Commerce Committee!
Early Wednesday morning begins the process of updating the talking points to take to the Commerce Committee members – this one has 24 members. These 24 members are scattered in two buildings, one the capitol tower. Members are located from the 2nd floor to the 14th floor. It makes the distribution easier to start at the 14th floor and walk down. Because most members and their staff are already busy, the visits to their offices takes only about three hours.
In consulting with the House sponsor, CPR finds that the Commerce Committee Chairman has placed some additional language in the bill. In addition, several House members now want to add their amendments to the bill. The additions and amendments are good but, they are changes to the bill and take committee time to explain. After consulting with the House and Senate bill sponsors the day is concluded.
CPR attended the Thursday Commerce Committee which was scheduled for three hours due to the large number of bills to be heard. HB 203 was heard about an hour and a half into the meeting. Additions to the bill were explained, the public was heard – CPR stood to support the bill – and debate conducted. In the end, the bill was approved by a party line vote. After consultations with the bill’s Senate and House offices, CPR’s work for the week was done.
As you can see, the passing of good legislation in Tallahassee does not happen by accident. It requires being on the scene, taking initiative, sweat equity, clear information, and trust relationships. CPR is committed to these keys as it engages to protect your private property rights with good public policy and laws.
CPR needs your financial support to “raise the flag” of property rights. Time in Tallahassee means hotels, meals, and gas. Will you please help by making a donation?
Go to: www.cpr-fl.org
and use the DONATE button to send your contribution into our PayPal account.
CPR’s annual individual membership is $125. However, anything you can do – $50, $100, $250, or more – makes a difference.
Thank you in advance for your help!