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Special Session Set for Nov. 16

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Tallahassee, FL – The November election results excite the incoming leadership of the Florida Legislature. Armed with super majorities in the House and Senate, Republican leaders will convene a special session Nov. 16 to override Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of nine bills. James Call reports.

House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon and Senate President-designate Mike
Haridopolos will issue the call as soon as they are sworn in as the new leaders. They say the unusual step of overriding vetoes during the reorganizational session is to clear the desk for the spring session. Haridopolos said all the measures passed the Legislature with overwhelmingly majorities and that new lawmakers will have until Nov. 16 to study the proposals.

"If they have any reservations on any of these they can let us know," he said. "But we think this is a very transparent process, and we think this is the way we want to do business. We want to be very open like this, and these are the kind of discussions that are worthwhile for the state."

The list includes a budget appropriation for Shands Teaching Hospital that the governor vetoed for procedural reasons, repeal of a hurricane preparedness disclosure that Crist termed unfriendly to consumers, and five measures that either increase legislative power or is a flexing of legislative muscle. Haridopolos said lawmakers considered the measures good public policy. Gov. Crist disagreed. Now, voters gave Cannon and Haridopolos the power to have the final word.

"We passed bills in each of these cases with near-unanimous support," Haridopolos said. "The governor did not raise any flags for us. We thought they were appropriate, we think it is a give-and-take process. I think Dara said it is a natural tension, I think that is appropriate. As we worked these through the process with one or two negative votes, it was shocking to us that he came in and vetoed it."

Haridopolos noted that elections have consequences. The most immediate ones will be felt by state agencies in Tallahassee. Included on the override list is a proposal giving the Legislature more say in agency rule making and moving control of the Department of Management Services from the Governor's office to the Cabinet. Incoming House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders:

"The governor is Republican. So if the Republican Legislature wants to do that, I don't see why we would have any incentive to prevent them from doing it."

Voters are sending to Tallahassee the first veto-proof Republican Legislature in Modern History. Democratic State Representative Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda:

"It is an extremely powerful Legislature. It is an extremely powerful Republican policy group here. I mean, this Florida is entirely in Republican hands in an extremely strong way."

Vasilinda was among lawmakers who successfully lobbied the new leadership to include in the call rebates for residents who bought energy efficient equipment. The proposal died in the spring. And Cannon and Haridopolos will revive it later this month along with eight other dead bills. However, when asked about his and Cannon's newfound power, Haridopolos prefers to talk about policy.

"It didn't matter who was elected on Tuesday. This is a good public policy. Republicans and Democrats embraced the idea. And we think it is a good idea, period. And whoever the new governor was is going to live with this and we think it is a good idea, passed overwhelmingly and we expect it to be the new policy."

The Florida Legislature will meet in special session the afternoon of November 16th.