Florida Lawmakers in Special Session, But May Get Nowhere

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee Wednesday for a three-day special session aimed at making changes to the state’s budget that will win Gov. Rick Scott’s approval.

Scott called lawmakers back shortly after the end of the regular session after reaching a backroom deal with House and Senate leaders that has Scott making $300 million in line-item vetoes and using that money to fund his pet projects.

While Republican leaders in both houses agreed to bump up spending next year on public schools by $210 million and fund Scott’s pet agency, Visit Florida, at its current level of $76 million, there are rumblings that some lawmakers will try to sabotage the deal.

Scott and top lawmakers also agreed to set aside $85 million for job creation at the at the Department of Economic Opportunity, which would be used for infrastructure and other economic development costs, instead of companies for bringing jobs to Florida.

Aside from budget matters, lawmakers are also expected to finally pass a comprehensive plan for implementing a medical marijuana production, processing, and distribution system.

The plan increases the number of pot growers and makes marijuana more available to patients suffering from things like HIV/AIDS, cancer, and PTSD. 71 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana last November, but lawmakers have dragged their feet on implementing the voters’ wishes.

The special session, which is really just overtime needed to settle business that should have been taken care of during the regular session, will cost taxpayers $70,000 a day.