Florida's House of Representatives and the Senate concluded Week Three with an extraordinary concurrent resolution to the United States Congress, a proposal to save lives with defibrillators, and a resolution to move the 2010 session up by two months to meet a redistricting deadline.
The second week of the sixty-day legislative session began and concluded without the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the opening of the annual meeting of the Florida House and Senate. Instead, this week dealt with the nuts and bolts of lawmaking and the slow but organized building of the state budget. The legislature’s only duty enumerated in the Florida Constitution is to pass the budget that runs the state’s government. The process, which is hosted this year by the House of Representatives (each year the hosting alternates between the two chambers) was underway at one of the fastest passes in recent memory. Although it is far too soon to project how the budget making process will end, it is the top priority of the two bodies to deal with an estimated $2.6 billion dollar shortfall as compared to the previous fiscal year. It will be a challenge to plug this enormous budget hole because, unlike the federal government, Florida is constitutionally required to produce a balanced budget each year. No red ink is allowed when the final product is sent to the governor for his signature.
The media gives extensive coverage to the Florida Legislature during the annual legislative session (which takes place starting the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March and proceeding for the next 60 calendar days). However, many people are not aware that the Legislature does meet in its official capacity for many months leading up to the start of the regular legislative session.