Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Final Day a Draining Marathon 'Crazy Frenzy' Sees Bills Through

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Final Day a Draining Marathon 'Crazy Frenzy' Sees Bills Through

Article excerpt

Byline: Thomas B. Pfankuch, Times-Union staff writer

TALLAHASSEE -- In the middle of it all, Sadie took a nap.

The runtish black lab, who wears an official police badge and sniffs for bombs at the Capitol, was so pooped out she was oblivious to all the lawmaking, deal making and hullabaloo that mark the final day of the annual 60-day legislative session in Tallahassee.

But Sadie wasn't the only tired soul at the Capitol yesterday.

Yawns and droopy eyes were common among the legislators, lobbyists, reporters and citizens who weathered 60 days of legislative work and then endured the annual ritual that wraps up the session.

Folks like to describe the event as controlled madness, a strange culmination of the law-making process, which plods along for months and then ends in a final harried day that extends into night.

"It's a crazy frenzy," said Martin Miller of Jacksonville, who lobbies for the Duval County School Board. "It's also like a nightmare because every amendment, every bill you've seen all session suddenly keeps coming back and coming back all on that last day."

The final day often resembles a three-ring circus. In one giant ring, the House works to quickly pass bills and amend a few of them. The other ring is the smaller Senate, where the same process takes place.

Both chambers must pass each bill before it can be sent to the governor and signed into law, so when a bill is amended it must be shipped back to the other side for further discussion and voting.


The final ring of the circus is Lobbyland, a rectangular region between the two legislative chambers, where hundreds of lobbyists mingle and maneuver. They send written messages to legislators and talk to them in private hallway chats.

Four giant TVs broadcast the legislative action into Lobbyland so everyone knows what's going on. …

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