A diverse new class of lawmakers reported to work in the Florida Legislature on Tuesday, tasked with plunging into problems over education, the economy, health care and a national election embarrassment to fix.
All told, 44 new House members and 15 new senators were elected Nov. 6. They were ceremonially sworn in amid the pomp, speeches and schmoozing that accompany so-called “organizational sessions” where new House and Senate leaders are officially elected.
And the problems they’ll face were front-and-center, with a group in the Capitol Rotunda protesting another botched Florida election process.
Legislators must confront problems exposed by this month’s delayed election vote-counting. Democrats blame the problems on election changes pushed through by the GOP in 2011 that made it harder to cast ballots. Republicans are targeting South Florida counties that have had the hardest time tabulating results.
“Floridians shouldn’t be embarrassed that while most counties in our state run flawless elections, some counties keep running flawed elections. This isn’t a Third World country,” new Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a speech to senators.
“We’ll probe. We’ll listen. If we need to change laws, we’ll change them. But I won’t be satisfied and neither should you unless the 2014 elections in Florida are a model for America.”