Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2,786 Bills and 2 Days 'Til the End

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2,786 Bills and 2 Days 'Til the End

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- There's only one thing Florida lawmakers must

do in the 60-day legislative session, and that's pass a state

budget.

They never just leave it at that, though. Since sending a $45.3

billion state budget to the governor last week, the Legislature

has kept busy considering changes to state laws.

Some proposals prompt serious debate. Others, like the one

mandating rabies vaccinations for ferrets, leave lawmakers

scratching their heads.

Everyone's entitled to file a bill, and sometimes they do so

with frivolity, said House Majority Leader Jim King,

R-Jacksonville.

By yesterday, lawmakers had filed 2,786 bills to create new

laws, amend existing ones, fund projects, create programs or

express the will of the Legislature on one issue or another.

"I only deal with serious stuff," said Rep. John Thrasher,

R-Orange Park, who is in line to become House speaker.

Even so, lawmakers may find themselves in serious debate over

tort reform or education funding one minute and discussing a

proposal to outlaw donkey diving the next.

That bill would have made it illegal to encourage or require

any farm animal to jump down 10 feet or more, unless, of course,

someone is riding the animal. It's intent was to prevent cruelty

in animal exhibitions, but it didn't go far.

"We thought that ought to be a bipartisan issue, so we needed

diving elephants," King said. "As soon as we started talking

about diving elephants they decided to pull the bill."

Many off-the-wall bills go down to defeat in a similar fashion,

but only after taking up the Legislature's time.

Of course, the majority of those proposals are taken seriously

by the sponsors. Take King's bill to rename the Florida Turnpike

after Ronald Reagan, which some lawmakers saw as frivolous. …

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