Committee meetings for the state legislature are right around the corner, and House leaders are hoping to make sure new and returning lawmakers are ready. The House is holding a two day series of seminars it calls Legislator University.
Tuesday morning more than a hundred state lawmakers piled into a ground floor committee room for the first meeting in what House Speaker Richard Corcoran is calling legislator university. Miami Republican representative Jose Oliva welcomed attendees to the first session on political civility. He says that doesn’t mean everyone has to agree.
“It doesn’t mean that we have to meet in the middle,” Oliva continues, “It doesn’t mean any of those things.”
“What it does mean is that we are all representatives of the same amount of Floridians,” he says. “It means that we all want to solve the same problems although we see them often in different ways. But it means that through that respect for one another, through being able to disagree without being disagreeable. We are a better institution as a whole.”
Oliva serves as the House Rules chair and he’s one of Corcoran’s most loyal allies. The two Republicans believe in radically reducing the size and scope of state government, and they’re pushing an ambitious slate of changes to that end. But the effort could ruffle feathers, hence the emphasis on finding ways to get along with one another. They brought out motivational speaker and former Reagan administration staffer Shelby Scarborough to speak to the House members.
“He basically taught me to put others first,” she says of Reagan. “It wasn’t just about getting in the elevator first, it was I’m putting you ahead of me, in everything I do, and he behaved that way at all times.”
The most fundamental change Corcoran is pushing will require lawmakers file individual bills for their spending projects. The plan is already raising the ire of some in the Senate.