TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida lawmakers are poised to do something they haven't done in 12 years and that they've accomplished only twice in the last 24 - override a governor's veto.
The Republican-controlled Legislature's agenda for a planned one-day special session Tuesday includes override votes on up to seven bills and one budget item. All were vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Charlie Crist, who quit the GOP to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent.
None, though, will be as contentious as an abortion bill that was one of two vetoed measures the Legislature last overrode on March 11, 1998. The Legislature says it will not consider hot-button vetoes on teacher merit pay and retention, elections and abortion during the one-day session.
"My personal inclination would be not to try and take up anything in special session that was a big, more regular session-type issue such as health care or education," incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon said.
Instead, Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos said they picked legislation that passed by wide margins and with bipartisan support. The override candidates include a $9.7 million appropriation for the University of Florida's Shands Teaching Hospital and a bill that would dilute the powers of the governor and other executive branch officials by requiring legislative approval of administrative rules with an economic effect.
Another bill would let local governments put yard trash in garbage dumps so they no longer will have to make separate pickups for each type of refuse.
The two leaders Monday dropped two of the 10 override attempts they'd originally proposed, including one at the request of Governor-elect Rick Scott, a fellow Republican. That bill would have stripped the governor of sole authority over the Department of Management Services and required him to share it with the three Cabinet members.
Scott "thinks he has the right skill set to turn around this area, and it needs a lot of turn around," Haridopolos said. The agency has drawn criticism from lawmakers over its building construction, maintenance and leasing functions.
The other bill contained provisions designed to control the state's costs for risk management and workers compensation, including a cap on how much doctors can get reimbursed for drugs they dispense to injured workers. Crist's veto was supported by doctors who donated heavily to Republicans, including political committees formed by Haridopolos and Cannon.
Besides the overrides, votes also are planned on appropriating $31 million in federal stimulus money for consumer rebates on purchases of solar energy and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems and delaying a new septic tank inspection requirement for six months until next July 1.
The last time the Legislature, also with Republican majorities in both chambers, overrode vetoes was when Democrat Lawton Chiles was governor
Republicans also voiced opposition to higher taxes, yet one vetoed bill set for possible override would triple the tax on citrus to 3 cents a box. The increase is expected to raise $3.5 million a year for research on such things as greening, a citrus disease.
Haridopolos said he supports the increase because growers approved it in a referendum.