Springtime in Tallahassee? Maybe not in 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – If all goes as planned, Florida lawmakers will get to enjoy springtime outside of Tallahassee this year.
Now, lawmakers are starting to consider if an early start to the regular session should be repeated in two years.
The House Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday backed a proposal (PCB GOAS 16-01) that calls for the 2018 session to begin Jan. 9 rather than in March.
Chairwoman Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, said the early start helps the budget-crafting process and gives people who rely on state funding more time to prepare for changes before the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
"There won't be a need to have any sort of interruption in the regular session like we normally do because of either Easter or Passover," Nunez said after the meeting. "It also gives agencies, universities, those that depend upon our budgetary decisions, ample time to adapt to whatever decisions we end up making."
Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who is slated to serve as Senate president in 2017 and 2018, said Monday he supports the proposal.
Senate Rules Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is expected to file the Senate companion bill, Negron said.
The regular 60-day session typically lasts from early March to early May, except in redistricting years, which usually happen once a decade.
The state Constitution fixes the start of session to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March in odd-numbered years, but no dates are specified for even-numbered years.
Lawmakers support the March start in odd-numbered years as a way to help newly elected freshmen ease into the legislative process.
"Those that get elected in November, it would very difficult for them to begin a session in January not having even served on one committee and having to get their bills together," Nunez said.
Two years ago, when lawmakers agreed to advance the start of the 2016 session to January, supporters of the change said, in part, that it would allow lawmakers to be home with their families for such things as spring break.
However, at the time critics countered that the early session, with pre-session committee weeks starting in September, would conflict with college football in Tallahassee.
On Monday, other than some lawmakers joking that the proposal is to "freeze" lawmakers from South Florida, no opposition was raised.
News Service of Florida