Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

As Session Wanes, Frenzy and High-Fives

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

As Session Wanes, Frenzy and High-Fives

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- The din was overpowering as hundreds of lobbyists crowded the Capitol rotunda between the House and Senate chambers in the final hours of the legislative session yesterday, huddling in small groups, watching huge television monitors or sending in messages to legislators to seek last-minute amendments.

But veteran business lobbyist Guy Spearman was an island of serenity. No late amendments for him.

"If mine aren't on there by now, I'm in trouble," Spearman said.

So what is he doing?

"I'm just trying to kill some bills," he said.

Nearby, Jim Krog was watching the Senate debate a bill to allow police to stop motorists for seat-belt violations.

Then the vote came and Krog, who was lobbying for the National Safety Council, exchanged high fives with another lobbyist as it passed.

But it was a temporary victory.

It headed to the House with less than six hours before adjournment.

"We've got to get some pressure on the leadership to get it up," Krog said.

He was right to worry. It died in the House.

Meanwhile, Ken Plante, the governor's legislative director, was fretting over what was happening to an economic development bill as amendments were added to it.

"They're making a train out of it and it's getting a little loaded," Plante said as he crossed the lobby. "I've got to go talk to the sponsors."

Bill Jones, lobbying for the League of Women Voters, sat in a wheelchair, jotting notes when the Senate took up Gov. Jeb Bush's education plan, which included the controversial school voucher provision.

It was too late to do anything about it but Jones, who had a broken leg, said he would file a report on the debate to the league.

Hectic as the final day was, it was a far cry from many sessions in the past when bills flew wildly back and forth between chambers in the middle of the night as amendments were added and removed. …

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