A showdown over expanding health-care to more than 1 million Floridians slowed the Legislature to a crawl for a second day Wednesday, with the fate of an elections reform, a sick-time fight, sports stadium tax breaks and other bills hanging in the balance.
House Democrats were forcing the majority-party to have bills read in full on the floor in order to slow down the session during its final three days, a move they started Tuesday to draw more attention to Republicans’ refusal to accept $51 billion in federal Medicaid expansion money.
The day began with an automated voice, a software program named “Mary,” reading bills in full and prompting lobbyists to scramble in the Capitol Rotunda to find out if their bills were dying before the session’s adjournment Friday.
“We’re acting like vengeful little children,” Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, said on the floor.
As the day dragged on, House Republicans retaliated by postponing votes on bills sponsored by Democrats, including one (SB 442) carried by Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando and Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, creating a black cultural commission.
“I am very frustrated, extremely frustrated,” Thompson said after trying to lobby House lawmakers to return to the bill. “I see the bigger picture .. but I am frustrated nonetheless. We’re not going to get [health care] resolved by Friday, so I’m saying we’ve made our point let’s get back to the order of business.”
But also caught in the cross-fire is a sports stadium bill (SB 306) which would create a method for the Miami Dolphins, Orlando Major League Soccer supporters, Daytona International Speedway, and other sports franchises to get in line for $13 million in annual tax breaks for stadium construction or upgrades.
Democrats said they weren’t standing in the way of a stadium bill vote
“This is an awesome year. We’ve got money in the budget and $51 billion hanging out there,” House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, told reporters. “That’s enough to make everybody happy. Why are we just limiting it to a select few?”
Republicans, though, were also postponing a vote on an elections reform that expands early voting.