Senate Threatens Lawsuit Over House Departure, Others Not Worried

Apr 29, 2015

The Florida House chamber sits empty.
Credit Tampa Bay Times

The stalemate between Florida’s Republican leaders is getting worse. A day after the House abruptly adjourned, the Senate says it may sue unless Representatives come back. Still, not everyone believes the abrupt end of the session is a bad thing.

The Senate says the House may have violated the constitution when it adjourned Tuesday without notice. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says the chamber isn’t coming back. Florida’s constitution says one chamber cannot adjourn for more than three days without the other.

“This is becoming an increasing problem for the legislature and I think we need some direction from the court," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee. He says there are more than 80 instances of the House and Senate adjourning separately since the 1970's, and believes it's a growing problem.

The Senate wants to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the House doesn’t and that’s driving the discord.  Sal Nuzzo, policy director for the free-market think tank, the James Madison Institute, believes there is no point for the House to stay in session.

“They weren’t going to reach a budget agreement in the next 12 hours so the question of a special session rather was a forgone conclusion," Nuzzo said.

Senate leaders say they’ll keep passing bills, and place them at the House’s door.