Florida Governmental Countdown - A Wrap-Up on Issues from the 2014 Legislative Session
With elections looming in November, avoiding controversy appeared to be the goal during Florida’s 2014 Legislative Session. Lawmakers deliberated on issues with an eye toward the November elections when Republican Governor Rick Scott, all Cabinet Officers, the entire House of Representatives, and half of the state’s Senate seats will be on the ballot. The bitter debate marking prior years was quieted early on – with the majority party hoping to provide a stable footing for the Governor’s re-election bid. However, the last weeks of Session brought on a resurgence of the customary logjam between chambers as lawmakers sought closure on issues.
At Session’s outset, a recovering economy and an approximate $1.2 billion budget surplus brought Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) together with the Governor in an early decision to pass $500 million in tax cuts – a chief component being the rollback of vehicle registration fees enacted in 2009. Legislative leaders based their tax-cut decisions on the premise that now was the time to put money back in the hands of working Floridians.